In this article I want to discuss the differences between Mind Reading and Telepathy, considering both the scientific study of the topics and the stage performances.
What is the difference between Mind reading and Telepathy? Mind reading is based on certain scientific techniques that can be learned by anybody, for example, understanding body language or influencing others thoughts. Telepathy is based on principles that are considered to be supernatural and that often does not have any scientific or logical explanation.
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In stories, we read about individuals who have the ability to know exactly what someone is thinking, very much as if they were reading a page that described the thoughts of the subject. This is pure fiction and does not happen.
Most humans, excluding those with autism or who have mental disorders, have a natural ability to “read” someone.
I am sure that you have read about how dogs “know” if someone is good or bad, and are cautious of the bad individuals. It is an innate sense, that we humans also possess, but in a less developed form.
Every day, as we live our normal lives, we meet new people and make snap judgments about them, which colors our response to them.
How do we do this?
Quite simply, we create a “model” of the individual by reading cues taken from things they say and body language they give off. We also “read” their emotions and add this to the model.
When talking to the subject we pick up a lot more than we realize and our brain slots all this into our model.
If we were asked what we picked up, we would find it hard to define and would probably just say something like we have a “gut feeling” about him.
This gut feeling is us using information from the model.
An individual is constantly sending out non-verbal messages by their body language, vocal tone and volume, and facial expressions.
When we are talking to someone, they make very quick hand movements and changes of expression that last maybe just one second.
If asked about them we would not recall them, but our brain did and stored this information in our model.
Body language can have a major impact on how we react to people, whether we like them, or dislike them.
Body Language takes place in our subconscious, we cannot easily control it.
But after studying the subject and practicing a lot we can start to avoid revealing so much ourselves and start to consciously pick up on the body language of others.
Let’s take one simple example:
If a person is attracted to you, they will subconsciously touch you.
It may be by bumping elbows, tapping you on the arm or shoulder as they speak.
Increased touching, or leaning toward you, is a clear sign of attraction.
They will also smile more and engage in eye contact more.
Their mouth might open slightly or they may start to mirror your body language.
This is just one example of how you have discovered how someone is thinking through “mind-reading”, or actually “body reading” to be more accurate.
Influencing Others Thoughts
One way of influencing someone is to build a rapport with them.
This can be easily achieved by mirroring their actions, if they cross their legs, you cross your legs, and so on.
Professional salespeople often use this technique.
Without rapport, it is hard to convince somebody in a message you want to share.
Your chances of convincing someone of anything without rapport is severely reduced.
In Psychology Today Magazine a crisis negotiator explains that when dealing with hostage situations, or terrorists, his first task is always to establish rapport.
Mirroring is the fastest way to do this while talking. In our everyday life with people, we love it is natural to slip into this rapport, but this technique allows the trained person to reach rapport even with people he does not like.
Four ways of reaching Rapport are:
- Body Posture and Gestures – mirroring
- The Rhythm of The Breath – match their speed and intensity of breathing
- Energy Level – Try and match the tone of the individual. If they seem exuberant, you become the same, and so on.
- The Tone of Voice – If they talk softly, you talk softly and match the speed of the speech.
By building a rapport you are making the first steps to influence their thoughts.
This shows that this subconscious communication is not just for reading someone else, it is also a way of changing their thoughts.
Stage Mind Reading or Cold Reading
Using “Cold Reading” a skilled person can very easily gather a lot of information about a subject.
Cold Reading is an extension of what we talked about in the previous section.
In addition to reading body language the cold reader will be using age, clothing, fashion trends, whether they are male or female, hairstyle, whether they are straight or gay, any religious beliefs they might have, their ethnicity and educational achievement and so much more.
During the cold reading, the operator will try and establish rapport with the subject while getting them to clarify any information that he says, which is slightly wrong, as sometimes what the operator sees is “cloudy.”
The operator then goes on to make some basic statements.
By watching the reaction of the subject, the operator can see if he is on the right track, and watching these responses he can work out more information based on the answer, the body language, etc.
The operator digs deeper into the topics that are yielding results and simply drops the ones that are not producing results.
A lot can be guessed by using the factors in the first part of this section, (age, fashion, etc) and supplemented by responses to questions and body language a lot of information is added to the model.
Knowing the right questions to ask is important, and the ability to, without anyone noticing, to switch tracks of questioning allows the operator to hide dead ends. He can then hone in deeper and deeper, revealing ever more about the subject.
In an audience that might have two hundred members.
Each of these members probably knows 150 people.
Divide the audience into 3 sections and the audience in that section probably knows 10,000 people.
As a question like “who is George?” and there may be a response to the section you are addressing.
If not throw the question open to the whole audience and you have around 30,000 potential people who may contain someone called “George” There probably will be several.
You can then throw out several apparently random verbal images, like a clown, a graveyard, and so on.
Suddenly one audience member puts their hand up and says that the operator is talking to them.
She remembers the question as “She knew a man who dressed as a clown and placed flowers on a grave.”
Her mind had rewritten the random statements as if they were directed directly at her.
This person had self-identified as being easily manipulated.
Another technique is shot-gunning.
This involves making a clever statement like, “I see a father figure with a heart problem in your family.”
Now heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Father figure could refer to father, grandfather, uncle, or any male relative who has assisted in parenting.
There are several statements like this that are likely to be picked up by quite a few audience members.
Just by knowing the statistics, you can formulate such questions.
Forer Effect (aka Barnum Statements)
Work out the statistics and craft a statement that has a high likelihood to resonate with an individual.
These Barnum Statements appear to be very personal but actually apply to a lot of people.
“Your father died due to some sort of issue with his chest or abdomen”
If the subject is old enough, chances are that the father has died.
The problem with the abdomen or chest could apply to a large number of conditions.
The cold reader will watch the response very carefully and using the cold reading techniques can elicit a lot of information from the response and the way she subject responded.
If the operator gets something wrong, because they have built a rapport with the subject, convincing them that the statement is true, and the subject is just not thinking hard enough, will make the subject twist real events subtly so they fit, rather than to have been seen to have failed.
So we can see, Cold Reading is a skill that can be learned.
It is not mind reading but simply a way of reading the subject.
Telepathy or Brain Reading
In the late 19th century there was a magician and mentalist Washington Irving Bishop that would perform “thought reading demonstrations.”
Such was his fame and apparent success that the British Medical Journal, amongst others, investigated him.
One demonstration was to identify a selected place on a table where an object had been hidden underneath.
Bishop would find the place on the tabletop, directly above the hidden object.”
He did not claim to have supernatural powers but claimed he used muscular sensitivity (reading thought data from unconscious muscular clues).
He had to hold the hand of someone who knew where the item was on the table.
He passed the tests and scientists concluded that he was not a telepath but simply someone highly trained to detect when subjects made involuntary movements in response to thoughts.
In more modern times, various academics have undertaken experiments on Telepathy and according to the Smithsonian Institute success in primitive telepathy has taken place that was significant.
Some technology companies, like Facebook, Elon Musk, and Microsoft have also developed interfaces that allow you to control computers with your mind, and communicate with your mind.
Can You Learn Mind Reading?
Mind reading and Mentalism are my favorite areas of magic.
There are several online courses out there that you can take in order to learn how to perform mind-reading and learn mentalism tricks.
My personal favorite course is Master Mentalism.
It’s a deep and structured online training that will teach you mentalism step by step, even if you’re a beginner.
So yes, mentalism and mind reading is definitely something that you can learn, especially when you find the right course.
So, if we put all these different sections together, we see that there are two different strands here running parallel.
First of all, we have some techniques for reading emotions and gathering information by observation of a variety of factors that we put together to create a model inside our head from which we learn about what people are thinking.
We do this unconsciously on a limited scale already every day.
These learned techniques simply develop this natural skill further.
Then we have techniques that rely on interpreting thoughts by physical reactions.
Like the guy who was able to say where the hidden object was under the table, or the Facebook and Microsoft devices that convert thoughts into computer instructions.
Then finally we look at the stage performers who combine cleverly thought out questions that have statistically probable answers, and a highly tuned ability to read body language and other human attributes.