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Is That ESP In Your Mind Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?


Your mind may just be more powerful than you 'think.' Stemming from the overwhelming success of the CBS hit TV show, “The Mentalist,” according to some think-meisters, all of the mind tricks the character Patrick Jane uses on the show may be possible with a little brain workout.

In an interview with AOL News, renowned magician and mentalist, Simon Winthrop – which I'm guessing is self proclaimed given the fact that I've never heard anybody answer “mentalist” to the common question, “What do you do?” – said, "Mentalism is the ability to use your intuition as a sort of sixth sense. Basically, everybody has an intuitive part of them, and some people strengthen it a lot more than others, and for some people, it comes naturally."

Well, if that's the case... we're going to have an awful lot of new applicants for the California Bureau of Investigation team (It's the fictionalized organization in “The Mentalist” for those or you unfamiliar). One major difference between the television show and Winthrop's new book, "How to Be a Mentalist: Master the Secrets Behind the Hit TV Show," is the book reveals how it was done whereas Mr. Jane keeps his character mysterious from episode to episode.

From bending spoons to dimly lit Gypsy rooms with tarot cards and crystal balls set to ambient tones highlighted with burning incense and flickering candles... where does all the BS psychic crap taper off and the true mentalism powers begin? I mean lets face it. We are still coming out of the most tumultuous economic climate since the great depression. Would anybody care to explain to me why those psychic shops seemed to make it through unscathed? We had businesses closing shop left and right... but no, Miss Cleo on the corner is fine. I for one am convinced they are a money laundering front for something much more lucrative than bad advice and goofy potions.

But I digress. Here's what you can expect from Winthrop's book should you care to be center of attention at the next neighborhood candlelight vigil: He claims, "I teach you how to be a human lie detector. I show you how to help people find lost things, and it's all using natural abilities. You don't have to be a psychic at all. You just go through the exercises in the book and strengthen the abilities you already have." It's all about perception he explains. The way their voice may change while telling a lie. "Just be aware of why their voice is changing. This is called the baseline in lie detection. You'll see twitches in people's faces, and most of the time it happens right at the lips, but other times, it's an obvious blink, like a wink, and an unconscious one."

I do believe that putting people on the spot and grilling them a little while studying their unique personality traits, physical idiosyncrasies, and vocal tendencies is a good way to judge whether or not they're spewing fact or fiction. But I always felt interrogating people like that was just fun – not mentalism. There is a vast line between keen observance while finding the cadence and telling the future. That is where people become confused and skeptical and why there should be an obvious separation between fortune tellers and mentalists. And we can start out with a new name for them. Mentalists sound like a group of failed shock treatment patients that are familiar with the west wing of the hospital and not exactly straitjacket virgins.

I'd like to end this piece using my extrasensory perception, albeit I sense that not happening. Woah! I just blew my mind.

(Image from the Library of Congress)

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