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Topic: your opinion on math demonstrations in mentalism 


Hi all, So would you or wouldn't you add to your act lightning math calculations in your mentalism act? I know some people prefer to do it under cover of a routine  a magic square routine for example or a knight tour  but I am talking about the real hardcore math routines, for example: cubic root, fifth root or 3 digit numbers lightning multiplication. My personal opinion is that that can be worked out perfectly in a memory demonstrationoriented show with routines like dayofweek routine or a magic square routine. I don't see the place for math oriented routines together with, say, picture duplication, lock and keys, etc., routines. What is your opinion? nir :dance: 


I hate any math routine. :( To me, Math should be left in the classroom. I would think you would bore your audience apart from the odd one. And I do mean odd :rotf: Sorry, just my opinion...yawn. 


I agree with Shrink. I hate math routines. That said, if a math prinicple is applied that runs beneath the surface of a routine, ie. that is invisible to the spectators, I can see its worth. However, a presentation based around math, to me, is little more than a puzzle. Again, this is my own opinon and I am sure several can make such things workable, but I for one don't see myself using such a routine. Luke Jermay. 


Depends on who your audience is. I agree that for most lay people, mathematical routines in themselves are painfully boring unless you have some dynamite presentation skills. I like to think of a good mentalist as one who can show an audience what [b]they[/b] could possibly do as opposed to what you can do. Since most people do not care much for numbers and math, your mathematical wizardry may find a limited audience IMO. I would say keep your math demonstrations short and sweet just to make a point or ‘warm up’ before moving on to memory feats. I agree that if your present yourself as a memory expert, do not mix in psychic effects unless you can somehow tie it to your specialty. Just another opinion. JR 


Just my thought. I don't believe that there is such a thing as 'trick' or 'magic' or 'boring' in itself. It is all down to the performer. The same can be said about mindreading. Just because you can read my mind doesn't mean that I have to watch it. Like the saying goes: It is not the song, it is the singer. S 


I've yet to see any math presentation that was entertaining, rather than "hey look what I can do!" That said, I think Chuck Hickok's magic square presentation is really good. Tim 


I agree with the majority that math routines are boring! Rudy 


My perception of math tricks as a spectator is as follows: So I've picked a number that only has 2 digits, both of which are different, 1 must be a 9, the other must be an odd number, blah blah blah, and the mentalist guessed what it is. It must be a math trick. I don't know how it's done, but there's something to it. Probably has to do with a 9 or multiples of 9. (Spectators aren't stupid.) My perception of math tricks as a magician (no, I'm not a mentalist, but I've been exposed to mentalism enough) is as follows: So they've picked a number, blah blah blah, and their answer is 1084. Darn, they miscalculated. "Your answer should've been 1089. I know that because...oh wait, no, it's not a math trick (wink wink)." I don't know, it's just too obvious that it's math. Now, thinking of any number, and the mentalist gets it, now we're talking (36/63, 22 or 23, etc). Those are cool. Just my 1 cent + 1 cent = 2 cents. 


Well, let's take this on as a challenge. I agree that a demonstration of math ability to all but a very special kind of audience is a bore. Mixing it with crystal gazing and mind reading is terrible. However, what if you could train a couple nineyear olds to do math really really fast? The speed math handsasabacus thing, maybe one does cube roots. We make them up like "Village of the D****"  platinum blond wigs, pale makeup, identical dress. We frame the whole thing like you have discovered the first of the species that will displace us. What if you brought them out after showing the film as the ones that survived? Now we are getting fairly creepy, especially if they move on to strong PK effects. I didn't say practical or worth the effort, I just liked the challenge of trying to make this interesting. Yours, Paul 


Hi Nir, Math in mentalism isn't for all audiences. However, I do a math calculation using a magic square based upon the spectator's birthdate. Then I interpret their "magic birth number" based upon numerology. The point is, involving the audience with a math based presentation may be more interesting for them as opposed to demonstrating your math skills and memory expertise. Happy calculating! Best Regards, Doc Dazzal 


I do a kids show where I teach them a trick with math. THEY LOVE IT. And the adults love it. They write it down and they remember it. It's all in the presentation. An effect must speak to you, be magic for YOU, for it to be magic for someone else. Just wanted to encourage others that it is possible for math to be magic =) I can see how it wouldn't appeal to everyone, but my love for math shows in this effect. 


Just reflect over what impression you want to make. Math is without a doubt a mental ability (wether we like to perform it or not). In fact, it is probably even more believable than much of the other stuff we do. The suggestions Nir describes fit perfectly from a conceptual point of view IMO, but perhaps not from a 'show' point of view. It would have to be entertaining as well (not to mention marketable). Are we masters of the mind or not? Obviously, we are free to limit our powers, but if anyone is skilled enough in math or in memorizing things or whatever, then do take advantage of that for heaven's sake. Or just for your sake. Obviously there are some effects that are mathematical in nature, but that [i]shouldn't appear[/i] mathematical. R. Bush has done some work on this. The scenario Indyfan describes above truly shows someone who has misunderstood what this and mentalism are about. Anyone who thinks that if the participant has mistakenly summed it up to 1084 will [i]fail[/i] the effect has not understood anything about mentalism. In fact, some mentalists would even go so far as to intentionally miss when mindreading one of the digits. Regarding: [quote]I do a kids show where I teach them a trick with math.[/quote] This approach is a unfortunate though. It is obviously an outright [i]trick[/i], i.e not magic and [i]definitely[/i] not mentalism. In [b]mentalism[/b] [i]we are supposed to be reading minds[/i], not show them tricks. Call yourself a trickster otherwise. IMO. /Matias 


Matias, Thanks for being gentle on me. Actually, I admit, I overemphasized my point in my post, but the basic idea that I wanted to present was that anytime a spectator is asked to add numbers, etc., they will usually determine that it was a math trick. As I said, they may not know how to do it, but it can usually be attributed to math. Yes, there are some good presentations that can sway an opinion, but at the end of the day, math is quite often the only explanation. When dealing with numbers, why wouldn't that be logical? 


Whenever anybody shows me an effect with numbers, I always think about being 10 years of age and doing the trick: Think of a number, add 5, take away 2, multiply by 4, divide by 3, take away the first number that you thought about ZZZZZZ. 


[quote]Indyfan wrote: Matias, Thanks for being gentle on me. [...][/quote] Indy, I don't know if you are 'humbly sarcastic' or sincere in thanking me, but I just want to set it straight  in case [i]my[/i] post was unclear  that I [i]agreed[/i] with your previous post. /Matias 


Yes, I apparently misunderstood your post, and my thanks was sincere as I thought you could've been more 'assertive' (but weren't). I also agree with you that 'intentionally missing' on purpose can enhance an effect. I do that sometimes with my thought transmitter (is that 'cheating' to professional mentalists?). I will draw something close to what they drew. Although I know exactly what they drew, I'll alter it slightly, because I'm supposed to be reading their mind, not copying 'what I saw'. 


Guys, The idea was not to make the "multiply by 5 add 7" type of effects! There are many effects which can be made quite mystifying/entertaining while having a mathematical theme. After all, as Matias said, we try to sell the fact we work with the mind. I myself do not do these routines when I do mentalism, but yesterday I gave 5 minutes of math routines to some work fellows, among some regular mentalism routines. Being engineers, they were really amazed by my "ability" to calculate cubic roots and 5th roots. That was the reason for the post. All the best, nir 


It is very good to do math skill tricks for Engineers. It is very bad to do math skill tricks for bus drivers. It can look very good on TV for many kinds of audiences if you have a strong presentation and have some showmanship. There are many very simple tricks that look amazing in the right hands and there are very strong tricks that look bad on the wrong hands. good night :kiss: 


10x300000.25 / square root = zzzzzzzzzzz I'm obviously no engineer! But I suppose for specialised audience you may have a point. 


[quote]Lior wrote: It is very good to do math skill tricks for Engineers. It is very bad to do math skill tricks for bus drivers.[/quote] I feel there is an inherent problem with the "follow a formula" effects in that those who like the effect are also the very same ones that see through it, and those who would believe in the effect are those who fall asleep by it. But, as Nir points out, the effects he discusses are not of the "follow a formula" kind. /Matias 


I've seen two math type effects from top notch performers and they were amazing. The first was Marc Salem's off Broadway show. He started his show with a three digit magic square with the premise that he needed to warmup his mind for the show. The other was Ricky Jay in his On the Stem show. He did the square root of numbers from 1 to a million, while at the same time doing the knight's tour, while at the same time reciting passages from a Shakespeare play that was called from the audience, while at the same time singing 'field holler' songs. He ended the first act with that presentation and the audience gave him a standing ovation. 


My heart sank when Salem opened the show with a magic square. And I almost fell asleep with the image in my mind of R Jay doing his "thing" just described. I guess we are all different. But I would stand only to walk out. :bawl: 


I second what Lior said. I also agree with Shrink's statement that we all are different: each person's perception of reality is unique. And while demonstrations of mathematical wizardry bore some people, I like such feats. Of course, my bachelor's degree is in math, so I'm a bit biased. :) And the knight's tour appeals to me largely because I'm a chess player.  Richard 


Whether you do a math routine or not depends on your personality and how you present yourself. What kind of message do you want to give? I personally find them quite fascinating side dishes for a mentalism performance. Some comedy can even be incorporated into such presentations (think about it!). From, Cornelius. 


Please don't ask me to think about it :stircoffee: 


Well, I agree with you about mathematical mentalism and audiences. Anyway, I've no special interest in that kind of demonstration and was really shocked when I saw the David Berglas' Magic Square routine. When it started, I thought that it was another boring magic square routine, but the finale was so unexpected that it made me think that was more than a coincidence. If you can, watch it. It's the way to make math mentalism interesting. AlexeiKee :wow: 


[quote] On 20030314 19:59, shrink wrote: And I almost fell asleep with the image in my mind of R Jay doing his "thing" just described. I guess we are all different. But I would stand only to walk out. :bawl: [/quote] Shrink, Now THAT'S funny! Mike 


I have to agree it's mostly showmanship when it comes to mathematical routines. In the wrong hands it will certainly go flat. Too often, math routines can be worked backward and be seen for what they are  an exceptional gimmick which makes for some interesting uses, but are not really magical or mentalism. The best ones are, as Ramsay stated, those which work on a mathematical principle which is all but invisible to the audience, thereby creating the effect of magic. Generally, these have the least chance of being discovered and are more entertaining. There are of course the "Which column is your card in?" tricks which make me gag to think about. Pete 


I'm not too much into math routines... I find it leaves too much room for analysis on the part of the spectator; whether your performance is good or not. Another reason, you are supposedly a MIND reader; not a math genius. This is my humble opinion. :die: 


Another thing worth considering.... math is a logical left brain activity... in some ways if you want to give your audience the most powerful experience, your language and presentation should be built around eliciting and compounding left brain activity. This way it is possible to guide and lead emotional states... just a route I'm currently pondering on... Using metaphores stories and embedded suggestions in the monologue... Using the structure of the presentation as a kind of long trance induction process and using effects to magnify the states I'm trying to create.... Just a pet theory of mine..... :wavey: 


While there have been plenty of replies concerning effects where math is the method, I don't think that's what the original question was. The original question concerned rapid calculation. In rapid calculation, the basic idea is that the human brain is as fast or faster than a calculator. Done properly, this can get a great reaction. One way might be to set up a "man vs. machine" type of presentation (Like the story of John Henry). This gets the audience on your side, and rooting for you. The demonstration of rapid calculation becomes almost secondary in this type of presentation, and the audience can enjoy the performance. This is just one idea, but maybe it'll get you started. 


I do 2 versions of a 16 cube magic square. It seems to go over well, but as we all know, presentation and personality are what sell it. I also like to force a card early on in the show, tell the crowd I'll get back to that later, then after the magic square turn the chalk board OR pad of paper over to reveal the CARD (which is written down on the pad or board) from the earlier trick. I LOVE the Callback Trick. People always seem to like that kind of thing! 


Chuck Hickok starts his performance with the magic square primarily because it's something believable for an audience and as the act progresses so does the 'defying the laws of nature' value of his routines. It's kind of like the old frog experiment. That being said, Chuck does also tie a very nice prediction or forcast to his magic square. Bottom line, it works for some performers in some contexts for some audiences, but then again that's quite a broad premise aint it. 


Derren Brown closes his live show with a magic square. It's kind of (apparently) accidental and a very effective way of revealing a thought of number. It's cleverly disguised with a spiel about the numbers picked by people reading certain newspapers. 


Eight years ago, I invited the most famous puzzle man in Israel to be a guest on my TV show. I asked him to ask me a question; (puzzle) and it was a very hard one, no one knew the answer. I filled a magic square, and told him that it was the answer. He looked puzzled, and didn't understand; and then said that the answer to his question was not among the numbers on the board. When I asked him for the answer, he said it was 48. He explained how he came to that number. (It was hard to understand, even when you know the solution). Only then I looked at the board and realized that I formed a "magic square". He was amazed. In the last few years, I used the magic square for presentations; to explain that our company had the right solution for the client in any direction. Lior 


Judging from the correspondence I recieve, the magic square methodology is one of the two most popular items in my first book. Plenty of folks seem to think it's an appropriate effect. For myself, I use it as both a platform effect (for corporate work) and as a walkaround item (for corporate work, and also at psi parties; where I describe each square as a unique talisman for the recipient... per Richard Webster). As for the actual math involved, it requires only a [b]single[/b], [b]simple[/b] subtraction, so it could hardly be easier... and unlike other methods, every square is dramatically different. ... Doug 


There's an extremely simple way of producing magic squares. It's in "Ahead of the Pack" by Lewis Jones, and Jack Avis. 


When I was offered Mathematics, my first idea was to tear it apart to make fine paper origamis. But I start reading it, and was amazed by the number of fine routines you can base on simple math calculations. A must read for everyone. :coolspot: This is a book by Martin Gardner. Sorry not to have mentioned it before. 


I've used some presentational twists that begin by discussing the mysterious abilities of math prodigies. For example, folks who can do things like instantly produce the square root of ten digit numbers but can't explain how they do so. I suggest that such powers are latent in all of our brains. I then proceed to demonstrate this in terms of how a participant can extract patterns from numbers without knowing how they are doing so. I've used two effects to produce this "phenomenon." First, the magic square. This is basically the same handling I've written about before at the Café but then the presentational angle was that the number they identify is the result of subliminal messages. In the newer presentation, they identify a number that proves they were unconciously able to percieve the pattern inherent in the magic square. More recently, I've used an effect called "Add Infinitum" from David Berglas' book, "The Mind & Magic of David Berglas." I use the wonderfully simple final version (Method 3)on P. 451. Basically, the participant gives you any four threedigit numbers which are written down in a column. You instantly write down a "target" number, derived from a "pattern" inherent in the four numbers given by the participant. The participant is then "helped" to access their prodigylike abilities and without knowing how they have done so, in a manner that seems totally fair and free from external control (which in fact it is) arrives at the same target number. Presented as I do,it's quick, to the point, baffling and somewhat unsettling. The benefits of this approach (with either effect)is two fold. First, I think even those of us who are bored by math and math tricks can still be fascinated by the idea of someone having super abilities with numbers that even they can't explain. Second, and more important, the participant, if the presentation is handled well, becomes the star. As a couple of folks indicated earlier in this thread, one of the problems with the mentalist showing off their math skills is that it can play like showing off; "Hey, look what I can do that you can't." This is definitely a turn off, not that I believe all such demonstrations have to fall into this category. Witness the raves about the work with numbers by some of the best in our field whose presentations entertain rather than challenge. The presentations I described above, where the participant is the star, also lend themselves to the benefits of the logical disconnect and shutting down the analytic mind. Rather than wondering, "how did that guy add so fast," in my experience, the participant and audience end up wondering, "how did my (his or her) unconcious come up with that." This also bypasses resistance to belief because the participant becomes fascinated by the workings and possibilities of their own mind rather than that of the mentalist. Not that the opposite is always a bad thing but a variety of positions can lend texture to a performance. OK, folks, congratulte me: I've finally reached the magic 50 with this post and hopefully have done so in a way that at least some members will find interesting and helpful! 


For me it is the performer who is boring not the routines nor the effects themselves. Naturally math outines are not for every performer and every audience. For example you are performing for really youngters at the elementary school or for the olds at a rest house Normally it is not wise to use math routines. But for an intellectual audience such as a crowd at a college, math rotines get really great response at least it had worked for me so far. Especially when you challenge against a calculator or a computeras it is in lightning calculations it gets GREAT response. Because in this way you prove that human mind is superior to a machine and the spectator may associate himself with the performer subconsciously. It is a personal choice to do Math routines, so it is not convenient as good or bad just say suitable for the performer and the type of the audience. [img]http://themagiccafe.com/forums/images/smiles/turkishcoffee.gif[/img] 


[quote]On Apr 13, 2003, Alan Jackson wrote: Derren Brown closes his live show with a magic square. It's kind of (apparently) accidental and a very effective way of revealing a thought of number. It's cleverly disguised with a spiel about the numbers picked by people reading certain newspapers. [/quote] Could you help me with the name of the show where in Derren Brown performed the magic square as his encore? I'm really interested to check it out. Thanks! 


Math in mentalism... If Cassidy, Berglas, Osterlind, Maven, Becker, Earle, Brown, Hickok, Kurtz, Dyment, Cushman, Jermay, etc. ALL do it, then you don't have to ask the question in the first place!!! 


I actually really enjoy cube roots. It's not for every audience and I do use it as a demonstration of skill. It's how I keep my mind sharp. It's more impressive to college age kids and adults. I understand the hesitation most have. I had the same hesitation before learning the effect, but it paid off. 


Math effects are good as long as the procedure isn't boring or too obvious. For my stage show I've been using Some t*tal update as a closer and it works really well. As for my strolling material I always do number rev*rsal, I love that effect. You should check out "Lorayne's b*ck", an awesome math effect with the method well concealed. 


Can anyone do a rapid calculation of the number of days between the last post in this thread from 2003 and its reemergence in 2014? Surely it must be a record! 


LOL! I didn't realize that. 


[quote]On Sep 26, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote: Can anyone do a rapid calculation of the number of days between the last post in this thread from 2003 and its reemergence in 2014? Surely it must be a record! [/quote] ^^^ 


Further The person who resurrected this thread asked a question to someone who hasn't even posted on the Café since 2010. So I don't think we can expect an answer. 


[quote]On Sep 26, 2014, geeta172 wrote: [quote]On Apr 13, 2003, Alan Jackson wrote: Derren Brown closes his live show with a magic square. It's kind of (apparently) accidental and a very effective way of revealing a thought of number. It's cleverly disguised with a spiel about the numbers picked by people reading certain newspapers. [/quote] Could you help me with the name of the show where in Derren Brown performed the magic square as his encore? I'm really interested to check it out. Thanks! [/quote] It was the encore for his live show, "Derren Brown Live," from 20024. Here's the effect listing: http://www.derrenbrown.org.uk/live_2002.php [quote]On Sep 26, 2014, mastermindreader wrote: Further The person who resurrected this thread asked a question to someone who hasn't even posted on the Café since 2010. So I don't think we can expect an answer. [/quote] But an answer may issue from other quarters. Though skilled at sending and receiving thoughts, predicting the future is not among your powers! 


Picky, picky! :eek: But I've even seen people resurrecting old threads and asking questions of members who aren't alive any more. 


We all read regular books that were published years, decades, even centuries ago and mentally engage with authors who are long since dead. If the ideas recorded are still engaging and provocative, discussion will ensue. 


But Tim, we did not write to the deceased authors and wait for an answer... 


These threads only serve to remind me how many of the old guard are no longer with us. :cry: 


Sorry Bob. I wasn't aware. Very new to Mentalism. Haven't performed an effect ever. Just trying to learn now. Can anyone help me with my question though? Am I stepping on some forum rules by asking the question? Ummm..I doubt the performance is available to watch....is it? I don't find any DVD's of it. 


I think it's important to ask questions in the process of magic and mentalism, regardless of who performs what and how. Stefmagic, I suggest you think critically and question throughout your participation in the artof course, you may come to a conclusion that suggests no change, but how you get there is just as important as the destination itself. Regards, Mike [quote]On Sep 26, 2014, Stefmagic wrote: Math in mentalism... If Cassidy, Berglas, Osterlind, Maven, Becker, Earle, Brown, Hickok, Kurtz, Dyment, Cushman, Jermay, etc. ALL do it, then you don't have to ask the question in the first place!!! [/quote] 


I use math occasionally as a method but rarely as a demonstration. It doesn't fit my persona I sell myself as a mind reader, not as a math whiz. 


Great point, Bob! Selling yourself as a mentalist versus a math whiz are 2 completely different things. And where the math is done (as a method versus the demonstration itself) is also key. Please note that Stefmagic. Regards, Mike [quote]On Oct 5, 2014, mastermindreader wrote: I use math occasionally as a method but rarely as a demonstration. It doesn't fit my persona I sell myself as a mind reader, not as a math whiz. [/quote] 


So displaying a skill such as lighting addition just makes sense. If our brains have been developed enough to have a sixth sense, then why wouldn't our other senses be magnified? Work well as a lead in to a mental calculation, like the Pepsi prediction, performed by Mark A. Gibson. 


Well, math and memory demonstrations are the third in Corinda's 13 Steps. And if, with Chuck Hickok, you believe that the audience ought to experience in one's first effect an implied mental power that is plausible in their eyes, it may be worth reconsidering. Richard Osterlind teaches a splendid approach to performing an instant magic square, for any number from 33 to 99, in his new book, CRIB. I plan to open with it tomorrow evening. George 


You know, some of these very old threads are very cool to read. Besides some genuinely good ideas from members long gone, it also gives an insight into some of the groupthink that has formed in the mentalism community. 


I was just counting ... I can't believe how much of my repertoire is math. You could've NEVER told me way back when I was in school that math really was going to be something I did  FOR FUN! Oscar 


Math in mentalism isn't appealing to me. The closest things I would do would be a magic square and blindfolded rubik. If you can make a math routine entertaining for your audience, no problem. 


I'm glad there isn't but one way, to be a mentalist. How boring it would be, if we all did the same stuff. 