Deception in depth

Co-author A.R. used to perform an act in which he would appear to read the mind of an audience member. The secret was simply that the audience member he selected for the demonstration was a paid confederate; the apparently impromptu mind reading was actually a scripted exchange. In the middle of one show, a man in the theatre stood up and shouted, “I was here last week and he chose the same woman. She’s a stooge!” After some commotion and hesitation, the magician invited the heckler onto the stage and then proceeded to read his mind instead. The act was powerful for the audience and particularly so for the initial confederate. The magician later “confided” to her that he could indeed genuinely read minds, but it was cognitively taxing for him, which is why he hired her as a confederate. The confederate was so impressed that she praised his magical powers in front of friends and colleagues for years after the performance. As it turns out, the heckler was the magician’s uncle—yet another confederate. This additional layer of deception was intended to fool the audience as well as the initial confederate.