An ancient performing art
Mentalism is considered to be a branch of stage magic, featuring many of the same basic tools, principles, sleights and skills in its performance. Some performers add stage hypnotism to the mix. Mentalism and mental magic often require performers to display an authoritative, commanding and charismatic stage presence. Performers also may undertake rigorous memory training in order to present their effects. Much of what the mentalist does in his or her act can be traced back directly to tests of supernatural power that were carried out by mediums, spiritualists and psychics in the 19th Century. However, the history of mentalism goes back even further. One of the earliest recorded performances of a mentalism act was by diplomat and pioneering sleight-of-hand magician Girolamo Scotto in 1572. Two tests still in general use today are the book test and the living-and-dead test. In the former, a book is chosen at random by an examiner (usually a member of the audience) and opened at a random page. The examiner would then concentrate on a word, sentence or paragraph of his or her choice. If the mentalist can discover the thought-of word(s), apparently using only \"mental powers\", then he passes the \"test.\" In the living-and-dead test, the name of a deceased person(s) is mixed in with the names of people still living, all written on identical slips of paper. Apparently using mental powers alone, the mentalist must separate the living from the dead. Styles of presentation, and the personal beliefs of the performers, can vary greatly. Some, like Uri Geller, claim to actually possess supernatural powers such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, or telekinesis. Others, such as Julius and Agnes Zancig and C. Alexander have explained the effects they performed on stage as non-supernatural. Many performers, including Millie Lammar (billed as \"The Beautiful Albino Ceylonese Mind Reader\"), Richard Osterlind, Banachek and Derren Brown have attributed their results to less supernatural skills: the ability to read body language or voice inflection, or to manipulate the subject subliminally through psychological suggestion, for example. Mentalists generally do not mix \"standard\" magic tricks with their mental feats. Doing so associates mentalism too closely with the theatrical trickery employed by stage magicians. Many mentalists claim not to be magicians at all, arguing that it is a different art form altogether. On the other hand, magicians such as David Copperfield, David Blaine and Criss Angel routinely mix aspects of mentalism with their magical illusions. For example, a mind-reading stunt might also involve the magical transposition of two different objects. Such hybrid feats, or magic with a mental theme, are usually classified as \"mental magic\" by performers.
Famous mentalists Alexander Theodore Annemann Banachek David Berglas Derren Brown Chan Canasta Bob Cassidy Corinda Joseph Dunninger The Evasons Uri Geller Luke Jermay Kreskin Gary Kurtz Max Maven Gerry McCambridge Richard Osterlind Marc Salem The Zancigs
An illusion is a distortion of a sensory perception, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people. Illusions may occur with more of the human senses than vision, but visual illusions, optical illusions, are the most well known and understood. The emphasis on visual illusions occurs because vision often dominates the other senses. For example, individuals watching a ventriloquist will perceive the voice is coming from the dummy since they are able to see the dummy mouth the words. Some illusions are based on general assumptions the brain makes during perception. These assumptions are made using organizational principles, like Gestalt, an individual\'s ability of depth perception and motion perception, and perceptual constancy. Other illusions occur because of biological sensory structures within the human body or conditions outside of the body within one’s physical environment. In psychiatry and philosophy the term illusion refers to a specific form of sensory distortion. Unlike a hallucination, which is a sensory experience in the absence of a stimulus, an illusion describes a misinterpretation of a true sensation so it is perceived in a distorted manner. For example, hearing voices regardless of the environment would be a hallucination, whereas hearing voices in the sound of running water (or other auditory source) would be an illusion. Mimes are known for a repertoire of illusions that are created by physical means. The mime artist creates an illusion of acting upon or being acted upon an unseen object. These illusions exploit the audience\'s assumptions about the physical world. Well known examples include \"walls\", \"climbing stairs\", \"leaning\", \"descending ladders\", \"pulling and pushing\" etc.
Throughout history people have claimed to have precognitive abilities, and prophecy is a feature of many religions. Just as prevalent are anecdotal accounts of precognitions from the general public, such as someone \"knowing\" who is on the other end of a ringing telephone before they answer it, or having a dream of unusual clarity with elements of content that later occur. While anecdotal accounts do not provide scientific proof of precognition, such common experiences motivate continued research.  History J. W. Dunne, a British aeronautics engineer, undertook the first systematic study of precognition in the early twentieth century. In 1927, he published the classic An Experiment with Time, which contained his findings and theories. Dunne\'s study was based on his own precognitive dreams, which involved both trivial incidents in his own life and major news events appearing in the press the day after the dream. When first realizing that he was seeing the future in his dreams, Dunne worried that he was \"a freak.\" His worries soon eased when he discovered that precognitive dreams are common; he concluded that many people have them without realizing it, perhaps because they do not recall the details or fail to properly interpret the dream symbols. Joseph Banks Rhine and Louisa Rhine began the next significant systematic research of precognition in the 1930s at the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University. Rhine used card-guessing experiments in which the participant was asked to record his guess of the order of a card deck before the deck was shuffled. London psychiatrist J. A. Barker established the British Premonitions Bureau in 1967, which collected precognitive data in order to provide an early warning system of impending disasters. Barker succeeded in finding a number of \"human seismographs\" who tuned in regularly to disasters, but were unable to accurately pinpoint the times. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab began in 1979 with precognitive experiments have since been done in a variety of formats by various parapsychologists, for example by the remote viewing researchers. This facility is now closed.  Skepticism Common experiences which seem like precognition have motivate continued research in the area. Skeptics think that because the anecdotal evidence does not provide sufficient scientific support for belief in precognition. There is a strong human tendency to selectively recall coincidences and forget all the times where, for example, dreams and other precognitions do not come to pass or the person on the other end of the phone is not who was expected.
Terminology Early history \"Telekinesis\" was coined in 1890 by Russian psychical researcher Alexander N. Aksakof. \"Psychokinesis\" was coined in 1914 by American author-publisher Henry Holt in his book On the Cosmic Relations and adopted by his friend, American parapsychologist J. B. Rhine in 1934 in connection with experiments to determine if a person could influence the outcome of falling dice. Both terms have been described by other names, such as \"remote influencing,\" \"distant influencing,\" \"remote mental influence,\" \"distant mental influence,\" \"directed conscious intention,\" \"anomalous perturbation,\" and \"mind over matter.\" Originally telekinesis was coined to refer to the movement of objects thought to be caused by ghosts of deceased persons, mischievous spirits, demons, or other supernatural forces. Later when speculation increased that humans might be the source of the witnessed phenomena (that which was not caused by fraudulent mediums) and could possibly cause movement without any connection to a spiritualistic setting, such as in a darkened séance room, psychokinesis was added to the lexicon, this done to differentiate between the earlier use of the term telekinesis. Eventually, psychokinesis was the preferred term by the parapsychological community (and still is) and it was suggested that telekinesis become obsolete. Popular culture, however, such as movies, television, and literature, over the years preferred telekinesis to describe the paranormal movement of objects likely due to the word\'s resemblance to other terms, such as telepathy, teleportation, telephone, and television. Modern usage As research entered the modern era, it became clear that many different, but related, abilities could be attributed to the wider description of psychokinesis and telekinesis is now regarded as one of the specialities of PK. In the 2004 U.S. Air Force-sponsored research report Teleportation Physics Study, the physicist-author described the classification of PK and TK this way: Telekinesis is a form of PK, which describes the movement of stationary objects without the use of any known physical force. — Eric Davis, physicist, Ph.D, Teleportation Physics Study, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, 2004 page 55 Psychokinesis, then, is the general term that can be used to describe a variety of complex mental force phenomena (including object movement) and telekinesis is used to refer only to the movement of objects, however tiny (a grain of salt or air molecules to create wind) or large (an automobile, building, or bridge). Hypothetically, a person could have very profound telekinetic ability, but not be able to produce any of the additional effects found in psychokinesis, such as softening the metal of a spoon to allow its bending with minimal physical force. Conversely, someone who has succeeded in psychokinetically softening metal once or a number of times may exhibit no telekinetic ability to move objects.  Measurement and observation Currently parapsychology researchers describe two basic types of measurable and observable psychokinetic and telekinetic effects in experimental laboratory research and in case reports occurring outside of the laboratory. Micro-PK or micro-TK is a very small effect, such as the manipulation of molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, etc., which can only be observed with scientific equipment. The words are abbreviations for micro-psychokinesis, micropsychokinesis; micro-telekinesis, microtelekinesis. Macro-PK or macro-TK is a large-scale effect which can be seen with the unaided eye. The words are abbreviations for macro-psychokinesis, macropsychokinesis; macro-telekinesis, macrotelekinesis. The adjective phrases \"microscopic-scale,\" \"macroscopic-scale,\" \"small-scale,\" and \"large-scale\" may also be used; for example, \"a small-scale PK effect.\"  Spontaneous effects Spontaneous movements of objects and other unexplained effects have been reported, and many parapsychologists believe they are possibly forms of psychokinesis/telekinesis . Parapsychologist William G. Roll coined the term \"recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis\" (RSPK) in 1958. The sudden movement of objects without deliberate intention in the presence or vicinity of one or more witnesses is thought by some to be related to as-yet-unknown PK/TK processes of the subconscious mind. Researchers use the term \"PK agent,\" especially in spontaneous cases, to describe someone who is suspected of being the source of the PK action. Outbreaks of spontaneous movements or other effects, such as in a private home, and especially those involving violent or physiological effects, such as objects hitting people or scratches or other marks on the body, are sometimes investigated as poltergeist cases.
Within the field of parapsychology, telepathy is considered to be a form of extra-sensory perception (ESP) or anomalous cognition in which information is transferred through Psi. It is often categorized similarly to precognition and clairvoyance. Various experiments have been used to test for telepathic abilities. Among the most well known are the use of Zener cards and the Ganzfeld experiment. Zener cards Zener cards are cards marked with five distinctive symbols. When using them, one individual is designated the \"sender\" and another the \"receiver\". The sender must select a random card and visualize the symbol on it, while the receiver must attempt to determine that symbol using Psi. Statistically, the receiver has a 20% chance of randomly guessing the correct symbol, so in order to demonstrate telepathy, they must repeatedly score a success rate that is significantly higher than 20%. If not conducted properly, this method can be vulnerable to sensory leakage and card counting.  When using the Ganzfeld experiment to test for telepathy, one individual is designated the receiver and is placed inside a controlled environment where they are deprived of sensory input, and another is designated the sender and is placed in a separate location. The receiver is then required to receive information from the sender. The exact nature of the information may vary between experiments.  Types of telepathy Parapsychology describes several different forms of telepathy, including latent telepathy and precognitive telepathy. Latent Telepathy, formerly known as \"deferred telepathy\",  is described as being the transfer of information, through Psi, with an observable time-lag between transmission and receipt. Precognitive Telepathy is described as being the transfer of information, through Psi, about the future state of an individual\'s mind.
Within parapsychology, clairvoyance is used exclusively to refer to the transfer of information that is both contemporary to, and hidden from, the clairvoyant. It is differentiated from telepathy in that the information is said to be gained directly from an external physical source, rather than being transferred from the mind of one individual to another.  Outside of parapsychology, clairvoyance is often used to refer to other forms of Anomalous cognition, most commonly the perception of events that have occurred in the past, or which will occur in the future (known as retrocognition and precognition respectively), , or to refer to communications with the dead (see Mediumship). Clairvoyace is related to remote viewing, although the term \"remote viewing\" itself is not as widely applicable to clairvoyance because it refers to a specific controlled process.  Status of clairvoyance Within the field of parapsychology, there is a consensus that some instances of clairvoyance are verifiable. . There is also a measured level of belief from amongst the general public, with the portion of the US population who believe in clairvoyance varying between 1/4 and 1/3 over the last 15 years. Year Belief 1990 26% 2000 32% 2005 26%  The concept of clairvoyance gained some support from the US and Russian government during and after the Cold War, and both governments made several attempts to harness it as an intelligence gathering tool.  Scientific opinion appears divided regarding phenomena such as clairvoyance. As a general rule, while trained scientists may not be as likely to believe in parapsychological phenomena as the general public, they are far from monolithic in their disbelief. Surveys of this group are rare, but in their 1994 paper in the Psychological Bulletin entitled \"Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer\", Daryl J. Bem and Charles Honorton quote a 1979 survey: A survey of more than 1,100 college professors in the United States found that 55% of natural scientists, 66% of social scientists (excluding psychologists), and 77% of academics in the arts, humanities, and education believed that ESP is either an established fact or a likely possibility. The comparable figure for psychologists was only 34%. Moreover, an equal number of psychologists declared ESP to be an impossibility, a view expressed by only 2% of all other respondents (Wagner; Monnet, 1979). According to skeptics, clairvoyance is the result of fraud or self-delusion.   Clairvoyance and related phenomena through history There have been anecdotal reports of clairvoyance and \'clear\' abilities throughout history in most cultures. These episodes are often reported as being experienced through early adulthood. Often clairvoyance has been associated with religious or shamanic figures, offices and practices. For example, ancient Hindu religious texts list clairvoyance amongst other forms of \'clear\' experiencing, as siddhis, or \'perfections\', skills that are yielded through appropriate meditation and personal discipline. But a large number of anecdotal accounts of clairvoyance are of the spontaneous variety among the general populace. For example, many people report seeing a loved one who has recently died before they have learned by other means that their loved one is deceased. While anecdotal accounts do not provide scientific proof of clairvoyance, such common experiences continue to motivate research into such phenomena. Clairvoyance was one of the phenomena reportedly observed in the behavior of somnambulists, people who were mesmerized and in a trance state (nowadays equated with hypnosis by most people) in the time of Franz Anton Mesmer. The earliest record of somnambulistic clairvoyance is credited to the Marquis de Puységur, a follower of Mesmer, who in 1784 was treating a local dull-witted peasant named Victor Race. During treatment, Race reportedly would go into trance and undergo a personality change, becoming fluent and articulate, and giving diagnosis and prescription for his own disease as well as those of others. When he came out of the trance state he would be unaware of anything he had said or done. This behavior is somewhat reminiscent of the reported behaviors of the 20th century medical clairvoyant and psychic Edgar Cayce. It is reported that although Puységur used the term \'clairvoyance\', he did not think of these phenomena as \"paranormal\", since he accepted mesmerism as one of the natural sciences. Clairvoyance was a reported ability of some mediums during the spiritualist period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was one of the phenomena studied by members of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Psychics of many descriptions have claimed clairvoyant ability up to the present day. While experimental research into clairvoyance began with SPR researchers, experimental studies became more systematic with the efforts of J. B. Rhine and his associates at Duke University, and such research efforts continue to the present day. Perhaps the best-known study of clairvoyance in recent times was the US government-funded remote viewing project at SRI/SAIC during the 1970s through the mid-1990s. Some parapsychologists have proposed that our different functional labels (clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, etc.) all refer to one basic underlying mechanism, although there is not yet any satisfactory theory for what that mechanism may be.  Parapsychological research Parapsychological research studies of remote viewing and clairvoyance have produced favorable results significantly above chance, and meta-analysis of these studies increases the significance to astronomical proportions. For instance, at the Stanford Research Institute, remote viewing experiments undertaken between 1973 and 1988 were analyzed by Edwin May and his colleagues in 1988, and the odds against the results being due to chance were more than a billion billion to one. The SRI results were replicated at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory. (Radin 1997:91-109)
Mind control is a general term for a number of controversial theories and/or techniques designed to subvert an individual\'s control of their own thinking, behavior, emotions, or decisions. However, rather than mere psychological conditioning, many mind control \'experiments\', like the CIA MK-Ultra projects, have focused primarily on physical violence or torture as the principal methods to force victims to do what they do not want to do. Physical torture, nevertheless, affects the functioning of the victims\' nervous systems including the brain. Forms of torture that may affect the nervous system include beatings, gunshot wounds, stab wounds, asphyxiation, prolonged suspension and electrocution.  The feasibility of such control and the methods by which it might be attained (either direct or more subtle) are subject to debate among psychologists, neuroscientists, and sociologists. Also, the exact definition of mind control and the extent to which it might have any kind of influence over individuals are debated. The different views on the subject do have legal implications. For example, mind control was an issue in the court case of Patty Hearst, and in several court cases involving New Religious Movements. Also, questions of mind control are regarding ethical questions linked to the subject of free will. The question of mind control has been discussed in conjunction with religion, politics, prisoners of war, totalitarianism, neural cell manipulation, cults, terrorism, torture, parental alienation, and even battered person syndrome.