All of these things can be accomplished by anyone, says renowned magician and mentalist Simon Winthrop.
"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," Winthrop told AOL News.
But Winthrop does in his new book, "How to Be a Mentalist: Master the Secrets Behind the Hit TV Show" (Berkley Boulevard Books).
Most people might assume that you have to be truly psychic in order to do the kinds of mental feats that the fictional Jane or real stage performers present as they dazzle and amaze audiences around the world.
Mentalism is traceable to 19th-century spiritualists, and history is replete with tales of seers and prognosticators dating back to the oracles of ancient Greece.
Winthrop, 39, says there's nothing magical or mystical about it.
"I really don't like using the word 'psychic.' It just kind of connotes a back of the trailer, in the middle of a road somewhere, gypsy in an alley, selling some snake potion," he said.
At 13, Winthrop started developing his mentalist skills after he realized he knew exactly when the telephone would ring and who was calling.
"When we lived in Chicago, my brother and I went to the library and we read about psychic phenomena and things like magic," he said. "Eventually, I was able to guess names, especially of people who had never called our house before.
"After I developed that ability, I graduated into entertaining cute girls."
"I've arranged with the owners of this site that if you go there and enter your e-mail address in the coupon code area -- where it says 'Start Now' -- they'll give you a free evaluation," he said.
"If you take the online mentalist test, it's a great way to figure out exactly how strong a mentalist you already are, and how far you've got to go before you can be someone who does the types of things that I do, or the guy on television does."
So, what secrets does Winthrop share in his book?
"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."
As an example, Winthrop talks about lie detection, and says you can easily learn information about people from the way they speak –- the sound of their voice.
"I'm a huge fan of asking a direct question and putting somebody a little bit under stress when I detect an insincerity. When you detect an insincerity spoken, the greatest thing to do is to ask your question directly and then pause for a second.
"Some people tighten up with their voice. If you detect that there's a strain or a nervousness about the way they speak their answer, usually you can hear it by the pitch changing.
"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."
If you want to learn how to "read" someone, to seemingly come up with information about that person that you couldn't possibly have known ahead of time, Winthrop explains that it's basically a matter of exercising a muscle that you haven't used in a very long time, and conditioning it -- in this case, your mind, memory, intuition and powers of observation.
"To me, it happens so organically. The connection is more of a process -- it's something weird that I can do that's kind of freaky, and I get off freaking people out and entertaining them. My audiences sense that," he said.
And to prove his point, Winthrop decided to "read" me over the telephone. Keep in mind (no pun intended), he and I had never spoken before and he knew nothing about me.
"If I were to ask you your astrological sign, you said a few things that made me think," he began. "I'm guessing that you're kind of stubborn about certain things, yet there's a real sweetness about you -- but a stubbornness in thought, and that combination would make you born under the sign of Taurus." ("Correct," I thought.)
"I would guess that it would be the 7th or the 8th. I'd say you're not born in April, but you're more of a May Taurus -- maybe May 8." (Exactly my birthday!)
I think I'm going to take that online ESP test. Now, I'm really curious.
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