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How to Do the Mind Control Trick

Use a special property of the number nine to wow people with your psychic skills.


  • Step 1: Develop story to explain mind-reading ability Tell a story to explain why you are able to read minds.
  • Step 2: Pick a number Tell your volunteer to think of a number between 1 and 10, but not to say the number out loud.
  • Step 3: Multiply number by 9 Have your volunteer multiply their number by 9.
  • TIP: As they do the math, remind them not to reveal their answers to you.
  • Step 4: Add numbers in the product Instruct the volunteer to add the digits in the product together.
  • TIP: The sum of the digits of any number, 1 through 10, that's been multiplied by 9 will add up to 9.
  • Step 5: Subtract 5 Tell your volunteer to subtract 5 from the new number, which you know to be 9. When they subtract 5 from their number, the answer, of course, is 4.
  • Step 6: Determine a letter Have your volunteer choose a letter of the alphabet. Tell them to use the number in their head, and find its corresponding letter when 1 equals A, 2 equals B, through 26 equaling Z. Since their number is 4, they should now be thinking of the letter D.
  • Step 7: Think of a country and mammal Have your volunteer think of a country that begins with their letter, and then to think of a mammal whose name begins with the second letter in the country's name. Most people will pick Denmark, and although there are other mammals that begin with E, most people will pick elephant.
  • TIP: Have a contingency plan in case they didn't pick Denmark or elephant. The second letter of Dominican Republic, for example, is O. Ox and otter are good backup guesses. The elk is the only other common mammal starting with E. And there's always jaguar for the smart aleck who picks Djibouti!
  • Step 8: Select a color Have your volunteer pick a color that their animal is associated with. Since they're probably thinking of an elephant, the color will be gray.
  • Step 9: Reveal your mind-reading powers Look at your volunteer and say, "Are you thinking of a gray elephant in Denmark?" Enjoy their look of surprise and amazement!
  • FACT: African elephants are the world's largest living land mammals.

You Will Need

  • Volunteer
  • Good memory
  • Flair for acting

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