“Just got the app. Love it! Thanks!” Lance Burton, Master Magician
My old pal, psychologist, writer and all around good egg Richard Wiseman launches his book Paranormality in America this week. And to celebrate, Richard and I launched a fun and free iPhone magic trick by the same name. Here’s Richard’s video showing the trick in action. The app shows you three spoons on a laboratory table. Ask your friend to choose a spoon and focus their mind on it, willing it to bend. The chosen spoon will bend before their eyes.
“Finally someone has released a rather fantastic mind reading app that genuinely triggers that “wow – how did you do that?” response.” Phillis, Derren Brown Blog.
Ever wanted to read someone’s mind?
With Telepath, you can convince almost anyone you’re a mind reader. Telepath is a new mind-reading iPhone app that the talented Richard Wiseman and I are releasing today. The idea is simple: Someone chooses a picture and mentally sends their thoughts to the iPhone. When they turn over the iPhone, they’ll be astounded to discover their thoughts on the screen.
Here’s Telepath in action …
I hope you like it! This is my first foray into the worlds of app development, Objective C and ESP.
As we say in the video, Telepath can also be used to predict numbers, cute animals, cards and dates – so can even improve your love life. Feel free to guess how it might work – and if you buy the trick from the app store, let us know what you think (but please don’t give away the method!).
Update: Thanks to all of you who have mentioned the app and given it a try. We’re so glad to hear so many of you are enjoying it. And we’re really chuffed with all the positive feedback from magicians around the world.
We’re now getting to work on an Android version – news on that very soon. Meanwhile, the lovely people over at Derren Brown Towers (which features all things magical, scientific and wonderful) would like to see some videos of you performing the trick. Can’t wait to see your magical powers in action!
Contortionist Delia DuSol will be bending her body into some extraordinary poses and squeezing herself into a tiny perspex box at Richard Wiseman‘s first night of Inexplicable Acts, Thursday 12 Feb. This season of shows at the Wellcome Trust will explore the psychology and physiology of circus performers’ bodies, including the sword swallower, the juggler and the exceptionally flexible Delia.
The new piece
On request from Richard, I’ve created some music for Delia’s act. It’s a 7 minute piece, weaving fragments of a conversation with Delia, along with handbells, theremin and other noises. I find Delia’s act simultaneously beautiful and unsettling – and I’ve tried to create a simple, cabaret-style dance piece that reflected those feelings. It’s very tense watching Delia in some of her poses – like a gymnast on the beam, she seems to be concentrating hard, making continual, minuscule adjustments to her body as she maintains some terrifying balances. I hope the slight detuning of the bells and the natural (ahem) wobbles on the theremin give the piece a sense of these continual adjustments – a detail that adds a charming, human quality to her act.
For those of you who don’t know Richard’s work already, he’s an experimental psychologist and author with a great eye for scientific experiments that are likely to capture the public imagination. Here, he talks about the history of contortion and explores what was discovered when Delia’s contorting body was examined in an MRI scanner. His blog is always a good read as he updates it every day or so with conundrums and scientific oddities, gleaned from just about everywhere.
Before and after
Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve written music for Delia. Around five years ago, I made a first attempt, using a voice recording that Richard had made very hastily in a rehearsal space (where the acoustics weren’t great). I didn’t get a chance to see her act before I wrote this early version – and that’s probably why the later piece seems a better match. This earlier piece was used at various events, including Wiseman and Singh’s Theatre of Science (where I made an appearance on theremin and saw). Here it is anyway, for the sake of comparison.
Laughlab was a scientific search for the ‘world’s funniest joke’. In 2003, psychologist Richard Wiseman asked me to created soundtrack to announce the results of this worldwide, online experiment. This was blasted through the streets on London from a Routemaster bus, on the day the top-rated jokes were unveilled.
Hear the soundtrack
The soundtrack includes the ‘world’s funniest joke’ and some of the best runners-up. My favourite jokes on the recording are the one about the cannibals and the one about the lady on the bus. Apparently, the bus joke was voted top joke in the UK. According to the Laughlab website, the winning joke was submitted by Gurpal Gosall, a 31-year-old psychiatrist from Manchester, UK.
Richard Hodder, voice-over artist, provided a slightly seedy comic reading, in Max Miller style. I mixed this with other sounds to create the feeling of an early, live BBC radio show (a ‘light programme’ special). Richard also announced the World’s Funniest Joke in an appropriately stiff, Leslie Mitchel voice.
Laughlab was sponsored by Science Year (now Planet Science) and the British Association.
These videos are for Telepath magicians only – to watch them, you’ll need to enter our secret password. To find the secret password, go to the information screen in Telepath and click on Extra Stardust. The password is the third word you see on the Extra Stardust screen.
Known issue (version 1.01)
On the Learn the Trick screen, you will hear the entire soundtrack, not just a single sparkle, when you click on the sparkle sound link. A single sparkle should sound like this.
This issue will be fixed in the next release of Telepath – coming very soon. Updates will be free to anyone who has purchased this app.
Do you sometimes feel you haven’t reached your full potential?
Are you caring and thoughtful?
Are you sometimes relaxed and confident in company – but other times shy and repressed?
We thought so!
The Booth of Truth can read your personality with uncanny accuracy.
Channelling the juju - the marvellously talented Dolly Rocket is my favourite cold reader
I decided to make the Booth of Truth in 2002 after psychologist Richard Wiseman told me about the wonderful world of Barnum Statements. A favourite among psychic claimants, horoscope writers, recruitment consultants and others who perform ‘cold readings’ on clients, Barnum Statements are phrases which seem personal but are actually true of almost anyone. For instance:
“You have a strong desire for other people to like and admire you.”
Researched in the 1940s by the psychologist Forer, the Barnum Effect was also the focus of psychologist Ciaran O’Keeffe’s doctoral thesis. When I created the exhibit in 2002, Ciaran gave me a string of very entertaining Barnum Statements. These are read out, randomly, to anyone who stood in my exhibit and puts some money in the slot. Some have come from Forer’s original literature. A few have come from people who claim to be psychic.
The statements from the psychic claimants are the most perplexing of all – but they’re also brilliant examples of the conversational fishing expeditions so beloved by cold readers. My favourite starts off sounding like a reading for amputees only but by the end of the paragraph, could apply to just about everyone (you can hear it in the excerpt at the bottom of this page).
Long in the tooth - the booth of truth
Consulting the Booth of Truth is like entering a small chapel. The interior is petite yet high baroque – complete with an elaborate, gilt mirror. I was aiming for a cross between Vincent Price’s parlour and a GPO telephone booth. On entering the booth, you kneel on a comfy stool, in front of the psychofluorescent radio mirror, put your money in the slot, place your hand on the founder’s tranquil balls, then listen carefully as a disembodied voice gives you an uncannily accurate ‘personality reading’. The reading is complete with New Age soundtrack and light display.
An example reading
This is an early example of my sound work in exhibits so the quality and choice of sounds is a little ropey. But I’ve put it here anyway, in case some of you find the content interesting.
The Booth of Truth is one of my earliest DIY exhibits, made long before I had the confidence to unleash my idiosyncratic wiring on the public. So thanks to Tim Hunkin for electrifying the moving curtains, tidying up my unruly circuitry and adding some wonderful, extra lighting effects in the mirror.
If you want to see this much loved but tatty exhibit in action, do head to Tim’s wonderful arcade The Under the Pier Show, on Southwold pier. By all accounts, the Booth of Truth is still pretty popular – in fact, I receive regular income from the psychofluorescent radio mirror. Earnings used to arrive as giant bags of 20 pence pieces. Less romantically, they now come in the form of the occasional cheque as coins are sorted and totted up by the pier owner’s counting machine.
Coming soon! Uncanny Valerie
This new robot (created in collaboration with Vivien Angliss) will also be displaying some uncanny mind-reading abilities. She’s currently under construction (Feb 2009) and is likely to be making her debut appearance at the first UK Maker Faire, Newcastle, 14-15 March 2008. Details to follow.