A mentalist and an assistant take the stage in a large auditorium. The mentalist is blindfolded, and the assistant leaves the stage, moving amongst the audience and asking spectators to offer objects for the sightless mentalist to identify.
One by one, the assistant takes objects and asks the mentalist to identify them. The mentalist does so flawlessly. Finally, the assistant asks for a dollar bill, and when it is presented the mentalist uses supernatural site to read the bill's number.
The audience leaves thoroughly amazed.
The blindfolded vision routine is quite difficult to master and requires a great deal of practice both by the mentalist and by the assistant. Although objects are freely chosen by audience members, and the mentalist is really blindfolded, the assistant is able to communicate the identity of the objects through the use of a clever secret code, so slyly communicated that the audience never suspects its existence.
The code is simply this -- once an object is delivered into the assistant's hands, the assistant speaks to the medium using words that spell out the type of item. For example, if the item is a pen, the assistant might say, "I have an object here, Please Examine Now." The mentalist, remembering the first letters of the coded part of the message, would realize that the item was a pen. Then the assistant says, "Please tell me the color, Besides Listing Another Common Kind." The pen is black!
Speaking in this way is fairly easy, with a little practice, as is understanding the code. Try it yourself. Imagine that your assistant says, "I have an object here, What A Lovely Little Expensive Treasure! I'd like to know what color it is, Please Lend An Identification Divination. Oh, and what is this inside? Can't Observe Now Dear, Oh My!" What would you say is being held? And if you as assistant were handed a platinum Rolex, how would you code your phrase?
When the dollar bill is selected, a different code is used. The mentalist may begin by divining the value of the bill, whose picture is on it, etc., using methods that are beyond the scope of this article. After that warm-up, the naming of the bill's serial number digits commences -- using an entirely different code!
Dollar bills' serial numbers begin and end with letters of the alphabet, and these can be coded as were the names of objects above. The numbers themselves, however, are coded in with a much more simple scheme in which a different word stands for each digit as follows:
1 = won
2 = too/to
3 = the
4 = fore
5 = hive
6 = sex
7 = Sven
8 = ate
9 = airline
0 = hero
For example, let's say that the bill's serial number is A713659820D. It would be encoded as follows, "A young lady told me that Sven won the sex hive in an airline lottery and ate it, too! He's my hero, Dear." What could be simpler! And if the little story made to encode the bill's number is spoken as an interesting aside -- as it was in this case -- nobody will be the wiser.
For mentalists who are not interested in such a complex system, there are two simpler ways to accomplish the same feat. First, the assistant and the mentalist may agree beforehand that the assistant will only accept wallets from the audience, no matter what is offered. Then the mentalist just has to guess a wallet to be correct. After that, the mentalist can "see" all manner of objects within the wallet, such as money, a drivers' license, a parking ticket, etc., that everyone has. Although this method is effective, the assistant must be careful not to choose more than four or five wallets, or the audience may begin to suspect a trick.
The second method involves the assistant asking the audience for items in a low tone. "Who has a pen?" the assistant says. Although the assistant makes it sounds like the words are for the audience only, the mentalist can actually hear what is being said (due to auditorium acoustics) and knows beforehand what will be chosen.