Not Even the Science Pros Could Do It! KiLa Spots a Real Mentalist | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Not Even the Science Pros Could Do It! KiLa Spots a Real Mentalist

KiLa's World Magicians! 2) Banacheck

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Mr. KiLa, Japan’s foremost magicianHello everyone.I am KiLa, a magician. In order to introduce you to the world of magic, I have carefully selected a magician for this “Biography of Magicians,” based on my own prejudice.

This time, I would like to introduce an American mentalist, Banachek. The words “mentalism” and “mentalist” are now familiar in Japan, but few people know about him. Even magicians may not be familiar with Banachek. However, in my opinion, he is the leading authority on mentalism.

First, let me give you some background on him. Born in England on November 30, 1960, Banachek performed an escape stunt on the TV show “The Search for Houdini” in 1987. He has worked as a mentalist and consultant for various entertainers as well as for international shows.

There is one episode that cannot be left out when introducing him. It is the case of “Project Alpha,” which took place in the United States in the 1980s.

In 1979, the McDonnell Institute of Parapsychology was established at the University of Washington by James McDonnell, Chairman of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation, to develop and study “parapsychology” McDonnell was a scientist. McDonnell, a scientist and interested in the paranormal, donated a large sum of money, as much as $500,000, to the Institute. Peter Phillips, then a professor of physics at the University of Washington, became the institute’s director. The institute began recruiting psychics from all over the U.S. to verify whether they were real or not.

The institute recruited nearly 300 applicants from all over the U.S. After a screening process, two were selected as test subjects. The two subjects were Michael Edwards (18) and Steve Shaw (17).

When the experiment began, they demonstrated telekinesis and psychokinesis. After three years of experimentation and research, it was concluded that they were psychic. The news was reported all over the United States.


But then the two men made a shocking confession: “We are magicians, James.” They said, “We are students of magician James Randi, and all of the ESP we were experimenting with were tricks.” James Randi was an illusionist who went by the name “The Amazing Randi”. He is a skeptic and a critic of pseudoscience.

In fact, when the McDonnell Institute began experiments to test psychic abilities, Randi sent a one-point warning to Director Phillip: “During the experiment, do not allow the subject to change the original plan,” “Strictly control the circumstances surrounding the experiment,” “Do not respond to the subject’s whims,” and so on. This is advice to spot tricks. He also offered to attend the experiments free of charge if necessary, but all of these offers were ignored.

So Randi sent two of his students, young boys, to prove to him that if he proceeded with ESP research without a solid verification environment, he would not be able to tell the difference between tricks and ESP. If, during an experiment, someone asked, “Isn’t that a trick?” during the experiment, they were told to immediately admit it and answer, “I was sent by Randi. He was to take full responsibility.”

However, the researchers at the McDonnell Institute were unable to see through the trick until the very end, and they never asked the two men, “Is it a trick?” In 1985, two years after this shocking admission, the McDonnell Institute was closed.

Steve Shaw, one of the boys who used magic to have his psychic abilities recognized in front of a crowd of scientists, was the future Banachek.


Once again, what exactly is mentalism? Do you know what mentalism is?

Many people probably think “mentalism = psychology”. Many people think that mentalism is something that can lead people or read their minds without using any tricks, although it is not equal to that. Mentalism is magic. Just as there is jazz, pop, reggae, etc. in music, there is card magic, coin magic, illusions, and mentalism in magic. Mentalism is a category of magic.

Zenneth Kok, Hong Kong mentalist

My definition of magic today is “entertainment that incorporates fiction, including the supernatural and fantasy, into reality by any means necessary”. As I said “by any means necessary,” this includes science, chemistry, physics, illusion, psychology, sleight of hand, and trickery. We magicians do not choose the means to achieve our goals. Therefore, while we may use psychology when performing mentalism, mentalism does not equal psychology.

It is not possible to read a person’s mind directly, even with the best of psychology (although with the advancement of medical science, it may be possible in the near future to read the electrical signals in the brain and visualize what a person is thinking). However, even if we cannot read minds directly, we can “improve the accuracy of reading thoughts” by applying psychology without using tricks. Banachek has a very high accuracy in reading thoughts.

I was there in 2006. I saw his show live in Stockholm in 2006. At the beginning of the show, this happened.

He had two men and two women stand up on the spot in the audience of several hundred people. He asked each of the four to picture a card in their mind. Banachek then asks from the stage, “The card you are thinking of now is the picture card, isn’t it? The woman’s card is the red card, right? He finally guessed the card chosen by each of the four, even though none of them had answered.”

Most of the spectators were amateur or professional magicians. Still, the audience was amazed.

The method of card guessing seems to be choosing cards at will, and the magician’s verbal control (verbal technique) is used to guide the audience without being noticed by them. He walks around the stage from right to left to make the audience look at him, and then says, “The card you chose is a picture card, isn’t it?” He makes it look like he is guessing, but in fact he is asking a series of questions. The four on stage do not answer the questions, but Banachek moves around the stage to gauge the audience’s reaction to his questions, and then narrows down the cards by sensing the audience’s yes or no to his questions. 


You may not understand how to guess at all from this text, but people’s “muscle movements and eye contact” are a response to what they are thinking.

There is a technique called Muscle Reading that reads muscle responses. For example, an audience member is asked to choose one of four items in his or her mind. Then, the performer holds up each object while the audience holds the performer’s wrist. The spectator is asked to concentrate on the chosen object, and by reading a weak reaction through the wrist, the performer narrows down the object and shows the audience how to guess the chosen item.

What Banachek performed in the aforementioned show is a non-contact version of Muscle Reading. When I talk about Muscle Reading, you may not believe that it is possible, but when you try it, you will feel the reaction more than you can imagine. Of course, the non-contact version is more difficult, but his accuracy was very high.

At the time, I watched the same show twice to make sure, and both times the results were different, which confirmed that he was in fact doing non-contact Muscle Reading.

I had always wanted to check with Banachek when I had the chance. The question is about “Psychokinetic Touch,” which I am currently performing on TV programs. Psychokinetic touch is a technique that makes a person feel touched on any part of the body, even though no one is touching them. I had read the explanation, but I could not understand how such a mysterious thing could be accomplished from the text alone. So, if I had a chance to meet Banachek, I would have loved to ask him about it.

After the show, I had a chance to ask him directly. I asked him questions in my poor English, and he graciously gave me detailed explanations while actually showing me his performance. I could feel his sincerity. What cannot be conveyed through written expression alone can be understood at a glance. I felt that one must use one’s feet to get valuable information.

There are several ways to do psychokinetic touch. Even if the magic is the same on the surface, there are many techniques and forms behind the magic. So if you ask a magician, “How do you do the torso-slicing magic?” there is no way to answer because there are countless ways to do it.

As a side note, Banachek also taught me a technique of psycho kinetic touch, which is not publicly disclosed. Like a magician, I would like to keep its contents a secret.

The mentalism approach is similar to taking the risk of striking out to hit a home run in baseball. You take the risk of failure and aim for an impossible miracle. Therefore, failure is possible, but when you succeed, it is a magical phenomenon that we magicians can see.

In this way, mentalism is just another form of magic. There seem to be a certain number of mentalists in the world who sell information products in a similar manner with “You will be successful in love and business.” It is true that you can apply the magician’s techniques to communication, but mentalism does not directly improve your business or love life, or make you a stronger poker player. I hope you all will not be fooled by such people. Banachek‘s purpose in infiltrating the McDonnell Institute was to protect you from such people. We hope that you will enjoy mentalism as entertainment and learn the depth of magic.

  • Written by KiLa

    Born in Kumamoto in 1975. Height 190 cm. Self-taught in magic. While appearing in various media, she also directs and produces magic products. His magic show is a participatory magic show in which the audience themselves experience the magic in a realistic way, and the audience cannot take their eyes off the magic from the opening to the ending of each performance.

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