Curiosity Podcast Transcript: Communicate Like A Mind Reader

Mind reading tricks can be unnerving, but they don't have to be as scary as some people think they are. On this podcast, Mentalist Jonathan Pritchard explains how he convinces people he can read minds by using the same psychological techniques employed by sales, marketing, and other business leaders.

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Curiosity Podcast Transcript

Cody Gough:

A lot of people don't even know what mentalism is, so I'm curious, why does mentalism matter?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Mentalism matters because it's basically knowing exactly what people are thinking. When you know what people are thinking you can communicate exactly what it is that you need to get across.

Cody Gough:

Hi. I'm Cody Gough from curiosity.com. Today we're going to learn how to read minds. Just kidding. We're going to learn how to communicate effectively through the lens of a mind reader. Every week we explore what we don't know because curiosity makes you smarter. This is The Curiosity Podcast. Mind reading and magic tricks can be freaky. People don't understand how they work. You see something and it does not compute. Well, according to one mentalist it's actually not all that hard to convince someone you can read minds. In fact, you can do it using the same psychological techniques employed by sales and marketing and other business leaders, so it's nothing special. Right? Well, to answer that question I sat down with Jonathan Pritchard. He's a mentalist who has been performing for 25 years and you might have seen him on TV. He's going to talk about how he got into mentalism, what it's like performing magic, and he ties it all together by explaining how you can be a better communicator by employing some of these techniques. If you communicate with other human beings on a regular basis then you might want to stick around for this. So you cannot read my mind right now.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Absolutely not. Anybody who claims to be able to do that is either lying to you or lying to themselves about what they're actually able to do.

Cody Gough:

Or they have magic powers.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Or they have magic powers, which would totally revolutionize the laws of physics as we know it and it would get a Nobel Prize and it would be Earth shattering news, which I think would be fantastic.

Cody Gough:

It sounds really fun.

Jonathan Pritchard:

It is really fun. It can be scary, right? I started doing this stuff back basically when I was 13 years old. As a teenager I could tell my teachers what street they grew up on. That's unnerving.

Cody Gough:

That far back?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah. Well, it even goes farther back than that. I saw a magician on he Johnny Carson show when I was five years old and thought, "Well, this is what I want to do with my life." When I was a teenager I noticed that the mind reading tricks seemed to affect people differently. Right? A card trick, you could practice for years to do a card trick and then people can explain it away by, "Well, if I had that trick deck of cards I could do that too." There goes three years of your life explained away in one sentence. But mind reading is just so weird that people can't really approach it, and it's just deeply disturbing.

Cody Gough:

So the reactions you see are stronger?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yes. When I first got started doing big shows I thought I was really bad because people would forget to clap. When you judge a performance by applause, well people were literally being stunned silent, where they're just sitting there processing what they just saw happen and go, "That's not supposed to happen. There's no way he could do that, but he just did it. I saw it happen." Right? What they're not doing is clapping.

Cody Gough:

Interesting.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Right? I had to figure out, "Okay. How do I not make this so, so scary, but more approachable and fun," and then people remember, "Oh, this is just a show."

Cody Gough:

That makes sense. For a little background, you used to perform under the moniker Johnny Zavant-

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yes.

Cody Gough:

... so like savant but with a Z.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Exactly.

Cody Gough:

You've done that for a number of years, it sounds like since you were 13 you said you've been interested in this and you've decided that mentalism is your focus. So you wouldn't say that you're a magician or a magic performer, although it sounds like you probably-

Jonathan Pritchard:

Exactly.

Cody Gough:

... know some card tricks.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Right. I'm familiar with the magic world, but for me a mentalist does something and people go, "How did you know that?" A magician does something and people go, "How did you do that?" Here's how I'd like to explain it. I'm going to explain every magic trick you've ever seen, every mind reading trick you've ever seen-

Cody Gough:

Spoilers.

Jonathan Pritchard:

... or ever will see. Yeah. Magicians hate it when I do this. The magician creates a context for logical assumptions that are later shown to not be true. That is the formula for every single magic trick you've ever seen. Now, in the specific context of a magic show, if a magician shuffles a deck of cards and says, "I am shuffling a normal deck of cards," everybody in the audience is going to go, "Why did he say normal? I bet there's something weird with it and that's what I'm going to be paying attention to." If the magician instead just treats it like a normal deck of cards, shuffles it, gives it to somebody to mix up, they're now telling themselves, "You know, if it were a trick deck he probably wouldn't hand it out, so I know that's a normal deck of cards."

It could be a trick deck, it could not be, but by calling attention to something it's now questionable. So what the magician does is just present a context for people to believe about that context what he wants them to believe, and that's where the magical effect comes from. If he was explaining everything as he was doing it, that would be him lying to the audience actively instead of just giving them enough information for them to come to the conclusion that he wants. Mentalism works on information management. That's really what it all boils down to. Either I know something and I can't let the audience know that I know it, or I don't know something and make it look like I do at the time, and then reveal that at the end and everybody is surprised, "Yay!" Really what it is, is just creating a context for people to believe I couldn't possibly know that when I do. It is trickery, but it's kind of grown up form of it.

Cody Gough:

You mentioned earlier that mentalism is important, and being able to understand what people are thinking is important. How does that relate to what you're talking about now?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Think about an iPhone or a smart phone. It didn't happen by accident. It wasn't by chance. Really smart people had to sit down and make a lot of choices, and at the end of that series of choices they've got an iPhone. Well, do we use stainless steel or aluminum? Well, stainless steel might interfere with the signal, so we'll go with this instead. And then next question. The valuable product is the result of that series of making choices. A lot of our life that we live is the result of the choices that we make. You're actively designing the life that you're experiencing, but if you don't understand how you think and why you make the choices that you do you're not going to be able to make a life that's specifically tailored to you. That's why to me mentalism is so important, knowing exactly what motivates people and why they're making the choices that they make. Once you kind of unlock that fundamental process you can make those processes work for you instead of just being on autopilot.

Cody Gough:

Sure, but now how is that different than psychology?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Psychology, they're my favorite students to work for. Right?

Cody Gough:

Psychology students?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah. When I'm doing just the mind reading show, none of the behind the scenes, here's how it works, but just the mind reading show, psychology students are deeply disturbed. They'll come up to me after the show and go, "I'm about to graduate with a degree in psychology, and I have no idea how you did anything you just did. Am I just wasting my life?" I'm like, "No, no, no. Please graduate with your degree, do good in the world. You have a place. It's just that I have a very, very narrow area of specialty. It's just a deep understanding of that one thing of why people believe what they believe."

Cody Gough:

Have you talked to psychology department heads about incorporating some sort of mentalism course into their curriculum?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I have, actually. There was a professor, Anthony Barnhart, who consulted with a couple neuroscientists who wrote the book Sleights of Mind. That is a really interesting book on the psychology of magic and the neurological processes that go on.

Ashley Hamer:

Hey, Cody. Can I jump in really quick?

Cody Gough:

Welcome to the podcast, Ashley Hamer, editor extraordinaire.

Ashley Hamer:

Anthony Barnhart actually happens to be both a psychology professor at Carthage College and a magician himself. The neuroscientists who wrote Sleights of Mind are Stephen L. Macknick and Susana Martinez-Conde. They also have a super interesting blog on Scientific American called Illusion Chasers. It's all about the way your brain can be fooled.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Scientists are really good at understanding the nuts and bolts, the atoms of how things work, but people are a whole different ballgame. Right? Scientists aren't really well educated in detecting deception, and that is my specialty, of understanding how to lie to people in a way that gets them to believe what I want them to believe and also understanding why they lie to themselves. See, you are going to believe the lie you tell yourself more than the lie I tell you.

Cody Gough:

You just blew my mind.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Right? That's what I do, I blow people's minds.

Cody Gough:

But you're right. I mean, anybody can say anything they want. It's your choice to believe that person. Sometimes you have to do some mental gymnastics to believe that person. If I really closely align with a politician, for example, and that person says something I don't really agree with or think is in line with what I want, I might do a little bit of rearranging in my mind to convince myself that that person is actually saying something that I really like or that I agree with. Is that what you're talking about?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Good old cognitive dissonance. You have to be really aware of how people are seeing you. I like to call it strategic empathy, the ability to put your mind in somebody else's experience and see the world through their eyes. Once you can do that you can really picture what it is that you're doing and get exactly the message across that you want.

Cody Gough:

What's the difference between strategic empathy and deception?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Intent.

Cody Gough:

Really?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah. Well, I mean, it's kind of strategic empathy is good communication skills no matter what. The ability to communicate an idea is actually really difficult. We take it for granted because we assume we can do it really well, because we talk all day long anyway. Just because you can talk doesn't mean you're a really good communicator, just like my parents being able to use Facebook does not make them social media experts. Right?

Cody Gough:

Sure.

Jonathan Pritchard:

They can, "Well, I go on Facebook Live, so I could do this." Right? It's not the same thing. In order to get somebody to believe something that's completely not real, your communication skills have to be even sharper than the average person because if there's any hiccup in the continuity of your message the trick is up. They know exactly what's going on. To me, that's the power of a mind reading show, a mentalism show, a magic show. It's a safe context for that kind of experience. There are people that use these exact techniques outside the context of a performance, faith healers, dowsers, all sorts of people who claim to have supernatural abilities, take money under those pretenses without the ability to back it up with proof and results. My mentor, his name is James Randy. For the longest time he had the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge for anybody who claimed to be able to do this kind of stuff for real, any kind of supernatural talent, predicting the future, reading the mind, dowsing for water or oil or anything. I was the guy handling applications for that challenging starting in 2003. That was my summer internship.

Cody Gough:

Oh, that's a fun internship.

Jonathan Pritchard:

It was awesome. Right? We got all sorts of applications. The intent of the challenge was to be a tool to hold the professional charlatans accountable.

Cody Gough:

So you're hoping that a con man faith healer is going to apply. You shut him down. That's publicly available somewhere and people can see according to your foundation or organization-

Jonathan Pritchard:

Right.

Cody Gough:

... that that's no good. How did that go?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Well, the thing is, professionals know they're charlatans and they know that Randy is a world class magician. He was on Happy Days. He was being hung upside down from a helicopter over Niagara Falls and got out of a straight jacket, that kind of a thing. Right? He is specially trained to detect deception. The professionals who are doing this do defraud people know they're not going to get away with it, so it's just a tool to publicize and go, "Well, you claim to do all this stuff. Why not do this challenge and get all this money and donate it to your favorite charity?" Oh, well, I'm not feeling it right now.

Cody Gough:

Oh, yeah? I'm not feeling it right now.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Exactly. Well, I can't do this for money. Well, then give it away to charity. Just sign a paper that says you're going to donate it and it should work. Right? It was just a way to hold people accountable for what they claimed to do, because you can never prove a negative. I can't prove they can't do it, it's just they're failing to live up to the claim they're making. It's their job to prove that they can do something, not my job to prove that they can't. The million dollars was there if they could prove they could, and nobody did.

Cody Gough:

How long were you there? Is this organization still around?

Jonathan Pritchard:

It just transitioned out because Randy was going, "I'm too old for this. I'm just going to retire. I had a great run and we are going to use this money to fund interesting projects for cool people." I started in 2003 and was actively involved for four summers. Then for 13 years there was a meeting called The Amazing Meeting. It's James the Amazing Randy is his stage name kind of thing. That's why they call it The Amazing Meeting. That's where I got to meet Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, a whole bunch of awesome science thinkers and people who promote critical thinking skills. That's what it all boils down to is being able to evaluate claims and make a good decision about it.

Cody Gough:

Sure.

Jonathan Pritchard:

I helped run the conference for that long and kind of was just in the background, but after seeing so many applications for the challenge and getting to work with Randy for so long, I saw all the way people would try to scam their way to the million dollars and thought, "I can do this stuff better than they can," and that was my mentalist training.

Cody Gough:

Now, are mentalists considered charlatans by any or just the ones who have their nefarious intent?

Jonathan Pritchard:

That's why we like to call ourselves honest liars.

Cody Gough:

Okay.

Jonathan Pritchard:

That's a term that I got from James Randy and that's the title of his documentary on Netflix. It's a fascinating story, very compelling. It's different because it's all about that context. You are here to see a performance. I am going to tell you that I'm going to lie to you, and then I do it and we all have fun. The difference is the charlatan does it outside the context of a performance, sets up a shop, and says, "I can talk to your dead relatives for you. Give me $30,000 and I'll do it." That to me is the difference because they're not being up front about lying to you. If it were theater, you know what? You can say whatever you want on stage. But when the show is over, you got to be honest with people. It's just when people aren't honest outside that context, that's what I have a problem with. That's why I want to help people understand why they think the way that they think, why they believe what they believe, how those things can go sideways, how other people can make use of those processes, and when you're aware of it you're much more likely to see it when it's happening.

Cody Gough:

How do you do all this? How do you train to be a mentalist and how can people apply any of those trainings to their daily life? Does somebody need to study for 10 years and know how to do a really fantastic show on stage with people before they're able to implement this or there a couple quick tips people can pick up and start to implement to help them understand themselves better?

Jonathan Pritchard:

One of my favorite jokes is that a five year old could do exactly what I do with 25 years of practice, but my skill set is being really good on stage and leading the experience for 3,000 people at a time. You don't necessarily have to have those skills in order to apply it in your own life. It's more that understanding that your brain is fallible and that you make assumptions all the time to make life easier and it's those assumptions that get you in trouble. If we didn't have assumptions, if we didn't have shortcuts for our mind, we would be incapacitated. We would have to test, "Okay. Is this step going to hold my weight? Okay. Yes, I think so. Alright, perfect. Now I've got to test this next part of the sidewalk. Is this sidewalk going to hold my weight?" You wouldn't get anything done. So to save time and resources your brain just goes, "Well, the previous 50,000 steps on a sidewalk has worked for me so I'm just going to assume that this next one will." For the most part it works out alright, but occasionally you step in wet cement because you weren't paying attention. It's just that once you understand that those hiccups and perception can happen, you're more likely to see them when they do.

Cody Gough:

Is this also where biases come from against certain groups of people?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yes, absolutely. Cognitive biases, assumptions, just the beliefs about how the world works is predicated on the experiences that you've had. What's really weird is that most people believe that your senses inform you about what's happening in the world, that they take in lots of information and that your brain's kind of like a sponge and it just notices everything. The problem is what you are primed to see is what you pay attention to. Your senses are actually filter mechanisms to filter out stuff that is not important to you. If it's not important, you're not really going to notice it. Then you only notice what you already think will be important, so then you only notice important things to you, so it skews your belief that only those things are happening. It's kind of like when you buy a new car and suddenly, "Wow, that car is everywhere." They were out there already. It's just that your mind didn't know that you cared that much about it, so it didn't show you that information.

Ashley Hamer:

There's actually a term for when that thing you just learned about pops up everywhere, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It happens for two reasons. First is selective attention. Like Jonathan said, your brain now cares about the new car you drive, and you unconsciously keep an eye out for it. The second is confirmation bias. Every subsequent sighting of a car like yours assures you that there really are more of them then there were before. The phenomenon got its name in 1994 from a commenter in a news discussion board who heard the name of the German terrorist gang, Baader-Meinhof, twice in 24 hours. Download the curiosity app for Android or iOS to learn more.

Cody Gough:

How have you applied this outside of the realm of performance, of course. How have you applied this in your professional dealings, for example?

Jonathan Pritchard:

For me, one of my favorite things is working with a corporate client to sharpen their marketing. They have their widget. They have their thing, their whatever it is that they love and makes them different in the market. Then they talk about all the features that it has and the features are so cool. Look at all the features we have. Then you just ask them the simple question, "Why would I care?" Then, "Because we have features." Yeah, but what do they do? It's a fundamental lack of understanding that a customer only cares what those features get them. People are paying for results, not processes. If my tooth hurts, I'm paying the dentist to get rid of that pain. I'm not paying them to fill a cavity or pull a tooth. I don't care what it takes, just get this result done. What I help clients do is sharpen their messaging to focus solely on, "Here are the benefits that our customers get. If you've got these problems then here's the solution. Here's the benefit of working with us."

Cody Gough:

Is that how you approach introducing yourself to business contacts or networking, for example?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Absolutely. I hate networking events just completely. The first question people ask is, "Hey, what do you do?" I know if I say, "I'm a mind reader," we're going to have the exact same conversation that I've had 1,000 times, because nobody is a mind reader. Right? They've never met one, so this is the most interesting thing to happen to them all day. But me talking about mentalism doesn't help me understand how I can help them.

Now, when most people ask you what you do for a living, what they're really doing is asking, "How can I pigeon hold you?" They're asking you, "Can you help me or not?" If you don't say the exact right thing, they automatically assume, "Well, I don't need a plumber right now so I can't help this guy or he can't help me, so he's no longer important to me." Or you are in the realm that they are looking for but then six months later you realize they're a bad client. Then you have to fire them and you just wasted six months working with somebody that doesn't appreciate your value and you could have been working with somebody that's a perfect fit for you.

Here's what I do. When somebody goes, "Hey, what do you do for a living," I go, "You know what I believe? I believe that we are all connected in a way that we can't possibly understand, but we can experience it. The better you understand how people work the better you can connect, because the more effectively you can connect with people the better your business, your life, your relationships, everything. Right?" Then they either go, "Yeah, that's amazing. Tell me more," or they go, "Yeah, I don't buy it." Now I know instantly that they're not a good fit for me.

Cody Gough:

Instantly. If they say no they're just-

Jonathan Pritchard:

Right, because we are fundamentally opposed in philosophies of how people operate. If they don't buy that, there's no reason for them to listen to anything else I have to say, because everything else I had to say is predicated on that core belief.

Cody Gough:

Sure.

Jonathan Pritchard:

They've just told me that I could avoid the next six months that it takes to discover that through chit chat in talking with them and working with them, so that is a perfect trick to learn whether or not somebody is going to be a good client for you. Now, what's really cool, if you're like most of the people that I know you've got 11 different projects that you do. Well, do you have 11 different business cards? Now when that person goes, "So what do you do," you go, "Well, which one of these 11 business cards ... I got one shot. Let me see. I'm a paralegal," or whatever it is, and they go, "Yeah, I don't need that." Oh, but I'm also this. Now you get into the realm of Jack of all trades, master of none. If you lead with what you believe, then that person now has the filter of understanding all these different projects and how they're connected. Now they're just different expressions of the same thing, they're not totally separate. So for all those freelancers out there listening to this, use that trick instantly. Next time you're at a networking event say, "Here's what I believe and what drives my work. The ways that I explore that are this, that and the other thing."

Cody Gough:

That's very good advice.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Thank you.

Cody Gough:

You talked about when people approach you at an event that's how you will sell yourself if you're going to an event and you know you'll meet a lot of people. How do you approach them? You didn't go to that science conference and just say, "Hey, what do you do," to everybody else. What was your way of getting that out of them?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I love to ask people, "What are you excited about? What are you looking forward to?" I don't care what their job is. Really, I don't. I know that I can help people regardless of their job, regardless of their particular niche, it doesn't matter, because I can help them connect with human beings more effectively. That works across the board, so it doesn't really matter. But what does matter is making people feel interesting. The more interested you are in them, the better they'll feel about you. The more questions you ask about the other person the more genuinely interested you are. It can't be like, "Oh, I ask this question then I ask this question like a robot."

It's like a lot of people who go to body language seminars and then go, "Okay. I need to mirror the other person's body language completely and this will foster a sense of rapport." Well, then it gets super weird when you just do a one to one move kind of thing. Are you making fun of me? Are you just mirroring me? What is going on? There's some tact and finesse when applying these skills, but the general principle is ask more questions than you talk. Just, "So what's your story? What are you excited about? What are you interested in? Oh, wow." Then really quickly you've gotten to the heart of what they're excited about. Then in that context they'll tell you what they're working on, what they're looking for, what problems they have.

I like to approach it like I'm a doctor and I have to diagnose their problem. If they knew what the problem was they wouldn't be at the doctor. Lots of people love to use WebMD, but that's almost never effective. Most people can't diagnose their own problems, otherwise they wouldn't have that problem anymore. As a consultant, if I come in and right off the bat say, "I know what you need. You need this, that and the other thing." Well, I'm going to wind up killing somebody. That's just like a doctor prescribing medicine to somebody that just walked in the door. You got to get to know them a little bit, ask them some questions. What problems are you having? What are some of the sticking points in your business that you got? What are you really frustrated about? Oh, yeah. That sounds really difficult. What about this? Right? Now you're just getting inside their head. You're not psychic, but there's a really neat way to know what people are thinking. Just ask them.

Cody Gough:

You just said that it's impossible to self-diagnose, and it's hard for you to be able ... I see you smile. It's almost like you know where I'm going with this.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Right.

Cody Gough:

You said that you can't really self-diagnose, but you've also said that part of mentalism and part of understanding how you have built yourself as a product over the years, it's part of understanding yourself. Can those two ideas co-exist?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Self-diagnosing is rarely effective. If you don't do any research on how your body works your diagnosis isn't going to be all that good. That's why I'm saying the more time and effort you spend to understand the fundamental psychological processes that govern your decision making and belief systems, the better you understand that the more effective your self-diagnosis will be.

Cody Gough:

You said earlier also that you should listen to other people. I'm guessing you've read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I believe that's one of the opening chapters, is You Should Listen a Lot.

Ashley Hamer:

It's actually the opening chapter to Part Two, called Do This and You'll Be Welcome Anywhere. One choice quote, "I have discovered from personal experience that one can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought after people by becoming genuinely interested in them."

Cody Gough:

Did you read that and think to yourself, "Wow. Was this guy a mentalist?"

Jonathan Pritchard:

I was reading that kind of stuff when I was 10 years old. That was my light reading when I was growing up.

Cody Gough:

You must have been an excellent people person in high school.

Jonathan Pritchard:

I wasn't.

Cody Gough:

Really?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Really. I was so shy that I wouldn't even ask for ketchup at a restaurant. I promise you, I was that painfully shy. I would just rather be a bump on the wall and not say anything, and that would be fine. But I saw that it was the outgoing people that seemed to get all the friends and all the cool stuff about being alive. You got to ask for it. If I was too shy to ask for it, I wasn't going to get it, so okay. I may not be able to re-wire how I am but I can make choices about how I behave. I'm completely introverted, but I have outgoing behaviors because that's what makes my life better, connecting with other people. It's scary. It still freaks me out, but I've got the process for it. Hey, what's your name? What are you excited about? Just make it all about them and suddenly people are really interesting. They're going to teach you something that you would have never known and could never know because they've had a life you can't have either. Every single person I meet is the most interesting person on the planet. If they're not, it's my fault for not asking the right questions.

Cody Gough:

If people want to get started on learning a bit more, what's a good starting point for this? You've been doing it since you're 13, so you've been cheating. You've had all this extra time. If other people want to catch up what's a good first book or first YouTube video series, or how would they get started?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I actually just wrapped up writing Think Like a Mind Reader. It's the compilation of all those weird conversations that I've had over and over and over again after shows and with business people and my clients. I just thought, "You know what? I want to have these conversations with people even if I can't be there." Best way to do that, put it in a book that they can get a hold of." Think Like a Mind Reader is a good primer on that but any kind of book about the psychology of magic, like I mentioned Sleights of Mind earlier, is a good place to start.

Cody Gough:

Excellent. Like a Mind Reader, is there a website for that right now?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yes. Likeamindreader.com.

Cody Gough:

What else are you curious about totally outside of your realm of expertise?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I'm really curious about martial arts.

Cody Gough:

Really?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah. I love it because unless you can make a choice, it's not a choice. Unless you can choose not to fight somebody you're just kind of getting along on them not attacking you. Most people are cool. Right? We've got a society that we've evolved to be collaborative creatures, and that's wonderful. But if you can't defend yourself then what are you even doing? Also, you are your worst enemy. Right? You make bad choices and you may not realize it. Really I'm fascinated by the way that martial arts helps you understand how not to be your own worst enemy, because it's not going to teach you how to defeat everybody else. It's going to help you get out of your own way.

Cody Gough:

Interesting. Is there a specific martial art you're interested in?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Wing Chun, what Bruce Lee learned to be Bruce Lee, but he only learned half the system and he was Bruce Lee. To me, it's phenomenal. It's based on concepts and principles and the postures your body takes are in alignment with those principles. To me that's much more effective than, "I'm going to try to emulate a tiger," because no matter how hard I try, I'm not a tiger.

Cody Gough:

You're not.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Nope.

Cody Gough:

That's good. That's one magic trick you can't do.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah. No, I can't turn myself into a tiger. I've tried.

Cody Gough:

Am I allowed to call them magic tricks or are they illusions?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Usually I would be persnickety about it and go, "No, these are demonstrate ... " No. They're tricks. They're tricks, and if anybody tells you otherwise they're lying to you.

Cody Gough:

Okay, sounds good. Then the final thing that we do on the podcast is the, insert production element here, Curiosity Challenge. This is the part where I'm going to put you on the spot and then you can put me on the spot. Actually, we'll have you put me on the spot first, then I'll ... You know what? Let's just both be on the spot.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Okay.

Cody Gough:

What we're going to do at this point is I want you to tell me something that I don't know that's also again, not related in any way to your realm of expertise. Try to stump me with your most random piece of trivia knowledge or something you read or saw that was interesting recently that I may not know about.

Jonathan Pritchard:

What blew my mind when I figured it out is that light travels at a constant speed depending on the medium it's traveling through. Its constant state or its constant speed through a vacuum is its constant speed in a vacuum, not through water or air or anything else. It actually does have different speeds. Its constant is it's speed in a vacuum.

Cody Gough:

Oh, interesting. So when people talk about star ships going at the speed of light, that's them going at the speed of light in the relative vacuum of space.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Exactly.

Cody Gough:

Wow. Well, alright. I didn't know that.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Ta-da!

Cody Gough:

You got me there.

Ashley Hamer:

This is so cool. You an read the article that deals with it in the show notes, but basically because the speed of light is slower in water, under water electrons actually go faster than light and produce this beautiful blue glow called Cherenkov radiation. You can see it around stuff like nuclear reactors and it is my favorite scientific phenomenon at the moment.

Cody Gough:

I have a piece of information that's somewhat relevant to our discussion that I found on this website, curiosity.com.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Love it.

Cody Gough:

I don't know if you've heard of it. Fantastic. We also have an app.

Jonathan Pritchard:

I have it.

Cody Gough:

Do you like it?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I do, actually. It's a lot of fun in the morning just to kind of go, "Alright. What am I going to learn today," and just scroll through. It's awesome.

Cody Gough:

Did you learn about the speed of light fact on curiosity or somewhere else?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I did actually learn it on curiosity.

Cody Gough:

I needed to-

Jonathan Pritchard:

Just dig in a little deeper.

Cody Gough:

Well, I was perusing through curiosity on the app and found, did you know that in World War II there actually was a magician who worked with the British military?

Jonathan Pritchard:

I did.

Cody Gough:

You did know this?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yes. His name is Jasper Maskelyne.

Cody Gough:

You even know the name.

Jonathan Pritchard:

His book that tells his story is called The War Magician.

Cody Gough:

Wow. You're way ahead of me here.

Jonathan Pritchard:

He came up with all sorts of fun stuff like he came up with inflatable tanks and would put equipment on trucks that would leave the tracks of tanks so that the trucks would drive around and when the surveillance airplanes came by later they would see tracks of tanks everywhere and think that's where the tanks were when they weren't.

Cody Gough:

That's amazing.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah.

Cody Gough:

I know he led a group of, according to our website, maverick artists, carpenters and criminals known as the A-Force to construct illusions to throw off the Nazis. He even allegedly hid an entire harbor from aerial bombers with the help of his magic squad.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yes. At night, when most of the bombings would happen, they set up an exact scale replica of the lights of the harbor just over there, like a mile or two away. Then at high altitudes the airplanes wouldn't be able to figure out that there was a difference in size because the scale was correct. Then Maskelyne would just have to gamble that the pilots would believe their eyes more than their instruments because their instruments would tell them exactly where it was, but their eyes were telling them, "It's right over there, so let's go over there."

They would go bomb this non-existent city at night but then during the day when the recognizance planes would come by they would have to go, "Alright. Well, none of this stuff is busted, so what happened?" They painted craters. They had to paint different craters for what time of day it was so that all the shadows would line up properly. They were flat paintings that they would just lay out of bombed out craters, but they would have several versions of them so that when the planes were coming they would make it look like it was destroyed when it wasn't.

Cody Gough:

My jaw hit the floor when you started telling me that. How did they even paint that? Do you know what kind of materials? Are we talking-

Jonathan Pritchard:

It doesn't have to be great because they didn't have HD footage. Right?

Cody Gough:

Sure.

Jonathan Pritchard:

It was way up there and, "Okay."

Cody Gough:

That's out of control.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Yeah. Yeah, it's amazing.

Cody Gough:

I love it.

Jonathan Pritchard:

That's why war is deception.

Cody Gough:

They say all is fair in love and war.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Absolutely.

Cody Gough:

Well, you won the Curiosity Challenge. Congratulations.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Thank you.

Cody Gough:

I did not know about light, and you immediately picked up on the magician. Again, I've been talking to Jonathan Pritchard. What's the best website to go to?

Jonathan Pritchard:

Likeamindreader.com, again that's my hub. That's where everything I got going on, you can find.

Cody Gough:

Wonderful. This has been an insightful look into mentalism. I hope you weren't manipulating me the whole time.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Oh, I was.

Cody Gough:

As long as you cop to it afterwards.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Absolutely.

Cody Gough:

We were in a controlled environment. I'm not in too much danger sitting in front of a microphone, but we'll see what happens after we're done recording. I'm looking forward to the surprise. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Jonathan Pritchard:

Thanks for having me.

Cody Gough:

Before I get to this week's bonus trivia I want to thank you for sticking around for my conversation with Jonathan. We have links to all the resources he mentioned in our show notes, which you can find along with lots of other great information on curiosity.com. There you can find links to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher and everywhere else podcasts are found. If you enjoyed this episode then we very much would appreciate you taking a moment to leave a quick rating and review. Here at Curiosity we cover a wide variety of topics every day and that brings us to today's bonus trivia.

Did you know that several languages have only one remaining speaker? I'll give you a second to guess how many. Let me think, 5, 10, 15? A couple more seconds? Alright, time's up. In fact, an estimated 18 languages have only one remaining speaker, and nearly 600 languages are classified as critically endangered. The easiest way to learn more about that is to download the Curiosity app for your Android or iOS device. We'd also love to know what you think of this podcast. We've got a few episodes now and if you have any suggestions for future episodes or questions about content we've covered or any other comments or feedback, then please email us at podcast@curiosity.com. Thanks to Ashley Hamer, editor extraordinaire, for her fast facts this episode, and thanks to you for listening. Extra special thanks if you've told your friends to check out this podcast, by the way. Anyway, that's all for this week for the Curiosity Podcast. I'm Cody Gough.

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Written By Curiosity Staff August 15, 2017