Crowdsourced Mind Tricks From Reddit

August 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The brilliant folks on Reddit have these suggestions for mind hacks:

  • It’s much harder to access memories if you’re not allowed to break eye contact. Liars usually easily keep eye contact because they’re not remembering anything.
  • Tell new salespeople to speak assumptively, ending each sentence with ‘ok’. This will change how they form sentences, and their subconscious attitudes. Once that sinks in, they can stop saying ‘ok’, but the language practices remain, and help make sales.
  • Give someone two options you’re okay with and they’ll be more inclined to pick one, rather than think of an alternative. Ex. should we meet Saturday or Sunday?
  • “Take your left (perhaps non-dominant) hand, and squeeze your thumb inside it. Squeeze hard. Now, with your free hand, take your pointer finger, and poke at the back of your throat. You no longer have a gag reflex. Enjoy.”
  • “Look at the other person’s elbow and never miss at High Fives.”
  • “It occurred to me a while back that a security uniform, ANY security uniform, will get you past everyone including security guards from a different company with a completely different uniform. As a security contractor, businesses at malls for example will call me to watch their store specifically for different reasons, mostly at night. Once time I got lost I ended up at the entrance of a closed department store at a mall, and the manager himself pretty much ushered me in. If I hadn’t asked how to get to my destination, he would have just bolted off and I would have had the place to myself. It’s not the first time I wandered into places I shouldn’t be, completely unchallenged. Also, It’s really nice for when I want to smoke a joint in plain view. Cops just nod or wave at me, no matter where I am standing at whatever time of night, with absolutely no idea if I should be there or not. And all my uniform consists of is black slacks and a polo with an arm and chest patch. Nothing flashy or even that noticeable. Most of the time I feel as though I’m just dancing in everyone’s peripheral vision, and they contrive for themselves that whoever I am, I should be here and don’t need to be questioned. It’s a head trip.”
  • “If you ask a question, and receive only a partial answer, respond with polite silence. Simply wait. A more complete answer will usually follow.”
  • “If you’re trying to find something, try looking right to left as opposed to left to right. Your eyes tend to skim over things if you search in the direction you are used to reading in, so skim the opposite way. It takes me a bit more effort to do this, but I notice more details.”
  • “The door-in-the-face technique. The general idea is that you ask someone for a huge favor which you’re relatively confident they’ll say no to. Then you ask them for a small favor.”
  • “There’s something in sales called the Sullivan Nod. Basically when you’re asking someone something, nod up and down while you’re asking. Their mirror neurons start firing and they begin nodding and agreeing with you subconsciously. 60% of the time it works every time.”
  • “I’m a paramedic. When a patient is possibly faking unconsciousness we have 2 tricks to determine if they’re really unconscious or not. First, you can lightly brush their eyelashes with your finger. Their eyes will flutter if they’re faking it. Alternatively, if they’re on their back you can lift their arm over their face and let it go. A conscious person will drop their arm away from their face.”
  • ‘There was a study a while back about people who were lined up to use a copy machine. One person came up and said “can I use the copy machine because I need to make copies?”. a majority of the time they were allowed to cut to the front.’
  • “I have an awesome conversational technique. During a conversation, repeating the last couple of words in and make it a question triggers people to give more information. This is really helpful if you a) don’t know what to say or b) not in the mood to talk to that person. I once used it in a 30 minute conversation with a middle-aged woman. We didn’t relate at all and she was complaining about something. I didn’t listen to her at all, just repeated her sentences. Afterwards she said it was a great talk.Example. “So I just bought a new tv yesterday.” “New tv?” “Yeah I didn’t need one but hey it was on sale.” “on sale?”


  • “if you feel sad, look up. clears your head.”

Hack Your Memory With the Method of Loci

February 18th, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

In this New York Times Magazine article, writer Joshua Foer recounts his year-long journey from having an average memory to becoming a U.S. record holder at the U.S.A Memory Championship. Foer and other mental athletes use techniques such as the Method of Loci or “memory palace” based on the Rhetorica ad Herennium, a Latin rhetoric textbook from the 90s BC. Basically, you construct a “palace” in your imagination and fill it with imagery that represents whatever you need to remember. A bear juggling cabbage might stand for the king of hearts, for example (the more bizarre, the better). Once you’ve constructed your visual palace, you can bring it up at any time and walk through it, recalling each item in order. The best mental athletes can use the Method of Loci to “memorize the first and last names of dozens of strangers in just a few minutes, thousands of random digits in under an hour and — to impress those with a more humanistic bent — any poem you handed them.”

“What you have to understand is that even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly,” Cooke said. He explained to me that mnemonic competitors saw themselves as “participants in an amateur research program” whose aim is to rescue a long-lost tradition of memory training.


When the researchers looked at the parts of the brain that were engaged when the subjects memorized, they found that the mental athletes were relying more heavily on regions known to be involved in spatial memory. At first glance, this didn’t seem to make sense. Why would mental athletes be navigating spaces in their minds while trying to learn three-digit numbers?

The answer lies in a discovery supposedly made by the poet Simonides of Ceos in the fifth century B.C. After a tragic banquet-hall collapse, of which he was the sole survivor, Simonides was asked to give an account of who was buried in the debris. When the poet closed his eyes and reconstructed the crumbled building in his imagination, he had an extraordinary realization: he remembered where each of the guests at the ill-fated dinner had been sitting. Even though he made no conscious effort to memorize the layout of the room, it nonetheless left a durable impression. From that simple observation, Simonides reportedly invented a technique that would form the basis of what came to be known as the art of memory. He realized that if there hadn’t been guests sitting at a banquet table but, say, every great Greek dramatist seated in order of birth — or each of the words of one of his poems or every item he needed to accomplish that day — he would have remembered that instead. He reasoned that just about anything could be imprinted upon our memories, and kept in good order, simply by constructing a building in the imagination and filling it with imagery of what needed to berecalled. This imagined edifice could then be walked through at any time in the future. Such a building would later come to be called a memory palace.

Secrets of a Mind-Gamer

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Tips From a Professional Liar

February 9th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

We’ve touched on how to detect a liar, and now here’s a look into the deceptive practices of former “professional liar” Clancy Martin. He shares a couple of tips in this blog post from his experience in the luxury jewelry business, where a lie could often mean a little additional profit. According to Martin, the key to a convincing lie is learning how to first deceive yourself.

As I would tell my salespeople: If you want to be an expert deceiver, master the art of self-deception. People will believe you when they see that you yourself are deeply convinced.


And the customer will help in this process, because she or he wants the diamond — where else can I get such a good deal on such a high-quality stone? — to be of a certain size and quality. At the same time, he or she does not want to pay the price that the actual diamond, were it what you claimed it to be, would cost. The transaction is a collaboration of lies and self-deceptions.

Meet a former professional liar

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How to Detect a Liar

February 7th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Being able to identify a lie is a useful skill to have under your belt, and can work to your advantage in countless situations.  This article at The Art of Manliness introduces the art of detecting a liar. It’s an interesting read, but I’d like to point out that none of these techniques are foolproof.  Most of the time what you’re doing is looking for signs of increased anxiety and mental exertion which do often accompany a lie, but can be present due to other factors. Never trust these techniques completely, but instead use them as a “heads up” that maybe you’re being deceived.

Have you ever been burned by somebody because they told you an outright lie? It can happen in your personal or business life-you’re on cloud nine when your girlfriend says she loves you, only to find out later she’s been cheating on you for months; a client says their business is solvent, but they end up bankrupt, and you lose a ton of money on an account.

Wouldn’t it be great to avoid these situations by being able to tell right then and there if someone is lying to you? Well, based on research by behavioral scientists and the work and experience of FBI agents and police officers, a system has been developed to help people become human lie detectors.

Below we provide a short introduction to the art of sniffing out a whopper. Ready to get started? Read on.

Become a Human Lie Detector: How to Sniff Out a Liar

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8 Unconventional Ways to Relieve Stress

February 7th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Staying cool under extreme circumstances can be key to your survival. This list from Zen Habits contains some rather surprising tricks for relieving daily stress and tension, so that you can stay composed and levelheaded when things get out of hand.

As we move through our daily routines we are often faced with obstacles and challenges which can lead to some degree of stress and anxiety. So to become more relaxed and free of tensions it is important to break away from your ordinary routine and find ways to de-stress. This process can be very simple or more in depth, but why not try something new and different? Here are 8, not your everyday ordinary, ways to de-stress and release tensions.

8 Unconventional Ways to De-Stress and Release Tension

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The Mythical Tricks of Magic Meet Psychology

November 27th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Scientific American Mind recently came out with a wonderful article on the use of magic in psychology. In it, they break down some tricks magicians and con artists use to manipulate your mind.

One of my favorite things learned was something I’ll coin TTTNTTSBT. Or, the thing that’s not there that should be there. Basically, the TTTNTTSBT illusion plays with your nerve endings and your touch feedback. A magician in the video (at the end of this post) pushes a coin against the subject’s forehead, then quickly pulls the coin away without her observation. The implant of the nerves on the forehead, tricked by the pressure, still believe that the coin is there, and thus the subject believes the coin is there as well.

The TTTNTTSBT also works for pickpocketing watches: putting casual pressure on the skin above the watch will give the sensation that the watch is still there even after one takes it. But one simply can’t take a watch without distraction first. And that’s the next thing the video explains.

The video explains how as humans, we use what are called mirror neurons to watch what others are paying attention to and pay attention to that instead of what we should be paying attention to. This is classic misdirection, and magicians constantly do this, pretending to pay careful attention to things that they want the audience to pay attention to.

Humor is also used as a distraction, as well as banter, or a constant stream of speech intended to draw the subject’s attention to what you are saying. But the most helpful distraction tip was simply throwing as many things as possible as the subject, to overwhelm their senses. In the clip, the pickpocket is constantly touching the subject in different places, firing up the nerves to get used to this attention grabber, and eventually taking away the attention from the slight brush in the wallet pocket.

Buy the book, Slights of Mind, referenced to in the video and support Lone Iguana.

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Unlock an Airplane Bathroom Door from the Outside and More Evil Tricks…

October 29th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

As part of their “Evil Week” series of posts, Lifehacker shares this surprisingly simple trick to unlocking one type of airplane lavatory door. Simply lift the little “Lavatory” sign above the lock, then slide the now exposed lock open. Hit the links for pictures.

  • Step 1: Approach locked lavatory
  • Step 2: Lift “LAVATORY” sign
  • Step 3: Slide the knob into the unlocked position
  • Step 4: Cackle because you’ve just unlocked the bathroom from the outside

HowTo: Unlock the airplane lavatory door (from the outside) via Lifehacker

Many more tricks are being featured on Lifehacker. Here are just a few a bunch more:

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Six Tricks for Conquering Fear

August 24th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Everyone has to deal with fear and uncertainty at times. This post contains six simple techniques to conquer fear and use it to your advantage.

Fear isn’t your enemy; it is through fear and hardship that we grow the most. When you think about it, if your life was free from any challenges, it would be fun for some time, but ultimately it would get pretty boring as you skated through each day without any challenges.

Fear is the spice in our life and using it to your advantage can make the difference between being miserable and being happy. But before you can do that, you should probably know about the following 6 ways to conquer fear and make it your ally.

6 Deceptively Simple Ways to Conquer Fear

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How To Effectively Lie [Art of Deception]

August 6th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Tell a simple story. The more complex, the more you have to remember.

Stay as close to the truth as possible.

Try to keep eye contact, but not too much. Humans naturally look away to access real memories.

Believe the lie. Envision the lie. Paint the story in your head.

Read Paul Ekman’s book, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage.


Another Uncrackable Code [Story Time]

April 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Another tale of an uncrackable code.

The former Air Force sergeant wore a backpack on his bearish 6′5″ frame; a sawed-off shovel handle stuck out of the top as he made his way along soft creek beds, avoiding hiking trails. Inside the pack was a night-vision monocle and a pile of classified material he had stolen from his longtime employer, theNational Reconnaissance Office — the US agency that manages the nation’s spy satellites.

Tale of a Would-Be Spy, Buried Treasure, and Uncrackable Code

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