What is it like to have a mind reader inside the mind? This question was answered when Chris Carter, a critically acclaimed mind reader, came to Southern Oregon University on Nov. 11. The performance welcomed a crowd of nearly 100 people from Southern Oregon University as well as the Ashland community.
“What I do is read people,” said Carter. “Some of it is body language. Some of it is profiling. Some of what we are going to do here tonight, is so strange, you won’t know what to call it. And this is where it gets fun. I’m not here to make you believe, I’m not here to make you not to believe. I just have one extremely simple mission in life. I am here to mess with your head.”
Carter started his performance by admitting that not everything he would do that night would work. But he wowed the audience right from the beginning. Carter jumped right in, showing his ability to read body language.
After choosing four people from the audience, Carter had them pick a card out of a regular deck of cards. He didn’t see the cards, in fact Carter didn’t have the deck. Carter was able to read their voice inflections and body language and guess their card. Out of the four people, he only guessed one wrong.
“Starting at the age of eight, when an uncle allowed him to sit in on a poker game, Carter began to realize that people broadcast their thoughts in ways beyond words. This led to a lifelong interest in non-verbal communication and “people reading”, according to Christopher Carter, his website.
It wasn’t until Carter was pursuing his Ph.D. in Theatre that he realized he wanted to turn this interest into a career.
“[I] got right up to the point where I was supposed to do my dissertation and said ‘nah,’ no I want to be a performer,” said Carter. “I thought it would be cool to make magic out of people, and the way they behave rather than objects, because of the reactions I got from people. It was just so much more powerful.”
During his performance, Carter repeatedly impressed the audience, making them laugh, gasp and sit in shocked silence. One SOU student in particular enjoyed his performance.
“I definitely feel skeptical about things like that [mentalist and mind reading], and I wanted to figure out how he would be able to do something that seems so improbable,” said Rowen Olin-Zorne, an audience member that participated in the show.
During the performance, Carter had silver dollars duct taped to his eyelids multiple times over and a blindfold of four layers of fabric over his eyes. After this, every member of the audience was asked to fill out a notecard with the following information: their name, a fact about their life, a favorite or memorable number, and a question they had.
Once the note cards were filled out, they were collected and brought to Carter in the front of the room. He would then take a notecard and, without being able to look at it, guess the initials of the individual, then their name. Once the person was identified, Carter would start on more personal and individualized questions.
Olin-Zorne was one of the lucky individuals which Carter identified.
“He guessed everything that I wrote on the notecard correctly. That was my life, tidbits of my life, a question I had about my friend, and my birthday,” said Olin-Zorne. “He actually got very specific. That did surprise me.”
Carter went into detail about her childhood living on a farm, down to the number and species of pets she had.
“They aren’t ordinary pets, well they are, but you grew up on a farm, didn’t you?” said Carter.
“Yes I did,” said Olin-Zorne.
“And there are a bunch of cats, they must have been like barn cats, yes?” said Carter.
“Yes, that’s right,” said Olin-Zorne.
“Good. Then she’s going, how many? You had eight,”
“I had eight cats.”
“Yes. But there was another animal you had. And that was what you really found so charming. They are goats. You had two goats,”
“Yes, I had two goats.”
Olin-Zorne was one of many in the crowd in which Carter guessed their life details correctly. This left the crowd both shocked and laughing. At every turn Carter keep the audience interested and intrigued. Not once was the audience bored or unimpressed.
“I actually had a lot of fun…I’m glad that I got up out of my house and came,” said Olin-Zorne.