Index Finger Test

Tell them to turn the right hand palm up to the ceiling and make a tight fist at the end of the arm. Once again safety first, warn women especially not to dig their fingernails into their palms. Tell them to make the arm stiff and ensure that there is nothing underneath the arm such as glasses or bottles.

Now, with the palm facing the floor get them to slightly relax the left arm. Keeping it straight but relaxed. At this point ask that those not taking part in the experiment be as quiet as possible to allow the ones taking part to concentrate. This is a double-edged sword. It tells the participants that in your eyes they are important, and also allows you to build a comfortable level of audience control.

Now tell them to close their eyes and listen to the sound of your voice. Goes like this.

"I want you to imagine you are holding a heavy steel ball in your right hand. It's getting heavier and heavier and it's being pulled down towards the floor. Your left arm feels like a lighter than air balloon and it's floating up towards the ceiling, becoming lighter and lighter."

Repeat and compound this for a minute or two alternating between arms, between heavy and light. I've seen people suggest that the balloon is tied to the arm, or that they are holding a heavy book, or a bag of sugar. Build on the suggestion, especially the heavy arm as this will undoubtedly drop as it gets tired. Tell them it weighs the same as two bags of sugar, three. One pound, seven pounds.

Now watch them, paying particular attention to the left arm. It should be obvious that we are once again using a mix of suggestion and mechanics. The tense arm will be suffering a reduced blood flow and in the majority of cases will begin to drop after around thirty seconds or so. Just hold your own arm out tight and make a fist and see how long it is before it begins to drop. However the relaxed arm has no real reason to rise. For the majority it won't but watch for the ones where it ends up above their heads. In this test they are absolute certainties. Not only have they co-operated but also they are using their imaginations and accepting suggestion. After a minute or two tell them not to move their arms but to open their eyes and look at the difference between the levels of their arms. Then tell them if they have a huge or even a quite big difference then they can be hypnotised. That is the moment your marching music begins and you ask them to join you on stage.

You will have to be slightly more persuasive here because, unlike the hand-lock, they don't have any pressing need, like being able to hold a glass, to come up.

In most cases I would, once they are up, then do a hand-lock. If you only have a few sit them down and do it. If there are lots, do it standing up! It is still the easiest way of sorting out the fakers and d-heads.

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