So, some time ago I went to see a magic show, featuring several magicians, one of which was a mentalist. He performed a question and answer routine that seemed flawless. Not only did he divine the questions sealed in envelopes, he went further to reveal personal information and even a prediction. I have no idea how it was done, and it was interesting, but it also represents my main problem with mentalism. I felt like the magic happened only in the mind of the few spectators chosen out of the crowd to have their mind read, and of course there is the possibility that they were stooges. So, for the rest of the audience, it's amazing but it relies on trusting these three random people, and assuming they are really 'random people'. When you see magic done with participants, it's still magic, because the actual effect is usually impossible because it seems to go against our firm beliefs and assumptions e.g. making something disappear. The participants and audience often add something to the trick, but one doesn't need to be onstage to experience the magic. However, with a lot of mentalism I've seen, the impossibility of the effect relies on the assumption that the participants are not stooges, and no matter how many times the mentalist assures the audience 'no stooges or plants were involved', it still feels like a possibility. It may very well be true that there are no stooges, and in fact an ingenious method that relies on the skill of the performer, but there is no way of convincing the audience that this is true. Not all mentalists are like this of course. I'd like to point out Derren Brown, who's shows are always entertaining and engaging, and who often incorporates other mentalism ideas that don't seem to rely on stooges. To be clear, I hardly perform mentalism (for several reasons, this being one of them), and I'm not trying to have a go at mentalists. I'm just trying to point out a problem that I've seen a lot, from the layman's point of view. So, thoughts?