Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Chair Test

The Chair Test first appeared in parapsychological experiments done at the Institut Métapsychique International in Paris, conducted by Dr. Eugéne Osty with Pascal Forthuny as the subject. These experiments took place from 1922 to 1926 and were detailed in Osty's book, Pascal Forthuny, 1926, p. 102. Roughly forty years later, Gerard Croiset from Holland, whose career as a psychic flourished internationally during the 1960s and 1970s, garnered publicity by doing similar tests. Croiset's version differed in a few details from the usual manner in which the effect is performed today. He would be asked to describe the person who would sit in a certain seat in a lecture hall, weeks before Croiset's appearance there. His predictions were recorded, sealed in a bag and locked in a safe until it was time to confirm the prediction. These events are described in Wilhelm H.C. Tenhaeff's De Voorschouw, 1961.

The first appearance of the Chair Test in magical literature was “Tele-hypnose” in Aage Darling's Danish book Mentale Mysterier, 1948. The same year, Darling's “Tele-hypnose” appeared in Bruce Elliott's magazine The Phoenix, No. 155, July 16, 1948, p. 623. Darling's book was translated into English by C. Steffensen and published as I'll Read Your Mind! in 1953.

Stanley Jaks also toyed with the idea of such a test, which Martin Gardner described in Ibidem, No. 24, Dec. 1961, p. 30, as “Magical Chairs.”