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The Mass Media

Welcome Week: Eric Dittelman, mind reader and comedian

On the night of Thursday, Jan. 30,  Eric Dittelman, mind reader and comedian, came to UMass Boston to perform a mind reading show. Dittelman was a semi-finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and has also been a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The show was scheduled to be an hour long, and there were refreshments and food for the audience.

As Dittelman first began his show, he prefaced that mind reading is more like the analogy “apples to oranges.” He can’t simply look at you and read your thoughts, but he does play games with your mind, and he can predict how you may act or what your thoughts may be in different situations or questions. So while he may not always get it 100 percent right (due to the laws of probability), usually he is close enough to still be impressive. He had three separate acts planned for the night to demonstrate his mind reading abilities, all of which relied on volunteers in the audience taking part.

Dittelman started his act with picking five random people in the audience, and asking them to guess a two digit number that he was thinking in his head. When the closest guess was chosen, he joined Dittelman on the stage, and began reading something that was already on stage with them (meaning the mind reader could not have written it at some point during the show). The paper had the number written down that was Dittelman’s guess, and as he read on, it started to describe what the person who guessed closest would look like. It was then that things started to get weird, and the crowd saw the power, or at the very least illusion, of mind reading! The paper went on to describe this volunteer’s outfit in complete detail, not missing a single color or significant piece of clothing listed. With a dropped jaw, the volunteer could not believe his eyes and what he was reading. Everyone was very impressed. Written on the next page was “oh yeah, and he’ll be off on his guess by 1,” which was true, as Dittelman’s number was 40 and the volunteers guess was 39. It was a really good, successful end to the act.

Next, he had a volunteer pick a word from any book on his table (including the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter), chosen from any page. It was advised for the volunteer to choose a long word, as it would be boring to choose a basic word like “the” while having your mind read. He suggested 8-10 letters for the word the volunteer chose. After she did, he asked her a series of questions, trying to figure out what letter her word started with and going from there. Though he may not have seen the exact page number of the book, he must have memorized all the large words and used deductive reasoning to figure out what part of the book she was on. As he asked more questions, he got closer to his answer, which ended up being correct! Obviously, this is based more on mind games, rather than mind reading, but it is still pretty impressive that Dittelman’s mind can memorize the amount of information he needs to be able to accurately guess what someone may be thinking.

Dittelman’s last act before his “encore” was for three audience members to draw a picture, and then he guessed what the picture was. For this, Dittelman for some reason put duct tape around his head—for comedy, I’m presuming—and uses it as a way to prove he can’t see what the volunteers wrote. However, this act was my least favorite, as it was really easy to see the fact that Dittelman could see the pictures in his hand before he described them. There was a stack of the drawings in his hands, and as he guessed each picture, the picture went above his head, supposedly proving he couldn’t see it. However, as he already had seen them, it didn’t matter. This act I found to be unbelievable and not as enjoyable as the others because it didn’t require skill of Dittelman, but instead was more like a sneaky magic trick. 

All in all, it was a good show. The host was sometimes really cringey and it was a bit awkward with some of his jokes, but he did a good performance and dealt with a small crowd pretty well. Shows that don’t have a large crowd tend to be awkward, as the host has no one responding to their questions and no lively audience members. It definitely was a little weird, but it was enjoyable, made me laugh, and made me think. I would recommend this to other students looking for things to do on campus, as it’s a fun and easy way to be involved.

About the Contributor
Grace Smith, Editor-in-Chief