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Cold reading

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the communication technique. For the theatrical training technique, see Cold reading (theatrical). Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, and illusionists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.[1] Without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by analyzing the person's body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. Cold readers commonly employ high probability guesses about the subject, quickly picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, and then emphasizing and reinforcing any chance connections the subjects acknowledge while quickly moving on from missed guesses.

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1 Basic procedure 2 Other techniques 2.1 Shotgunning 2.2 The Forer effect (Barnum statements) 2.2.1 Warm reading 2.3 The rainbow ruse 3 Contrasting claims of performers 4 Subconscious cold reading 5 In movies and on television 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links



divided up into 3 sections. If there is no answer." One of the most crucial elements of a convincing cold reading is a subject eager to make connections or reinterpret vague statements in any way that will help the reader appear to make specific predictions or intuitions. illness. while the time spent recognizing "misses" is minimized. A typical studio audience consists of approximately 200 people. the effect gives an impression that the cold reader knows far more about the subject than an ordinary stranger could. subjects with a situation of grief. Subtle cues such as changes in facial expression or body language can indicate whether a particular line of questioning is effective or not. "I often see images that are a bit unclear and which may sometimes mean more to you than to me.Before starting the actual reading.[original research?] After determining that the subject is cooperative. while revelations seem to come from the reader. saying something such as. The subject will then reveal further information with their replies (whether verbal or non-verbal) and the cold reader can continue from there. cold reading is not very impressive. A conservative estimate assumes each person knows 150 people. While the reader will do most of the talking. pursuing promising lines of inquiry and quickly abandoning or avoiding unproductive ones. it is the subject who provides the meaning. most of the facts and statements come from the subject. Because the majority of time during a reading is spent dwelling on the "hits" the reader obtains.000 people! Would it be surprising for there to be a dozen Margarets in such a large sample?"[2] [edit]Shotgunning "Shotgunning" is a commonly used cold reading technique. near .000 people in the database of that section. suggestions. if you help. they open the question up to the whole audience's database of over 30. The reader slowly offers a huge quantity of very general information. [edit]Other techniques According to James Underdown from CFI and IIG "In the context of a studio audience full of people. Also." Underdown explains cold-reading from a mathematical viewpoint. typically using variations of the methods noted below. In general. or financial need will tend to be much more accepting of hints. When a psychic asks the question "Who's Margaret?" he is hoping there is a Margaret in the 10. the reader will typically try to elicit cooperation from the subject. Combining the techniques of cold reading with information obtained covertly (also called "hot reading") can leave a strong impression that the reader knows or has access to a great deal of information about the subject. we can together uncover new things about you. or guesses made by the reader. often to an entire audience (some of which is very likely to be correct. the reader will make a number of probing statements or questions. which are then refined and restated by the reader so as to reinforce the idea that the reader got something correct.

an uncle. who wants you to know whilst you may have had disagreements in your life. or reinterpreting statements in a number of different possible ways so as to make it apply to themselves).. at some point for example. an aunt. provocative or evocative to someone present). Barnum.correct or at the very least. he still loved you.. observes their subjects' reactions (especially their body language). a grandfather. heart disease. This technique is named after a shotgun. breast cancer.. a father. the American showman) are statements that seem personal. Statements of this type might include:   "I sense that you are sometimes insecure. or are repressing some important memory. A talented and charismatic reader can sometimes even bully a subject into admitting a connection. and then narrows the scope.[3] And while seemingly specific. They are designed to elicit identifying responses from people. a cousin . a stepmother with blackness in the chest.T." [edit]The Forer effect (Barnum statements) The Forer effect relies in part on the eagerness of people to fill in details and make connections between what is said and some aspect of their own lives (often searching their entire life's history to find some connection."  "I see a woman that isn't a blood relative. The statements can then be developed into longer and more sophisticated paragraphs and seem to reveal great amounts of detail about a person. A majority of people in a room will. such statements are often openended or give the reader the maximum amount of "wiggle room" in a reading. as it fires a cluster of small projectiles in the hope that one or more of the shots will strike the target. acknowledging particular people or concepts and refining the original statements according to those reactions to promote an emotional response. I'm definitively seeing chest pain here for a father-figure in your family. a friend of your mother." . especially with people you don't know very well. "Barnum statements" (named after P." "You have a box of old unsorted photographs in your house. Someone around when you were growing up. have lost an older relative or known at least one person with a common name like "Mike" or "John". Shotgunning might include a series of vague statements such as:  "I see a heart problem with a father-figure in your family."  "I sense an older male figure in your life. lung cancer. yet apply to many people. demanding over and over that they acknowledge a particular statement as having some relevance and maintaining that they just aren't thinking hard enough..

epoch." "You're having problems with a friend or relative. Ray Hyman and Ian Rowland would give as an example of cold reading. age.   "You had an accident when you were a child involving water. is intuitively perceptive and psychically gifted. In reality. Evolution. The list includes: heart disease. Peter Huston originated this phrase in his book More Scams from the Great Beyond!: How to Make Even More Money Off of Creationism. emphysema. Fringe Politics. To claim to get some sort of message about a piece of jewelry belonging to the deceased while doing a reading will often shock a client. a cold reader can "cover all possibilities" and appear to have made an accurate deduction in the mind of the subject. as well as the opposite of that trait. The following passage on warm reading comes from Robert T. Carroll's Skeptic's Dictionary: Warm reading is sometimes used to refer to "utilizing known principles of psychology that apply to nearly everyone" while doing a psychic reading. his or her father is quite likely to have died. the statements give the impression that the mentalist. warm reading refers to the judicious use of Barnum effect statements (also known as the Forer effect). if the subject is old enough. [edit]Warm reading Warm reading is a performance tool used by professional mentalists and psychic scam artists. despite the fact that a rainbow ruse statement is vague and contradictory. the Occult. With such a phrase. or scam artist. who will make the connection and take your message as a sign you have made contact with the other side. and Other Strange Beliefs. culture or nationality.renal failure. While hot reading is the use of foreknowledge and cold reading is the use of general presumptions common to human experience. and in fact to a great majority of causes of death.[4] When these psychological tricks are used properly. Michael Shermer uses the expression this way. pneumonia. personal opinions.[5] [edit]The rainbow ruse The rainbow ruse is a crafted statement which simultaneously awards the subject with a specific personality trait. This technique is used since personality . and this statement would easily apply to a large number of medical conditions. most types of cancer. cirrhosis of the liver. Environmentalism. regardless of gender. Shermer notes that many grieving people will wear a piece of jewelry that has a connection to their deceased loved one. diabetes." "Your father passed on due to problems in his chest or abdomen." Regarding the last statement. What Shermer gives as an example of warm reading. the statements fit nearly all of humanity. Weird Science.

vaguely linked by factors such as mood. or potential. In order to reduce the appearance of unusual expertise that might have created a power differential. Lynne Kelly. [edit]Contrasting claims of performers The mentalist branch of the magic community approves of "reading" as long as it is presented strictly as an artistic entertainment and one is not pretending to be psychic. only a sound knowledge of psychology and cold reading. and also because nearly everybody has experienced both sides of a particular emotion at some time in their lives. you feel deep-seated anger.[7] Ian Rowland.[6] Some performers who use cold reading are honest about their use of the technique. but when the mood strikes you.traits are not quantifiable. she could easily figure out many of the issues her "readees" brought into sessions with them. Statements of this type might include:  "Most of the time you are positive and cheerful.[8] andDerren Brown[9] have used these techniques at either private fortunetelling sessions or open forum "talking with the dead" sessions in the manner of those who claim to be genuine mediums. Kari Coleman."  "I would say that you are mostly shy and quiet. This attempt to be polite. or Forer effect. Only after receiving acclaim and applause from their audience do they reveal that they needed no psychic power for the performance." A cold reader can choose from a variety of personality traits. you can easily become the center of attention. but when somebody does something to break your trust. [edit]Subconscious cold reading Former New Age practitioner Karla McLaren said. In an episode of his Trick of the Mind series broadcast in March 2006. ."  "You are a very kind and considerate person. but there has been a time in the past when you were very upset. think of its opposite. and then bind the two together in a phrase. time. "I didn't understand that I had long used a form of cold reading in my own work! I was never taught cold reading and I never intended to defraud anyone." McLaren has further stated that since she was always very perceptive. I simply picked up the technique through cultural osmosis. she posed her observations as questions rather than facts. Derren Brown showed how easily people can be influenced through cold reading techniques by repeating Bertram Forer's famous demonstration of the personal validation fallacy.

asking themselves if their success is because of psychology. intuition or a psychic ability.[13] . actually invited the readee to. as McLaren has said.[12] Magic historian and occult investigator Milbourne Christopher warned the transcendental choice may lead one unknowingly into a belief in the occult and a deterioration of reason.[10] After a person has done hundreds of readings their skills may improve to the point where they may start believing they can read minds.[11] This point of thought is known by some skeptics of the paranormal as the transcendental temptation.she realized. "lean into the reading" and give her more pertinent information.