Cold reading is a technique used to convince another person that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do. Even without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by carefully analyzing the person\'s body language, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. This technique is also called offender profiling. 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. Performers such as Lynne Kelly, Kari Coleman, Ian Rowland and Derren Brown have used this technique at either private fortune-telling sessions or open forum \"talking with the dead\" sessions in the manner of self-proclaimed psychic medium John Edward and his British counterparts. Only after receiving acclaim and applause from their audience do they reveal that they needed no psychic power for the performance, only a sound knowledge of psychology and cold reading. Many famous psychics, on the other hand, claim that their abilities actually stem from paranormal means or intuition, and deny that they are employing cold reading techniques. In an episode of his Trick of the Mind series broadcast in March 2006, Derren Brown demonstrated how easily people can be influenced through cold reading techniques by repeating the famous experiment in 1948, by psychologist Bertram R. Forer.  Basic procedure Before starting the actual reading, the reader will typically try to elicit cooperation from his subject, saying something like, \"I often see images that are a bit unclear and which may sometimes mean more to you than to me; if you help, we can together uncover new things about you.\" One of the most crucial elements of a convincing cold reading is a credulous subject eager to make connections or reinterpret vague statements in any way that will help the reader appear to have made specific predictions or intuitions. While the reader will do most of the talking, it is the subject who provides the meaning. After assuring that the subject will play along, the reader will make a number of probing statements or questions, typically using variations of the methods noted below. The subject will then reveal further information with their replies (whether verbal or non-verbal) and the cold reader can continue from there, pursuing promising lines of inquiry and very quickly abandoning or avoiding unproductive ones. In general, while only some of the information comes from the reader, most of the facts and statements come from the subject, and are then refined and restated by the reader so as to reinforce the idea that the reader got something correct. Even very subtle cues such as changes in facial expression or body language can indicate if a particular line of questioning is effective or not. Combining the techniques of cold reading with information obtained covertly (also called \"hot reading\") can leave a strong, but false, impression that the reader knows or has access to a great deal of information about the subject. Because the majority of time during a reading is spent dwelling on the \"hits\" the reader is able to obtain, while the time spent recognizing \"misses\" is minimized, the effect is to give an impression that the cold reader knows far more about the subject than any ordinary stranger could.  Other cold reading techniques The most comprehensive book on how to perform Cold Reading techniques is The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading by British illusionist Ian Rowland. In this book he discusses over twenty different techniques including The Rainbow Ruse, Fine Flattery and Barnum Statements.  Shotgunning \"Shotgunning\" is a commonly-used cold reading technique, allegedly used by purported television psychics and spiritual mediums: Edgar Cayce, Sylvia Browne, James Van Praagh, Colin Fry and John Edward in particular have all been accused by skeptics of using shotgunning techniques in their stage and television shows. The psychic or reader quickly offers a huge quantity of very general information, often to an entire audience (some of which is very likely to be correct, near correct or at the very least, provocative or evocative to someone present), observes their subjects\' reactions (especially their body language), and then narrows the scope, acknowledging particular people or concepts and refining the original statements according to those reactions to promote an emotional response. This technique is named after a shotgun, as it fires a spray of small projectiles in the hope that one or more of the shots will strike the target. A majority of people in a room will, at some point for example, 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, a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a cousin... I\'m definitively seeing chest pain here for a father-figure in your family.\" \"I see a woman that isn\'t a blood relative. Someone around when you were growing up, an aunt, a friend of your mother, a step-mother with blackness in the chest, lung cancer, heart disease, breast cancer...\" \"I sense an older male figure in your life, who wants you to know whilst you may have had disagreements in your life, he still loved you.\"  The Forer effect/Barnum statements \"Barnum statements\" named after P.T. Barnum, the American showman, may also be used. These statements seem personal, yet apply to many people. And while seemingly specific, such statements are often open-ended or give the reader the maximum amount of \"wriggle room\" in a reading. They are designed to elicit identifying responses from people. The statements can then be developed into longer and more sophisticated paragraphs and seem to reveal great amounts of detail about a person. The 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, or reinterpreting the statement in any number of different possible ways so as to make it apply to themselves). A talented and charismatic reader can sometimes even bully a subject into admitting a connection, demanding over and over that they acknowledge a particular statement as having some relevance and maintaining that they just aren\'t thinking hard enough, or are repressing some important memory. Statements of this type might include: \"I sense that you are sometimes insecure, especially with people you don\'t know very well.\" \"You have a box of old unsorted photographs in your house.\" \"You had an accident when you were a child involving water.\" \"You\'re having problems with a friend or relative.\" \"Your father passed on due to problems in his chest or abdomen.\" If the subject is old enough, his or her father is quite likely to be dead, and this statement would easily apply to a number of conditions such as heart disease, pneumonia, diabetes, most forms of cancer, and in fact to a great majority of causes of death.  The rainbow ruse The rainbow ruse is a crafted statement which simultaneously awards the subject with a specific personality trait, as well as the opposite of that trait. With such a phrase, a cold reader can \"cover all possibilities\" and appear to have made an accurate deduction in the mind of the subject, despite the fact that a rainbow ruse statement is vague and contradictory. This technique is used since personality traits are not quantifiable, and also because nearly everybody has experienced both sides of a particular emotion at some time in their lives. Statements of this type might include: \"Most of the time you are positive and cheerful, but there has been a time in the past where you were very upset.\" \"You are a very kind and considerate person, but when somebody does something to break your trust, you feel deep-seated anger.\" \"I would say that you are mostly shy and quiet, but when the mood strikes you, you can easily become the center of attention.\" A cold reader can choose from a variety of personality traits, think of its opposite, and then bind the two together in a phrase, vaguely linked by factors such as mood, time, or potential.  Subconscious cold reading People who are naturally good at personal observations can unwittingly conduct readings demonstrably based on cold reading without a deliberate attempt at deception.Cold reading in this context could also simply be \"knowledge of the world.\" Consider the case of a taxi driver in Las Vegas, where innumerable professional conventions have provided him with the opportunity to gauge the characteristic group style and demeanor of entire occupations. Knowing the six big conventions on at the moment, as a party of five enters his cab, he can tell the wound continence nurses from the scuba divers, the phytopathologists from the pilots, the doctors from the police chiefs, without recourse to anything but his personal experience. Former New Age practitioner Karla McLaren said, \"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; I simply picked up the technique through cultural osmosis.\" McLaren has further stated that since she was always very perceptive, she could easily figure out many of the issues her \"readees\" brought into sessions with them. In order to reduce the appearance of unusual expertise that might have created a power differential, she posed her observations as questions rather than facts. This attempt to be polite, she realized, actually invited the readee to, as McLaren has said, \"lean into the reading\" and give her more pertinent information. After a person has done hundreds of readings their skills may improve to the point where they may start believing they can read minds, asking themselves if their success is because of psychology, intuition or a psychic ability. This point of thought is known by some skeptics of the paranormal as the transcendental temptation. 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.  Cold reading in movies and on television The Wizard of Oz (1939). Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan) does a cold reading on Dorothy (Judy Garland) in an effort to urge her to return home. Nightmare Alley (1947). Depicted ex-carny and aspiring cult leader Stanton Carlisle (Tyrone Power) using cold reading and other mentalist techniques to convince people he can communicate with the dead. Although the presentation is clumsy, the technique of cold reading is referred to by name. The film was based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. Leap of Faith (1992). Early in the film, revival tent evangelist and phony faith healer Jonas Nightengale (Steve Martin) uses cold reading on a police officer who has pulled over his tour bus, to dissuade him from writing a ticket. South Park (2002). In the episode \"The Biggest Douche in the Universe,\" the gang encounters famous medium John Edward. Stan is angered at the crowd\'s willingness to believe Edward has any psychic ability at all, and throughout the remainder of the episode he tries to prove that Edward merely uses cold reading to trick people by demonstrating to Kyle, only to be mistaken by passers-by for a gifted child psychic himself. Stan then faces off against Edward in a \"psychic showdown\" on TV to disprove him once and for all, but then Edward is kidnapped by extraterrestrials and given the dubious award of \"The Biggest Douche in the Universe.\" Hustle (2005). BBC series about a group of grifters in London. In Series 2 Episode 1, Albert Stroller and Danny Blue mention using cold reading in order to get a mark interested in business. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2005). In the episode \"Pure,\" a sexual predator (Martin Short) uses cold reading, as well as the Facial Action Coding System and his inside knowledge of a crime he committed, to masquerade as a psychic detective offering his services to the victim\'s family and the police. House (2006). In the episode \"House vs. God,\" Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) treats a teenage faith healer (Thomas Dekker) who he believes is just cold reading and exciting people into thinking they are cured until the endorphins from the experience wear off. Dr. House himself frequently uses cold reading techniques to diagnose his patients and pry into his co-workers\' private lives. Sherlock Holmes can be seen as an expert cold reader, which he uses to find clues.
A digitally re-mastered version of the original cassette released in 1986. On this CD you will hear Richard Webster who is one of the world\'s leading experts on the art of cold reading. Richard Webster is a New Zealander who has been involved with Magic and Cold Reading for many, many years. Richard used to release his own exclusive publications but now that he has achieved international fame he is published by a leading American publishing house. He has written books on a diverse range of subjects from Hypnotism to Fung Shui. Richard not only writes and speaks about Cold Reading but also has, for many years, earned his living from private readings given to his many clients. Contained on the MagiCD is the most comprehensive instruction on cold reading that you will ever receive. Richard provides detailed explanations and clear and precise readings that you can use once you have learned the techniques necessary.
Guide to \"Cold Reading\" by Ray Hyman There are many people who promote themselves as psychics or clairvoyants, and who claim that their powers enable them to read your character, make contact with dead relatives, or provide insights into your life and your future. Despite their claims, there has never been a successful demonstration of these powers in a laboratory, under properly controlled conditions. Indeed, the National Committee of Australian Skeptics offers a cash prize of $100,000 for any PROVEN demonstration of such powers. See The Challenge. By far the most common method employed by psychics who have been put to the test is called cold reading. This method involves the psychic reading the subject\'s body language etc, and skilfully extracting information from the subject, which can then be fed back later, convincing the subject that the psychic has told them things they couldn\'t possibly have known! The following is our 13 point guide to cold reading - Study them well, then amaze your friends with your new found psychic powers! 1. Remember that the key ingredient of a successful character reading is confidence. If you look and act as if you believe in what you are doing, you will be able to sell even a bad reading to most subjects. One danger of playing the role of reader is that you may actually begin to believe that you really are divining your subject\'s true character! 2. Make creative use of the latest statistical abstracts, polls and surveys. These can provide you with much information about what various subclasses in our society believe, do, want , worry about etc. For example, if you can ascertain a subject\'s place of origin, educational level, and his/her parents\' religion and vocations, you have gained information which should allow you to predict with high probability his/her voting preferences and attitudes to many subjects. 3. Set the stage for your reading. Profess a modesty about your talents. Make no excessive claims. You will then catch your subject off guard. You are not challenging them to a battle of wits - You can read his/her character, whether he/she believes you or not. 4. Gain the subject\'s cooperation in advance. Emphasise that the success of the reading depends as much on the subject\'s cooperation as on your efforts. (After all, you imply, you already have a successful career at character reading - You are not on trial, your subject is!) State that due to difficulties of language and communication, you may not always convey the meaning you intend. In these cases, the subject must strive to fit the reading to his/her own life. You accomplish two valuable ends with this dodge - Firstly, you have an alibi in case the reading doesn\'t click; it\'s the subject\'s fault, not yours! Secondly, your subject will strive to fit your generalities to his/her specific life circumstances. Later, when the subject recalls the reading, you will be credited with much more detail than you actually provided! This is crucial. Your reading will only succeed to the degree that the subject is made an active participant in the reading. The good reader is the one who , deliberately or unwittingly, forces the subject to search his/her mind to make sense of your statements. 5. Use a gimmick, such as Tarot cards, crystal ball, palm reading etc. Use of props serves two valuable purposes. Firstly, it lends atmosphere to the reading. Secondly, (and more importantly) it gives you time to formulate your next question/statement. Instead of just sitting there, thinking of something to say, you can be intently studying the cards /crystal ball etc. You may opt to hold hands with your subject - This will help you feel the subject\'s reactions to your statements. If you are using , say, palmistry (the reading of hands) it will help if you have studied some manuals, and have learned the terminology. This will allow you to more quickly zero in on your subject\'s chief concerns - \"do you wish to concentrate on the heart line or the wealth line?\" 6. Have a list of stock phrases at the tip of your tongue. Even during a cold reading, a liberal sprinkling of stock phrases will add body to the reading and will help you fill in time while you formulate more precise characterisations. Use them to start your readings. Palmistry, tarot and other fortune telling manuals are a key source of good phrases. 7. Keep your eyes open! Use your other senses as well. Size the subject up by observing his/her clothes, jewellery, mannerisms and speech. Even a crude classification based on these can provide the basis for a good reading. Also, watch carefully for your subject\'s response to your statements - You will soon learn when you are hitting the mark! 8. Use the technique of fishing. This is simply a device to get the subject to tell you about his/herself. Then you rephrase what you have been told and feed it back to the subject. One way of fishing is to phrase each statement as question, then wait for the reply. If the reply or reaction is positive, then you turn the statement into a positive assertion. Often the subject will respond by answering the implied question and then some. Later, the subject will forget that he/she was the source of the information! By making your statements into questions, you also force the subject to search his/her memory to retrieve specific instances to fit your general statement. 9. Learn to be a good listener. During the course of a reading your client will be bursting to talk about incidents that are brought up. The good reader allows the client to talk at will. On one occasion I observed a tealeaf reader. The client actually spent 75% of the time talking. Afterward when I questioned the client about the reading she vehemently insisted that she had not uttered a single word during the course of the reading. The client praised the reader for having astutely told her what in fact she herself had spoken. Another value of listening is that most clients that seek the services of a reader actually want someone to listen to their problems. In addition, many clients have already made up their minds about what choices they are going to make. They merely want support to carry out their decision. 10. Dramatise your reading. Give back what little information you do have or pick up a little bit at a time. Make it seem more than it is. Build word pictures around each divulgence. Don\'t be afraid of hamming it up. 11. Always give the impression that you know more than you are saying. The successful reader, like the family doctor, always acts as if he/she knows much more. Once you have persuaded the subject that you know one item of information that you couldn\'t possibly have known (through normal channels) the subject will assume that you know all! At this point, the subject will open up and confide in you. 12. Don\'t be afraid to flatter your subject at every opportunity. An occasional subject will protest, but will still lap it up. In such cases, you can add, \"You are always suspicious of those who flatter you. You just can\'t believe that someone will say something good about you without an ulterior motive\". 13. Remember the Golden Rule - always tell the subject what he/she wants to hear!
How to cold read
If you do any form of readings or mind reading, then \"Mind Reading\" is for you. This new work will help you make all of your mentalism far more realistic. Just ask the renowned mentalists in the P.E.A. how realistic this type of material is when Kenton performed for them. With \"Mind Reading\" you will: Walk into a room, coffee shop or on to a stage and begin writing impressions. No set-up or pre-show required. No gimmicks or gaffs. No sleight of hand. Write out impressions and have spectators acknowledge your uncanny accuracy. The method? It\'s mental. Just KNOW things a mentalist ought to be able to know. We give you remedies that will fix a very common problem in mentalism. What is the downfall for most mentalists will become a subtle and powerful strength for you. If you want to be believable, you must know about this principle. We supply you with many options at last. Be able to do very accurate readings with no set-up or inside information. Not just \"cold\" reading, but truly different approaches you can combine with standard methods too. Write down thoughts about a person you have never met and know you will always end on a hit. Make deliberate, detailed and secure impressions completely impromptu and amaze onlookers at your accuracy. Expanded and updated classic information you will want if you do readings or mind reading. New routines and tricks plus original physical methods are revealed throughout. More than a few of these effects have been performed on television by various personalities around the world. This material can be performed in a living room, a coffee house, pub, platform, close-up, cocktail parties, informal gatherings and even on the full stage.
Resources cold reading
Tricks of the psychic