All About Cold Reading (2 of 3)
So, let's address a few common mis-understandings about cold reading.
First of all, cold reading is not one single technique - it is many different techniques and strategies all woven together. My book lists over 35 of these different strategies, and even this is probably not exhaustive.
Some people say cold reading is about observing body language, making vague guesses or 'fishing' for information. Not so, although these ruses may be included in the mix, especially by psychics who aren't particularly good.
It's also not true to say that cold reading only works on gullible people. It is fair to suggest that someone basing major decisions on a trip to the local psychic may lack impressive gifts of rational analysis. However, cold reading can work on just about anyone, even really smart people. In fact, the only person it doesn't work on is someone who knows that you are trying to use cold reading on them.
Hard to fit it in a nutshell...
So, how does cold reading work? This is a big subject, which is why I wrote the book. What's more, it's a bit risky to serve up simplified soundbites of explanation, as they tend to get ripped out of context by our dear friends in the psychic industry. This having been said, let me offer a couple of really simple examples, just so you get the idea.
It's mainly to do with making statements that cannot be wrong. You go to see a psychic and she says, 'I can sense a connection with the letter M, maybe Michael or something like that, who is this?'. Note that the psychic is supposed to be giving information, but is in this case asking for it (psychics do this a lot). Also note that her suggestion could pertain to the name 'Michael' or any name that looks or sounds similar, and she hasn't said whether this link is personal or professional, past or present, near or far... or anything specific at all.
If by chance you know someone called Michael, it's a hit for the psychic. If you only vaguely know someone by this name, it's still a partial hit, and in a way it seems more impressive - how could she know about someone on the outer fringes of your life? What if you honestly have no link whatsoever with that name or anything like it... does this mean the psychic has failed? Not at all. She just shrugs and says, 'Okay, you may not be aware of this person at the moment, but someone with this name will come into your life very soon, so please will you watch out for that?'. If at any point in the next year this comes true, it's as if the psychic could foretell the future. If not... why does she care? You're long gone, she's got your money, and there's always another customer to be fleeced.
And one more example...
Here's another very simple example. The psychic says, 'There is an indication that affairs of the heart have been a concern in recent times, but I see some good news ahead. Could this make sense to you?'. Let's run through the options here. First of all, this statement has a good chance of sounding accurate. Love, romance and relationships are a major aspect of life, so most people, most of the time, can find some link with 'affairs of the heart'. If not, the psychic can use various ways to wriggle out of it, such as, 'Well, someone close has actually been thinking of you, even if you yourself aren't aware of their affections'. This (a) sounds flattering, and (b) can never be proved either way. Another win for the crafty psychic!.
I hope these very simple examples give you the flavour of what cold reading is all about (if you want the complete, detailed explanation, buy the book). When explained in this way, you might not think this could ever fool anyone. I've given more test conditions demonstrations of cold reading for the media than anyone else in the world, and I've proved that it can be devastatingly effective.
So far we have only looked at cold reading in the context of the psychic industry. The really intersting stuff comes next: ACR, or Applied Cold Reading. This has nothing to do with psychics. I'll explain more on Page 3.