It must be the work of God!

October 23, 2010

The Selfish Meme!

Filed under: Politics — antitheist19 @ 3:39 pm
Tags: , , ,


“In the course of a successful reading, the psychic may provide most of the words, but it is the client that provides most of the meaning and all of the significance.” –Ian Rowland



As to make this blog post different than the others, I will write about, and somewhat attribute the very series of methods and techniques used by mentalists, illusionists, fortune tellers, psychics, mediums and other con artists whose purpose is to determine or suggest some sense of detailed knowledge about a person. I will sometimes refer to the above as “cold reader”, “psychic” or female. The reason for the latter is only because most “psychics” are usually women. I am a feminist, so this is absolutely not a prejudicial statement of a chauvinistic nature.


Cold Reading

Cold Reading is a way to manipulate people into thinking that the individuals practicing it have special powers. They don’t. A cold reader knows that human beings are generally self-centered, and tend to manifest unrealistic perceptions about themselves. We accept claims that reflect how we wish we were or think we should be, rather than how we are or even how we really think we are. The human mind’s selectivity is always at work, picking and choosing what data to give significance and what not to. The cold reader can utilize this. And without any prior knowledge about a subject, she can obtain a massive amount of information by analyzing their body language, clothing, place of origin, religion, et cetera.


Hot Reading

Hot Reading is the surreptitious use of foreknowledge by psychics, mediums, and palm readers. This is the process of gaining preliminary information; from background research to going through somebody’s purse. This technique is used by television psychics in conjunction with Cold Reading. A medium who claims to talk to the dead is also prone to perpetually using this method.


A little thing about The Win-Win Game

There is always an excuse

The Win-Win Game is a list comprised of 11 ways in which psychics deal with negative responses. The commonest of all is called “Persist, wonder and let it linger.” This method is also very reliable. It is used being directed by 3 phases:

  • “The psychic persists with the offered statement and tries to encourage at least partial agreement.”
  • “They act puzzled, and invites the client to share the blame for the ‘discrepancy’.”
  • “They leave the discrepancy unresolved, in case the client finds a match later on.”

The first phase is led by persistance with the original statement, which means that the cold reader will pester the client with questions about the negative response. This might play out like the following: “So, you’re sure Alex is not a name familiar to you in any way?” She continues like this, in a variety of ways, until finally moving on to the second phase (if encouraged to a bit more time, the client might come up with some link they didn’t think of before. If this happens, the psychic won’t need the second phase). When acting puzzled, she’ll usually invite the client to share her “bewilderment”; “Okay, I don’t understand it any more than you do. I never claimed to be infallible, but I’m not often wrong. So will you bear that name in mind for the future? I really feel there’s a connection there.” Now, if the client eventually does remember the name “Alex”, the cold reader will get some extra points for the depth of her insight. If not, the point will simply be forgotten and never mentioned again.

The least common way (or “last resort”) to deal with negative responses is called “Accept, apologise, and move on” and is simply what a psychic would do when everything in the reading falls apart; the last refuge. If all else fails, she can at least say this: “I wish I could be right all the time, but who doesn’t right? Well, when I’m wrong I’m wrong. Anyway, let me move on to the next area I want to look at with you, which is travel…” At the same time as appearing completely honest, the psychic cuts her losses and leaves the problem unresolved, where it can quietly be forgotten.


The Barnum Effect (or “Forer Effect”)

“We have something for everybody.” –P.T. Barnum

We are very good at finding meaning where there is none; giving significance to what is actually meaningless in itself. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. The vague, yet seemingly accurate and specific analyses are misattributed to being tailored for the individual reader. They’re actually general enough to apply to anyone. For example:

“Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary and reserved. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. You pride yourself on being an independent thinker and do not accept others’ opinions without satisfactory proof. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety, and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. Disciplined and controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside.”

Subjective validation is a very important element in Cold Reading. It is the cognitive bias by which a person deems a statement or information liable to be proof, based on personal feelings rather than evidence. The effect relies in part on eagerness of the people filling in the details and desperately linking correspondences.



Alas, my 7 hours of writing could not incorporate everything on Cold Reading, but do not fret about the little things; Ian Rowland’s “The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading” was my inspiration for this post, so if you want to learn more or everything about it, this is highly recommended!


Blog at