Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cold Readings: Is Your Psychic a Mentalist?

According to Wikipedia, a cold reading is “a series of techniques used by mentalists, illusionists, fortune tellers, psychics, and mediums 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. 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.”

Techniques to watch for
(you’ve easily seen TV psychics use these a lot):

Shotgunning” (Wikipedia) “A commonly-used cold reading technique used, among others, by television psychics and spiritual mediums. The psychic or reader slowly 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.

"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."

“Barnum Statements”
(Wikipedia) “named after P.T. Barnum, the American showman) are statements that 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 "wiggle 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.”
Example: "You had an accident when you were a child involving water.”

“The Rainbow Ruse”
(Wikipedia) “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.”

Example: "I would say that you are mostly shy and quiet, but when the mood strikes you, you can easily become the center of attention."

Perspective: One time, a friend begged me to get a reading after she got one. I humored her. I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary. Their wasn’t a psychic sensation in the whole shop. I sat down and the woman took my hand and tried the shock factor. “You’re not at fault! You must stop feeling so guilty!” A brilliant technique to make me rush through my mind for anything I might feel guilty about. I gave her credit for technique. Like a good fly fisherman, she cast her line and could have hooked a sucker. Luckily, I expected her to play this game. I not only had no feelings of guilt in my consciousness, but as she spoke, she told me I should consider leaving my boyfriend, he’ll never marry me. (I was married). She proceeded to tell me to repaint the room I painted red (no red in my house-I hate the color). I finally just got up and left while she was in mid sentence. A less savvy person might have replaced "boyfriend" with "husband," and considered "I once thought about painting my room red," anything to make it "fit."

This is not to say psychics don’t exist. I know for a fact that they do, as I myself have skills that I can neither explain or often times control. When you get a reading from a psychic, you need to ask yourself “how specific is this to me, or is it a broad statement that fits many?” “Are they waiting too much for me to respond and lead them in the right direction?” “Is this the kind of thing I might hear from a counselor and advisor?”

Someone tapping into you psychically should be able to give you extraordinary details about your life, odd facts that would not be commonly guessed by anyone. They shouldn’t be asking you to make decisions based on their findings, have you pour your heart out to them so that they know too much of your personal lives and therefore can lead you into thinking they know you so well, or request that you come back again and again.

I’ll be brutally honest. Anyone making money as a psychic may not have your best interests in mind. It’s a business. One in which you coming back is critically important, just like your counselor or psychiatrist. Your dependence on them assures their income. We don’t have any regulations on psychics, no testing, certification, or a board of examiners like medical professionals have. As a consumer, you need to be educated, suspicious, and cautious. When you go forth to use a psychic and shell out money, consider it purely entertainment.


  1. good things to consider!! i've sometimes considered seeing a psychic, but never did. too much $$!

  2. You know that kind of reminds me of how a good salesman makes a sale. But I guess that's what a fraud is doing anyways. They are trying to 'sell' you the idea that they really are a psychic with connections to the spirit realm.

  3. Yeah. Psychics do exist. I hope people realize the role of a psychic. They shouldn't be advising you and they shouldn't be baiting you to come back. If a person gets into the relationship knowing it's a form of counseling, it can be beneficial. Some people aren't comfortable talking to ministers and psychologists. Just so long as they understand that the psychic aspects should not be the focus of the relationship but something that might enhance the ability to be empathetic. A perfect counselor doesn't tell you what to do, but guides you so you see the answer yourself. Hope that helps folks. I've seen people become quite dependent on psychics and there's no way to certify these people have any real talents other than some good tricks and a great listening ear.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Oops..had too many typos so deleted to repost.

    Very cool post! I love how you broke down their techniques like this. And like Libby, I always wanted to go to one, just for entertainment, but too much $$$! I am seriously considering doing a past life regression however. My neighbor did one and let me listen to the tape they made of it...amazing. But I don't know if anyone could get me into a relaxed enough state to transgress me...(I tried to get "hypnotized" a few times, but no go. Wouldn't allow myself to surrender to it.)

  6. Courtney;
    I have to admit, I've been hypnotized and regressed probably a dozen times or so. The regressions weren't for past lives, but for my childhood. I have to admit it's a very strange state of mind to be in. A phone could ring and I would hear a sound, but not associate it with the sense of needing to answer it or that someone was on the other end. It's so neat to have that feeling of not having a body or a time or a place. I did, however, see somethings in hypnotic state that were absurd and so I quit going. I have to admit, when an alien showed up in my childhood bedroom, I was quite done with the process. I couldn't say that what I found under hypnosis was legitimate. Sometimes, I was flying in the hypnotic state, sometimes a celebrity showed up. It was too much like dream state to use as evidence. I've also had a lie detector test in the past a few times (employer was paranoid of his employees for a big chain of clothing stores in LA). I actually failed an answer one time that I very clearly answered truthfully, so I don't put a lot of weight in lie detectors either. I would say if you wanted to put your $ into something psychic that might be helpful and interesting, you might consider an aura photo. These have less interpretation by the psychics, they're simply reading your colors. Tarot and tea readings are also possibilities. Heck, one time, I gave four of my friends personal items of mine and said where they came from was a secret and they did "reads" on them and were more accurate than a paid-for psychic. It might be a fun afternoon play thing to do with friends. Someone might find a hidden talent. I've also found folks using tarot cards do as well as a psychic reading tarot cards. It's all a formatted interpretation so you can't go wrong with that. Hope that helps.

  7. Very valid points and ones I try and get people to understand. As a Medium who has a focused intent to prove survival I hate doing private readings because of the expectations of fortune telling people come along hoping to be told how to live their lives as if psychics have divine magical powers

    I teach mediumship development and often hammer away at the same types of points you make here to get people to understand

    As you say
    1 Is the reading really psychic or basically as you suggest just telling you what they have generally drawn from you going on to tell you what to do and possibly encourage dependence.
    2 If its psychic just because the reader keeps saying "they are telling me" it does not prove they have a Spirit connection. Indeed assume for your own safety that they do not and treat the information as not from a divine source it will help you be discerning.
    3 if they claim they have a loved one did they quickly prove it with accurate information not wheedled out of you in some way again be discerning.

    Thanks for such a blog as a dedicated Spiritualist this is a very important message to get out onto the web.

  8. oldeclectic;
    Glad you enjoyed it. I was certain I'd get some biting remarks from the PSI's out there, but ones who come from an honest wellspring have nothing to hide. It's sort of the difference between ministers and true spiritualists; one is a salesman; the other is a catalyst. I had a friend who tried to take advantage of my abilities to pry me about the future. I told her quite frankly that none of it's in stone. I don't offer counseling or solutions for folks. That's an entirely different thing done as a friend and a person with a fair amount of wisdom. My psychometry abilities--purely for my own amazement and others. I use it practically when ghost hunting to narrow down a space and a history of a place so I can focus on the active areas, but I don't use it as proof of haunting. I consider myself a bloodhound. What you do is a great service. I've lost probably over two dozen close family members and a few friends during my almost 47 years and I like to feel they're energy and wisdom transferred to me. Some folks can't feel it, and that's where a wise person like yourself can assist. That's a great service to help people connect with that. We're not all great receivers that way.

  9. Hi Autumnforest,

    Thanks for your comments I wrote because I was impressed with the way you presented this material. Unfortnately there are too many who look at psychics as if they have some magical, mysteriouas contact with the divine not understanding the nature of the processes involved. They can then be vulnerable because what they get is either startling or fits in with what they want to hear (as you might expect).

    Educating people to be discriminating as you did here is excellent.

    Good idea to use psychometry as you do. I also use dowsing to help me sort out energy probles often map dowsing a house before arriving at it. Once again this is an expression of a natural psychic skill not a Spirit induced one.


  10. Jim;
    I dowse in places I ghost hunt, as well. I've done my own house and found a spot that other people blindly picked out too. I decided to use it as a field test. This part of the house had bizarre accidents and weird stuff happening there to start with, so I decided to test a theory. Every day for about a half hour, I'd sit in that spot, look through photo albums and smile and laugh at good memories. As weird as it sounds, a week later, the rods never crossed again there and I've never in the years since had one weird incident there. In fact, the spot feels different. We used to avoid it by walking fast through it. I don't think anyone knew what they were doing, but you couldn't just stand there and talk. Now, it's like the rest of the house. I can't explain the physics of it, but it helped me to begin an interest in feng shui and also a belief that hauntings are more often than not impressions of repeated emotions in one area over time. In fact, it sort of launched my haunted formula study I did this summer.

  11. Of curse by the Chinese Zodiac and that its` future predictions would normally be based on the Chinese horoscope. some of them would rather

  12. of curse by the Chinese Zodiac and that its` future predictions would normally be based on the Chinese horoscope. some of them would rather