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Cold Reading

How many times have u been to a fortune teller, a tarot card reader?? Or ever seen a computer printed data sheet about ur past that also tells u what to expect in the future.. I have been amazed by how these people were able to tell my past with just some interaction or even using a set of cards, a parrot telling me the past!! Most of them have been almost 80 % accurate in the predicting my past, making me believe they know my future too.. If u have been one amongst the people who believed in prediction, Welcome to the world of Cold Reading..

Before i move onto explaining what cold reading is all about, I would want to let u know more about the episode that was aired on BBC entertainment, this Saturday. The show,”Darren Brown – Trick or Treat” is a host of tricks this guys plays on minds of the people. One of his feature acts for the episode was about Cold reading. Darren Brown always amused me with the kind of mind reading tricks he performed. This time he was to reveal how he was able to predict the past of people so accurately. Do look up a few videos on Google with the name Darren Brown and amuse yourselves.

This part of the episode began with a small group of people of different ethnicity, Asian, American, British etc.. there were about 6 people who Darren brown claimed to have never met , He would predict their past with just the drawing of their hands and their date of birth. These people were handed blank papers to draw their hands, Write the date of birth. These envelopes were marked with numbers for identification of which envelope belonged to which person. These were then put in a jumbled order and handed to him, which he carried in a room to make the predictions.  After about half an hour, He  hands back the results to the group and asks each one to evaluate it. Amazingly, everyone in the group agreed to what Darren Brown had predicted. At least to 80% of it. At this point we may be thinking that he would be knowing these people and it is just an act to fool people. He however goes on to reveal the secret.

He asks the people to exchange their results in a jumbled order and read them aloud to the rest of the group, If they had received the same paper back they would jumble it again. After about 2-3 attempts at reshuffling the group realizes that every single prediction is the same. There was not one different. He says that the results would stand correct to every person that he hands it too, and this technique is called Cold Reading.

“Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject.”

The above description says it all.. A more in depth understanding was required, I wanted to read a cold reading document, I wanted to know if it could match to things of my past.. I did not find a document, but I did learn a few cold reading techniques. Most of which was about making statements that had all the possibilities.. Go on reading the post as i throw more light into the art of Cold Reading.

Technique 1: Shotgunning

When a shotgun is fired, It throws a pallet of bullets from the barrel. It was designed conceiving the fact that at least one of the pallets would strike the target. Similarly, A fortune teller may throw a few predictions towards u, expecting at least some of it to be true in ur case. Most of the the time, They are.

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.” Atleast 60 percent of the population in the world is diagonised with heart ailments.
  • “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 stepmother with blackness in the chest, lung cancer, heart disease, breast cancer…” See how the statement mentions almost all the diseases that can occur to a woman. And if u happen to agree, u r giving him valuable information about the past upon which he can give u a prediction about ur future.
  • “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.” Everyone has had somebody like this in the past. If u don’t happen to agree, the fortune teller will probably re alter the statement until u believe in him.

Technique 2: The Forer effect/ Barnum statements

This technique talks about using open ended statements, which have both possibilities.

Statements of this type might include:

  • “I sense that you are sometimes insecure, especially with people you don’t know very well.” At least 80% of people feel insecure about this.
  • “You have a box of old unsorted photographs in your house.” I think everyone does, If not u someone in the family sure has.
  • “You had an accident when you were a child involving water.” I don’t know about that, i was a child then.
  • “You’re having problems with a friend or relative.” Friend or relative, Who else do u know??
  • “Your father passed on due to problems in his chest or abdomen.” This statement could be possible if at some point of the conversation u had told him about ur father. This can easily be altered to make u believe.

Technique 3: 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.

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.” Hehe, No one need to tell u that.
  • “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.”

These techniques were picked up from some of the popular blogs including wiki (Wiki being the best). There were many other techniques that are a part of cold reading, But i wish to finish this post up soon; Therefore, the most discussed three..

Being an Indian and knowing about the primitive techniques like palmistry which has records of how the future would look like with lines on the palms is there to be believed.  As for the computer generated ones or tarot card readers or any other such techniques, They find no place in my future. They would normally cold read.

PS: Did u see the Taot card reader on ‘Extraa Innings’, sony max during the cricket world cup. The lady would say, “India is likely to win, But there are chances of Srilankan legends to make a come back which could lead India towards a loss. Given Yuvraj Singh’s Form, Yuvraj singh has to fire if India needs to win” . She would give out every single possibility of the match. I was watching the show only for Mandira bedi though :p

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