Cold reading has much in common with market charlatans:

"There seem to be three common factors in these kinds of readings. One factor involves fishing for details. The psychic says something at once vague and suggestive, e.g., "I'm getting a strong feeling about January here." If the subject responds, positively or negatively, the psychic's next move is to play off the response. E.g., if the subject says, "I was born in January" or my mother died in January" then the psychic says something like "Yes, I can see that," anything to reinforce the idea that the psychic was more precise that he or she really was. If the subject responds negatively, e.g., "I can't think of anything particularly special about January," the psychic might reply, "Yes, I see that you've suppressed a memory about it. You don't want to be reminded of it. Something painful in January. Yes, I feel it. It's in the lower back [fishing]…oh, now it's in the heart [fishing]…umm, there seems to be a sharp pain in the head [fishing]…or the neck [fishing]." If the subject gives no response, the psychic can leave the area, having firmly implanted in everybody's mind that the psychic really did 'see' something but the subject's suppression of the event hinders both the psychic and the subject from realizing the specifics of it. If the subject gives a positive response to any of the fishing expeditions, the psychic follows up with more of "I see that very clearly, now. Yes, the feeling in the heart is getting stronger."

Jeff Watson writes:

Here's a great how-to" book on cold reading.

Bill Egan writes:

A complementary resource I recommend is "The Definitive Book of Body Language" by Allan and Barbara Pease. Always watch peoples' body language and compare it to their words, and watch how both change over time. For example, when the fraud thinks he has you, there is often a split second where he will shift his body position and display a chilling facial expression like a fox looking at a chicken. That half-a-second is real important to you.

Jim Sogi writes:

Trial lawyers look for cues in the jury's race, clothes, hair styles, books or magazines, shoes, apparent class, education, prior experiences who they speak with, their background information on their questionnaires to get a read on how they might decide a case. Trial consultants use broader data on how similar groups might react to similar situation. During Voir Dire, a short question and answer period, the lawyer can ask the prospective juror some questions that might shed light on the juror's prejudices that would justify being removed from the panel or dispose the juror against the lawyer's client. Again, all forms of cold reading.

A fun game I like to play while people watching in restaurants, or on the street is to look at people and try to figure out without anything more than watching from a distance, where they are from, what they do, what the relationships are between members of the group, what they might be like. Family groups on vacation are a pretty easy read as well as their internal family dynamic. Old couples are straight forward. Groups of young people tend to send strong signals. Groups of business men, groups of tourists, newlyweds all have characteristic mannerisms. The next level to try discern their relationship, what they are like and get an idea about them from only external signals.


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