The Art of “Cold Reading”

Good article about these so called “mediums”.

The currently-popular “psychics” like Sylvia Browne, James Van Praagh, and John Edward, who are getting so much TV space on Montel Williams, Larry King, and other shows, employ a technique known as “cold reading.” They tell the subjects nothing, but make guesses, put out suggestions, and ask questions. This is a very deceptive art, and the unwary observer may come away believing that unknown data was developed by some wondrous means. Not so.


  1. Cold reading is powerful, and it works both ways — apparently, when people first learn cold reading, the results are so amazing that they start to think, “Maybe I am psychic.” Even though they start out thinking it’s fake, a lot of cold readers wind up deceiving themselves into thinking it’s real. When cold readers deny using trickery, often they’re not lying, at least, not to themselves.

  2. Speaking as a professional who uses cold reading I can say that you are both right and wrong. Most of the professional cold readers do NOT believe that their abilities are real but most of us also do not use the term “psychic” lightly either and instead prefer to say that we do tarot readings, or palmistry but never much more. This is sometimes for legal reasons since it is illegal to sell “psychic” anything in some areas. Anyway, there are two different types of cold readers, those who do believe that what they’re doing is real, and those who know it is fake. The fact that you didn’t mention the terminology connected to those two classes of readers pretty much goes hand in hand with the fact that you think that a lot of cold readers think they are legit. However ignorance of the facts isn’t a crime in my book(stupidity is though so listen up).

    Some people are cold readers and never know that’s what they’re doing. They start out learning a divination system, which automagically teaches you how to cold read due to how they are designed, and they never know any different. These people are those that you are most likely trying to describe. Others start out reading books on cold reading, watching vids, studying phone(y) psychics, etc. and know full well that they are fakes. And some, like me, started out with the former method and then ended up doing the latter in combination.

    Now that being said, I can say that I’m more skeptical than anyone I know of the existence of a higher power or ability than what is contained between my ears and yet I have had some things happen that I can’t easily explain away with science. I can’t really go into depth on this matter because my identity would be prone to exposure but suffice it to say that there’s more to be explored and explained than you might think at first.

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