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Psychic Cold Reading

Updated on August 13, 2012

Imagine someone picking up on your strong energy and tells you this reading will go well as long as you keep giving off that energy and cooperate. He tells you personal information about yourself and somehow knows that you are currently in the midst of a failing relationship, or tells you that he senses you are the type of person who, once you have your mind set on something, needs people to get out of your way. This paranormal perception is astonishing, and you think this person has just described you impeccably. You hear later that these are simply techniques employed for centuries and you fell for it. You think to yourself there is no way someone could be so accurate without having psychic abilities. Well, actually, it is not psychic ability, and instead comes down to psychology and word ambiguity.

Cold Reading

Cold reading is a technique that is the foundation of which psychic readings stand on. Unlike a hot reading where the medium or psychic has already gained information about his client, cold reading is done without prior information. For example, “I get the feeling you are the type of person who is very hurt when you finally let someone get close to you and that person betrays your trust”. In this context, it may seem obvious that this statement, also known as a Barnum Statement (a statement that applies to almost everyone), is very general, but to someone seeking out psychic advice, it may sound specific. Studies show that people actually become more irrational when they are committed. In these statements, flattery doesn’t hurt either. “I sense that you are loyal to your friends” is easily agreeable.


Also, for mediums and psychics, a useful tool is statistics. Using this tool means a bigger audience only makes things easier. A term coined shotgunning is used on crowds, and the shear odds of getting a hit on a name of a deceased loved one escalates. A psychic may call out the name James. Someone in the crowd raises his hand, claiming it was the name of his father. Staying in line with favorable statistics, the psychic may know a majority of men die from heart complications. The psychic points to his chest, and claims the spirit is showing him pain in that area. The audience member admits that his father died of some sort of rupture in the stomach. The psychic is close enough and the gesture is forgotten and is now remembered to be a gesture to the stomach. Studies show that we are susceptible to such misattributions.

Word Twists

Finally, a good psychic knows how to twist words and back out of a statement that fails. The power of an ambiguous sentence can lead a psychic to information about a person. To illustrate, the psychic says, “your father, he didn’t have a problems putting his shoes away did he?” Now there are several ways to go depending on the answer. The participant answers yes; the psychic comments on the father being an untidy man. The participant answers no; the psychic comments on the father liking things being in its place. The psychic cannot lose. Also, a psychic can always back his way out of a statement. He asks if the participant has a necklace with a jewel on it. The participant answers no, she does not. Using a technique called the back door, the psychic retreats and says that this necklace is something that the participant should look out for in the future, and the statement is accepted.

Word play, syntax, and psychology are all part of a psychics arsenal. They use these tools to make a participant feel like they are witness a feat of paranormal ability. Hoping the participant will be persuaded by flattery, misattribution, and general statements is how the psychic makes his or her money. There are many ways a talented psychic can back out of uncertain statements, making it difficult for a believer to question. When a psychic has a person who does question his or her ability too much and all reading attempts fail can always declare the participant is uncooperative and is blocking the energy.


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