cold reading"In the course of a successful reading, the psychic may provide most of the words, but it is the client that provides most of the meaning and all of the significance." --Ian Rowland (2000: 60)Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipu-lators 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. Cold reading goes beyond the usual tools of manipulation: suggestion and flattery. In cold reading, salespersons, hypnotists, advertising pros, faith healers, con men, and some therapists bank on their subject's inclination to find more meaning in a situation than there actually is. The desire to make sense out of experience can lead us to many wonderful discoveries, but it can also lead us to many follies. The manipulator knows that his mark will be inclined to try to make sense out of whatever he is told, no matter how farfetched or improbable. He knows, too, that people are generally selfcentered, that we tend to have unrealistic views of ourselves, and that we will generally accept claims about ourselves that reflect not how we are or even how we really think we are but how we wish we were or think we should be. He also knows that for every several claims he makes about you that you reject as being inaccurate, he will make one that meets with your approval; and he knows that you are likely to remember the hits he makes and forget the misses. Thus, a good manipulator can provide a reading of a total stranger, which will make the stranger feel that the manipulator possesses some special power.
For example, Bertram Forer has never met you, yet he offers the following cold reading of you:Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary and reserved. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. You pride yourself on being an independent thinker and do not accept others' opinions without satisfactory proof. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety, and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. Disciplined and controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. Yoursexualadjustmenthaspresentedsomeproblemsforyou.Whileyou havesomepersonalityweaknesses,youaregenerallyabletocompensate forthem.Youhaveagreatdealofunusedcapacitywhichyouhavenot turnedtoyouradvantage.Youhaveatendencytobecriticalofyourself. You have a strong need for other people to like you and for them to admire you.Here's another reading that you might find fairly accurate about you:People close to you have been taking advantage of you. Your basic honesty has been getting in your way. Many opportunities that you have had offered to you in the past have had to be surrendered because you refuse to take advantage of others. You like to read books and articles to improve your mind. In fact, if you're not already in some sort of personal service business, you should be. You have an
infinite capacity for understanding people's problems and you can sympathize with them. But you are firm when confronted with obstinacy or outright stupidity. Law enforcement would be another field you understand. Your sense of justice is quite strong.The last one was from astrologer Sidney Omarr. He's never even met you and yet he knows so much about you (Randi 1982: 61). The first one was taken by Forer from a newsstand astrology book. Bron: Wikipedia