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Cold Reading - How to read someone's mind.

Cold Reading - Do you have the personality?

Is this you? On a scale of 1 to 5, how well does this fit YOUR personality?

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 as being an independent thinker and do not accept other's 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. Your sexual adjustment has presented some problems for you. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a strong need for other people to like you and for them to admire you.

OK, so what do you reckon? 1/5? 5/5? Decide now, then read on...

If you score 4 or 5, then you could be the idea subject for "cold reading".

What is Cold Reading?

This web page was inspired by a posting to the sci.skeptic newsgroup. In article <>, anon <> wrote:
>What she does is easily explained in a book called "13 Steps to Mentalism" by
>Corinda. It is a techinque called "cold reading." Get the book, it is very
>interesting.. check around page 339 or so.
>This book was a revelation for me.. I always wondered how some of these
>people could "read the future" or "read minds." It is a real eye opener for
>anyone interested in amateur magic, mantalism, or just fooling your friends
>on a bar bet.

I had no idea what cold reading was, but I was intrigued, did a search and found the following description:

Cold reading is a technique used by tarot card readers, psychics, palm readers, astrologers, and even con men to get people to believe that the cold reader knows all about them, even though they have never met. Unlike hot reading, cold reading uses no secretly obtained or other advance knowledge about the person being read. Cold reading relies on an inventory of vague statements about the person's personality, tailored feedback, selective recall of correct impressions, and an assortment of other tricks. The most effective weapon is the stock spiel, a set of statements about the person that are vague enough to fit anyone yet deceptively seem specific. (

That's what you just got in the "personality test" paragraph above. Interestingly, your level of gullibility, gender, occupation, make no difference to your acceptance of this "bunkum". Even an aquaintance with psychology doesn't have a dramatic effect, but a need for social approval does. (

What is the Forer Effect (AKA Barnum Effect)?

The Forer or Barnum effect is "A type of selective thinking whereby one, when presented with numerous general and specific claims about oneself or someone one knows, ignores the inaccuracies while interpreting the general claims as accurate." [Definition from The Skeptic's Dictionary (1997 version)

Detailed Information

For more details, check these links:

-- Andy Pryke - 24 Mar 2001
Topic revision: r5 - 21 Jan 2007, andyp
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