Appreciate that cold reading involves the crafting of stories. The oracle supplies the clues, but the reader must construct a compelling narrative: a good cold reader is a good storyteller. Some will certainly have a greater innate talent for all this than others, but anyone with a sincere interest in people, and a desire to help them (even if that help is simply a diverting entertainment), can become an effective reader.
. Dynamite Mentalism. Chicago: Magic, Inc., 1979. A one-man question-answering act based entirely on cold reading (i.e., using no props, gimmicks, written questions, etc.). Successful acts have been performed based solely on this methodology.
Cain, Ron. The Secret to Reading Cards and Clients. Albuquerque: Flora & Co., 1991. A method for integrating aspects of astrology, palmistry, numerology, and colours in cold readings, including scripts and a complete sample reading, transcribed from an actual session.
Crouter, Fred L. Inner Secrets of Cold Reading Experts. 2000. Twenty-seven pages of cold reading ideas, including body type analysis, colour reference, and a system of combining an alphabetic key word with body type characterization reading.
Henderson, Brad. The Dance. Austin, TX: Henderson Productions, 2003. A modern classic, this slim, limited (1000 copies) edition, hardcover volume is arguably the best description of the art (as opposed to craft) of cold reading written to date. This book will make you a better reader. (A softcover reprint appeared in December 2007.) A must read.
Hester, Rose & Walt Hudson. Psychic Character Analysis: The Technique of Cold Reading Updated. Baltimore, MD: Magic Media Ltd., 1977. A slim, introductory book on cold reading, based on the use of a stock reading, augmented with observations on observation, body language, and presentation.
Knepper, Kenton & J. Tank. Completely Cold. Phoenix: Wonder Wizards, 1998. There have been mixed reviews of this slim monograph on an unconventional approach to cold reading, extolling the use of language structure to give the impression of psychic skills. It could certainly be useful to know if (as the title suggests) you have no information on which to base a traditional cold reading.
Korem, Dan. Powers: Testing the Psychic & Supernatural. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988. Korem, an investigative journalist and magician (who also believes in the supernatural), learned how to do effective cold readings, and reveals his methods in this book.
Lewis, Mark. Streetwise Tarot. Toronto, Canada: Mark Lewis Entertainment, 2020. Although this book teaches a practical method for learning tarot meanings, its real value lies in the fact that Mr. Lewis has been a full-time professional palm and tarot reader for well over three decades, making this a helpful treatise on the life (business, money, ethics, etc.) of a cold reader. Recommended.
Lyon, Sheila & Mark Sherman. The Book of Roving. Seattle: privately published, 2003. Group-oriented approaches to cold reading, particularly applicable to situations where one is expected to give readings to large audiences.
Moore, Julian. The James Bond Cold Reading. Portchester, UK: The Cold Reading Company, 2007. This e-book, which comes with a print-it-yourself set of 24 flashcards, proposes a narrative-based way to learn twelve classic cold reading statements. Although the book evolved from a set of stock reading lines, it encourages a departure from this literal approach, and offers a useful mnemonic tool that associates the concepts with the fictional James Bond character.
Nielsen, Gene et al. Questions & Answers. Albuquerque: Flora & Company, 1988. This set of two audio cassette tapes covers Q&A, which of course is closely coupled to cold reading. On the second tape, Gene gives details on non-directive counseling techniques, a way to answer questions without actually answering them.
. Discover the Secrets of Cold Reading. St. Charles, IL: Hypnosis Secrets, 2004. A two-volume (each sold separately) audio CD course in cold reading, by a skilled hypnotist and NLP practitioner.
Rowland, Ian. The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading. 7th edition. London: Ian Rowland Limited, 2019. This comprehensive, near-encyclopedic text is the most thorough exposition of the "science" of cold reading published to date. A must read.
Saville, Thomas K. & Herb Dewey. The Tarot as a Counseling Tool. Denver: privately published, 1994. An excellent treatise on the use of cold reading in a counseling context, using Tarot as the oracle.
Stagnaro, Angelo. Something from Nothing. Lalling, Germany: Zauberhandlung Manipulix, 2004. This book proffers a curious admixture, consisting of a basic introduction to cold reading (viewed from the perspective that, to quote the author, "Most people are gullible.") plus a variety of mentalism effects that are not particularly related to same. Originally published in German.
Thomas, Alexander. Initiations: A Viewpoint on the Art of Cold Reading. Albuquerque: Flora & Co, 1989. Book and accompanying audio cassette tape of two actual readings, from a successful full-time professional cold reader.
Vanderbeck, Philemon, editor. The Collected OORT. Seattle: Philemon Vanderbeck, 2002. A collection of twenty essays on the subject of cold reading, by a variety of real-world practitioners, taken from the quarterly OORT: A Newsletter for the Professional Cold Reader.
. Commercial Cold Reading. London: Martin Breese International, 1986. Originally release on audio tape cassette, this was digitally remastered and rereleased on CD-ROM in 2000. A wonderful opportunity to hear the voice of a cold reading master, discussing his philosophies, techniques, and actual readings.
. Further Commercial Cold Reading. London: Martin Breese International, 2001. A follow-up to the original, this time only available in CD-ROM format. It includes material on how to integrate cold reading technique with other performance material, and offers a full routine employing a pack of playing cards as an oracle.
. How to Build Up a Psychic Practice with Full Length Cold Readings. Auckland: Brookfield Press, 1986. As the title suggests, this covers the topic of moving from brief readings to extended ones, an important skill for the full-time reader.
. The Mail Order Psychic. Auckland: Brookfield Press, 1990. More on the business of cold reading than the art or craft, this typically thorough Webster book describes the setup and operation of a mail-order cold reading business.
Your best defense would be to spring for a copy of Ian Rowland's bookThe Full facts Book of Cold Reading. It is published in the UK andis available only from Ian's web site. The book will be shipped from London.It is highly recommended by everyone. Prof. Cotton has a copy and agrees.You will enjoy Rowland's writing style.
Anyone can try the technique of cold reading. Being good at it requires somestage presence, steel nerves, ability to speak ad lib, good listening skills,knowledge of people and demographics, fast thinking, and a good memory. You do nothave to be psychic to do it, but if you are good at it you can certainly put onthe appearance of being psychic. On page 134 of his book, Ian Rowlanddescribes how some people ask him for help with things in their lives likewhere a missing pet went, or questions on an exam. He says "I cannot help withany of these things, since I am as psychic as a coffee pot. Maybe less."He can, however, deliver an amazing reading.
You can actually find out a lot about cold reading; just ask Google for"cold reading" and you'll get more than enough. The very best source isIan Rowland's The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading.Anyway, here are some components of cold reading, synthesized from websources and Ian Rowland. These will help you in knowing what to look for.Maybe also tell you how to do the cold reading yourself.
Rowland divides the techniques into four categories.Personal Character. These methods are an exploitation of the Barnum Effect.A cynical Phineas T. Barnum (1810-1891) is credited with the statement that"There's a sucker born every minute" although there is no evidence that hereally said this. Some references note that the comment actually came fromone David Hannum, who was involved in the Cardiff Giant affair/hoax.The meaning of the statement is not dependent upon who made it.The Barnum Effect works.It means that it is possible to make a personality statement so general andtrivial that essentially everyone will "recognize" it as applying to them.Newspaper and magazine horoscopes provide excellent examples of Barnum Statements.This concept was the subject of research done in 1949 (Forer).Both Sides of Story. This is a description which plays both sides.You are normally a shy person, but there are times when you act confidentlyand accomplish a lot.The subject supposedly is shy and not shy, which violates non-contradiction(you cannot have a property and not have it at the same time). The psychicmay detect shyness (or something else) by direct observation and formulatethe statement accordingly.Rewards. Comments about how honest, hard-working, lovable, etc.the subject is will go a long way toward receptiveness.Facts. Here you will try for details about the subject by usingdemographics and statistics or descriptions that apply to LOTS of people.These items are obtained both via study and experience.Special Thing or Event. This shot is based on a near-certainty.It is almost guaranteed to succeed.You have an electronic dingbat which quit working years ago. It's still lyingaround your house, but you somehow never got it repaired.In this era, who doesn't have such a defunct gadget lying around?WAG (Wild-Ass Guess). The reader will take a wild shot, such as"Who died in a crash?" Other guesses will have multiple parts and be non-specificenough that someone is likely to make them fit. When a reaction is obtained,you go with the information the subject provides.Not-so-WAG. This is a guess which is based on some knowledge of what isquite likely. If you are looking at someone who is obviously sixty-ishin age, the guess "Your father has passed" is usually safe. Fast thinkingwill be required in the few cases where Dad is still around.Seasonal Guess. There are many activities that are associated with the calendar.Calendar as used here refers to more than just the 12-month wall calendar; itincludes financial, religious, sports, and other calendars. Knowledge ofthese calendars allows guesses tied to the current date.Cultural Guess. This technique requires detailed knowledge of currentpop culture, fads, trends, etc. Such knowledge, coupled with a littleSherlocking (see below), can produce some astoundingly "accurate" statements.Getting Information. All these methods obtain information by asking for it.A good performer can disguise this so that the subject will not remembersupplying the information. Really!Asking. What better way to get information than to simply ask for it?This brings up a problem: why is a psychic asking questions?Indirect Question. It is possible to make the question sound like aninsignificant end to a block of patter. You can finish a longstatement (line of BS) with something like "... does all this make sense to you?This will prompt the subject to fill in details. It could also sound like"Do you understand why the cards are telling me this?" Listen carefully.Delayed Question. This involves getting a bit of key information andstoring it in the brain till later. It can then be used in conjunction withsome Sherlocking and knowledge of people to weave a bit of analysis thatis uncannily accurate.Sherlocking. This requires being hyper-observant like Conan Doyle's famousdetective Sherlock Holmes. If you are familiar with any Holmes stories, you knowthat he noticed everything, down to the smallest details that others might miss.It was this power, along with excellent inductive skills, that allowed Holmesto solve those baffling cases. The technique also requires extensive knowledgeof what those little details might mean.Observe the subject carefully and formulate a smallset of reasonable assumptions about the person (this may take practice).Some of them will be wrong, but if you can think fast this is not serious.Use the assumptions at opportune times.Yes/No. This one gives you the opportunity to go either way. Consider asking"You don't like sports do you?" If the subject answers "No, I really don'tcare for sports" you can then go on with"I didn't think so. The cards/planets/etc were saying that."If the subject says "Yes - I watch them a lot on TV and play some xxx myself"you follow with "Ah yes. I thought so. The cards/planets/etcindicated that you could be a sports fan." It can't miss - the reader can gowith either a YES or NO answer.Snow Job. This part of a reading mixes personality statements (rememberBarnum) with loads of psychic jargon. The statement/jargon mixture is endedwith something like "Is this making sense to you?" Ian Rowland plainly saysthat, as long as the reader looks/sounds competent and performs well, theactual divinatory system being used (Tarot, tea leaves, palm reading, astrology, etc)really doesn't matter. That hook at the end will get the response needed.It isn't even necessary to actually understand thedivinatory system. Faking it competently is perfectly satisfactory. You willneed to study the psychic jargon so the line of BS will at least sound authentic.Various Predictions. Wouldn't it be nice if fortune-tellers couldreally predict the future. Well, there are ways to do it, althoughpsychic abilities are not required for the job.Things will Get Better. This wonderful type of prediction can be appliedto almost any part of life; think of relationships, financial matters,job prospects, social status, etc."I can see in the cards that your job, while satisfactory, does not utilizeyour full potential. It looks like this situation will change for the betterin the near future."You can't lose:The prediction can't be verified at the time of the reading.If it does not come to pass it will be forgotten.If, by chance, it does work out, the subject will be amazed at yourability to see the future. Maybe a repeat customer.Even Chance Prediction. There are many events and things in life whichreally do have 50/50 chances. Your child will be a boy or a girl (let usknow if anything else comes out). Your stock will go up or down.Your favorite team will or won't win the championship. Statistically, halfof such predictions (guesses!) will be right. The subjects will forget thewrong guesses.Long Shots. Based upon something observed or suspected, youmay make a really off-the-wall prediction. Most of the time these will bewrong and the client will forget. If, however, the prediction is realized,the subject will be astonished and will tell their friends how well yousaw into the future. Great PR and very good for business.Unverifiable Prediction. This is a very interesting tactic. The predictionis carefully worded so that it cannot be verified. Also - notice the vagueness."At your office there will be some activities which affect your career path.You won't be aware of them, but you will benefit from them."You can't lose. And a psychic who can't lose has won.Verifiable ONLY if True. This is an even more elegant prediction.If it comes true the subject can verify it. If it doesn't come true theprediction failure cannot be proved. 2b1af7f3a8