Monday, August 9, 2010


August 7, 2010 By Stephen Ellis

More than any other single topic, I get a lot of questions about what is known as “cold readings”. The topic has been discussed before, but I believe it’s time to go into greater depth and detail as to how cold readings are used to defraud the public.

Cold reading is simply a technique of saying something general that sounds extremely personal. Of course, it’s got to be said with sincerity and most cold-readers are excellent actors. An obvious example might be: “I sense that there is a very important woman in your life who has recently crossed over to the other side (meaning that she died). More than ninety percent of people can identify with this: a mother, a daughter, a grandmother, an aunt, a close friend, etc.

Now the cold reader attempts to get a little more personal: “You both had deep feelings for each other.”

The cold reader is watching your every reaction like a hawk. If he notices the slightest nodding of the head or smile, or even a glance in another direction, he/she will pursue it further. If he notices a slight shaking of the head, he will move onto a different track. The secret to a good cold reading is not the reader, but observing the person being read.

A common approach is, “I sense the letter “M” associated with this person. (The letter “M” is the most common letter in names and it can also apply to “mother” “Mr” “, etc. and to family names like “Missy”. The best way for me to explain it is to set forth a common cold reader’s technique:

Cold readers will make statements that are seemingly directed at you, but actually apply to ninety percent of all people. For example, read the next three paragraphs and try to imagine hearing them from a very sincere-appearing stranger using a crystal ball, looking at the palm of your hand or dealing out a deck of tarot cards:

“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.

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.

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 above is a basic example. If some stranger, representing himself as a psychic, said these things to you, you might wonder how this stranger knows so much about you.

There are numerous cold-reading techniques specializing in supposed communication with the dead; pretending to give you a psychic reading or using tarot cards, tea leaves or astrolgical charts to tell your fortune.

Not all cold readers are frauds…but, by far, most of them are.

If you’d like more information of cold reading, please contact me at and visit my website at