How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The Full Facts on Cold Reading
Book reviews > The Full Facts on Cold Reading
If you went to someone who advertised themself as a psychic of some kind, even if you are a skeptic, you might be surprised at how accurately they seem to be know things in your life and so you may start to believe what they predict about your future.
Without getting into the question of whether there are supernatural forces in the universe, it is certainly true that there are people out there who make a good living out of being 'fake' psychics. Through various tricks they create the illusion of reading your mind and knowing things they should not normally know. Having thus built credibility, they can then go on to make other pronouncements.
This 'mind reading' is called 'cold reading' and Ian Rowland's book describes how it is done, in great detail. It is not a surprise that the author is also a competent magician and mentalist as these can both make good use of cold reading.
Like most magic tricks, it is almost a disappointment when you discover how it is done, yet it undeniably works, which can make it all the more perplexing. And like magic, it is in the presentation that the simple is cloaked in an aura of mysticism. Rather than just say 'you know someone called John' (most of us do), the cold reader might say 'I am picking up a name...it's a bit indistinct..beginning with J...Jim? No, John, I think. Yes, it's John.' And whilst they are saying this of course they are watching the non-verbal signals that John is a good choice.
In the books, Rowland describes in detail the seven-step process of cold reading, from the initial setup to coping with skeptics. In the step on doing the reading itself, he describes 38 techniques that are used. Overall, it's more than enough to help you start cold reading yourself or recognize it when it is done to you. In fact there is a whole section on handling people who are trying to do cold reading on you.
Throughout the book there are many examples that illustrate the methods being described, including alternative methods and scripts that bring the principles to life.
That Ian Rowland is an expert in this subject is beyond doubt. He teaches the subject to government agencies and others who need to use it's power and talks in the book about the use of cold reading in interrogation, sales and romance.
The book is easy and fun to read as the author has an entertaining sense of humor which shines through. It also seems to be the only book in the world on this subject (the other book with a similar name is about acting), but that is not really a problem as it covers the subject so well.
I learned a huge amount from this book and it has added a new dimension to my thinking on changing minds. It is very easy to recommend whole-heartedly and deserves its five-star rating.