cold reading


In a demonstration of cold reading - I can tell you things about yourself only a 'psychic' could  possibly know!

And I have not a psychic bone in my body, nor psychic cell in my brain.

Cold reading is the art of convincing people you know lots about them, using psychology and experience.

Of all the research I did for The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal, the most difficult and most rewarding, was learning to do cold readings. This enabled me to give the impression I was psychic - using only an understanding of the psychology involved and a lot of practice.

I am most definitely not psychic, and even when I make that clear, the ‘psychic’ readings still work so well, there are some sitters who I have been unable to convince that I was using science!

Learning cold reading started because I wanted to find out why so many intelligent people seem to be so convinced by readings they have had. Even when I explained what I was doing, some people were convinced that my readings worked because I was using tarot or astrology. I might be a fake, but the system was working.

So I created my own system, from scratch, so I knew that the only thing 'working' was me. Tauromancy was born!  There’s much more about Tauromancy on the Tauromancy page!

But it isn’t all negative. Some of the most rewarding and close conversations I have ever had have resulted from doing a reading first. Cold reading offers far more than debunking psychics.


Cold Readers Three: With cold reading experts, Ian Rowland and Ray Hyman, at the World Skeptic’s Convention, Padua, 2007.

Ray Hyman started it all with his famous article, 'Cold Reading': How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them', Ian Rowland is author of the definitive work on the subject, The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading. Ian is a good friend and the acknowledged world authority on Cold Reading. His advice on my own cold reading has been invaluable.

Tauromancy is a fraudulent system for performing 'psychic' readings. I made it up from scratch so there was no chance of any factors other than pure science. As with Tarot, Astrology, Numerology and Palm Reading, the reader is able to make a large number of statements about the client which appear to give information the reader could not know without special powers. The technique is called Cold Reading and is described in The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal.

Using Tauromancy, I have given hundreds of readings using cold reading techniques. Despite this honesty, there have been a number of sitters who are convinced I could not have known the things I claimed to know without psychic insights. I failed to convince them otherwise. Such is the human need to believe.

The complete set of tools for Tauromancy:

1. The Book - handwritten and illustrated 'during my training in China' as is the tradition with Tauromancy. I get to set all the traditions being the only practitioner in the world. Every page gives plenty of information  in new-age-speak which sort-of makes sense.

The mat - clients place the masks and essences on the mat themselves once they have held them and then relaxed and placed them as they feel most exactly represents themselves. They may reject any they feel do not resonate with their lives.

3. Beneath mat:
the masks and essences.

4. Above them (horizontal) my special
Pointer. Very spiritual.

5. Top right, the
staves (brown ones, hard to see) and rods and blockers.

4. While the sitter has placed the masks and essences, there is lots of space for them to 'build an image of their world' with the staves and rods after we have talked through whatever they have done with the masks.

So by the end, the client has the masks all arranged, some rejected. They have chosen rods and stave and built some kind of structure in the space. They usually chatter while they do this - some taking positively ages!

This is what the stage looks like after the client has done both sections. The masks and essences are arranged on the mat, enabling me to talk about 'willing to break the boundaries for ...' and 'central to your focus ...' and so on. The few up the top have been rejected, which can be interpreted in numerous ways. Either -' rejected because you do not allow yourself to feel hatred - well done' - or 'rejected because you have not yet acknowledged the full extent of ....' .

On the right are the selected staves and rods. Each has a meaning. They are 'at cross purposes' or 'pointing towards your ...' or 'aligned with' or anything else I like. The unselected rods and staves are interpreted as suits my purpose as well.