135. Critical Thinking: How To Convince People You Know Them Very, Very Intimately

06 important lessons from this lecture:

00:01:26 In terms of the psychology of deception, coldreading – or the psychic reading – represents a good prototype that contains every explanation about why people believe what they believe can create a reality which over-rides anything else. 

It’s not the coldreader that makes fortune telling sessions so successful, it is the people who are having their future being told to them that make it so successful; it is them who are putting the meaning into the words.

00:09:54 In my (Ray Hyman’s) estimation, as much as 97% of psychic readers actually believe they have a powerful gift of fortune telling.

00:11:47 The late-Doris Collins, one of Britain’s most famous medium was brought over from England to the United States to give psychic readings. One of the things she does is to stand up in front of a crowd and “get readings for a person named ‘Insert Name Here.’” 

While her readings were spot-on in England, her readings in the United States were essentially a failure; the problem being that the most common names in England (the names that stand the greatest probability of having at least one person in the crowd with that name) weren’t the same common names in the United States. So when she called someone’s name, for example ‘…someone name’d Abbott,’ there was nobody in that crowd with that name.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Babycentre.co.uk publishes a list of the most common baby names in England. For example, the top male baby names in 2013 were: Oliver, Jack, Charlie, Harry, and Oscar.]

00:17:50 Most humans function in the same way, they pick the parts of beliefs that they like, and look for proof that justifies their belief. This is a cognitive bias called a confirmation bias – the ‘tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.’ Further, the backfire effect is a polarization of opinion with humans that ‘when given evidence against their beliefs, can reject the evidence and actually strengthen their initial beliefs.’ 

But, as one lady who ‘received a reading’ from a deceased loved one was then learned that the reading wasn’t real reasoned, “All that matters is that [people who are grieving and seeking closure] have found some comfort…. if they are walking away from [a psychic reader] comforted and happy, and they can go on living their lives, what is the skepticism? What could he possbly be doing that skeptics can find fault with psychic reading?”

Step 1: Do a systematic scan of the person

00:35:23 In coldreading, a systematic scan is a checklist of things to observe about a person which, to the trained eye, will give you multiple clues about the person. 

The following are things to look at. If at each step something about the person pops into your mind, remember it. If nothing comes to you, then move on to the next point:

  1. Hair: is it well-kept or disheveled? Is it making a statement? Is it its natural color?
  2. Face: Is there any acne or scars? Facial hair? Is there any makeup? If so, is there more makeup than required for the situation? Is it too puffy or overweight?
  3. Upper-body: Do they have good posture or are they slumping? Relaxed or tense? Are they overweight or underweight? Are they physically fit, suggesting someone athletic or of average build?
  4. Clothing: Is it casual or professional? Clean and orderly or disorganized and ‘thrown on?’ Is it making a statment? Are there any logos and brand markers?
  5. Legs: What is the cut, color and fabric of the pants?
  6. Shoes: Do the shoes match the socks? Do they have socks? Are the shoes casual or professional? Do they clash with the outfit? 
  7. Jewelry: Are they married? How expensive is it? Are there indentations on the fingers suggesting that a ring has been recently removed? Was the removed ring intentional (for example a married man wanting to appear single)? 
  8. Hands & fingernails: Are they taken care of or bitten? Are they long or short? Is there any dirt under the nails, scars or callouses on the hands suggesting manual labor?

The information gleaned from your systematic scan will give you a bunch of information, called ‘descriptors’ which you can then use to build a general personality profile about the person.

Step 2: Create a story or context about the person with the descriptors from the systematic scan

00:41:43 Extrapolate on the descriptors and come up with plausable, general reasons why all the descriptors would be attached to this particular person, and also certain situations when the person would do the exact opposite of the descriptors. For example, the person is impeccably presented now, but there are times when the person doesn’t feel like taking the time required to look so well-dressed…

Apply the above 2 steps and you will, on average, receive a credibility rating of roughly 85% accurate by the person you are coldreading.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Absolutely the most comprehensive book on coldreading I have read so far is The Full Facts Book of Coldreading by Ian Rowland.]

2 thoughts on “135. Critical Thinking: How To Convince People You Know Them Very, Very Intimately

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