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Rumpology for Dummies

by

Robert Todd Carroll

Rumpology is the art of reading the lines, crevices, dimples, warts, moles, and folds on a client’s rump. It is analogous to palmistry and has the same purpose. You, the reader, will tell the client a few things about herself and what the future holds in store for her. The client can’t do this herself because she doesn’t have the expertise that you have. You don’t have any expertise, you say? That’s why you’re reading this how-to-article. I will give you all the expertise you’ll need. You’ll be amazed at how little you have to know in order to be a successful rumpologist.

Let’s begin with a primer on what a reading is.  It doesn’t matter whether you are reading pimples on teenage faces, wrinkles on the forehead, lines on the palms of the hands, tea leaves in a cup, or lines on a client’s rump. Every reading is an interpersonal communication activity between the reader and the client.  The astrologer, palmist, Tarot card reader, psychic, or rumpologist provides the client with verbal data that purports (a) to be meaningful and significant to the client and (b) to have been obtained by the skill of the reader practicing some arcane art. In fact, however, to be a successful rumpologist you do not have to have much skill at anything arcane and you don’t really have to know anything specific about your clients. You will be amazed at how you can tell people just about anything and make them think that there’s no way you could have known that! And you will amaze people at how much you can tell about them just by examining the marks and bumps on their butts.

Later, we’ll get to the specifics of what kinds of things you might say to your clients to make them think that their own butts contain maps of physical health, character, and the future. First, you might consider that people are going to respect rumpology more if they believe that it is an ancient art used by many people long ago in far off lands. Tell them it originated in ancient Sumer and that Assyrian and Babylonian rumpologists used the art to determine the health of their clients and whether their lives would be long or short. Claim that ancient Greek and Roman generals consulted their rumpologists before they went to war or engaged in a precarious battle.  Tell them that the art was lost during the Dark Ages but a manuscript was found by Crusaders who uncovered it in a hidden chamber beneath a crypt in a church. The wisdom of rumpology has been passed on to a select few ever since. You get the idea. Use your imagination. Don’t worry about the story not being true because nobody will try to verify it, not your clients and not any journalists who come your way. You’ll be amazed at how trusting people will be, as long as you tell a good story and appear confident and sincere. And even if somebody exposes you as a fraud, don’t worry. Your loyal followers will defend you and attack those bearing messages they don’t want to hear.

It also helps if you are physically attractive, but it is not necessary. “Research shows that three characteristics are related to persuasiveness: perceived authority, honesty, and likeability” (Levine 2003: 31). Being right is almost irrelevant to being believed. As a rumpologist, how you say it is more important than what you say. Whatever you say, say it with confidence. It may surprise you but you don’t have to worry about the meaning or significance of what you say. Most of your clients will find 70%-80% of what you say meaningful and significant as long as you stick to the tried and true materials in this guide.

One of the first things you are going to have to do if you want to be a professional rump reader is decide where you are going to work. Are you going to read butts in the flesh? Will you do this in your office or at psychic fairs? Will you be an Internet rumpologist and have your clients e-mail digital photos of their posteriors of suitable quality? If you’re the dramatic type and can dress flamboyantly, doing live readings might be very profitable and there is probably hope for your own television show on cable. On the other hand, if you’re the shy type, you might prefer doing your readings in private and e-mailing reports to your clients. There are several Internet sites that can guide you in setting up credit card and PayPal accounts, so you can begin getting rich from the moment you set up your rumpology practice. Personally, I think the Internet route might be more lucrative and is certainly less risky than renting office space or traveling to psychic fairs. Many people are shy about exposing their rear ends to strangers, but they might be willing to sit on a copy machine or have a friend take a digital photo of their arses. Also, it might be safer to use the Internet as your office. You don’t have to worry about sickos who like to expose themselves for self-gratification. It is not difficult to set up a website. Again, there are many sites on the Internet that can help you do this.

Since you’re going to be reading prints or photos of butts, it might be wise to have a page on your website with sample butt shots. You do this to give potential clients the idea that different butts really do have different stories to tell. You can say on your website that the photos are there to give clients an idea of the quality of photo you expect. If you have a good gallery of butt shots, you will attract many more potential clients than if you just have a text banner that reads: Have your rump read here! Not that it really matters much, since you’re not going to be looking too carefully at the photos when you do your readings, anyway. Also, put a colorful photo of yourself on your main page. If you’re not attractive, use Photoshop to doctor up a picture of yourself or use somebody else’s picture. You might also consider putting up an album of photos of family and friends, to give your page a warm, homey feeling.

All the experts agree that everything is weighted in favor of the rumpologist to be successful because the client is usually highly motivated and wants the rump reader to succeed. Most clients are willing to work hard to find personal meaning in whatever the reader says. Often the client just wants reinforcement and will even be willing to accept inaccurate claims about herself. The claims may not be true, but she may wish they were true or she may plan or have planned in the past to do something that would make them true.

One common misconception people have about clients is that they must be stupid and gullible. In fact, most clients will be of average or above average intelligence and be no more gullible than the next guy. In fact, the better clients are likely to be the brighter ones because they have more ability to make connections and see the significance of different kinds of items brought up in the readings. Also, most of us have an illusion of invulnerability. We think we’re at less risk for being duped than others. Very intelligent people often think that they can’t be fooled, which makes them especially vulnerable. One need not be gullible to trust the rump reader and it is your job to make the client trust you. One way you can give people the illusion of trustworthiness is to have lots of testimonials from people who swear by your readings. Another is to have a list of predictions you’ve made about social, geophysical, or political events. You don’t really have to predict anything. You can appear to be prophetic by posting your predictions after the events happen and dating them as if you posted the predictions before the events occurred.

Now, as to the actual content of your readings, you will want to issue two-part reports: one part telling the client who she is and the other part telling her what the future holds in store for her. The first part is very important because this is where you will build confidence in your abilities. The trust you build up by your character analysis will fuel the motivation of the client to find ways to validate your predictions about the future. Don’t worry, however. You don’t have to look at the client’s butt or digital photo of same. Begin the character analysis with some tried and true, very safe assertions that most clients will find unbelievably accurate and uncanny.

The rump reader knows that the client will be curious about certain subjects. Clients of rumpologists are going to consult you because they want to know about such things as health, wealth, and money matters—including career moves or changes. Clients are interested in love matters and want to know about relationships that are on the horizon. They like to hear about travel awaiting them. You don’t need to be psychic to know what kinds of things your client will be interested in. Will I find the love of my life? Is my boyfriend cheating on me? The easiest way to assure complete satisfaction with your product is to have potential clients tell you what they’re interested in when they send in their photo with their fee. Have a form they can fill out that allows them to go through a checklist of items like those mentioned above to indicate what’s of most interest to them. For those doing live readings, Ian Rowland recommends beginning the reading with something like the following:

Most of the people who come to see me have something that has been weighing heavily on their heart, perhaps an area of life where they are looking for some answers and some light at the end of the tunnel. What would this be in your case? (Rowland 2000: 68)

No matter what your client's main interest, you should probably begin your character analysis with a collection of what are called Barnum or Forer statements. Bob Steiner, an accountant and magician who is also an expert on how to do readings, advises the reader to begin "with generalities which are applicable to large segments of the population" (Steiner 1989: 21). These are statements that would apply to most people and are likely to be rated highly for accuracy by most clients. As Lynne Kelly notes:

We are far more alike than unalike, yet most people don’t realise it. They feel that their self-doubt is theirs alone—everyone else seems so confident. They leave everything until the last minute, yet everyone else is so organised….

There is someone they miss and someone who irritates them but they must endure. Someone doesn’t recognize their true potential and someone else doesn’t care. (Kelly 2004: 37-38)

The following mini-reading will give you an idea of the kind of statements many people will find applicable to themselves:

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 a very good 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.

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept the statements of others without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

Most people like flattery, so it is a good idea to throw in a few statements that they will approve of even if they aren’t true in the realistic hope that the client will deceive herself into accepting them. Playing on people’s wishful thinking can go a long way in doing a rump reading. Even contradictory statements work well in readings because clients will identify with one or the other of two contradictory traits and selectively ignore the “wrong” trait. For example: “You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. Yet, there are times when you are grateful for the stability that comes from setting reasonable ground rules” and “You pride yourself as an independent thinker and you are often pleased when you find that others agree with your way of thinking” (Rowland 2000).

Most experts think that flattery statements rarely fail. Telling a person they are very honest, hardworking, conscientious, independent, warm, and loving—as long as the client does not obviously betray these traits—are usually well received. Since all your clients will indicate an interest in rumpology, you might flatter them by suggesting that you perceive hints of a budding psychic talent in the lines of your client’s rump.

Above, I stated that you would probably get most clients to rate your accuracy as between 70%-80%. Here is how I derived that figure. Much of the above mini-reading was taken from psychologist B. R. Forer who, more than fifty years ago, gave it to his students as if it were a personal character analysis. He then asked the students to evaluate the assessment, rating items from 0 to 5 with “5” meaning the recipient felt the evaluation was an “excellent” assessment and “4” meaning the assessment was “good.” The class average evaluation was 4.26. That was in 1948. The test has been repeated hundreds of times with psychology students and the average is still around 4.2. He took it from an astrology column that he had found in a book at a newsstand. Similar tests with similar results have been done for other kinds of readings, including astrological and psychic readings.

Another way to guarantee satisfaction from your clients is to use information you can infer from facts about their gender, age, physical appearance, and the like. From their butt photos you should be able to determine whether the client is male or female, athletic or not. You’ll also probably be able to determine the approximate age of the client from the condition of his or her arse. Things like tattoos will give you some information about their personality. Most females have security issues and most younger females are overly-concerned about their physical appearance. Most males have power issues and are overly-concerned about economic success. Psychologist Ray Hyman suggests that you study statistical abstracts, polls, and surveys about people and places in order to get specific information about occupations, geographical areas, and the like. Along with asking clients to tell you what they most want to know about, you might also ask them for some specific information about themselves such as their gender, age, occupation, where they live, and so on. Dr. Hyman writes: “For example, if you can ascertain a subject’s place of origin, educational level, and his/her parents’ religion and vocations, you have gained information which should allow you to predict with high probability his/her voting preferences and attitudes to many subjects.”

Another way to impress clients is to fill your reading with jargon. Here the task is simple since there is already an arcane art (palmistry) that has jargon you can expropriate. For example, you can connect your character analysis statements or your predictions for your client’s future in terms such as “your heart line shows” or “your fate line indicates.” You might even invent a couple lines of your own like the “astral line.” Consult a book on palmistry for some tips as to what kinds of gibberish you might use to impress your clients.

As I said, you need not worry about accuracy. Your clients want you to be accurate and their desire will motivate them to find meaning and significance in most of what you way. The client will provide the accuracy by finding some way to make sense out of most of what you tell her. An anecdote will drive home this point. Ray Hyman worked his way through college as a palm reader. He didn’t believe any of it but he read a few books on the subject and started seeing clients. He became very good at it in the sense that his customers gave him a great deal of positive feedback. They praised him so much, in fact, that he came to believe in palmistry and his ability to read palms. He had gone from skeptic to believer in a matter of months. He discussed this with Stanley Jaks who suggested that instead of going by the book, he try telling clients the opposite of what he would usually tell them. He tried it and to his amazement, he got the same results. Clients continued to claim he was accurate and knew things about them that he couldn’t have known. Some even assured him that he was more accurate than before. It didn’t matter what he told his clients. They wanted to believe him so much that they would figure out a way to make sense out of and validate just about anything he told them. This so fascinated Hyman that he has devoted the rest of his life to understand why this is so. He is now recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on cold reading and subjective validation, a rumpologist’s two best friends.

As mentioned above, your clients want you to succeed. They’re highly motivated to make sense out of whatever you tell them. Their compliance will amaze you. You don’t have to restrict yourself to statements that would apply equally well to many people. You can be daring and risk saying things in your reading that the client can’t make sense out of because the client will most likely blame herself if something doesn’t make sense to her. She’s not trying hard enough or her memory has failed her. You can assist with this compliance by reminding your clients that you are not infallible and your art, while consistently at least 75% accurate, isn’t perfect. The human butt is very complex and the effects of years of sitting on one’s behind can distort some of the markings and mislead the butt reader. Furthermore, there are often mitigating factors that are beyond the control of even the most astute rumpologist, such as cross-influences from astrological signs and biorhythm charts. Be humble. Admit you’re not perfect and then every claim you make that the client can’t relate to will also count in your favor! You will be astounded at how many people will be able to find meaning and significance in many of the following statements:

  • A black dog with a limp will find its way into your life.

  • I see you with two other children.

  • Unfortunately, you either have or will have some serious back pain.

  • You will be traveling to some place exotic.

  • I see a cat and get the impression that you enjoy music.

  • You’ve recently dreamed of someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

  • I perceive an attraction to timepieces or hourglasses, something with glass and time.

  • Someone who was close to you died tragically.

  • You will live a long life, but will experience serious illness that you will overcome.

  • A painful childbirth.

  • A scar, perhaps on the knee.

  • Clouds, lots of clouds.
     

Obviously, it is very unlikely that any client will be able to find meaning in every claim you make. However, working in your favor is the fact that your clients will usually forget the misses and remember only the hits. That is, they will remember what made sense to them and forget the stuff that made no sense. Also, rarely if ever will anyone make an independent check of the accuracy of your clients’ rating of your work. So, if a client is satisfied that your reading is very accurate, that is usually taken as sufficient evidence that you are the real thing, a genuine rumpologist. In the beginning, you may have to fake your testimonials, but soon you will have many satisfied customers who will praise you to the heavens. Then, if your conscience is bothering you, you can delete the fake testimonials and put up the actual letters of assurance from your customers. If your conscience isn't bothering you, then you might take the next step and take the information your clients give you and use it to do research on them. You can then include information in their readings that you know is accurate. This is called hot reading and will probably only be used by the hardcore rumpologist.

Remember that human beings are very good at finding meaning where there is none and giving significance to what is actually meaningless in itself. We are especially good at relating things to ourselves. Words, symbols, signs, sounds, gestures, and the like have no meaning in themselves. Human beings give them meaning and often we give them a personal meaning when none was intended. We’re very good at this and you might say it is what distinguishes us from most other creatures on this planet. Sometimes, however, we don’t see what is right before our eyes. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. If our motivation is strong enough we can sometimes even take the words of total strangers and imbue them with paranormal or supernatural significance.

So, what are you waiting for? A lucrative career in rumpology awaits you, as do thousands of clients eager to pay you good money for the privilege of taking down their pants for you. And once you've mastered the art of reading asses, you can branch out and work other fields that are based on many of the same principles as rumpology: astrology; graphology; palm, psychic, Tarot, or tea leaf reading; and, the current darling of the paranormal, getting messages from the dead.

July 6, 2006

John C McLachlan, a professor of medical education, may have read this article. He certainly knows how to present rumpology as science, at least to those whose standards aren't too high. See Integrative medicine and the point of credulity

Sources

Carroll, Robert Todd. (2003). The Skeptic’s Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons.

Forer, B. R. (1949). “The Fallacy of Personal Validation: A classroom Demonstration of Gullibility,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 44, 118-121.

Hyman, Ray. “Guide to Cold Reading.” (N.D. )

Hyman, Ray. (1977). “‘Cold Reading’: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them,” The Skeptical Inquirer (formerly the Zetetic) Spring/Summer.

Kelly, Lynne. (2004). The Skeptic's Guide to the Paranormal. Thunder’s Mouth Press.

Levine, Robert. (2003). The Power of Persuasion - How We're Bought and Sold.  John Wiley & Sons.

Rowland, Ian. (2000). The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, 3rd. ed

Steiner, Robert A. (1989). Don't Get Taken! - Bunco and Bunkum Exposed - How to Protect Yourself. Wide-Awake Books.

Swanson, Diane. (2009) Revised and updated. Nibbling on Einstein's Brain - The Good, the Bad, & the Bogus in Science. Annick Press.


Last updated 12/09/10

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