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Critical Thinker's Dictionary

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warm reading

The expression warm reading is sometimes used to refer to using Barnum statements or the like during a psychic reading. Peter Huston uses the expression this way in his book More Scams from the Great Beyond! : How to Make Even More Money Off of Creationism, Evolution, Environmentalism, Fringe Politics, Weird Science, the Occult, and Other Strange Beliefs. Ian Rowland, Bob Steiner, and Ray Hyman consider Barnum statements and the like as one of many techniques used in a cold reading.

Warm reading is sometimes used to refer to "utilizing known principles of psychology that apply to nearly everyone" while doing a psychic reading. Michael Shermer uses the expression this way. What Shermer gives as an example of warm reading, Ray Hyman and Ian Rowland would give as an example of cold reading. Shermer notes that many grieving people will wear a piece of jewelry that has a connection to their deceased loved one. To claim to get some sort of message about a piece of jewelry belonging to the deceased while doing a reading will often shock a client, who will make the connection and take your message as a sign you have made contact with the other side.

See also cold reading, confirmation bias, hot reading, medium, psychic, selective thinking, self-deception, subjective validation, testimonial, and wishful thinking.

further reading

books and articles

Dickson, D.H., & Kelly, I.W. "The 'Barnum effect' in personality assessment: A review of the literature," Psychological Reports, 57, 367-382, (1985).

Hyman, Ray. "'Cold Reading': How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them," The Skeptical Inquirer Spring/Summer 1977.

Hyman, Ray. The Elusive Quarry : A Scientific Appraisal of Psychical Research (Prometheus Books, 1989).

Keene, M. Lamar. The Psychic Mafia (Prometheus, 1997).

Randi, James. Flim-Flam! (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books,1982).

Shermer, Michael. (2001). "Deconstructing The Dead: Cross Over One Last Time To Expose Medium John Edward," Scientific American, Aug. 1.

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

websites

Guide to Cold Reading by Ray Hyman

Cold Reading: Confessions of a "Psychic" by Colin Hunter

What is Cold Reading? Skeptical Perspectives - Austin Cline

The Cold Reading Technique by Denis Dutton

How come TV psychics seem so convincing? The Straight Dope

Last updated December 24, 2013

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