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Psychic ("Cold") Readings
Mario Varvoglis, Ph.D.

If you go to consult a psychic, the first thing you want to know is whether this person is really psychic or not. Most people are aware that charlatans coexist side-by-side with genuinely gifted psychics; it's a lucrative profession and the only quality control is word-of-mouth reports. A little psychology and common sense can reduce the risk of "being taken for a ride."

Essentially, to give a persuasive reading, pseudo-psychics must rely not on psi, but on inferences and clever interviewing techniques. Information can be gleaned from a wide range of subtle clues, and combined with past experience and knowledge. By paying close attention to details of the client's appearance and behavior (weight, gestures and posture, choice of clothes and jewelry, vocabulary and style of speech, etc.), the pseudo-psychic can deduce the client's socio-economic status, lifestyle, and personality traits (reserved or extroverted, conservative or adventurous, etc.). Also, from past experience, the pseudo-psychic knows the kinds of issues which most often lead a person to consult a psychic -- professional, financial, relational or health problems.

They will make general assertions that could apply to many individuals and will try to get clients to talk a lot, inviting them to elaborate on every new point, while closely observing their behavior. Given the data at hand, some good "guestimates" can be made as to the question preoccupying the client, and subtly tested. It may suffice to make a general assertion and observe reactions; expressive gestures such as head-shaking, involuntary signs such as pupil-dilation or change in breathing patterns -- all this will help to orient the reading and help the pseudo-psychic make the right guess.

Genuine psychics, by contrast, generally won't fish around for details in advance; they'll seek instead to concentrate on an "inner" contact with the client. They'll also have no problem with the person taking notes, or even tape-recording the session, for later assessment. The information offered is typically non-trivial, precise and original, and refers not only to the future (which is always hard to assess on the spot!) but also to the present and the past.

Though the tactics of pseudo-psychics should be fairly easy to detect, the situation is not always clear-cut. Even charlatans can accidentally stumble on some real psi information (like stage magicians who sometimes pick up things which weren't part of their act!). And even sincere and gifted psychics may mix some psychology with parapsychology, or be perfectly on target about some things and mistaken about others.

[This article used with permission of the Psi Explorer CD-ROM]


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