The Magician Online

The Magician Online is a live, interactive, online experience - in the comfort of your own home. Starring Dan White. As seen by Ashton Kutcher, Ariana Grande, Chris Rock, James Corden, Jessica Alba, and President Clinton.

See details

Fake or Real: Cold Reads?

Sep 25, 2018
32
19
Hi All,

Quick question, I’m new to the Mentalism side of magic, and I was wondering about some of the routines I’ve seen on YouTube, particularly, what I like to call a “Cold Read”. It’s where the magician asks the spectator to think of any card, and the magician names it without anything to go on whatsoever. If you want an example, Chris Ramsay does it a lot in his street magic videos. So I was wondering, is this a real Mentalism technique? Or is it YouTube editing/staging?

note: I’m not asking for a reveal of the technique, only if it exists:)
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,783
2,888
What he said.

Though there are routines involving cards that I would classify as genuine mentalism, most likely there's some other chicanery going on that is either properly deceptive or just wasn't shown in the video.

Feel free to skip this part if you're not looking for nit picking details but what you described is also not cold reading. It may qualify as mind reading (with some methods) but a cold read is specifically when a performer/psychic tells someone personal details about themselves with no prior knowledge of said person. A warm read is when the performer has a little knowledge and can build from there, and a hot read is when the performer is revealing information that they have specifically gathered ahead of time. Most magicians will equate 'cold reading' to spouting memorized lines and Barnum statements but in truth the skill goes much deeper than that.
 
Nov 3, 2018
543
424
Feel free to skip this part if you're not looking for nit picking details but what you described is also not cold reading. It may qualify as mind reading (with some methods) but a cold read is specifically when a performer/psychic tells someone personal details about themselves with no prior knowledge of said person. A warm read is when the performer has a little knowledge and can build from there, and a hot read is when the performer is revealing information that they have specifically gathered ahead of time. Most magicians will equate 'cold reading' to spouting memorized lines and Barnum statements but in truth the skill goes much deeper than that.
I take it then that cold reading (as per your definition) is real?
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,783
2,888
It's a real skill that can be developed, yes. It's not supernatural. Essentially it's just observation and conclusions. Like Sherlock.

There are systems one can use to increase the 'hits', and the more one knows about the world in general the easier it is, but generally speaking what it boils down to is that we as humans are pattern recognition machines and we can use that ability to tell a lot about someone. All we have to do is pay attention. Ben Cardall is an excellent example of this. Either he's the real deal or he's so good at faking it there's no difference.

If you do this long enough it becomes so ingrained it can seem psychic to someone who doesn't know you. It's my personal opinion that this is the basis of all 'psychic' powers in the shut eye community (But I am always open to other explanations, provided they are backed up by more than anecdotes).
 
  • Like
Reactions: TwoofHearts
Nov 3, 2018
543
424
Thanks for the answer, Christopher, it cleared things up for me.

Some time ago at my school, we had a guy giving a lecture on job interviews. During his talk he demonstrated some skills that, from reading your posts, sound a lot like mentalist skills (for example, he was able to name at least twenty traits about a person he had, to my knowledge, only met two minutes earlier, without having had a lot of interaction with her; this would be an example of cold reading?). When asked about it, he said something similar to what you said: That there are different character types, and when meeting somebody, he lays these character types over them like a stencil, seeing which ones fit (that's a very rough English interpretation of a German phrase; I'm sorry if the meaning isn't clear). From this, he gets a picture of the person's character.

I guess my question is: How do you get the knowledge about these character types, how does this pattern recognition work and how do you practice it?
I'm sorry if this is bordering on exposure, but I'm interested in this topic for a lot more than "magic" reasons and could ask questions for a long time. If you don't think this fits the thread, feel free to shoot me a PM.

Thanks for bearing with me!
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,783
2,888
I would classify that as a cold read, yeah.

That's the thing about 'mentalist skills' - the traditional ones are real life skills that have been turned into a performance piece or demonstration. Basically, taking a normal skill and making it theatrically appealing.

I've been doing cold readings for ... a very long time. I learned the skill as a kid to avoid bullies when my family settled into rural PA. So it can sometimes be difficult for me to break down my skills in such a way that others can understand what I mean. That being said, I am working on building a lecture on how to read anything/anyone. I just have to write the notes for my suggestion workshop and a commissioned PDF on pendulums first.

So here's my suggestion - Find a system, learn it, and use it.

Michael Murray's "0260" (I think that's the title) is a simple system that will get you doing readings as soon as you finish the book.
Paul Voodini's "Affinity: The Third Way" is another one. It's a bit more esoteric but works just fine.
Luke Jermay's "Reader's Alphabet" is another excellent system.
Brad Henderson's "The Dance" is very highly regarded, but, personally, I wasn't a huge fan. YMMV.
Ben Cardall's "The Monographs" does a pretty good job of breaking down what a ton of different types of things can mean to build readings from. I'm not sure if it's a good source for a total beginner, but I found it quite interesting.

Pick one. Start doing readings with it. Begin by just peppering them into casual performances, or just in conversation sometimes. Once you start getting consistent hits you'll figure out the language, so to speak, of how to construct a reading that makes the recipient feel like you're very accurate. You can then start using them in serious performances to enhance your existing routines or on their own.
 
Nov 3, 2018
543
424
That being said, I am working on building a lecture on how to read anything/anyone. I just have to write the notes for my suggestion workshop [...]
Would be interested in both, if it's suitable for somebody with no experience in the field whatsoever and applicable to "real life" as well as a performance.

Thank you for the book recommendations! Michael Ammar's and Luke Jermay's books seem well suited to my needs and interests at the moment. Can you give a clear recommendation for either of them?

Pick one. Start doing readings with it. Begin by just peppering them into casual performances, or just in conversation sometimes. Once you start getting consistent hits you'll figure out the language, so to speak, of how to construct a reading that makes the recipient feel like you're very accurate. You can then start using them in serious performances to enhance your existing routines or on their own.
It's not my primary goal to "seem knowledgable" about people for theatrical purposes (at the moment), but to be able to use this as skill in my normal interactions with people, to better understand them. In this case, are the resources you gave above still the right thing for me?

PS: I'm afraid I wasn't able to find Michael Ammar's book under the title "0260". Are you sure it's called that?
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,783
2,888
Michael Murray, not Michael Ammar. 0290 - had to dig it out of my bookshelf.

Learning how to read people is a skill. It can be applied in many ways, both theatrical and not. The skill is, at its base, the ability to assess danger in normal life. It goes back to when we needed to be able to see tigers and whatnot in the brush so we didn't get eaten.

These days, though, it translates to being able to assess whether a person is a threat or safe - which can be developed to learning how to tell basic details about a person you've just met.

Again - it comes back to observation and conclusion. You don't to say the conclusions out loud - you can just use the information to guide your decisions about said person (which is how I did it for quite a long time).
 
Nov 3, 2018
543
424
Right, my bad. I had searched for the correct title and miswrote here. I'm afraid I can't find any copy of 0290 anywhere, neither with the usual retailers nor the used-book market. Do you know if the system is included in any of his other books?

I wanted to make sure that the systems can also be used in a non-magic/stage environment, and you have cleared things up for me. Thanks again.
 
Jun 18, 2019
547
295
18
West Bengal, India
Hi All,

Quick question, I’m new to the Mentalism side of magic, and I was wondering about some of the routines I’ve seen on YouTube, particularly, what I like to call a “Cold Read”. It’s where the magician asks the spectator to think of any card, and the magician names it without anything to go on whatsoever. If you want an example, Chris Ramsay does it a lot in his street magic videos. So I was wondering, is this a real Mentalism technique? Or is it YouTube editing/staging?

note: I’m not asking for a reveal of the technique, only if it exists:)
It exists, I'm pretty sure.

A great tip by Derren Brown in Tricks Of The Mind is to force a card or find out the identity of a selected card somehow, then PRETEND to be cold reading, but actually do whatever is required to cold read your subject.

This way you can practice it in a fool-proof manner, since the effect has no chance of failing as it is.

I've never really disbelieved in cold reading, though I do treat NLP patterns with a fair fist of salt. [shrugs]
 
Jun 18, 2019
547
295
18
West Bengal, India
I guess my question is: How do you get the knowledge about these character types, how does this pattern recognition work and how do you practice it?
I'm sorry if this is bordering on exposure, but I'm interested in this topic for a lot more than "magic" reasons and could ask questions for a long time. If you don't think this fits the thread, feel free to shoot me a PM.
Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown.

While just the mouth of the river leading to the sea of various techniques, that book is a must-have. It is till now the most precious book on 'magic' I own due it's sheer brilliance, the way it's helped my magic ( and even my academics) and because it's clear explanations, written in a very lucid manner. Derren more than understands what's going on in the mind of the reader (and hopeful learner) and says everything perfectly.

I am (clearly) a fan of the book, but with good reasons (and it is surprisingly cheap for it's value)!
:)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Theorist19

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
I guess my question is: How do you get the knowledge about these character types, how does this pattern recognition work and how do you practice it?

Practice. Talk to people, listen to people and get to know them. At the same time, without being obvious, observe how they dress, how they groom themselves and their mannerisms. You could probably do a more accurate reading of a person by looking at their shoes than their palm. Watch people in public spaces and see what their actions and nonverbal cues say about their personality. Listen to half of a cell phone conversation that someone is carrying on in public think about what the other side might be saying and think about what the person you can hear is like. Can you tell I spend over two hours a day commuting and have lots of time to people watch?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Theorist19
Nov 3, 2018
543
424
Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown.

While just the mouth of the river leading to the sea of various techniques, that book is a must-have. It is till now the most precious book on 'magic' I own due it's sheer brilliance, the way it's helped my magic ( and even my academics) and because it's clear explanations, written in a very lucid manner. Derren more than understands what's going on in the mind of the reader (and hopeful learner) and says everything perfectly.

I am (clearly) a fan of the book, but with good reasons (and it is surprisingly cheap for it's value)!
:)
Practice. Talk to people, listen to people and get to know them. At the same time, without being obvious, observe how they dress, how they groom themselves and their mannerisms. You could probably do a more accurate reading of a person by looking at their shoes than their palm. Watch people in public spaces and see what their actions and nonverbal cues say about their personality. Listen to half of a cell phone conversation that someone is carrying on in public think about what the other side might be saying and think about what the person you can hear is like. Can you tell I spend over two hours a day commuting and have lots of time to people watch?
Thanks to both of you for your tips and recommendations!
 
Searching...
{[{ searchResultsCount }]} Results