Cold reading: a great fun discussion with Richard Dawkins and Derren Brown


"You either live on your own or you live with other people?" is a great cold reading line. This is a really neat clip of Richard Dawkins chatting with a professional illusionist about the skills of cold reading. Cold reading is an ability that some psychic readers employ to hook you or into believing they are communicating with spirits, and especially spirits that appear to know you. They are both thoroughly British in their polite and revealing discussion and their gentle and thorough wiping of the floor with the whole area. Its is about 50 minutes but I found I just got engaged and it kept my attention.

This is relevant because they are in effect talking about the power of dramatic presentation. Psychodrama relies on the capacity to warm a person up to profound states of mind through the use of dramatic presentation. This whole area is so profound. Neither of these folks explore the area of how profound dramatic processes may be, which is a pity. What do you think?




And as another present Derren Brown gives readings via "astrology." From "Trick of the Mind," S03E01. Astrology, or so it seems, relies heavily on the Barnum and Forer effect, which are statements that can apply to anybody. This short video shows an application of this effect. It certainly reminds me of many taxonomies, like Myers-Briggs Type Index (MBTI) and others, which have a suggestibility effect as well as perhaps some instrumental value in highlighting a person's conscious preferences.