Ian Rowland on cold reading?

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Postby Guest » 09/07/03 04:44 AM

Greetings dear magis,


I have the opportunity to purchase Ian Rowland's book on cold reading titled "The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading (third edition)". I believe it is only available from Ian's website ( web page ) but the local magic shop currently holds a small number of copies of it.

Apart from the problem being a student having tight finances and the price of this book, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it.

Great will be my gratitude if anyone who has read it would share how they feel about the book. Or anyone else who is knowledgable in the area of mentalism/cold readings/etc. would care to comment on the best (financial) way to break into mentalism.


Postby Dr Adrian Solon » 09/07/03 05:04 AM

Ian Rowland's book is a very good and detailed account of the verbal techniques used in Cold Reading - however if you are interested in doing readings for people it does not give you a 'system'. Better books for this purpose are by Richard Webster, Jon St.Germain and others.
If you want to get into mentalism I would not advise buying any books on cold reading, at least initially. You would be far better off investing in books such as Larry Becker's 'Stunners Plus' or Barrie Richardson's 'Theater of the Mind'.
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Postby Guest » 09/07/03 06:41 AM

The Rowland book is comprehensive, but not the best out there. In addition Rowland has participated inb exposure shows both here and in the UK. So by buying his material, IMO you're supporting an exposer
Cold Reading is certainly IMO a legitamate part of mentalism. Private readings are not. Adding cold reading to you performance can greatly enhance it. Webster's cold reading for Magicians might be a good start

Postby Steve V » 09/07/03 10:44 AM

I just finished reading the book Friday. It is a well written explanation on what makes up the components of a cold reading. It is not a 'how to' book, meaning you could take the info and put in a lot of practice and work and do a cold reading but it isn't a guide to how to do it. While I like Ian and recommend his lecture should he be in your town I think another book may be a better investment...unless a profile of cold reading is all you are looking for.
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Postby Guest » 09/08/03 03:18 PM

It's a very thorough, well written and information filled book.

Only one problem. It won't teach you how to do a psychic reading. I defy anyone to pick it up, study it and after finishing it become a psychic.

It is also quite obvious that the author, articulate as he is has virtually no experience doing readings for money.

The sample readings he did on TV and explained in the book are not particularly good.

The best books on the subject are EASILY by Richard Webster.

Get the Roland book by all means. It is certainly part of your education if you want to be a reader. However, it is only a very small part. The book is limited in it's scope, and harsh in it's tone.
A good psychic has to be a compassionate human being not a calculating money grabber as the Roland book implies.

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/08/03 07:34 PM

If I could be so bold, I would like to call your attention to my forthcoming book, The Dance. The Dance strives to teach those techniques, not usually found in print, that one must understand in order to read effectively. We approach cold reading as a process, not a product. In short, I try to teach not only what to do, but how to do it.

Also, I cover readings from a sitter/reader perspective as well as readings before both small and large groups. I discuss the ethics of reading and offer a reading paradigm that effectively solves both the ethical and skeptical issues at hand. There are sections on dealing with skeptics and dealing with believers respectfully but safely. You will find a great deal of commentary about magic as well as mentalism and cold reading.

Finally, there is an appendix with two routines I have employed for over 10 years in my professional performing reperatoire.

The book will be 125 pages and hardback, unlike many coldreading texts. I am very excited about it, and I hope it will be a boon to all those struggling with the process of cold reading.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 09/08/03 07:56 PM

I respectfully beg to differ; I consider the Ian Rowland book (I've only read the first edition, and not the expanded second and third) the best of the cold reading books I've read over the years (though I admit to not having read the Webster books), of which I admire several. I found it hardly limited in its scope (not "it's" scope; I apologize for raising this issue here, but it is only a three-letter word that way too many correspondents here seem to have trouble spelling) and admirably analytical. I can't imagine any cold reader not profiting (and I'm not talking $$) enormously from studying it.
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Postby Steve V » 09/08/03 09:03 PM

I didn't see anyone claiming it's not a good book or its contents (ha! Did it!) were not of value. The question is if it should be purchased with the goal of advancing the requesters knowledge of mentalism and as an instructional tool. While it would certainly be a valuable source for information on cold reading there are other books on the subject of mentalism that would be of a better value.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/03 05:53 AM

Thank you all for speedy replies - I am now more enlightened in the area of mentalism than I was 10 minutes ago.

And it has aided me greatly in making a decision!


Postby themaestro » 09/09/03 09:58 AM

I think you also would be greatly aided by reading "Annemann's Practical Mental Effects (with Comments by Max Maven)" in the Book of the Month Club section of this forum.

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Postby Guest » 09/09/03 02:20 PM

I look forward to Mr.Henderson's book. I did not realise that he was into cold reading. I am particularly impressed that he has a section on ethics.This seems to me to be a very important part of the business and I have only come across one cassette tape that considers it in any depth.

I see there are two Steves here. I agree with one of them. I suppose I had better find out which one. Let me check. Ah yes, Steve V.

With regard to Mr. Bryant I can only say again that the Rowland book although useful will not do the job. Not completely anyhow. I expect when he is referring to other books he means the Lee Earle
stuff and the books by Bascom Jones concerning the work of Herb Dewey. He may well be right here if he thinks that these are not as good as the Rowland book. I think they are reasonably good but nothing to get excited about.

I should mention that I am very experienced at doing psychic readings. I have done literally thousands in different countries and can claim to know something about it.

On this basis I still say that the book is limited. It does not tell you how to read a palm, how to read numbers, how to read tarot except in a fake perfunctory way, how to read runes or in fact how to actually read anything.

What it does do is tell you how Mr.Rowland THINKS psychics operate. I got the impression that he found this information by studying sceptical literature rather than by any actual experience.

It is not a bad book and I don't think anybody said it was. I will admit to learning a few things. However, I don't do a single thing in the book and neither does a single psychic I know. And I know many, both shut eyes and cold readers.

Regarding Ian's exposures I did see one programme and found it laughable. Not one professional psychic I know would ever contemplate the kind of nonsense put forward in the programme.Good psychics don't use tricks.
They don't need them

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/09/03 03:52 PM

Thank you Peter.

I would like to add that many people who are "doing" cold readings are doing so for all the wrong reasons. It is a very delicate dynamic and the exact opposite of the traditional "performance stance." I hope my book will cause pause for thought in those who practice, and those who wish to.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/03 04:02 PM

Actually Brad, I consider private readings nothing whatever to do with "performance" or entertainment. I rather agree with Mr Kross when he made that point.

Mentalism on a stage is an entirely different art form.

The only connection between private readings and mentalists/magicians seem to be that rather a lot of these people seem to be interested in it.

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/09/03 04:26 PM

Allow me to clarify. Private readings are the EXACT opposite of a performance. I think anyone considering reading for another human being should keep this in mind. Sadly, it seems, more and more performers are gravitating to this type of work without realizing the responsibility they are undertaking. In their eyes, they are still performers. Which is what I meant when I said the reading stance is opposite from the performance stance. I make a point in the Dance to discuss the reader/sitter dynamic in hopes that those who are considering this as a pursuit do so only after having considered the responsibilities mandated. ( I will also add that I think those with the traditional "performer mentality" would do well to stay away from private readings.)

The Dance does, however, also discuss the use of cold reading techniques as a part of stage performances. I see no problem in using cold reading as a "method" in one's presentations, but again we must come to terms with what we are doing and why we are doing it. I also discuss techniques for reading in front of a group, ala Edward. Though I personally do not advocate this type of "show," I do think a study of the techniques available can prove fruitful to anyone interested in mind reading or private readings.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/03 05:10 PM

If you think honestly, the minute you get up and out into the world, you are presenting a performance...the way you talk, act, dress,etc. of how you intend/wish to regarded and perceived.
(Which observing such from clients, in turn, tells YOU how they perceived themselves, realistic or otherwise.) Doing/giving readings is a performance/presentation...more so, depending on the venue/mode you are in....Are your readings in a family amusement venue, or a nightclub, where you want others observing, to see what a positive,entertaining time people are having during their reading? Are you in private home or party, where your readings/performance will reflect on the hosts, especially since the guests know each other? Readings in a private office, or in the pulpit of a New Age church, have their performance needs/value. Many shrinks and ministers, are successful, for their ability to inspire,(entertain?)empower, and motivate others.
It doesn't mean you don't take yourself or others seriously, but this is part of the reality.

Postby Guest » 09/09/03 07:08 PM

I think magicians are talking about something else when they talk about "readings"
I shall define it once and for all.

There are essentially two types of readings. There are the "entertainment" types of readings. These are generally short affairs, no longer than 10 minutes. They are done in entertainment type situations such as being hired to do them for some hospitality suite or corporate function. They are generally light hearted affairs full of generalities and character analysis.
No particular great skill is necessary to do this type of thing although a certain amount of minimal expertise is of course used.

The real stuff is when a client comes to see you for a half hour or hour session. They are not there for "entertainment" They are there because something in their life is not quite right. It takes every bit of compassion, counselling skill and intuition to do this type of work. It is not a step for the timid or for the "entertainer"
There is nothing "entertaining" about it.

You can do people a lot of good or you can do them a lot of harm according to your expertise or lack of it.

It is not the same as screwing up a card trick. One wrong move here and you can screw up a person's life.

You are on an ethical tightrope.
Don't fall off.

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/09/03 09:47 PM

You are exactly right Peter.

And Diego, while we are always presenting an image, when we are giving readings for those with an emotional investment, perhaps we should step aside and think less of how we look and more of how THEY feel and what THEY need.

When The Dance discuses stage readings, I discuss how to get maximum impact from thinking like a showman. But when you have someone in tears, worried about their life, sitting in front of you there are bigger issues to consider. At that moment Diego, it is NOT about you!

Too many performers are unable to have a real conversation. They spend too much time trying to zing you with their next line. This is the "performer" mentality of which I speak, and if you enter into a private reading with this attitude you are potentially going to cause great harm to another human being.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/03 10:54 PM

All this depends on the venue/mode/premise that the reader is in...an entertainment venue, or a more serious situation. Speak for yourself, but "light/entertainment" readings done for many people in an entertainment setting, DOES require skill and experience...IF it is to be done properly. Good readers know, while at a party, one reading could be for those who "I know this is a lot of crap" or "Am I getting lucky tonight?", and a minute later, regardless of the setting, another will tell of the most intimate, difficult, tragic problems, they need an answer for. To know how/when to change gears for many types of people is not for someone who thinks they can rattle off some lines to everyone.
Might be a misunderstanding here...again, most everyone puts forth how they perceive themselves or want to be. This applies to everyone, readers, and clients included.This is not an ego concern about you, the reader...it IS all about them, the readee/client/sitter. How we feel isn't/wasn't the focus, of at least my posting.
It is interesting to note, that many of the best readers and teachers, like Webster,Martin and others, only do readings in light entertainment settings. The key IS listening...the best books/teachers: Thomas, Larsen, Ruthchild, and others, say be quiet and listen, (with ears and eyes) what they are saying. If they had made an appointment to see,(and pay good money) in a serious setting, they have spoken volumes already.
(Larsen, "If you would just shut up, and give them a chance, they will tell you what they want to know!) In serious settings too, SOMETIMES the ability to comfort, assure, motivate a person, by giving them a lift, to follow the best choices...is part of the presentation, or whatever you want to call it. Those are really doing this, know this.
NOTICE: If you are thinking/starting to do readings, for any venue/premise, and reading the posts in this thread, makes you uncomfortable, then consider if this is something you really want/should do. If you can read T.A. Waters' chapter on readings,(Mind,Myth, Magic) and honestly answer the questions he raises, than you have potential as a skilled/caring reader...if you can't/won't...don't.

Postby Guest » 09/10/03 09:38 AM

Please, please, please re-read that last post again. READINGS are not for light entertainment. The spotlight is NOT on YOU, it is on your client. Even if you do light hearted readings, you will have those who have potential for trouble of not handled well and it is for this that you asre playing with fire, for real and in many cases have serious potential for problems if not handled well.

There are three types that come for readings.

1 - comes for the entertainment. They have heard about these and come for the kicks.

2 - comes for an edge and they don't care where it comes from be it the Wall Street Journal or a psychic reader. They want insight for their next move.

3 - these people come for HELP. They don't go to a professional because they might admit they actually have problems, or perhaps because if they see a psychologist they might even admit they are crazy. There may also be the cost factor as a psychic is in fact much cheaper to see. These people will come to you no matter whether you say your readings are "for entertainment purposes only" and it is for this reason alone that you should NOT enter this field unless you have some real training in this area.

If you truly want to do readings for a living, forget about all this BS about "cold reading" and learn a REAL system for the type of reading you are going to do, be it tarot, crystals, I-Ching, tea leaves, what have you.

For number one, you are bullet proof. It can't be exposed like the ambitious card. Number Two, if they pay for a "tarot" reading, they deserve to get one, not a personality profile thrown at them or you really are commiting fraud. Number Three, many people are familiar with those actual systems and they, yes the beleivers will catch you and your trickery, so know the real material and know what you are really doing.

Then, if you are going to do readings for $$$, get some counselling experience. Go do some volunteer work for the local help line or suicide crisis lines. They provide you with free training and you will have valuable experience in this which might actually help you become more empathetic during your performances as a magician anyway PLUS you will actually be helping people.

Helping people, gee there is a thought and one of the main reasons you find professional readers. You do wind up helping people. We are not talking about ones that truly scam people out of thousands of dollars to lift curses from them but ones that truly do help people. And ethical readers that know they are over their heads to help some of those troubled people can gently steer these clients towards a good professional to help AND because the "psychic" told them they need to go, the taboo part of seeing the better professional is lifted. Professional Reading IS a very satisfying thing, and gives as great a feeling of fullfilment as a succesful performance on stage BUT it is a very serious business. Do not take this lightly.

As T.a. said "You are playing with peoples lives, no matter how tongue in cheek you may think you are being".

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
AB Stagecraft
Suppliers of Unique Mentalism World-wide

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/10/03 10:19 AM

Excellent points Paul, and I think the Dance would prove interesting for someone with your experience. I too advocate learning a method for many reasons, and detail them, but I also believe that an understanding of crafted communication can be a boon along with the correct use of a method.

I agree that a method can and should be employed, but I do not believe that the sum of reading consists in just following that method. FOr someone with the experiences you have under your belt, I'm sure that may be true. But I'm also confident that you have studied the processes of communication in many forms, have internalized them, and can call on them while working in the method. You also have your knowledge and experience with cold reading, per se, to inform what you do even if you do not use it consciously. I sincerely hope The Dance, becomes a tool for people to get to the level of expertise you posses in order that they may be able to successfully follow the advice you offer.

(I liken this to star lecturer saying "Don;t palm it, just hold it in your hand." Of course, it looks natural when they do it. To them, palming and its theory are so internalized they CAN just hold it in their hand. But for someone learning, "just hold it in your hand" often looks like your holding something in your hand.)

If they come for a Tarot reading, they deserve to get a tarot reading. But when they come to a psychic, they expect and deserve to receive accurate information that is applicable to their lives. I think a combination of both method and reading techniques can fulfill this need.

I will also add, that for many who believe that using cold reading is unethical as it is not "really" psychic, The Dance addresses, and I believe presents a workable and ethically sound paradigm for such considerations.

I would also like to amplify what you said on two points. First, even if they are coming to you at a party, we are dealing with human interests and human issues, it is NEVER to be taken lightly regardless of the environment. Second, readings are always SITTER focused experiences. It is our job to deliver what they want and need. Though the Dance does discuss reading from the stage, as a matter of being complete, that section is predicated by asking the reader to really search internally and try to understand what is lost and what is at stake in choosing this venue.

I hope it proves nourishing food for thought.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/03 01:28 PM

The Song says, There isn't any hard/fast rules...light readings can sometimes be for entertainment, depending...regardless if we think/wish otherwise. According to The Song, each person/situation depending. Some of the most stern/serious religious/political leaders are dismissed by some as entertaining to listen to, but irrelevant to their lives...while some of their most ridiculous, obvious false, foolish counterparts, are regarded as if speaking gospel, their words to be ignored at peril...as noted in The Song. I said this on another thread, but among many conversations with T.A. Waters, he felt it was unethical to give a reading that wasn't based on the tarot cards a reader was (not) supposedly interpeting. The Song counters that it is unethical TO give a reading on just the basis of what some card or rune stone, is supposed to be saying about someone's life choices.

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/10/03 01:47 PM


By "The Song" are you trying to mock the title of the book I spent 3 years writing? Just checking so I know on what level to keep this debate.

Can you clarfy exactly what you mean when you say, "I said this on another thread, but among many conversations with T.A. Waters, he felt it was unethical to give a reading that wasn't based on the tarot cards a reader was (not) supposedly interpeting. The Song counters that it is unethical TO give a reading on just the basis of what some card or rune stone, is supposed to be saying about someone's life choices."

I think I might be in agreement, but I'm not sure. And I don't mean this flippantly. I care deeply about this subject and would like to see this conversation continue in a productive vein.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/03 03:23 PM

No, not mocking your book...just having some (hopefully) light-hearted fun at only the perceived, unneeded, relentless promotion that we see too many doing on posts. I certainly could be wrong, but ask friends (magic/non-magic) if some posts seem more distracting than beneficial.

On the level this conversation is on, to clarify about T.A. Waters,(a fun person to argue with) T.A. believed in the validity of the information he felt could be revealed in The Tarot, properly used in the intended traditions. He would say, "why waste time, studying all that cold reading stuff, when you could just as well learn to read the cards, anyway." He felt it would be wrong to (pretend) to offer advice, not based on the what the cards "say". The counter arguement is: IF a client says, her boyfriend is stealing her money, beating her up and using/dealing drugs, that cops could find in her home...if the cards say this is a relationship that has great potential, do I pass that on to her? OR should the reader say, "You deserve love this loser can't give. Don't let yourself be abused any longer, get out and away!"

Sometimes, there are those more interested in being right or correct or in control, instead of being actually helpful. Again, each person is different...there are those who will tell you what a wonderful reader you are, and forget you tomorrow, and those who heard a 60 second reading and will remember it forever.
Those who wish to continue this discussion may want to more properly use, "in some cases...", instead of one party line.
Those with good intentions on this thread, might agree we are more in the same direction, evenif not in the same step.

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/10/03 04:01 PM

First, I sincerely hope my posts are not considered self promotion. Hence, the gentle nature of my first post. It is not my intention to use this as a forum to sell, hence the lack of information as to cost etc. When that time comes, I will ask Richard if it is appropriate to announce the book's release in "buzz" and abide by his decision accordingly. But, like a father discussing his son, you can forgive me if my excitment shows.

And I agree that we should use every tool at our disposal in order to help our clients, whether it is a method or crafted communication.

In the book which I wrote but will no longer name, I talk about how many of us are plagued by the need to always be "right." I believe, as it seems you do too, that the end result should be helping the person across the table from us and delivering something of value.

I will say empahtically and without disclaimer, however, that when you are dealing with human concerns we cannot treat the situation as just another performance opportunity. While there may be some sitters who see us on a lark, the risk is too great not to always treat the situation with great respect.

I don't think the problem, Diego, is with someone like you who seems to read the situation and make a decision on how to react based on experience and contemplation. (Isn't that the essence of cold reading?). The problem is with the number of people who either lack that experience, or have yet to consider the nature of that in which they delve.

I have seen some creepy things and heard of many more. My only intent in the past few posts is to convey to those with less experience as you, Diego, how seriously these things can impact someone else's life. Not always. But you never really know what is going on inside their head. I personally would rather err to the side of caution.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/03 05:44 PM

I just realized that all this started regarding Ian knowland's book, which I have not yet read. Brian, I hope to read your book too, so don't make me feel bad by referring to it as a "Book with no name", I think Annemann's already done that. Caution is a good side to lean to, if not always needed. On the bad side, I have seen predators who do not have the client's interests at heart...I have also seen true-believing/shut eye new-agers say scary irresponsible stuff because they SINCERELY, gave the advice/message they knew to be true from the universe. Those with either intentions can be wrong for people.

Postby Brad Henderson » 09/10/03 07:08 PM

A case in point. I saw a psychic working a party who told the sitter that she was going to experience serious injury or maybe even death.

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Postby Guest » 09/10/03 08:32 PM

Shut eyes can be quite dangerous sometimes.So can the gypsies who pull all the scams.

The honest fakes are the best, if you know what I mean.

Mind you some magicians are quite unscrupulous. I was quite shocked when a well known mentalist thought it was quite all right for one of my clients to be scammed out of $26000 over the period of a year. He had been to a less scrupulous psychic than me and had given over this money. I told him to stop and to never see another psychic again including me. Sometimes I will do this if I think the interest in unhealthy.
I discourage dependency even though it could make me money. I do have to sleep at night.

I told this well known mentalist this and he thought that the fellow who had just wasted $26,000 deserved it and I should have taken him for more.

This definitely bears out Brad's point that there are people who should not be doing this work.

It is a dangerous difficult business. Not dangerous to the psychic but to the client. And difficult. Very difficult.

I am pretty skilled at sleight of hand and other types of magic but I can tell you that the hardest and most advanced thing that I ever had to learn was how to do cold reading.

Actually the term "cold reading" is defined very loosely. Mr Alberstat thinks it an unnecessary skill yet I bet he cold reads without knowing he does it. You can cold read unconciously. A lot of good shut eye readers are cold reading even though they may not even know they are doing it.

Again I think it has very little to do with "entertainment" Actually even a light short reading for amusement only has nothing to do with entertainment because the person may well still have a belief in it even though they laugh it off.

I have never been entirely comfortable with the business of readings even though I have done thousands upon thousands of them.

There is something quite painful about reading people who are on the verge of suicide, who are dying of cancer, whose husband has left them, who are facing financial ruin (yet you are releiveing them of more money), whose lives are a hell hole of misery.
And what compounds the discomfort on my part is knowing that I am helping them with what amounts to a false premise. That of so called psychic ability.

Some readers can get around this by convincing themselves that what they do is genuine. I do this to a degree but underneath I know the whole thing is basically a load of crap. Sorry to be so blunt but I have a habit of seeing things for what they actually are and verbalizing it.

I can anaesthetise my conscience extremely well, mind you. However, I know that there is only one real justification for this work. That is that it helps the client.

And funnily enough it invariably does. If you know what you are doing, that is.

Thank God I do most of the time.

Postby Guest » 09/10/03 09:04 PM

Oh, just one minor point in response to Mr. Domingo who is obviously experienced in his work.

I do not think that Webster, Martin and Ruthschild "only" do readings in light entertainment settings.

Actually I doubt that Richard Webster does any readings at all any more. He hardly needs to with his books selling well internationally.

However, one of his greatest books was "How to set up a psychic practice using full length cold readings" This described very long sessions actually lasting an hour. If someone comes to see you for an hour it is not for a light hearted session.

I observed Ron Martin doing a reading for a lady at a convention. He was still going strong 45 minutes later and I got a feeling he was quite happy to do another 45 minutes. He obviously loves his work.
My point though is that it was a long session. Long sessions usually mean serious readings.

With regard to Miriam Ruthschild I don't know for sure but I got the feeling from her books that she was not averse to doing serious sessions.

Although I have done quite a few of these entertainment type readings the vast majority of my sessions have always been serious stuff.

Private sessions, house parties, psychic fairs mail order and hotel readings are situations I have worked in. All serious sessions.

Serious readings are where the money is. You can do OK with the light short readings but eventually you will have to do longer, more serious sessions if you really want to make money.
The trouble is that serious sessions is serious stuff.

Postby Guest » 09/10/03 09:55 PM

I did not include Ruthchild among those who focus on entertainment readings, as I have no idea what her story is. Richard and Ron have told me what their focus is, themselves...Richard IS probably too busy to do many readings, with the success he is enjoying as a author/speaker, well deserved, Richard is the best! True, to make the best money as a reader(only) doing serious readings is required for most...and they have to be worked . Unfortunately, most readers can't/won't get clients to move on. Maybe that is why some of us avoid that direction. I once asked a mentalist/author you all know, why he had never ventured into the area of readings. In a serious/funny deadpan, he replied, "I don't want to hear other people tell me their problems, I would rather tell people about MY problems."

Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/11/03 07:35 AM

As has been surmised, "Peter Smith" is actually Mark Lewis. I will let him continue to post until his inevitable descent into madness. Someone please alert me as soon as he goes bonkers again.
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Postby Joe Z » 09/11/03 10:10 AM

I find it interesting when a thread appears on an online forum concerning Ian Rowland's FF of Cold Reading book and its usefulness as a resource for learning how to present convincing, credible psychic readings. The newbies seem to be very impressed with the alleged "comprehensiveness" of the book and look for reassurance from the more experienced mentalist/readers to confirm that FF is indeed the best publicaton on the subject.

As can be seen from the many comments of experienced workers in this thread, FF contains only a small fragment of what is required to successfully present this form of psychic entertainment in an effective and credible fashion. Rowland touches on some techniques and strategies that can be used towards that end, and many of these techniques are covered as adequately in previously published works , etc. However, Rowland totally ignores the really important material that a would-be reader can only gain through a life-long study of psychology, sociology, theology, philosophy; the cultivation of genuine empathy and understanding for the human condition; and the incorporation of a believeable divination system...and that is just for starters.

In addition to excellent works on the subject by authors like Richard Webster, Ron Martin, Ford Kross, Herb Dewey, and Fred Crouter, I would recommend that any interested beginner research and study from the many sources not related directly to magic/mentalism that cover these topics.

There is no shortcut to excellence in this craft.

Joe Z.
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Postby John Smetana » 09/11/03 04:34 PM

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
There is no shortcut to excellence in this craft.

Joe Z. [/QB]
That says it all Joe, too bad many will not heed the advice.

Best thoughts,
John Smetana
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Postby Guest » 09/11/03 04:38 PM

On rereading Diego's post it seems that he is correct about Miriam Ruthschild. He mentions her in another context entirely.

He may certainly be correct about Richard too. I have noticed that Richard's readings seem very general so perhaps he may well be right about these only being done in entertainment settings.

However, a psychic who does the thing seriously is going to be doing tough in depth sessions. Even the cursory entertainment type readings are going to come up against difficult situations. The sitter will not be satisfied with general advice. You will either have to see them in private or they will have to accept the limitations of what you can tell them in a ten minute session.

Actually, I am getting a vibe that the vast majority of supposed "readers" drawn from the mentalist community only do these quick entertainment sessions. Nothing wrong with that of course but they are not doing advanced work.

Perhaps they are better off. Advanced readings can be quite stressful. I have heard situations that have almost torn me apart to hear them.

At a psychic fair I once said to my assistant (a well known lady magician) "is this right what we are doing for these people? I am wondering if it is ethical to be delivering all this bullcrap"
A rare moment of conscience for me.
However she replied "of course it is right. You are doing a wonderful job of helping these people. If you weren't I would'nt work with you"

I suppose it is a good thing to have saved marriages, counselled the sick, comforted the bereaved, motivated the unmotivated, and given hope to the hopeless. Yet it bugs me.
I am too good.

Yes, too good. When a businessman shows me his new business card incorporating his aura colours it gets to be too much for me. Ever since that incident I no longer draw aura colours as per Richard Webster's book. It is too much even for my elastic conscience.
Yes. Too good. I feel it when someone on the verge of bankruptcy gives me money to see if I can predict financial improvement. I always can, of course.
Yes. Too good. I feel it when some person has a reading from me and they have never been to a psychic before. Usually some eager young person,most often a young girl. I impress the daylights out of them, take their money and send them on their way. Yet I feel guilty that I have caused them to go through the rest of their life believing in this claptrap because I gave them such a good reading. They may have started out sceptical but I have convinced them that there is such a thing as psychic influences around. In time they may go to a less scrupulous reader than myself.

I don't necessarily have the answer to all these ethical considerations. I am just saying that you have to be aware of the question and work out your own answers that will help you sleep at night.

I NEVER see this type of thing mentioned anywhere in cold reading literature. It bloody well should be. That is why I am impressed with Mr.Henderson actually trying to address the issue in his book.

I once did an audio tape on readings for Martin Breese in England. Ethics were a major part of the tape.

Perhaps I should be nominated for sainthood.
Before I descend into madness, that is.

Postby Q. Kumber » 09/13/03 05:06 PM

Ian Rowland's book, in my opinion is very good at giving his interpretation at explaining at what is going on in a psychic reading. Ian certainly comes at it from the sceptic's viewpoint.

Having seen a couple of Ian's and other's TV appearances where they "read" a number of people who are then asked to rate the "psychic," the sitters have all given the reading a high rating for accuracy. The "psychic" then explains he has no psychic ability and was just giving a canned reading. To me this has always looked totally counter productive because in effect the psychic is saying, "Look you dumb schmuck, you'll swallow anything anyone tells you and you should thank me for pointing out how stupid you are." Well, obviously the sitter is going to turn around and thank the "psychic" for saving them from their own obtuseness. Yeah, sure!

If anyone has the skill or ability to give a good reading they have only two things to offer (besides being a good listener). One is hope and the other is to show them that they have the ability to solve their own problems. Charging a high fee is also part of the help you give them.

Regardless of whether you are doing a long reading for a single person, or as entertainment at a function, they will all remember and put great store in what you tell them, even if they are highly skeptical. That's why I don't believe there is such a thing as psychic readings for entertainment. It is deadly serious for the participant regardless of the setting.

I am always intrigued at the self-righteousness of magicians damning those who give readings and charge for it and ignore preachers who promise salvation and collect large amounts of money on a weekly basis.

These same preachers will also warn that the practices of fortune-tellers and diviners are seriously frowned upon in the Bible, yet they ignore a large section of The Old Testament called "The Prophets." I wonder what the prophets did for a living?
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Postby Guest » 09/14/03 06:24 PM

I rather think that Quentin is about to start a firestorm.
So far this thread has managed to avoid the vexed question of magicians disapproving of psychic readings.
However I sense that at any moment the indomitable Opie will arrive to do battle singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and then all hell will break loose with all sorts of arguments back and forth from all sorts of excitable people.I have seen this sort of thing many times in the past.

Although I have been a psychic consultant for many years I am not enraged by the sceptics viewpoints. I think they are motivated by passion and conscience and there is nothing wrong with that. At any rate they are certainly entitled to their opinions. I think it is a bit harsh to describe them as "self righteous" just because they see things differently from the rest of us.

I know Quentin well and he is often self righteous about people being self righteous. Oh, and other things too.

I know where he got the line about charging a high fee being good for the client. He got it from me. It was on my audiotape that I know he listened to avidly.

However, I think I should clarify it somewhat. I do believe that your fee has an influence on helping the client. After all, if someone gets something for nothing that person will put a nothing value on it and the session will not be useful for the client. I got this idea from a wonderful book on the Tarot called "Tarotmania" by Jan Woudhuysen. He quoted someone as saying "all the best psychiatrists in America agree that charging the client a high fee has a strong therapeutic effect"

However I would moderate the word "high" the fee should be high enough to give the client a percieved value of the reading and high enough to discourage them from coming back to you too often. ( yes, I don't want too much repeat business. It encourages dependency which is a very unhealthy aspect of the psychic business)
Yes, charge a good fee but never make it so high that you rip off the client.

But back to the disapproving sceptics.
I know one psychic fair promoter who amuses me by allowing the skeptic societies to have a booth at his fair! Brilliant! It stops them picketing the fair.

I must say that the disapproving magicians do have one major argument and it is a very strong one indeed. That is that by doing readings the operater is actually obtaining money by false pretences. You are operating under the false premise that you are psychic.

Some readers ingore this or they will try to justify it by kidding themselves that they are actually psychic. I justify my work by the belief that I am actually helping my clients. And I sincerely believe that I am. However, it cannot be denied that I am helping them with a false premise. That I am actually psychic.

I suppose I am to a degree but essentially I am making a living from telling lies. And so is everyone else that takes money for readings.

The only justification for this work, in my view, is that the clients are helped. However even this justification is somewhat problematical.

Don't worry. I haven't suddenly seen the light on the Road to Damascus. I have been scamming the public my whole life in one way or another and will no doubt continue to do so. However, I am not one for rationalisation for the sake of justifying my work in the psychic field.

All I am saying is that the opposing viewpoint of the "self righteous" should be respected. They do have the moral high ground even though they often present their case very badly because of zealoutry and lack of moderation.

Incidentally, the disapprovers have not ignored the evangelists. Randi has written a whole book debunking these people.

I would LOVE to be a fake evangelist! Right up my street. It is just like showbusiness and I could still tell lies for a living. And the money is pretty good.

I don't know how to go about it though. I should look into it.

Postby Guest » 10/22/03 06:50 AM

Rowlands book is well worth reading but IMO it essentially just labours a relatively few points over and over. I read it and keep thinking "but that's just same method slightly from a very slightly different perspective". It also lacks direct instruction for the complete beginner who just wants to go out and do readings.

BTW, who's Marc Lewis? One of those obnoxious nutters from alt.magic?

Postby Guest » 10/22/03 08:28 AM

A few points, first to those who, are uncomfortable doing readings, don't. If you truly don't feel you are actually helping clients by doing readings, don't. If you are only doing readings, to turn a buck, don't. Just as clergy who don't believe in their religion should sell space shoes. Doctors, who go in to medicine because of prestige and big bucks, shame! I have mainained for years, that private readings are not part of mentalism or entertainment and therefore should not be judged as such. They are counseling
There are parts of readings that are entertainment
When I'm booked to do readings as part ofa special event, doing readings ,free of charge to those attending (the sponsor pays me) My job as I see it is to make them laugh, smile, and leave with the warm fuzzies
Now to Mr Rowland and his "book" I read the first edition. And I personally feel he couldn't make a living as a reader. Either category!
In addition, if you are among those who oppose exposure. Mr Rowland is an exposer, not just "cold reading" but mentalism methods. Those of you that have followed the rash of exposing shows released recently , may have noted , that what's being exposed, are not methods used by fake psychics, but methods used by entertainers. Why? probably because these are the methods the exposers know. Psychics (real or fake based on your belief) rely more on belief systems (real or not ) not deception as we in the magic community know it. For example, prove to me I didn't live before this life. You can't, no wires or mirrors
Now to my knowledge, Mr Rowland hasn't appeared in these show, but I believe he's part of the "brain trust"
So support Rowland, support exposure. Your choice

Postby Chris Aguilar » 10/22/03 09:16 AM

Originally posted by Ford Kross:

For example, prove to me I didn't live before this life. You can't, no wires or mirrors

You might want to read the following before being so quick to use such fallacious "logic".

Argument from Ignorance
(argumentum ad ignorantiam)


Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true. Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false. (This is a special case of a false dilemma, since it assumes that all propositions must either be known to be true or known to be false.) As Davis writes, "Lack of proof is not proof." (p. 59)

(i) Since you cannot prove that ghosts do not exist, they must exist.
I could easily claim to own an invisible pink unicorn that only I can see or sense in any way.

Prove that I don't. :)
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Postby Guest » 10/22/03 11:12 AM

Ford, you seem to have justified, in your mind, the carrying on of readings for folks. I do not believe that you nor anyone else is psychic and as the 'psychics' are the ones making the claim of its existance it is up to them to provide evidence, real evidence by the way, if it being an actual ability. Last night a woman behind me at the grocer told the clerk that it would 'cost $400 to do her chart'. Being the helpful fellow I am I offered to do it for $200 and it would be just as fact based as the womans. I later spoke to the young lady and asked why she wanted someone to see into her future and she said she wanted to know 'what to do in life'. I figured that was a set up for fraud and told her that I believed it to be a fraud and not to waste her money. Had she said she lost a parent or child recently then I would have shown some compassion and indicated not to do but also knowing that these frauds often do provide comfert to those folks. I do find it interesting that the frauds/psychics claim to be like a counseler but they charge many times what a counseler charges. Nice, real nice.
Steve V

Postby Guest » 10/22/03 11:16 AM

Originally posted by Chris Aguilar:
Originally posted by Ford Kross:

For example, prove to me I didn't live before this life. You can't, no wires or mirrors

You might want to read the following before being so quick to use such fallacious "logic".

[b]Argument from Ignorance
(argumentum ad ignorantiam)


Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true. Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false. (This is a special case of a false dilemma, since it assumes that all propositions must either be known to be true or known to be false.) As Davis writes, "Lack of proof is not proof." (p. 59)

(i) Since you cannot prove that ghosts do not exist, they must exist.
I could easily claim to own an invisible pink unicorn that only I can see or sense in any way.

Prove that I don't. :) [/b]


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