derren brown cold reading

Derren Brown on cold reading

In this series of videos, illusionist Derren Brown explains cold reading and the techniques behind it to Richard Dawkins. The videos provide a useful insight into cold reading techniques and how they can be employed in fake psychic and medium performances. The combination of Derren’s inside knowledge of the techniques, and Richard’s famous sceptisism of, well just about everything, leaves the viewer in little doubt that many mediums and psychics are indeed fake.

They discuss our willingness to believe (an essential requisite of cold reading), and how the odds are stacked in favour of the medium. Psychics and mediums are subject to less scrutiny than illusionists and mentalists because they never promise anything and the audience understands that the spirits don’t always cooperate. Magicians however, have to produce something pretty stunning in order not to be discredited. (more…)