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The Full Facts book of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland

The Full Facts book of Cold Reading

The Full Facts book of Cold Reading

This is the post I had planned to make before I messed up.  As someone with an interest in the various tricks that psychics, mediums, tarot readers and similar use, Ian Brodie‘s suggestion that I read this book was welcome.  Ian Rowland is a very clear and concise writer and clearly has a love for his subject.

This book cannot make you into a cold reader any more than a Haynes manual can turn you into a mechanic.  What it does do is to take the reader through the steps that any cold reader takes, consciously or otherwise, in a way designed to make the client believe that the reader has more knowledge than they really do.  This is the essence of cold reading – as the reader you need to convince your client that you somehow know things that you shouldn’t be able to.  Whether you are posing as an intuitive person, a psychic, an astrologer or a tarot card reader or whatever, cold reading gives you a way to draw information out of your client without their knowledge.

Firstly, the one thing that jumped out at me was that Ian Rowland really does not want a discussion on whether psychics are real or not within the book.  He discusses the methodology and mentions that this is one way that a psychic could operate.  He also makes it clear that he does not know whether their are real psychics out there or not.  This is in line with skeptical thinking – just because he has never met one does not mean that one is not out there.  I was annoyed about this at first and felt that he should express an opinion.  However, I then realised that this book (despite the content) is not the forum for that debate and he has neatly sidestepped it.

The book is broken down into 6 sections: the first section is about the book itself, the section is a long section on the theory of cold reading and the elements of it, the third section is transcripts of real readings that Ian Rowland has carried out, the fourth (importantly) explains how to block a cold reader, the fifth is “additional notes” and the sixth section gives details on real life non-psychic uses for the techniques and uses a police interrogation as an example.   It is difficult to express the wealth of ideas that the author has put into a seemingly short book.  Cold reading is easy to learn but tricky to master – look at a John Edwards reading as an example of poor cold reading!

At no time does Ian Rowland talk down to you, he is an able teacher with an obviously high regard for his subject.  According to the transcripts provided he has an extremely high success rate (higher than that of professional psychics!) but at no time does he use his knowledge to make money dishonestly.  Some of Derren Brown’s early work was taken from the techniques laid out in the book.  Something else which is very important: this book does not hold back.  I have read books that promise to give you knowledge and discovered that they do the opposite.  Ian Rowland’s book does exactly what it says on the tin.  He explains the techniques and methods.  The book alone can only give you the methods, to properly make this work you need experience, some acting ability and a lot of seemingly trivial knowledge.

If you are interested in cold reading, whether academically, to learn to spot and block it or because you are an unscrupulous sort who wants to fake psychic ability you should definitely add this book to your library.


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  1. Roger says:

    nice post, i think this would be the book i would want to read if i were going to read up on cold reading, thanks for the tip.

    • ray says:

      You should read this. It has legitimate uses, in the book 2 examples are to help police officers during interrogations and also to help sales people to make a sale.

  2. Amyboem says:

    This sounds like a great book. I have been interested in "psychics" ever since my mother was almost bilked out of her savings by a woman who claimed to know about by deceased grandmother. Luckily we found out and stopped the transfer of funds. Please continue to spread the word about these people.

  3. Ray says:

    Good on you for stopping the payment. My aim is to educate as much as possible so that others can see what is going on and to be able to defend themselves against unscrupulous people. This book is an excellent tool to recognise what is happening and to know ways to block it from being used on your self.

  4. Grog says:

    I think that my mother law is bad mouthing me behind my back.
    Will this book help with that.
    If so…Im out the door to buy it.

  5. ray says:

    I'd love to say yes, but the answer is "not likely". :)

  6. This looks like a great book for sure. I am looking for something gripping to read and this looks like something good.

  7. Diety says:

    Why haven't I heard about this book before? I love the subject of cold reading and since you're recommending it I'm gonna head over to amazon. I love freaking people out with my "psychic powers" and I think this book will only make me better. Thanks for a great article.

  8. ray says:

    It is better to get it directly from Ian Rowland. The turnaround is very quick and I doubt Amazon will be much (if at all) cheaper.

  9. CD Mastering says:

    I love the subject of cold reading and since you're recommending it I'm gonna head over to amazon. I am looking for something gripping to read and this looks like something good.

  10. This is one of the best books on the subject. It also has a brief discussion on how the police use cold reading style techniques in suspect interrogations and how pick up artists use cold reading tricks, too. My only problem with the book is that it’s quite pricey. But definitely worth it. You can find snippets of it on YouTube. . . I know you’re thinking of getting it. . .Your prospects look good……

  11. ray says:

    :) Lou – it really is a very good book. As with anything "magical" the knowledge is not enough on it's own, but putting it together with other techniques and a skill for acting makes it very powerful.

  12. What funny examples helping police officers during interrogations and also to helping sales people to make a sale. I can dig the theme.

  13. This looks like a great book for sure. I am looking for something gripping to read and this looks like something good.

  14. I agree with the guy above. Good book.

  15. This is a great book. I love tarot and read a lot about magic and psychics power. cold reading is a great way to have more fun from it :)

  16. Im really into tarot reading, i think ill definitely look into getting this.

  17. I would like to have a read on The Full Facts book of Cold Reading by Ian Rowland. Your review has inspired me to read it. Let me see whether I can master the trick! – Simon

  18. This sounds like an interesting read. I think what Derren Brown does is fascinating but there's no denying that there are real psychics out there just as there are probably many fakes.

    My recent post The Celtic Cross

  19. The full facts on cold reading is an excellent book about the art of cold reading- a defy anyone to read it and to still be convinced by any psychic using these methods- most do, some use "warm reading" which is research or information about their clients. Derren Brown has perfected cold reading and can do a very convincing impersonation of a psychic (see "Messiah?"- a program he where he went to America to convince different people of his "psychic skills").
    My recent post Quiz: How much do you know about Derren Brown? updated Tue Dec 1 2009 3:01 am EST