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What Are The Ethics Of CR?

Cold reading is ethically neutral. Like a sharp knife, it can be used for helpful or harmful purposes, depending on the values and intentions of the person using it.

Cold reading is sometimes used to give readings with a psychic, psychological or mentalist flavour. In this context, I only promote and encourage cold reading which is:

  • positive, responsible and benign
  • intended to help people to make sense of their life, as well as providing entertainment and, sometimes, fun
  • intended to help people to feel happy, relaxed and confident about themselves, their potential, their relationships, their future and their ambitions

Cold reading can also be used in other contexts that have nothing to do with giving readings. I call this Applied Cold Reading, or ACR for short. I teach ACR to people involved in sales, management, negotiation, teaching, therapy, criminal interrogation and countless other areas. Every time I teach ACR, I say its purpose is to:

  • promote good communication, rapport and understanding
  • ensure that each conversation results in a positive emotional experience for both parties

These are my values, and the values of this website, The Cold Reading Connection. I am also fascinated by the parallels between cold reading and other aspects of good, successful communication, such as the psychology of influence and persuasion, which is why I occasionally delve into these areas.

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Aren't all 'psychic' claims just irrational nonsense?

I try to take a friendly, respectful view towards all views and opinions, as far as I can. I know some people feel that all 'psychic' claims are irrational nonsense, so let me address this point.

First of all, not all people who use cold reading claim to be psychic, and not everyone who claims to be psychic uses cold reading. It is important to bear this distinction in mind.

Secondly, 'psychic ability' is not a well-defined term. It means different things to different people. I have met people for whom 'a psychic' just means, 'someone I like talking to because they give me a broader perspective on my problems, and I find their advice very reassuring'. I have met others who would say 'psychic' just means. 'having plenty of life experience to offer'. Given that there are as many definitions of 'psychic' as you care to look for, it's important to define one's terms clearly before asserting that something does or does not exist. It would be silly to suggest that warm, friendly advice doesn't exist.

Personally, I favour the rational, scientific view. Let us say 'psychic ability' refers to the transmission of information without the use of any normal sensory apparatus (sight, hearing etc.). My understanding is that there is currently no good reason to suppose that psychic powers exist, or have ever been demonstrated. I believe this is the prevailing consensus among the great majority of scientists and researchers who have seriously studied the subject, although there are those who disagree.

This is the view that I take. However, I don't know everything and I could be wrong. Also, as I have pointed out above, one does not need to believe in psychic ability to think that readings can be benign, worthwhile and helpful. Not all readers profess to be 'psychic'.

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Do some readers exploit people and charge extortionate amounts of money?

Yes, this does happen and I wholeheartedly condemn it. But it is the extortion that is wrong, not the cold reading.

Suppose there is a hairdresser in your area who charges a fair amount for a haircut - an amount that just about everyone can afford to pay. There may be other hairdressers who charge a bit more or a bit less. Now, suppose a 'rogue' hairdresser sets up shop and somehow convinces someone to pay a huge, extortionate amount for a haircut. This is extortion, and it is wrong. But this doesn't mean there is anything wrong with offering a hairdressing service.

It's the same with cold reading. Many readers give readings for free. Many charge a fee that their clients can very comfortably afford. Some try to extort large amounts of money from people. It is the extortion that is wrong, not the practise of offering readings.

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But readings are rubbish, and a waste of money!

You may think so, but it's a matter of personal opinion.

We live in a free market economy: anyone can provide a service and others can choose to pay for that service or not. You may think money spent on a reading (of any kind) is wasted. Others might feel the same way about things that you spend money on. I am amazed that people spend money on cigarettes, or watching a soccer match, or having their fingernails painted. However, I accept that other people may feel differently.

Some people see readings as just as bit of fun and entertainment. Some people get a lot of value and satisfaction from readings. Some people see readings as a relatively inexpensive form of therapy. So long as those who pay for readings do so of their own free will, without coercion, then I see it as simply the free market in action.

I make my choices in life, you make yours, other people make theirs.

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