Monday, July 31, 2017

Cold reading and vague phrasing (Post #3)

For a laugh my friends and I visited a psychic on the AC boardwalk. We were told that as a group that we were close together but in danger of coming apart. That we have a good relationship with each other, but sometimes can be at odds. And finally, that you’ve known each other longer than you’ve known most people. All of these were correct, but at the same time, they could have applied to anyone at all. Literally anybody who walked in could have been told this.

The above clip by Darren Brown highlights this phenomenon perfectly, where he explains “cold reading” and how people become manipulated into confirming what the “psychic” is saying. It all goes back to that axiom where mankind looks for meaning in everything. A psychic saying that “you’ve got extroverted qualities but sometimes you’re introverted,” basically isn’t saying anything at all. It’s up to the person being told this to apply it to themselves and either confirm or deny, which makes it hard to do when the phrasing is so vague.

Advertisers use vague language as well on packaging and commercials in order to trick gullible consumers. They use “guaranteed” by itself, when not specifying what’s guaranteed at all. The label of “nutritious” can be applied to any food as long as it has some percentage of necessary vitamins. For instance Vitamin Water has been notorious in its advertising by being purposefully misleading in its product. It’s mostly sugar water but solely by its name, consumers are tricked into thinking it’s a healthy drink alternative.

-Joon Lee-


  1. This reminds me of one YouTube video were some kids did a psychic readings on some people, but they had people behind the scenes look up their Facebook info and relayed it to the kids to get accurate readings on the customers. Vagueness in the answers is a huge part of these readings, but people can simply look up people behind the scenes because everyone seems to post about themselves online now a days .

  2. I also went to a psychic on a boardwalk but at Seaside. My friends and I went for fun to see what she would tell us. As expected, she told us many general and vague statements. She used generalization in order to make the phrases seem personal because it could most likely relate to an issue or fact of our life. She said things like "You need to stand up for yourself more" or "You just experienced a difficult situation". Very general and vague so we could just find a situation in our life to relate to that statement.