Another popular theory holds that cold reading is all about 'fishing' for clues, which is to say trying to elucidate information from the client without this being obvious. There is an element of truth to this. Cold reading can involve subtle ruses to obtain information (as well as some which are as subtle as a dropped piano).
However, 'fishing' is simply one small part of the complete explanation. What is more, it is simply too bald a description for what is actually involved. The deception lies in the details of how the fishing is accomplished, and how the information obtained is then used in the context of the reading.
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