Although most readers don't generally need to resort to it, information about the client can be gathered in advance of the reading using methods collectively termed "hot reading". Hyman (1977) describes one form of hot reading when he outlines how
If the reading is through appointment, the reader can use directories and other sources to gather information. When the client enters the consulting room, an assistant can examine the coat left behind (and often the purse as well) for papers, notes, labels, and other such cues about socioeconomic status, and so on. (p. 405).
Where the reading is held in the client's own home, this advance scouting for information can be very calculated.
At some point, get up and say that you want a .. glass of water. Go into the kitchen and fill the glass. You are alone in the kitchen and you can stay there only a few seconds. But while you are there, find the calendar or notepad that is usually pinned up near the phone, the refrigerator or the back door. On it you will find a wealth of information about appointments, scheduled events involving your host or his family, peoples' names, phone numbers, etc...if you can get to the medicine chest, look for prescription drugs. Pain killers, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, drugs used in geriatric cases, all tell you something about his life... Knowing the name on the drug label, you know whether the patient is the host or his wife..
Remember that any means is considered fair by the psychic hustler. You are trying to piece together a picture of your host's life and you are using every means to achieve the desired end. Everything is a clue, even the number of toothbrushes in the bathroom. You are doing nothing more than a detective does when trying to construct a picture of a victim's life, but of course your goal is entirely different. The detective is out to catch the culprit, but your aim is to set up the mark. (Fuller, 1980, pp. 13-14).
Keene (1976: 43-44) recounts a similar episode in his own past as a pseudopsychic. Lyons & Truzzi (1991, footnotes 60 & 61, p. 288) illustrate how organised this can be when they list professional and 'underground' sources which are often intended for the private detective market but which can be exploited by pseudopsychics. These books run under titles such as How to get anything on anybody (Lapin, 1983), and outline methods for locating individuals and finding out about them. Keene (1976) also describes how the network of pseudopsychics themselves can be used as an information-sharing resource, by exchanging files containing personal details of regular sitters. Among themselves, mediums often refer to such files on sitters as their 'poems' or 'poetry', to be meditated upon immediately prior to a sitting. These poems often adopt a standard format:
A cross beside a name means the individual is dead; a circle, that he's alive. A heart next to the name indicates someone with whom the sitter was in love. "G.G." next to "Blue Star" would mean that a medium had assigned the sitter a girl spirit-guide named Blue Star. (Keene, 1976, p. 38).
Jones (1989) has devoted whole chapters to describing how information supplied by a prospective client in booking an appointment can give an insight into their circumstances. For example, he lists eleven pieces of information which may be found on a cheque, should the client pay in advance. These include: postdated cheques indicating the imminent receipt or deposit of money; outsize cheques indicating that the client runs her own business; cheques under a pseudonym often indicating employment in the entertainment world. When presented within the framework of the psychic reading, information derived from these sources can be accurate and specific enough to be very difficult for the client to account for except in terms of the reader's claimed psychic ability.
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