Hot reading is a technique used when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. In hot reading, the reader uses information about the person receiving the reading (for example, from background research or overhearing a conversation) which the receiver is not aware that the reader already knows. Hot reading is commonly used in conjunction with cold reading (where no previously gathered information is used) and can explain how a psychic reader can get a specific claimed "hit" of accurate information.
This technique is used by some television psychics in conjunction with cold reading. The psychics may have clients schedule their appearance ahead of time, and then collect information using collaborators who pose as religious missionaries, magazine sales people, or similar roles. Such visitors can gain a wide understanding of a person from examining their home. The "psychic" may then be briefed on the information, and told where the person will sit in the audience.
A 2001 Time article reported that psychic John Edward allegedly used hot reading on his television show, Crossing Over, where an audience member who received a reading was suspicious of prior behavior from Edward's aides, who had struck up conversations with audience members and asked them to fill out cards detailing their family trees. In December 2001, Edward was alleged to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline, where a reading for a cameraman was based on knowledge gained in conversation some hours previously, yet presented as if he was unaware of the cameraman's background. In his 2001 book, John Edward denied ever using foreknowledge, cold or hot reading.
Example of hot reading
Independent Investigation Group IIG director James Underdown writes that in one of the live shows of Beyond they witnessed, James Van Praagh was observed signing books and chatting with a woman he learned was from Italy. During the taping he asked that same section if there was "someone from another country". To the TV audience this would have looked impressive when she raised her hand, we knew that he had used the hot reading technique of gaining foreknowledge.
Warm reading is a performance tool used by professional mentalists and psychic scam artists. While hot reading is the use of foreknowledge and cold reading is the use of general presumptions common to human experience, warm reading refers to the judicious use of Barnum effect statements (also known as Forer effect).
Peter Huston originated this phrase in his book More Scams from the Great Beyond!: How to Make Even More Money Off of Creationism, Environmentalism, Fringe Politics, Weird Science, the Occult, and Other Strange Beliefs.
When these psychological tricks are used properly, the statements give the impression that the mentalist, or psychic scam artist, is intuitively perceptive and psychically gifted. In reality, the statements fit nearly all of humanity, regardless of gender, personal opinions, age, epoch, culture or nationality.
Warm reading is sometimes used to refer to "utilizing known principles of psychology that apply to nearly everyone" while doing a psychic reading. Michael Shermer uses the expression this way. What Shermer gives as an example of warm reading, Ray Hyman and Ian Rowland would give as an example of cold reading. Shermer notes that many grieving people will wear a piece of jewelry that has a connection to their deceased loved one. To claim to get some sort of message about a piece of jewelry belonging to the deceased while doing a reading will often shock a client, who will make the connection and take your message as a sign you have made contact with the other side.
- Robert Todd Carroll. "Hot Reading". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
- Colin Hunter. "Cold Reading: Confessions of a 'Psychic'". Skeptic Report. Archived from the original on 2007-09-23. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
- Secrets of Psychics Revealed, NBC (2003)
- Stagnaro, Angelo. Something from Nothing. Manipulix Books. 2004.
- Leon Jaroff (2001-02-25). "Talking to the Dead". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
- Joe Nickell. "John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved". CSICOP. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
- Edward, John (2001). Crossing Over. Jodere Group. ISBN 1-58872-002-0.
- Underdown, James (Sept–Oct 2003). "TV psychics John Edward and John Van Praagh". Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 27 (5): 41–45.
- "How come TV psychics seem so convincing?". The Straight Dope. 2003-11-18. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
- Huston, Peter. (2002). More Scams from the Great Beyond!: How to Make Even More Money Off the Creationism, Evolution, Environmentalism, Fringe Politics, Weird Science, the Occult, and Other Strange Beliefs. Paladin Press. ISBN 1-58160-354-1
- Robert Todd Carroll. "Warm Reading". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-02-10.