Sunday, December 02, 2007

Penn & Teller & cold reading

Janet and I caught the Penn & Teller show at the Rio awhile back, and they did a great presentation of cold reading skills. They are the masters of illusion and quite funny. Check out this youtube video where Penn & Teller gets hippies to sign a petition to ban water!

Janet with Penn Jillette & Ray Teller

Penn & Teller are our kind of folks (Penn loves South Park), and they know that the really amazing thing about a cold reading is the reality that you can learn to read facial expression with amazing accuracy.

In their show they made a point of noting that all psychics are charlatans and frauds, and that the ability to read human expressions is far more fascinating than the magical explanation.

Psychological studies conform that women are far better at cold reading then men which explains why the majority of psychics are female.

Male poker players study for years at reading “tells”, and it’s fascinating that our animal cousins are often better at reading human emotions that humans. Horses are exceptionally skilled at reading human emotions.

Clever Hans

Back in 1891 a horse named Clever Hans made headlines with his counting skills, and thousands of people were in awe at his mathematical skills. It was not until Hans was “debunked” by Oskar Pfungst that people learned that his real skills were far more fascinating than counting.

Pfungst proved that Hans was cold reading his audience, picking-up on subtle cues from the audience that they could not perceive, more anazing than counting.

The horse “Lady Wonder” was acclaimed as a “psychic horse” because of her skill at reading human emotions.

Horse Sense and the cold read

Janet has been able to train horses as seeing-eye animals because she has worked for years at understanding the non-verbal skills of equines. Horses communicate non verbally, and they have developed amazing skills at reading humans.

Dan & Cuddles have been together for 7 years now, and their symbiosis is incredible. Dan says that all he has to do is think about where he wants to go and Cuddles will take him there, but in reality Cuddles has learned his subtle non-verbal cues.

Dan & Cuddles stroll in NYC

In just a few years, Dan & Cuddles will become the worlds longest guide animal couple (horses live to be over 30 years old), and it will be great to see how well Cuddles learns Dan’s body language.

Symbiosis between man & horse