“The worst of all deceptions is self-deception” Plato
Within all of us are psychological vulnerabilities that skilled sales people, con artists, politicians or anyone with a premeditated agenda may look to exploit.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for information in a way that confirms preexisting beliefs. Sometimes described as wishful thinking, people display confirmation bias when they gather or remember information selectively or in a biased way. The effect of confirmation bias is more powerful for deeply entrenched-beliefs and emotionally charged issues.
Many people seek out psychics and view psychic claims as confirmatory evidence whether there is any evidence to support them or not—conveniently, psychic visions are all impossible to validate. Cold reading is actually a set of techniques used by self-described psychics, fortune-tellers and mediums to convey that the reader knows much more about the person they’re reading than the reader actually does. Without prior knowledge, a practiced cold-reader can quickly gather a great deal of information by asking questions and analyzing observable characteristics pertaining to a person's body language, age, religion, level of education or place of origin. Skilled cold readers consciously make high-probability guesses, quickly picking up on signals that reveal whether their guesses are on target, and then by emphasizing and reinforcing chance connections and quickly moving on from incorrect guesses. The truth is that people seek out psychics because they want to believe them.
How do you protect yourself from this phenomenon? It starts with your own self-awareness—being mindful of your own biases and recognizing that thoughtful insight is much more helpful to you than having your ego stroked by someone with an ulterior motive. Beware of people who tell you what you want to hear. It’s ok to placate children, but adults need the truth in order to make sound decisions.