analysis of a TV reading. (If you would like to read a
transcript without my commentary first then click here)
going to work through the whole reading one piece at a time. I have
highlighted the text in blue whenever
Colin asks a question. Try as I might I cannot distinguish Colin's
mediumistic gift from cold reading. Perhaps I'm missing something.
CF: “I’ve got this
gentleman trying to connect with me and all he’s putting in
my mind is cheese and chutney sandwiches…” [Colin
looks a little perplexed]
going to start off by being generous. This is really a question
because CF is trying to elicit a response from someone in the audience
- but as I say I’ll let this one go. As to the subject matter,
obviously there is a good chance “cheese and chutney sandwiches”
will have at least some relevance to an assembled studio audience.
Equally I think it’s worth asking why anyone trying to communicate
from beyond the grave, and probably for the first time at that,
would start off with something so vague and utterly trite. The only
exception being if they had some special significance like they
had actually choked to death on one.
does however fit in with cold reading technique i.e. start off with
something general before trying to come up with something more specific.
Note also the phrase, “he’s putting in my mind”.
Presumably Colin can tell the difference between his own thoughts
(i.e. his imagination) and those being transmitted by a dead spirit.
For instance he already knows the sex of the deceased so is he hearing
a voice? If he is then why doesn’t it say something a bit
more comprehensible – like his name! We are also not told
anything about the relationship this gentleman had with cheese and
chutney sandwiches. For example we don’t know if he loved
or hated them. Perhaps he was renowned for making them. This again
is exactly what a cold reader would do: leave plenty of room for
people to come up with their own preferred interpretation.
towards the back row] “There’s something going
on up there, in the very back row…”
I think Colin saw someone talking or a slight reaction and then
homed in – but I couldn’t swear to it without seeing
an unedited clip.
Woman: “My dad used to like
cheese. But he weren’t allowed to eat it.”
dad…” Notice now the sitter has kindly identified the
relationship between her and the deceased. As for the relevance,
excuse me? He liked cheese? Anything about “chutney”
or “sandwiches” here? I think we can all agree that
we know plenty of people who like cheese. But remember if you knew
someone who really didn’t like cheese at all it would still
have fitted in with Colin’s original statement. The only apparent
relevance being that he was unable to eat it. A fact of which Colin
was apparently not aware.
CF: “Right, I’m going
to tell you something really funny. As I’m looking over here,
I can see like a silhouette… of him, or he’s trying
to tell me something… Why can I see
don’t know Colin. Why don’t you ask the person whose
trying to tell you? Already we are using the familiar cold reading
technique of throwing out statements and letting the sitter come
up with the meaning. Again asking ‘why can I see a balaclava’
does not tell us anything about the actual context. If he wore one
himself at sometime during his life – it’s a hit. If
he once wore once in a play – it’s a hit. If he made
his son or daughter wear one to school – it’s a hit.
If his favourite poem was the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’
(Battle of Balaclava) – it’s… well you get the
Woman: “He always used to
wear a balaclava to work.” [audience
Throughout his entire working life? Even in the summer? Did this
really define him as a person? Your dead father returns to speak
to you and he vaguely mentions a balaclava?
CF: “He’s standing
here in front of me, I can only see his silhouette, but what I can
see is this balaclava. That…that’s
the evidence, alright?”
CF: “I can see him more
clearly now. I can see him (words indistinct) standing here in a
pair of Long Johns, a vest and a balaclava. [more
laughter]. A pair of Long Johns, a vest and a balaclava.
Is there some way this is supposed to be evidential
I realize this is meant to be a lighter moment but I cannot imagine
why anyone would use this (especially on television) as a means
of identifying themselves to their daughter. If he constantly walked
around like this then maybe, but the Long Johns (Long John are a
type of underwear for those unfamiliar with the term) make what
should be a tremendous moment become trivial and a little embarrassing.
I for one would not thank a medium for portraying the memory of
my dead father in this way.
Woman: “He used to work
up the masts in ships and he had to wear them”
a pity Colin hadn’t asked, “Why is he showing me a ship?”
then we would all have been as impressed as hell and it would have
been a damn sight more relevant than mentioning his preferred underwear.
Even better, though highly improbable, he could have said, “He’s
showing me a ship which he used to work on. I can see him at the
top of a mast.” I really can’t see any reason why, if
actually in contact with her father, he shouldn’t be able
to come up with something like this. Thus far cold reading would
have achieved just as much.
CF: “Right, okay. And
how many of you are related up here?” [pointing
to back row].
Woman: “He’s my son
and this is my daughter.” [pointing
son] “Okay thank you because that’s relevant
because he’s seen you do something over the last few days.
He says it’s not going to fit any better
by forcing it.”
is really a question because Colin now pauses for the son to respond.
My working definition of a question is if the psychic is trying
to elicit and answer, by whatever means - then it's a question.
Okay let’s be clear what Colin is saying. He asked about who
was related because that fact was relevant. He speaks to the son
so presumably his Granddad has told Colin that this is aimed specifically
at him. The message is that “it’s not going to fit any
better by forcing it”. This is still peppered with ambiguity.
For a start he could have clarified what exactly “it”
was. “Not going to fit” is also vaguer than say “It’s
not going to fit in” or perhaps, “It’s not going
to fit together”. As it is this statement could mean a number
of things. It’s worth emphasizing again that using ambiguous
language is an essential element of successful cold reading.
is it that just won’t go into place or won’t go in properly
and you’ve been trying, I don’t know to force it or
shove it in? [audience
laughter at obvious sexual connotation]. Shows the calibre
of audience I’ve got in. [son
still shows no reaction] Hang on a minute, hang on a minute
[CF speaking as it he’s had a sudden realisation]. This has
shifted. I think I might be making a bit of a mistake. It’s
not… I need to come back to you my love.” [pointing
The son, who to me looks like he is far from convinced about all
this, shows no reaction and worse yet for Colin doesn’t offer
anything he can work with. If only the son had obliged by saying
something like he was trying to move furniture around and it wouldn’t
fit. Alas no such luck so suddenly Colin admits he’s made
a ‘bit of a mistake’ by using the highly ambiguous statement
“This has shifted”. What does that mean? No matter,
it sounds good.
Woman: “Well I’m always
fiddling around with things.”
CF: “No only within the
last few days, I don’t want to go much more than a week. You’ve
said to somebody, ‘Don’t force it’”.
cold reading technique. Colin now increases his chances of making
a hit by widening the possibilities. Note it could now be that the
woman simply told someone not to force something.
Woman: “Well it’s
my husband, he’s trying to get the back off a mobile phone.”
back to son] “I apologise sir, alright. ‘Cause
it just like.. shifted over.
back track a bit here. Firstly it was important to find out who
was related to the mother. Having established this connection the
son was clearly chosen. Next came the presumably important (yet
strangely vague) announcement that “it’s not going to
fit any better by forcing it”. Now we discover that the relatives
on the show are in fact of no relevance at all and Colin may as
well have just continued talking to the mother. Finally Colin gratefully
accepts the woman’s interpretation i.e. that she expressed
some sort of caution to her husband who was not in fact trying to
force something to fit or “shove it in” but was in fact
taking the back off a mobile phone. Her father came back to tell
her that?? Okay believers out there will say that this was merely
to provide something “evidential”. Something Colin could
not have known himself (and clearly didn’t). But there are
far better ways than this surely. All we got was a rather confused
verbal fumbling that ended in a pointless piece of trivia.
you please understand, was Dad involved with an old people’s
club or a senior citizen’s club?”
Woman: “He used to go to
a Labour Club.”
Not an “old people’s club” then. Once again we’re
back on cold reading territory. This is a statement that had it
turned out to be true might have sounded precise and specific but
is of course likely to be true of a great many elderly people.
it mostly older people there?”
please. Notice how “old people’s club/ senior citizens
club” has now become a club that some older people went to.
Did the woman really know the average age of the membership or was
she simply being polite?
CF: “Right okay. Just he’s
saying about a place where all the old codgers were. [audience
laughter] His words not mine. Alright. Okay.
he’s using ‘words’. Colin can hear him. So why
didn’t he hear him say the Labour Club? Not only that but
we never learn why this was supposed to be significant. It was just
a couple of random and fairly pointless questions Colin threw out
that the woman managed to make fit – just.
CF: Right, there’s quite
an emotional feeling he’s giving me here. [at
this point CF’s mood becomes more serious] It’s
almost as if he’s upset for seeing you go through something.
He said, ‘Tell her it wasn’t so bad in the end’.”
starts to cry]
CF: “It… I know it
as if speaking directly to the deceased] alright sir, alright
okay. [back to
woman] I know it looked horrible but in the end it wasn’t
is obviously an emotional pressure point for the woman so, as we
should expect from any cold reader, the statement is repeated so
as to ram the point home. Once the emotions have been triggered
it’s very hard to regain your objectivity. Not being emotionally
involved ourselves we can see that Colin is once again leaving his
options open by not specifying anything at all about this person’s
death. For all we know at this point it could have been a heart
attack, a car crash, an accident on board ship or the final stages
of a long illness (in fact we learn later it is asbestosis). The
sudden switch from the comedic situation with Long Johns and balaclava
to the emotionally charged aspects of his own death seem out of
place to me. Is her father likely to have behaved like this in life?
CF: “And he’s…
upset for you because you thought he was going through so much pain…
and distress at the end.”
staying firmly on the point.
CF: “He’s just saying
honestly love it wasn’t so bad at the end.”
obviously can’t let this point drop. He has mentioned, “it
wasn’t so bad at the end” three times now plus one slight
variation when he says “distress at the end”. At no
time does he expand on the point and give some indication of what
‘the end’ was. It could be argued that he is doing this
to spare the woman emotionally but I find this a little weak considering
how he keeps repeating something that is making her cry.
Woman: “It’s alright.”
CF: “And I am now with my
greatest love, which is what I wanted. Can
you understand that?”
clearly Colin feels unable to commit himself here. He uses the obviously
ambiguous phrase “his greatest love”. I see no reason
to speak this way unless you just haven’t got a clue who his
greatest love was. Her own mother might well be alive. He really
can’t risk saying anything too specific otherwise the whole
verbally contorted edifice could collapse. As it is Colin once again
leaves a variety of possibilities open, mother, wife (and don’t
forget he could have been divorced) sister, son. Considering the
communication Colin has supposedly established with the deceased
man he seems unable to say anything remotely precise. If this is
standard of evidence for post mortem survival they I won’t
be joining the believers just yet.
Woman: “Probably his mother,
the deceased] “What… What… please sir,
once more please. [to
woman] What is this thing about frequent
Woman: “Yeah, he used to
have dozens in his back.”
question. If Colin had been given real information he could have
been a lot bolder. For example he could have said, “He’s
showing me a syringe and is pointing to his back.” In fact
we are about to learn (from the sitter of course, not the medium)
that strictly speaking these weren’t ‘injections’.
They were needles inserted to drain fluid (i.e. extract not inject).
I’ll accept though that in everyday language people might
still use the word ‘injection’. However I probably don’t
need to point this out again but this is yet another ambiguous phrase.
He could have been an insulin dependent diabetic, he could have
been given morphine or even an intravenous drip might be accepted
as being injected.
CF: “Alright. It’s…
the thought he’s giving me is that, absolutely sick of injections.”
a successful hit is being reinforced in order to drive it home.
Colin’s terminology has now moved from actually being told
something e.g. “his words, not mine” back to the more
vague “the thought he’s giving me”.
Woman: “He had to have fluid
drained off his lungs.”
CF: “Alright, okay. He doesn’t
……(indistinct)… to mention significance to you.
He wanted to come and say hello. He wanted to come and express his
love to you and he wanted more than anything to say to you, I know
it looked awful for me at the end but it wasn’t so bad.”
summing up. Yet again we get the “it wasn’t so bad at
the end” As with most mediumistic readings we get told that
the deceased sends their love.
Woman: Thank you.
CF: I’ll leave your dad’s
love and your Granddad’s love with you.
End of reading -----------------
of Information provided
- and by whom
Let’s now have a look at what information was provided and
asked ten questions in all. The unassisted
information he provided was;
Something to do with “cheese and chutney sandwiches”.
This was offered to the entire audience and when it was taken up
the chutney and sandwiches were forgotten. Not really of any significance
at all in my opinion.
2. He could ‘see’ a balaclava but didn’t elaborate
until receiving confirmation.
3. He could also ‘see’ a vest and a pair of Long Johns.
4. Her father’s death “wasn’t so bad at the end”.
Vague and likely to be correct in some way.
5. Your father sends his love. Obvious statement.
haven’t included the old people’s home, the
injections, or “something needed forcing” as these were questions and not statements.
sitter herself provided the following information;
That her father was dead.
2. That he liked cheese but couldn’t eat it.
3. That her father used to wear a balaclava (but not when, how frequently
or how often.
4. He wore Long Johns when working on a ship and climbed a mast.
5. That the two people with her were her son and daughter.
6. That she’s always fiddling around with things.
7. That her father used to go to a Loabour Club.
8. That some of it’s members were old.
9. That her father’s ‘greatest love’ was probably
his mother (and by implication she is dead).
10. That he had his lungs drained via needles inserted into his
this is typical of readings given by Colin Fry on “6ixth Sense”
then I think he’s a pretty poor medium. I did not single out
this reading. It was only the second time I had watched the programme.
I may have a look at some others but carrying out an analysis like
this takes time. First I have to transcribe the reading then type
it up and then finally go through and analyse it. So far I’m
why make people cry on television? Why send them purile messages
that you wouldn't even bother sending by text in life? Well basically
it's 'entertainment'. Here's Living TV's disclaimer.
is an entertainment
opinions exist to the
true nature of clairvoyance
site seems to have gone off line (www.colinfry.com)
but if you prefer you can go one of his courses in Sweden for around £500.
See Colin's college the
College of Spiritual Science and Healing.