An analysis of a TV reading. (If you would like to read a transcript without my commentary first then click here)
Im 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. You decide.
CF: Ive got this gentleman trying to connect with me and all hes putting in my mind is cheese and chutney sandwiches [Colin looks a little perplexed]
Im 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 Ill 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 its 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.
This 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, hes 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 doesnt 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 dont 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.
CF: [pointing towards the back row] Theres something going on up there, in the very back row
Personally I think Colin saw someone talking or a slight reaction and then homed in but I couldnt swear to it without seeing an unedited clip.
Woman: My dad used to like cheese. But he werent allowed to eat it.
My 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 didnt like cheese at all it would still have fitted in with Colins 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, Im going to tell you something really funny. As Im looking over here, I can see like a silhouette of him, or hes trying to tell me something Why can I see a balaclava
I dont know Colin. Why dont 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 its a hit. If he once wore once in a play its a hit. If he made his son or daughter wear one to school its a hit. If his favourite poem was the Charge of the Light Brigade (Battle of Balaclava) its well you get the idea.
Woman: He always used to wear a balaclava to work. [audience laughter]
Always 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: Hes standing here in front of me, I can only see his silhouette, but what I can see is this balaclava. Thatthats 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 for you
Okay 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
Such a pity Colin hadnt 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, Hes showing me a ship which he used to work on. I can see him at the top of a mast. I really cant see any reason why, if actually in contact with her father, he shouldnt 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: Hes my son and this is my daughter. [pointing to each].
CF: [To son] Okay thank you because thats relevant because hes seen you do something over the last few days. He says its not going to fit any better by forcing it.
This 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 lets 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 its 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 Its not going to fit in or perhaps, Its not going to fit together. As it is this statement could mean a number of things. Its worth emphasizing again that using ambiguous language is an essential element of successful cold reading.
Son: [No response]
CF: What is it that just wont go into place or wont go in properly and youve been trying, I dont know to force it or shove it in [audience laughter at obvious sexual connotation]. Shows the calibre of audience Ive got in. [son still shows no reaction] Hang on a minute, hang on a minute [CF speaking as it hes had a sudden realisation]. This has shifted. I think I might be making a bit of a mistake. Its not I need to come back to you my love. [pointing to mother]
Whoaaa. The son, who to me looks like he is far from convinced about all this, shows no reaction and worse yet for Colin doesnt 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 wouldnt fit. Alas no such luck so suddenly Colin admits hes 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 Im always fiddling around with things.
CF: No only within the last few days, I dont want to go much more than a week. Youve said to somebody, Dont force it.
More 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 its my husband, hes trying to get the back off a mobile phone.
CF: [Referring back to son] I apologise sir, alright. Cause it just like.. shifted over.
Lets 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 its 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 womans 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 didnt). 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.
CF: "Would you please understand, was Dad involved with an old peoples club or a senior citizens club
Woman: He used to go to a Labour Club.
Not an old peoples club then. Once again were 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.
CF: Was it mostly older people there
Oh please. Notice how old peoples 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 hes saying about a place where all the old codgers were. [audience laughter] His words not mine. Alright. Okay.
So hes using words. Colin can hear him. So why didnt 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, theres quite an emotional feeling hes giving me here. [at this point CFs mood becomes more serious] Its almost as if hes upset for seeing you go through something. He said, Tell her it wasnt so bad in the end.
Woman: [Woman starts to cry]
CF: It I know it looked [then, as if speaking directly to the deceased] alright sir, alright okay. [back to woman] I know it looked horrible but in the end it wasnt so bad.
This 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 its 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 persons 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 hes upset for you because you thought he was going through so much pain and distress at the end.
Still staying firmly on the point.
CF: Hes just saying honestly love it wasnt so bad at the end.
He obviously cant let this point drop. He has mentioned, it wasnt 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: Its alright.
CF: And I am now with my greatest love, which is what I wanted. Can you understand that
Now 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 havent got a clue who his greatest love was. Her own mother might well be alive. He really cant 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 dont 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 wont be joining the believers just yet.
Woman: Probably his mother, yeah.
CF: [to the deceased] What What please sir, once more please. [to woman] What is this thing about frequent injections
Woman: Yeah, he used to have dozens in his back.
Another question. If Colin had been given real information he could have been a lot bolder. For example he could have said, Hes 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 werent injections. They were needles inserted to drain fluid (i.e. extract not inject). Ill accept though that in everyday language people might still use the word injection. However I probably dont 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. Its the thought hes giving me is that, absolutely sick of injections.
Again a successful hit is being reinforced in order to drive it home. Colins terminology has now moved from actually being told something e.g. his words, not mine back to the more vague the thought hes giving me.
Woman: He had to have fluid drained off his lungs.
CF: Alright, okay. He doesnt (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 wasnt so bad.
Colins summing up. Yet again we get the it wasnt so bad at the end As with most mediumistic readings we get told that the deceased sends their love.
Woman: Thank you.
CF: Ill leave your dads love and your Granddads love with you.
----------- End of reading -----------------
Summary of Information provided - and by whom
Lets now have a look at what information was provided and by whom.
Colin asked ten questions in all. The unassisted information he provided was;
1. 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 didnt elaborate until receiving confirmation.
3. He could also see a vest and a pair of Long Johns. As above.
4. Her fathers death wasnt so bad at the end. Vague and likely to be correct in some way.
5. Your father sends his love. Obvious statement.
I havent included the old peoples home, the injections, or something needed forcing as these were questions and not statements.
The sitter herself provided the following information;
1. That her father was dead.
2. That he liked cheese but couldnt 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 shes always fiddling around with things.
7. That her father used to go to a Loabour Club.
8. That some of its members were old.
9. That her fathers greatest love was probably his mother (and by implication she is dead).
10. That he had his lungs drained via needles inserted into his back.
If this is typical of readings given by Colin Fry on 6ixth Sense then I think hes 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 Im not impressed.
So 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.
This is an entertainment
Differing opinions exist to the
true nature of clairvoyance
Colin's official 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 International College of Spiritual Science and Healing.