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"You had an accident when you were a child involving water."

  1. Oct 13, 2014 #1
    I was reading the Wikipedia article on cold reading and came across this statement in the list of "Barnum statements" that can be used during cold readings. A "Barnum statement" is a statement that sounds specific but is actually applicable to most people.

    This particular one about having an accident involving water as a child really strikes me as too specific to apply to most people. The fact that, I, myself, did have an accident involving water as a kid does not change this. We went swimming once at a local lake. Someone had thrown a broken bottle in the water and I stepped on it. We had to abandon the swimming to take me to the doctor to get stitches.

    That, of course, strikes me as a pretty specific sort of accident that wouldn't apply to most people. In other words, the suggestion of 'an accident involving water' becomes erroneously specified in my mind to 'cutting your foot on a broken bottle while playing in the water,' and I would credit a psychic who threw that out with being much more specific than they actually were. Which makes this particular Barnum statement an especially effective one: you unconsciously recast it to have described your particular childhood accident involving water.

    Anyway, I would like to ask people to post reports of their accidents during childhood involving water. Just about everyone should have one.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2014 #2
    Cut my toe on a broken tile in a swimming pool.
     
  4. Oct 13, 2014 #3

    jedishrfu

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    swallowed some water while swimming in deep water, choked a bit and then coughed it up...
     
  5. Oct 13, 2014 #4
    I often drank water in the swimming pool, I do now too. It seems inevitable in every swimming. Some enter even my nostrils then heat them up.
    I have not met anyone aquaphobia before.
     
  6. Oct 13, 2014 #5

    julian

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    As a toddler brought a kettle of boiler water down on myself. In person wouldn't have to be psychic though cus left a big scare - not anywhere that mattered though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  7. Oct 13, 2014 #6

    Borek

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    Cut my knee on something. Not that I would treat it as an "accident", but if someone were suggestive enough and I would want to help them, it would do.
     
  8. Oct 13, 2014 #7

    lisab

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    I had several mishaps.

    One very early memory is getting hit by a large wave at the beach. It knocked me off my feet and the current rolled me out towards the ocean. I remember my mom grabbing my arm and pulling me up out of the water. I was maybe 3.

    When I was six, I could swim well. We were visiting a pool I hadn't been to before. It looked about two feet deep so I jumped in. Dang refraction! I was shocked to discover it was well over my head, but I was so disoriented all I did was flounder. The lifeguard had to save me!

    Several more, but I really wasn't a child for those.
     
  9. Oct 13, 2014 #8

    julian

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    I think mine is the best - Freddy Krueger arm. I would be the example that propagates as an awesome hit by some psychic and makes a good story. Yeah I've heard this off the Richard Dawkins interviewing Derren Brown.

    .
     
  10. Oct 13, 2014 #9

    jbunniii

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    Does peeing in the swimming pool count as an "accident"?
     
  11. Oct 13, 2014 #10

    Borek

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    Only if you pee from the springboard.
     
  12. Oct 13, 2014 #11
    Yes, I think the story of how the psychic knew about your accident would surely spread as proof of their ability. Derren Brown is particularly bothered by psychics who prey on people's misfortunes this way. (You would, of course, have paid something like 40 Pounds for the reading.)


    I know a girl who leaned up against a railing at Disneyland and the railing broke. She wasn't hurt, but she said it made her feel enormously fat (which she wasn't). She told me there wasn't a day that goes by when she doesn't think about the incident ( and this was 6-7 years later). So, if peeing in a pool were somehow traumatic for some overly sensitive person, it's what they'd think of when the psychic said "accident involving water."
     
  13. Oct 13, 2014 #12

    Dembadon

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    I feel like many people will automatically assume an accident involving a body of water, when the statement does not preclude many other possible scenarios:
    • Spilling water on an expensive electronic device
    • Slipping in a puddle of water and hitting one's head on a hard surface
    • Spilling boiling water on someone
    • etc.
    My first time surfing I got caught in a rip-tide and almost drowned due to exhaustion. I didn't know to swim parallel with the shore to get out of it, and spent a lot of energy trying to swim against it back to shore.
     
  14. Oct 13, 2014 #13

    Evo

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    I fell through a "sand hole" while wading at the beach, if my mother hadn't been standing next to me and reacted so quickly, I could have been drowned.
     
  15. Oct 13, 2014 #14
    I was backing up on an above ground pool deck to get a running start to jump into the pool, and fell off the back. I fell into some soft dirt, but cut my back on some razor wire and my liver was hanging out. Actually it was just some leaves that left a red mark on my skin. I was fine.
     
  16. Oct 13, 2014 #15
    I'm not actually finding there's enough response to be confident you could say this to almost anyone and get a hit.
     
  17. Oct 14, 2014 #16

    Evo

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    Make a poll, it seems to me most respondents in this thread had water incidents, but that's skewed by asking people that have had incidents as opposed to saying they didn't. Also, just by asking the question, the so-called 'psychics' are implanting the idea into the victims minds that they had an experience. It's no surprise that people that seek out a "medium/psychic" are already "open/gullible" to suggestion.
     
  18. Oct 14, 2014 #17

    julian

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    Here is the Dawkins/Brown interview: They talk about cold reading and Barnum statements including the water comment. I listen to Derren Brown explain stuff but I'm not confident in everything he says - but then his TV/live shows (still on TV though) he manages to pull it off...That could be just editing and of course in TV shows selection of participants - I have never been to one of his live shows.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
  19. Oct 14, 2014 #18
    The thread's had 152 views, but only ten people, including myself, have anything like a water accident to report.
    If you artificially convince someone they had a water accident they didn't actually have, it won't have the aura of wonder about it of you, the psychic, having "known" they cut their foot on a broken bottle at the beach, or whatever specific incident they misremember you as having mentioned. The artificially convinced person would just walk away wondering why they don't remember this accident involving water the psychic found so important. The point of a Barnum statement is to state something that applies to most people, but which most people don't realize applies to most people. That's the trick, not convincing them they had an experience they didn't. The latter would be a different sort of trick (and probably harder to pull off).
     
  20. Oct 14, 2014 #19

    Astronuc

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    I did fall into a pool in the shallow end, and came to an abrupt stop when my head slammed into the bottom. I can't remember if I dove in, fell or was pushed. All I remember is that it felt like someone hit me in the head with a hammer.

    I have inadvertently swallowed a mouthful of seawater when a big wave hit me, and I have been slammed into the seafloor by big waves. Not so much accidents, as events.

    While not an accident, when I was about 11 or 12, I was almost drowned by a mentally challenged individual (young adult) who did not seem to realize that I was not a toy (it was at a summer camp for mentally challenged individuals, and I was there with one of the children of a staff member). He kept grabbing me and holding me underwater. Fortunately someone realized what was going on and got me out of there. I was about to lose consciousness.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
  21. Oct 14, 2014 #20
    All of his live shows were recorded in real time and can be seen on YouTube. (I guess these are shown on British TV after the tours end. The recordings are professional quality, anyway, not pirate quality.) He does an outright "psychic reading" routine on volunteers from the audience in the most recently released, Infamous. He's actually much better at it than most TV psychics.

    But then there's this weird little episode from his TV series, Trick of the Mind:



    He doesn't come right out and say, "You had an accident involving water as a child." He's more careful and cold reads up to it, casting a wide net and watching the guy for little signals.
     
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