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Fortune-telling

Fortune-telling is the practice of predicting the future, usually of an individual, through mystical or supernatural means. It is often conflated with the religious practice known as divination. Common methods used of fortuen telling include astrology, tarot card reading, and palmistry. Variations of fortune-telling are found throughout the world. Typical topics that fortune-tellers make predictions on include future romantic, financial, and childbearing prospects.

In contemporary Western culture[?], it appears that the majority of users of fortune-tellers are women; some indication of this should be the profusion of advertisements for commercial fortune-telling services in magazines aimed at women, whilst such advertisements are virtually unknown in magazines aimed specifically at men. Telephone consultations with psychics (charged to the caller's telephone account at very high rates) grew in popularity through the 1990s.

Fortune-telling is regarded as pseudoscience by virtually all scientists. They believe its popularity and anecdotal accuracy is explained by several factors. In the first place, predictions are almost always vague and not falsifiable. Confirmation bias predisposes people to look for cases where predictions can be interpreted as accurate more than they look to find inaccurate ones. Consumers of fortune tellers may also fail to realise that statements made about them might be true, but would be equally true about most other people (for instance, the statement "you fought with your parents sometimes as a teenager" is true for a large majority of people). Finally, fortune-tellers are usually skilled at reading people and telling them what they wish to hear. This technique is known as "cold reading".

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