Fortunetellers, also known as psychic readers and advisors, have long sought to divine people's past and future, characterize their personality, and offer advice to those desiring it. The so-called Gypsies made something of an art of it, practicing what is known as "cold reading"— a clever method of fishing for information from the sitter so as to convince the person that the seer knows all about him or her. (See Ray Hyman, "Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers that You Know All About Them," The Zetetic, now Skeptical Inquirer, Spring/Summer 1977, pp. 18-37.)
This early 1900s photo shows a fortuneteller reading a client's palm in a tent at a fair (probably in upstate New York). Her scarf-covered head suggests that she was, or feigned to be, a Gypsy. (The term applies to a wandering people once thought to have come from Egypt— hence the corruption "Gypsies." Actually, they originated in northwest India and in the fourteenth century settled in and around present-day Romania; hence they prefer to be called Romanies or Roma.