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Though the term 'science' has only meant what it does to us for around 600 years, its practice far predates the name. There is evidence pre-Aristotle which indicates soothsayers, mystics and the like may have employed basic scientific methods to predict the future and confound their benefactors.

One anecdote concerns a palm-reader who was exposed when two wealthy clients compared their readings and found them to be identical. In 1948 the tendency to discover deep personal meaning in vague descriptions delivered authoritatively was given a name: the 'Forer effect'. Today it is recognised in all contemporary psychological theory.