Anti Program Notes: NPR’s Day to Day succumbs to psychic woo.

This is properly (or at least popularly) PZ Myers territory, but I could not believe my ears this afternoon listening to this story on NPR’s Day to Day broadcast for Wed., November 26.  Four minutes and change of credulous woo on psychic Roxanne Uselman’s burgeoning business as a New York -based psychic offering readings to businessmen and stock jobbers.

Uselman, to her credit, has dropped her prices to accomodate more of the economically challenged — 125 bucks an hour vs. 155 before the downturn.  She’ll even accomodate you by phone if that’s your desire.

Give her credit, though:  she described her work this way:  “What will be for one person, their reading, another person will have another type of reading.  It just depends on what the person, what I channel.  There’s really no logic to it.” (Italics added, of course.)

I have no grief to give to the self-styled psychic here. She’s entitled to believe what she believes, and whatever she believes, to separate the gullible and the desperate from their cash.  Consenting adults and all that.

But NPR?  They should know better.  I’m sure their defense is that the story was really one about the way in which the financial crisis is flowing into truly unexpected corners of the economy, and that’s fine.  But that message could have been sent with a one sentence statement of the fact that psychics are reporting an upturn in money-related questions, used as a lead or tag to a story about a practice that didn’t depend on magical thinking.  Four minutes plus of credulity as Uselman prattled on — even to the point of making a pitch for more business (I’ll do telephones!  If you’re in NY, come on by!) stretches that excuse to the breaking point.

This was an embarrassment.  I’m emailing my distress as a listener.  If I were a science reporter on NPR, I’d put a phone call into the D2D producers right now.  Just sayin’.

Image:  Richard Bergh, “Hypnotic Seance” 1887

Explore posts in the same categories: Journalism and its discontents, media, radio, Stupidity

One Comment on “Anti Program Notes: NPR’s Day to Day succumbs to psychic woo.”


  1. That stock jobbers are taking advice from psychics perhaps explains the market’s performance.


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