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Misuse of Public Airwaves with Psychic Nonsense

Yesterday, I had the displeasure of listening to Pete McMurray (filling in for Steve Cocrhan) on the WGN-AM morning show, in which a Chicago area psychic (her name escapes me) was allowed to spew nonsense on the air for the better part of the 8 a.m. hour.

For the record, I think McMurray is a fine host. That said, I am disappointed for his involvement and endorsement of this psychic reader and her so called “abilities” on the show.

The real “fun” in the hour began after listeners were invited to call in for an on air reading.

Just by knowing the birthday of an individual, this reader could predict that one man’s family turmoil, stemmed from his mother-in-law, will be resolved by next month, that a women going through a job transition now will out of the blue find herself in a radical jump to self employment just after the new year, and that an ex lover is going to resurface in the life of another female participant who called the show. While one of the female callers appeared to be skeptical, the man with the family issues was obviously very relieved after the psychic said the situation would soon be resolved.

Such nonsense becomes dangerous when involving sensitive financial advice or inspiring baseless information pertaining to a missing person or a deceased loved one (i.e. psychic Sylvia Browne on the “Montel Williams Show” telling Amanda Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead).

I’m far past the point of blaming the individual for falling for such nonsense. While they do deserve a share of the blame, I’m placing the brunt of it on the media. It was irresponsible for ABC to hire anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy to co-host “The View,” just as it is dangerous for George Noory to have “expert” guests discussing and promoting alternative medicine on his “Coast to Coast AM” radio program. Montel Williams can never be forgiven for the weekly platform he gave to Sylvia Browne on his then syndicated live talk show. I would have a lesser problem if the above circumstances were at least challenged. The fact such claims go unchallenged is a cardinal sin.

Yesterday’s segment with the psychic reader is far too dangerous to be written off as harmless or just for fun (not helping was Jennifer Weigel calling in and further endorsing this particular psychic). The disclaimer often used by psychics, “for entertainment only,” is how they skirt around potential legality issues.

Such psychics, such as Browne, often charge several hundreds of dollars per reading! Such psychics simply prey on the weak, instilling a false sense of hope and trust, while raking them for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Certainly an expensive form of entertainment.

With WGN looking to restore trust and goodwill, it’s sad that this kind of junk was allowed on the air. The “new” WGN should be better than this. Prior to yesterday, I would have thought both Pete McMurray and Jennifer Weigel were too.

If anything, this is a stark reminder on just how the fight to debunk such nonsense while encouraging the use of critical thinking has a long ways to go.

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