Mark Edward, who has probably done more to debunk fake “psychics” and reveal them as the frauds they are than anyone other than James Randi, writes about his experiences with a National Geographic show that insisted that he say that even fake psychics can be good for people. They actually sent him an email with this script:
“_________, _________ and I have been talking about your request to appear tough on psychics. Without a doubt people who charge money to talk to passed spirits are predatory. Everyone on this side of the camera is in complete agreement and we would never want you to say otherwise. We never claim that psychics are real and go so far as to call them con artist. We are crystal clear on this point. Psychics are fake. However, science clearly shows that people who visit “psychics” feel better. I think its fair to say that some healers, even if may be the minority, are honest, have good intentions and actually help people. As a science show it is our job to acknowledge this. _____________, ______and I talked about it and it makes perfect sense for Jake to say the line “AND ACCORDING TO ONE STUDY, 61% OF VISITORS TO PARANORMAL HEALERS REPORT IMPROVEMENT.” However, we feel for story and authenticity reasons we need our expert to acknowledge the positives as well. We need our expert to say something along the lines of “IT’S ALL ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE ENTERTAINMENT, ADVICE, AND MAKING THEM FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEIR TROUBLES. THAT’S RIGHT – IT CAN ACTUALLY HELP PEOPLE.” The line doesn’t need to be exactly that, but the spirit of the line is important to us. It is of the utmost importance to us that our experts express themselves honestly and knowledgeably. We don’t want you to lie. But we need to shoot the segment with the truth as we see it. Thanks for your time. Please let me know how you feel about this area of concern.”
Believe it or not, he had a problem with that. This just makes me feel all the better about leaving skid marks getting away from Science Blogs after NatGeo took over.