The New Yorker used to have a mini-department called The Clouded Crystal Ball: examples of bad predictions taken from “newsbreaks” — little bits of text used to fill a column. In an interview, a friend of mine named Margaret Meklin told of a different sort of clouded crystal ball:
My first job in the U.S. was passing out flyers for a fortune teller on Powell and Market in San Francisco. She did not trust her psychic powers enough to guess who was doing a truly good job (it was me!), so she would periodically hide in the tourist crowds to check if we were passing out flyers quickly and efficiently and to a sufficient number of passersby. She gave a higher pay rate to my co-worker, thinking that he was more productive, but she had no idea that he would simply toss a whole stack of flyers into a trash can when she wasn’t watching him.