The Clouded Crystal Ball: A Psychic and Her Employees

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.​

8 Responses to “The Clouded Crystal Ball: A Psychic and Her Employees”

  1. Cliff Styles Says:

    This post is a fragment of poetic perfection, thanks Seth.

  2. Three Pipe Problem Says:

    I’ve gone into hundreds of [fortune-teller's parlors], and have been
    told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman
    getting ready to arrest her.
    – New York City detective

  3. Christopher Burd Says:

    Is fortune-telling illegal in New York?

  4. shtove Says:

    It’s all about data and how to unhide them.

    Barry Ritholz has a post on a new site to track financial pundits:

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/02/pundit-tracker/

  5. dearieme Says:

    Ahoy, Seth. Steve Sailer (the most interesting journalist in the US?) has just blogged a piece on “priming” in social psychology: another case of phoney science?

  6. dearieme Says:

    Ahoy, Seth. Steve Sailer (the most interesting journalist in the US?) has just blogged a piece on “priming” in social psychology: another case of phoney science?

  7. dearieme Says:

    Ahoy again, Seth. Cardiobrief has linked to this diet paper.
    http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8707

  8. … | Glen Davis Says:

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