It’s pretty obvious that lying to customers to get their money is wrong. It’s even more wrong when the customers involved are desperate. There’s no such thing as a genuine psychic. Nobody — nobody — can read minds, predict the future, or contact the dead. (The James Randi Educational Foundation has long offered a million dollar prize for anyone who can demonstrate genuine psychic ability. That prize is as yet unclaimed.) Some might argue that the ‘psychic’ is really selling entertainment, or comfort, or an opportunity for the client to introspect. That may be true in some cases, but then there is at very least a moral requirement to be up front about that.
OK, so psychics are scam artists, and blatantly unethical. They still make good fodder for discussion of business ethics, because they present a clear case to contrast with other kinds of services, the ethical status of which is less clear. The provision of some types of financial services (investment banking?) might make for good comparisons. >>>
LINK: Seeing Freedom in Their Future, Psychics Reveal All: ‘It’s a Scam, Sir’ (by Michael Wilson in NY Times)
…Celia Mitchell, 38, was pointedly asked … last year: “What is the psychic business? Is it real, or a bunch of baloney?”
She answered, “It’s a scam, sir.”
“The whole thing is a scam?”
Ms. Mitchell would know. She herself was a psychic. But after making a living portraying herself as a vessel of supernatural powers, she was coming clean….
What do you think?
See also: “Psychics as (Unethical) Financial Advisors” and “The Ethics of Unreliable Advice”, (both from the Business Ethics Blog)