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Radio Programming and Mind Reading

Author: SPSSI Council; Source: Newsletter, June 1938

Context: Released April 1st

Position Statement: Excerpt taken from Newsletter (see June 1938 Newsletter for full text): “An outstanding feature of the current economic disruption has been the rise of the public interest in mind-reading, clairvoyance, and other alleged supernatural feats of the human mind. Certain radio programs have reflected and greatly stimulated this interest...The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues wishes to warn the public of the danger and fallacies involved in these broadcasts. For two reasons especially these programs are contrary to public interest. 1) Since they sometimes masquerade as “science” and as “psychology” they confuse the uncritical listener and. bring true science and psychology into disrepute. The programs do not offer satisfactory proof of the correctness of the 'facts' they present...2) Occult programs are harmful insofar as they encourage an un-wholesome flight from the persistent problems of life. It is known that people who live thwarted lives and suffer form poverty and ignorance turn readily to magic and mystery as an escape from their own misery...Scientific psychology does not seek to discourage competently conducted experiments upon any of the powers of the mind, but protests all confusion of hearsay evidence with scientifically established fact, even though it might be believed in by the narrator. And it especially warns against programs that imply that people should discard rational thinking in favor of dependence upon hunches and visions.”