Christianity Admin on 29 Nov 2006 01:38 am
If you listen to NPR and if you are interested in the economy, you are probably familiar with the show called “Marketplace”. This is a show that normally discusses business, stocks, economic news, etc. in a rational, intelligent way.
Tonight they deviated from their normal format and aired a commentary by Mike Hickcox, who works for United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee. Mike talked about St. Joseph. According to Mike, he was able to sell his house, even in a poor real estate market, by burying a statue of St. Joseph in his yard.
Yes, that’s right. Otherwise intelligent adults were discussing the use of a buried figurine to improve home sales. And NPR was willing to waste 2 minutes of air time promoting this superstition. Here’s what Mike had to say:
“we dropped St. Joe into his basement sales office next to the For Sale sign on a Saturday morning anyway. Lo and behold, people viewed the house on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, we got an offer.
I can’t say I’m a believer, but what can you do?
Our directions told us to dig up our very own Underground Real Estate Agent and take him with us when we moved. We did.
We’ve made an offer on a new house. The instructions tell us to put St. Joseph in a place of honor when we get there. We will.”
This is a classic illusion. It is very similar to the jug of milk illusion, and just as ridiculous. Here is a basic fact of life when selling a house: eventually, every house that needs to get sold gets sold. What happens is that you put the house on the market, and if it doesn’t sell in a month, you lower the price, or you put on a new coat of paint, or you change the ad, or… And guess what – the house eventually sells.
Burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard has no effect on that process. If it did, then people who used St. Joseph would be able to get substantially more money for their homes in substantially less time than people who didn’t, and that fact would be statistically obvious to everyone by now.
The fact is, whether you use Saint Joseph or not, your home is going to sell. Every rational, intelligent person knows that. The belief in St. Joseph is pure, unadulterated superstition.
Why did NPR run the story? Because a story like this gives NPR a way to pander to the superstitious religious people in the audience. NPR has been doing a fair amount of that lately, as has Time magazine and most other media outlets. In November of this year, half of Time’s cover stories dealt with religion:
and just a few weeks prior there was this:
It is amazing to see intelligent people believing in rank superstition. And it is even more amazing to see media outlets like NPR and Time pandering to them.