This week, the Cartoon Network is broadcasting a children’s ghost-hunting show called The Othersiders. Following in the footsteps of those incredibly stupid paranormal shows on other channels, The Othersiders has children walking through creepy buildings at night with loads of high-tech equipment, with them pretending to interpret meaningless data or quibbling over non sequiturs. The $3000 microphone picked an unexplained farting sound; must be a ghost. The electromagnetic field detector indicated electrical activity near the toaster; must be the devil himself.
What’s doubly ridiculous about this show is that it has actually offended some of the professional, ghost hunters, but not for the reason it bothers reasonable people. They don’t like the idea of children handling the dangerous paranormal. Here’s a quote:
All it will take is one of these kids getting attacked and traumatized for life and all these underage shows will be removed overnight from the network. Until that happens, let’s protect them by not making the focus of Cartoon Networks new season an underage ghost hunting show. TV will not be there when stories surface of kids getting hurt while ghosthunting after watching this show. These shows are role models for this next generation of ghosthunters. . . . if we let them watch alone, we are responsible for what happens, especially if it is later determined to be dangerous.
The only danger I see in this farce is that children are being taught to act like fightened gullible sheep. Of course, there is the risk of someone tripping in the dark and falling down some stairs. But hopefully, what most of these kids will walk away with is a good laugh.
I didn’t say animal rights are stupid. I said PETA is a stupid organization. Animal rights are great. It’s the anti-intellectual buffoons who run PETA who bother me. They make the rest of us liberals look bad. The main reason is that PETA members bend reality to fit their views instead of the other way round. PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk, in order to spread the word about vegetarianism, has repeatedly made several baseless pseudo-scientific claims.
1) Newkirk claims meat and dairy cause most human diseases, from cancer to diabetes to mental illness. Aside from the complete lack of evidence for this belief, it’s funny that hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection hasn’t removed this harmful behavior from the human lineage. PETA’s “science” seems to indicate that the most sickly and poorly adapted animals survive to reproduce.
2) Newkirk has said many times that meat enhances human aggression. To back up this claim she points to wild carnivores like lions and tigers. The problem is she doesn’t know nature very well. Newkirk confuses aggression with killing. An animal that kills another animal to eat isn’t necessarily aggressive. Cheetahs, for example, like others cats, spend most of the day conserving energy, not picking fights with strangers down by the watering hole. Herbivores, like hippos or moose, are generally more aggressive than carnivores because they have more reasons to be aggressive, like holding grazing territory and warding off predators.
2) Newkirk advocates dogs and cats being converted to a vegetarian diet. I guess it’s not enough that Fluffy-The-Cat’s owner must subsist on berries and twigs, Fluffy must be converted to the same diet. Perhaps Fluffy can be convinced to join the Green Party, for if pet and owner eat the same, they must also vote the same. But I’ve read nothing but bad things about a vegetarian pet diet. For one, vegetarian cats and dogs can develop severe intestinal problems. Part of being a carnivore is having a shorter intestine than a herbivore. Meat is, in fact, easier to digest than plant matter. This is an engineering problem, one that cannot be overcome with wishful thinking.
Currently, PETA promotes the idea of In vitro meat, meat cultured in a lab from animal cells. PETA is even offering a $1 million prize to scientists to make this happen. I suppose all the health problems attributed to meat eating by PETA are going to be removed from this laboratory grade stuff. Yes? No? Maybe?
Fictional mad scientists are most often portrayed as highly driven and glory hungry; they are the unwitting villains, the victims of their own inquisitive natures. Author, Reto Schneider, has written The Mad Science Book, which chronicles the history and present of questionable experiments carried out by real-life “mad” scientists. A list of nine of these experiments is on The New Scientist website. My favorite is Dogbot, the robot dog that was a social reject. Real dogs wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe his nose glowed red or he aspired to be a dentist. Whatever the reason, Dogbot was not allowed to participate in dog games.
What I like about mad experimentation is it’s raw unbridled curiosity. What does it matter if some experiments go wrong or if others are completely useless and outright wacky? What counts is that humans have a desire to understand the world. Thomas Edison was a mad inventor; he wasted ten years of his life on devising a new mining technique, which failed miserably. He also designed furniture and homes made out of that comfortable substance know as concrete. Not big sellers.
The lesson here is that in a complex world, curiosity saves the cat, it doesn’t kill it. But still there is an intellectual divide in society. There are those who care to know the world, and those who don’t care to have their world views tarnished by reality. I’m talking about creationists here. To them a mad scientist is someone to be feared.
Is it me or does Sarah Palin sound here like she could be George Bush’s equally dumb sister? I don’t know how to interpret her answer to Katie Couric’s question. Does Palin not read newspapers or news magazines, or does she not remember any of the titles of her favorite periodicals? Either way, it doesn’t look good on camera. Her style is more appropriate for an unctuous saleswoman than a Washington politician. I can picture her now trying to sell me an insurance policy or a time-share in Miami Beach.
If I didn’t already know her belief in creationism, then I would have guessed. It follows that Curious George, the monkey, must be a Democrat, or at least a libertarian, because ultra-conservative, Christian Republicans don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the wide world outside their bubbles of ignorance.
P.S. Check out how defensive McCain gets when Palin’s qualifications are questioned.
Image-of-Jesus stories make the American media, especially this local news station (where there’s a poll), appear trite and superficial. And they make the American public appear credulous and superstitious. In this case, appearances aren’t deceiving. No wonder people don’t believe lions mutate into zebras overnight.
Also, I find it particularly disturbing when people think all of nature is here for the benefit of the human race, which is what this story is bordering on.
But upon close scientific analysis of the insect photograph, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Jesus-on-a-moth image and this enigmatic creature bear a striking resemblance.
Finally, I wonder, would CNN have aired a story on Jesus’ image being “found” in a pile of poop? Feces is part of the natural world, too, and part of “God’s Creation”. I’m going to start following dogs around with a camera and a minister; I want my 15 minutes of fame. And my local TV station has a hottie Asian reporter I’m dying to meet. Ohhhh riiiiight!
Watch the video and try to spot the skeptic.
America has decayed into a state of gullibility. Example, CNN’s Larry King now dedicates many of his shows to subjects like the paranormal and UFO’s. Recently, he interviewed half a dozen UFO “witnesses” and “experts”, and one lone skeptic, Dr. Seth Shostak, an astronomer from SETI. For most of the show, Larry King followed his standard format; he asked a softball question and then allowed the guests to ramble on, except the skeptic, who was kept in reserve most of the time. Also, the show was an hour long, but Dr. Seth Shostak was only on for the first thirty minutes. Of course, CNN has a history of stupidity.
I remember once when that Southern dumbell Nancy Grace (Headline News) sat in for Larry King. Her topic was ghosts and spirits. What particularlly disturbed me was when she grasped for the word “skeptic” but instead came out with the word “cynic”. Is anyone who withholds their approval or questions the validity of something being cynical? Sadly, Nancy Grace is not the only one to conflate the meaning of the two words. Overall this phenomena has the stench of religion behind it. In a nation slathered in syrupy Christianity, how can believers not project their hostility on to non-believers, be they atheists or skeptics.
Cable television is drowning in shows that require one to believe and not to think: Ghost Hunters (Sci Fi Channel), Paranormal State (A&E Television), Psychic Kids (A&E), A Haunting (Discovery Channel), MonsterQuest (The History Channel), etc. The History Channel, in particular, is a flagrant offender with shows covering everything from the Loch Ness Monster and Nostradamus to the psychology of Batman and the mythology of Star Wars. For many years, at Easter time, the History Channel actually aired the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. It also aired Planet of the Apes as a Saturday night movie. How is any of this history or science?
I couldn’t help laughing at a recent MonsterQuest episode about Bigfoot. A member of an all female expedition actually said that Bigfoot prefers woman over men because of their softer more lyrical voices. I say Bigfoot prefers not to watch television.