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NBC goes Skeptical…BIG TIME!
Posted: 23 April 2006 06:23 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hey everyone.  It╠s my first post here.  Found you through some combination of Skepticality, Non-Prophets, PennRadio and Point of Inquiry podcasts. 

Forgive me if I╠m jumping in with both feet¸but this is big news.  It╠s gonna be a long one.

From Penn╠s and PoI╠s podcasts:
Asked ¤how can/will the west and the world overcome the irrationalities of society?Ë (paraphrased), Sam Harris says ¤on many fronts¸but don╠t underestimate the power of embarrassment.Ë  Cites mention in Freakonomics of Superman vs The Klan (black & white 50╠s TV show).  Self-appointed sleeper agent infiltrates actual Klan, then reveals secrets and passwords to writers of Superman show.

They included the actual beliefs and phraseology as bad guy dialogue.  Resultant ridicule helps reduce KKK from over a million members, incl several senators and a president (!? Not identified) to current estimate of 5,000 members and fringe group status.

Can you say ¤Southpark vs ScientologyË?  I knew that you could.
That╠s my frame of reference for examining what impact these two TV episodes (and others like them) could have in helping to advance rationalism is western society.

[i:238a0b22d2][b:238a0b22d2]Law & Order: CI [/b:238a0b22d2][/i:238a0b22d2]took on Spiritual Healing.  [i:238a0b22d2][b:238a0b22d2]Crossing Jordan [/b:238a0b22d2][/i:238a0b22d2]body slammed irrational faith (with some hot girl on girl action as a bonus).

[i:238a0b22d2][b:238a0b22d2]Law & Order: CI[/b:238a0b22d2][/i:238a0b22d2]
Old folks with cancer victimized by a supposed faith healer.  In this case, a self-proclaimed voodoo healing woman was conning money out of the terminally ill.  She used
-water laced with lithium carbonate (occurs in some ¤rejuvenatingË spring waters) to give them a feeling of wellness
-licorice root, which temporarily boosted their white cell count; empirical tests bore this out.
-Puffer fish (fugu?) poison to dispose of people who were a threat to her.

She ¤laid a curseË on the cop by ¤accidentallyË knocking a candle onto the floor.  He picked it up, not realizing that it was coated with poison ivy extract.  Some mumbo jumbo from her and, despite his disbelief, he starts to break out.

She had duped a male nurse who then ¤helped her in her healing missionË (ie became her accomplice).

And all this was debunked within the 1 hour show.

= = =

And if that weren╠t enough for one evening¸

[i:238a0b22d2][b:238a0b22d2]Crossing Jordan[/b:238a0b22d2][/i:238a0b22d2] (rather ironic title) vs miraculous reanimation of the dead by ¤a living saintË.  Touches on dire motives of the Church and concludes with the harm that belief can cause.

Not bad for 60 minutes minus commercials.

Body of a woman is discovered buried.  A cop recognizes her and crosses himself.  She╠s a member of his congregation.  ¤A living saintË the cop says.

This and a few other comments prompt ¤oh boy, Flying Spaghetti Monster alert.  But we╠ve gotta be diplomaticË type of glances between the Medical Examiners.

==

What╠s her miracle?

In February, a kid was hit by a van.  Knocked 20╠.  Supposedly dead at hospital.  Woman prays over him.  He ¤rises from the deadË. 

He has the whole ¤I was approaching the lightË experience.  And ¤she brought me back.Ë  Later, he overhears one of the lab guys (the British fella) explaining it all to the M.E.  Front of van was flat, so impact was distributed and, on frigid winter day, kid went into hypothermic suspension (???).  Possible?  Who knows.  It╠s a plot device.

Kid is instantly disillusioned.  His faith is trumped by science.

==

Prime suspect in the murder: a Catholic Postulator (investigator of saints and miracles).  The investigators first meet him when he╠s apparently burgling the now-dead miracle worker╠s apartment.

Cop╠s gun aimed at shadowy figure rifling thru dresser.  Hands up, he comes into the light (yeah, another pun; sorry).  Surprise!  He╠s got a dog collar on (priest╠s dickey or whatever it╠s called).  Detective (another Catholic, btw) says ¤don╠t make me shoot a priest.Ë  A moment later, the cleric starts to reach into his jacket.

Is he going for a gun?  Oooh.  Shoot ╬im.  (Sorry, just my thoughts).

¤For my IDË.  ID (Identification, not the newer usage) is a Vatican passport.

¤She was uncomfortable with [all the attention].  She wanted me to prove she was just a normal personË  said the priest.  ¤I don╠t think the proof was in her underwear drawerË says Jordan.  Wow, they even managed to land a pervy priest shot.

==
Later, British guy from coroner╠s office postulates conspiracy.  ¤Alive she╠s an embarrassment to the Church.  Dead, she╠s an asset.Ë

==
One member of congregation, regarding the ¤saint╠sË corpse remarks ¤God sucksË.

Later, his daughter ends up in morgue.  Terminally ill and died.  Turns out, the dad believed that the ¤saintË could have saved his daughter but didn╠t.  He happens to be in the church when priest and saint meet.  (Drama thrives on coincidence.)  Priest leaves and locks up.  Oh, did I mention that it╠s a ¤locked churchË mystery?

Victim╠s dad emerges from the confessional. and confronts her.  He throws her down, she hits her head, bleeds all over the place.  Supposing her dead, he buries her.  She wasn╠t dead so he buried her alive.

And all because he believed she had the power and wouldn╠t save his daughter.

==
And check out House on Tuesday.  Patient is another supposed ¤living saintË.  Ten bucks says House (ie science) saves the kid and disproves the saint crap.

Looks to me like someone at the network has grown a pair. 

Rationalists musts be a demographic that╠s worth braving the wrath of the Moral Minority.

Whew.  Done.

Regards,

Bruce

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

WWXD? (What Would Xenu Do?)

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Posted: 23 April 2006 06:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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NBC goes Skeptical…BIG TIME!

Hey everyone.  It’s my first post here.  Found you through some combination of Skepticality, Non-Prophets, PennRadio and Point of Inquiry podcasts. 

Forgive me if I’m jumping in with both feet"but this is big news.  It’s gonna be a long one.

From Penn’s and PoI’s podcasts:
Asked “how can/will the west and the world overcome the irrationalities of society?” (paraphrased), Sam Harris says “on many fronts"but don’t underestimate the power of embarrassment.”  Cites mention in Freakonomics of Superman vs The Klan (black & white 50’s TV show).  Self-appointed sleeper agent infiltrates actual Klan, then reveals secrets and passwords to writers of Superman show.

They included the actual beliefs and phraseology as bad guy dialogue.  Resultant ridicule helps reduce KKK from over a million members, incl several senators and a president (!? Not identified) to current estimate of 5,000 members and fringe group status.

Can you say “Southpark vs Scientology”?  I knew that you could.
That’s my frame of reference for examining what impact these two TV episodes (and others like them) could have in helping to advance rationalism is western society.

Law & Order: CI took on Spiritual Healing.  Crossing Jordan body slammed irrational faith (with some hot girl on girl action as a bonus).

Law & Order: CI
Old folks with cancer victimized by a supposed faith healer.  In this case, a self-proclaimed voodoo healing woman was conning money out of the terminally ill.  She used
-water laced with lithium carbonate (occurs in some “rejuvenating” spring waters) to give them a feeling of wellness
-licorice root, which temporarily boosted their white cell count; empirical tests bore this out.
-Puffer fish (fugu?) poison to dispose of people who were a threat to her.

She “laid a curse” on the cop by “accidentally” knocking a candle onto the floor.  He picked it up, not realizing that it was coated with poison ivy extract.  Some mumbo jumbo from her and, despite his disbelief, he starts to break out.

She had duped a male nurse who then “helped her in her healing mission” (ie became her accomplice).

And all this was debunked within the 1 hour show.

= = =

And if that weren’t enough for one evening”

Crossing Jordan (rather ironic title) vs miraculous reanimation of the dead by “a living saint”.  Touches on dire motives of the Church and concludes with the harm that belief can cause.

Not bad for 60 minutes minus commercials.

Body of a woman is discovered buried.  A cop recognizes her and crosses himself.  She’s a member of his congregation.  “A living saint” the cop says.

This and a few other comments prompt “oh boy, Flying Spaghetti Monster alert.  But we’ve gotta be diplomatic” type of glances between the Medical Examiners.

==

What’s her miracle?

In February, a kid was hit by a van.  Knocked 20’.  Supposedly dead at hospital.  Woman prays over him.  He “rises from the dead”. 

He has the whole “I was approaching the light” experience.  And “she brought me back.”  Later, he overhears one of the lab guys (the British fella) explaining it all to the M.E.  Front of van was flat, so impact was distributed and, on frigid winter day, kid went into hypothermic suspension (???).  Possible?  Who knows.  It’s a plot device.

Kid is instantly disillusioned.  His faith is trumped by science.

==

Prime suspect in the murder: a Catholic Postulator (investigator of saints and miracles).  The investigators first meet him when he’s apparently burgling the now-dead miracle worker’s apartment.

Cop’s gun aimed at shadowy figure rifling thru dresser.  Hands up, he comes into the light (yeah, another pun; sorry).  Surprise!  He’s got a dog collar on (priest’s dickey or whatever it’s called).  Detective (another Catholic, btw) says “don’t make me shoot a priest.”  A moment later, the cleric starts to reach into his jacket.

Is he going for a gun?  Oooh.  Shoot ‘im.  (Sorry, just my thoughts).

“For my ID”.  ID (Identification, not the newer usage) is a Vatican passport.

“She was uncomfortable with [all the attention].  She wanted me to prove she was just a normal person”  said the priest.  “I don’t think the proof was in her underwear drawer” says Jordan.  Wow, they even managed to land a pervy priest shot.

==
Later, British guy from coroner’s office postulates conspiracy.  “Alive she’s an embarrassment to the Church.  Dead, she’s an asset.”

==
One member of congregation, regarding the “saint’s” corpse remarks “God sucks”.

Later, his daughter ends up in morgue.  Terminally ill and died.  Turns out, the dad believed that the “saint” could have saved his daughter but didn’t.  He happens to be in the church when priest and saint meet.  (Drama thrives on coincidence.)  Priest leaves and locks up.  Oh, did I mention that it’s a “locked church” mystery?

Victim’s dad emerges from the confessional. and confronts her.  He throws her down, she hits her head, bleeds all over the place.  Supposing her dead, he buries her.  She wasn’t dead so he buried her alive.

And all because he believed she had the power and wouldn’t save his daughter.

==
And check out House on Tuesday.  Patient is another supposed “living saint”.  Ten bucks says House (ie science) saves the kid and disproves the saint crap.

Looks to me like someone at the network has grown a pair. 

Rationalists musts be a demographic that’s worth braving the wrath of the Moral Minority.

Whew.  Done.

Regards,

Bruce

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

WWXD? (What Would Xenu Do?)

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Posted: 24 April 2006 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Excellent

I am very interested in the post and would love for others to contribute to compiling other such instances of sckepticism and the scientific outlook contra the prevailing cults of reason in our society. I am reminded of what a watershed moment it was first when Oprah saw mainstream African Americans on TV, or what Ellen did for the GLBT movement just by being visible.

I think we should limelight such skeptical activities in mainstream media in a more robust way, and relying on the enthusiasm and interest of volunteers is our best bet to do that. Thanks!

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Posted: 25 April 2006 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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*interesting*  ABC and CBS are starting to scare me.

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Posted: 26 April 2006 03:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I don’t know….I saw an episode of Crossing Jordan a long time ago in which they depicted some kind of “miracle” happening, and they just wrote it off as a “faith thing”.  I don’t remember the details, but I was very disappointed, and haven’t watched the show since.  I may have to give it another peek.

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Posted: 26 April 2006 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Update: it wasn’t what you’d call God’s "House"

I mentioned in my previous post that the medical drama “House” was also taking on a skeptical topic.  Didn’t take notes on this one.  Wish I had, cuz it’s worthy of dissection and study.  Here, though, are a few recollections:

Synopsis: teenage faith healer is struck down (right after “healing” a lady with a walker in an SRO church service).  Goes to hospital and becomes House’s case of the week.  Obvious tension between Faith and Science.

He’s struck down in mid-heal.  Manages to squeeze out “Dad, I think I need a doctor”.  Let’s call that the first sign of his hypocrisy.

On arrival, he’s all “God told me you were kind”.He told me you’d come”  Gets the same FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) alert glances back and forth from the docs that I mentioned from Crossing Jordan.  The one that sums up our reaction when the faith-heads start in.

But it’s not all one sided.  The docs aren’t all unreligious.  There was some “but don’t you think”” discussion among them.  Sorry, don’t recall details there.

The kid wants “none of man’s medicine”.  He’s in God’s hands.  His Dad, convinced of the miraculosity of his kid, waffles about treatment.  There was the usual “what is it? Maybe this"hmm, well then it wouldn’t"Aha, how about”” stuff, which worked into the plot allowing various interpretations of the evidence.

One of the docs has a terminally ill cancer patient (who he happens to be sleeping with; see? Docs aren’t perfect creatures either).  Kid lays his hands on her and, lo and behold, new tests show her tumors to be shrinking.  House’s reaction: “don’t tell my patient”.  Doesn’t want to give the kid further validation forefusing treatment.

But the kid finds out.  Further convinced he’s touched by God and can trust in Him.  Refuses all further treatment.  Dad backs him up.  But House figures it out.  It’s a type of herpes.  Surprise!  Even a devout kid still succumbs to his hormones.  Then, of course, denies it.  And is hiding behind his devoutness and presumed sanctity to do so.  Can you say “televangelist”?  How about “pedopriest”?  I knew that you could.

And the kid knows.  He’s been flushing his system with water (part of the scientific treatment; found online?).  In the climactic scene House says never mind more invasive tests or treatment, we can tell by looking at you"take off clothes.  Kid refuses.  House says he’s looking for “the mark of Cain”.  Kid refuses.

Argument is used.  “You think your son’s a saint.  Saints are supposed to be humble.  Wouldn’t a humble man at least admit to the possibility that his affliction could have a medical solution?”  Dad swayed by argument, but the cracks in his certainty began with the suggestion that his son might have, uh, “tasted of the forbidden fruit”.

Yup, he’s got a blister thingy.  “A little Eurocyclin and you’ll be back [saving souls] in no time.”

And the miracle cure?  His “laying on hands” transferred the virus, which had the effect of temporarily fighting the tumors.  The lady will actually get a few more months to live.  Could THAT have been a sign of the Designer’s Hand at work, one doc wonders.  House deconstructs that. 

Yes, that’s another of those plot-driving coincidences.  Any basis in real medicine?  I dunno, I’m not a doctor"I don’t even play one on TV.  On one side is “well they must have consultants and do their research” (a form of faith, I gotta admit).  On the other, a friend of mine is an amateur mathematician.  The show Numbers rests on application of advanced mathematics to find the bad guy / solve the crime / whatever.  Regarding their use of math, my friend reuses a math professor’s expression.  “Not even wrong”.  Means it’s so far from right, it’d just be too much work to show you how wrong it is. 

////Or so my friend says.  At least he’s visible (one of my first criteria in believing anybody).////

It’s using a scientific label to legitimize a just-wouldn’t-happen situation.  Viewers, if they just accept it because it’s “math” are no better than credulous religious types.  My point: we shouldn’t just blindly accept things with scientific labels, either.  The container with the label on it could be just as empty. 

Not saying we’ve gotta research all topics we see on TV shows.  Who has THAT much time?  Just that we can’t use TV drama “science” as proof.

Specifics aside, I enjoy House and quite enjoyed the show’s treatment of the issue.  Granted, because it bears out my core rationalism. 

A very good episode.  I’ll watch it again in rerun.

House had some great acerbic comments to the kid, which I can’t recall.  He also gives a great rant in a heart to heart with his buddy.  Something like “I understand that people have holes in their lives that they fill up with God or [food, gambling"I forget the list].  But some people crawl into these holes and refuse to come out.  But holes are dirty and [something or other].  GET OUT OF YOUR HOLES, PEOPLE!”

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Posted: 26 April 2006 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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[quote author=“advocatus”]I don’t know….I saw an episode of Crossing Jordan a long time ago in which they depicted some kind of “miracle” happening, and they just wrote it off as a “faith thing”.  I don’t remember the details, but I was very disappointed, and haven’t watched the show since.  I may have to give it another peek.

I watch L&O:CI from time to time.  Almost never watch CJ.  I was drawn in, I admit, by the ads.  I thought “hey, 2 decent dramas with skeptical themes…back to back?  That’s worth watching.”

Didn’t know about that previous CJ.  Not suggesting that either show is going to get up on a pulpit about it on a regular basis.  If they did, it’d make the show a target for the Oral Minority and, more importantly, make them duller shows.

Each time it comes up, though, it plants another seed.  Or nourishes an already-growing doubt.

I’m content to have skeptical messages as seasoning throughout TV and other media.  For the moment, at least.  All part of wearing away the assumed special status that the superstitions we call Religion have in society.

Fundamentalism / Organized Religion is/are not a balloon that’ll be demolished with a single pinprick.  It’s, unfortunately, a granite block at which we’ll have to chip away.

It has the power of inertia.  Few fundies will change.  They’ll try (and largely succeed) to program their kids.  Gradually, though, more and more will see the (actual) light.  Or so I hope.

Even these kids, when grown, sometimes come to recognize the church as a house of cards.  They turn away.  I don’t think that those who are lucky enough not to have had that initial program—or who overcame it—tend to fall the other way.

Reality’s on our side.  Now if more people would just open their [damn] eyes…

——
Over 100,000 weeks on the NYT Bestseller List (Fiction): The Holey Bible.

(Most of my taglines are just copied from bumper stickers.  This one I just made up.  This is its first appearance in public.  Kinda proud of it, actually.  And yes, “Holey” was spelled that way on purpose.  Didn’t want to add [sic] after it to say so.  Some might miss the “spelling mistake” and/or think I meant “sick”.  rolleyes )

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Posted: 26 April 2006 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Re: Excellent

[quote author=“DJ Grothe”]I am very interested in the post and would love for others to contribute to compiling other such instances of sckepticism and the scientific outlook contra the prevailing cults of reason in our society.

I think we should limelight such skeptical activities in mainstream media in a more robust way, and relying on the enthusiasm and interest of volunteers is our best bet to do that. Thanks!

What about having some sort of wiki calendar that folks could post notes in when they hear of such items upcoming in the media?  And perhaps clickable to a forum topic/thread for either each entry.  :idea:

So we could pool info and be able to watch when they come on, then discuss later.  And the accumulated list would allow us to see how little or how much there actually was.

And some sort of email alerts for coverage of selected topics.

Is there a “rationalist” wiki for webnews?

BB

See, I /can/ write less than a page per post.  Just not often.

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Posted: 27 April 2006 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Possibilities

There are already two already existing wiki’s that could be used, rather than starting from scratch, to track skepticism and secularism in the media and pop culture.  Existing one’s already have data and structure:

http://www.skepticwiki.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

http://colbadhombre.net/SecularWiki/Search.jsp?query=media&ok=Search


On the other hand, we could start a thread on these forums so people stay here and build community. What do you think? DJG

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Posted: 27 April 2006 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Atheist God does not watch television…too much violence and fantasy based on fiction.

Peace.

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Posted: 28 April 2006 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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lol

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Posted: 28 April 2006 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Re: Possibilities

[quote author=“DJ Grothe”]There are already two already existing wiki’s that could be used, rather than starting from scratch, to track skepticism and secularism in the media and pop culture.  Existing one’s already have data and structure:

http://www.skepticwiki.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

http://colbadhombre.net/SecularWiki/Search.jsp?query=media&ok=Search


On the other hand, we could start a thread on these forums so people stay here and build community. What do you think? DJG


Hi DJ

Checked out SkepticWiki.  Could work, I guess.  I’m not well-versed in wiki use.  (Would such a person be a “Wikian”?  )  Seems there are categories for articles and events.  So far, only listed events are milestones in article collection (100th, 200th, etc.). 

Would upcoming TV shows be “events”?  I don’t think so.  And if entered wouldn’t be shown in order of future occurrence.  Could there be an article titled “Upcoming media coverage of ___” for each category of interest?  That’d allow addition by users.  I’d hope that editing could follow some original format guidelines.

What I envisioned was a month-at-a-glance calendar page that could be both user-edited and easily viewed as we look at a wall calendar.

Haven’t checked out your second suggestion yet.  More on that later.

Thread here would be accessible to us, but chronology/ease of checking would, I think, be lacking.

What do other people think about venue, format, etc.?


Re CoyoteSon’s post:

“Atheist God “doesn’t have to “watch” TV.  If He’s everywhere at once, the TV signals are going thru Him.  Presumably He’d be able to convert the signals at least as well as a TV can.

Receiving and processing TV signal in similar fashion to rec/proc all the prayers being “transmitted” his way?

Of course, He may not have time for any of this.  “Atheist God” would be pretty busy disbelieving in Himself.


========
If this were an actual tagline, it would be hiLArious.

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Posted: 29 April 2006 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Atheist God isn’t seeking worship and won’t answer your prayers
Atheist God is not here or anywhere.
Atheist God dosen’t know anything.
Atheist God loves peace, liberty and respects the rights of others.


Atheist God is the oxymoron for the times

Peace.

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Posted: 07 June 2006 02:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I made no claims about the whole series…

Advocatus…

Don’t know what I could’ve said to suggest that the entire series had a skeptical theme.  I mentioned and reported on one episode each of two shows on that Sunday, then one episode of House the following Tuesday.

You joined the thread way back when…when those episodes were on.  And I guess now that the show’s in summer reruns different stations may be showing different episodes.  Last night on the stations I could get carried the little hallucinating girl.

Don’t recall the episode you described.  I’d like to see it.

Toodle pip.

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Posted: 14 June 2006 02:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Re: I made no claims about the whole series…

Don’t know what I could’ve said to suggest that the entire series had a skeptical theme.

That’s true.  It’s just that one episode where the main character dumps on religion is no reason to celebrate.  The writers might just think that since House is so grumpy and misanthropic, he must be against religion, too.

Can anybody recommend a television series that IS predominantly rational or Humanistic or just critical of the supernatural?

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Posted: 14 June 2006 03:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Re: I made no claims about the whole series…

[quote author=“advocatus”]Can anybody recommend a television series that IS predominantly rational or Humanistic or just critical of the supernatural?

MythBusters?

There are science shows like Nova, etc., but they don’t usually deal with issues of the supernatural.

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