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Entry 846, on 2008-09-05 at 21:37:34 (Rating 4, Comments)
Today I read an article which briefly discussed a popular program currently running on New Zealand television. Many people know I am a skeptic and ask me my opinion of this program because it is one of those which seem to be popular worldwide where psychics allegedly solve crimes.
Usually my response to programs of this type is just to say "I don't take anything I see on TV seriously". That's an easy way to avoid further discussion and its close to the truth, but to be more accurate there are some things on TV which I do take seriously but I'm always very suspicious of even the material shown on more theoretically reliable programs such as the news.
The fact is, that in all the time this program has been running, the psychics have not solved any crimes and the police actually try to distance themselves from these people as much as possible. Of course you wouldn't know that they are hopelessly unsuccessful by watching the program. They are made to look as if they are solving crimes every week. If they are that successful why have a police force at all? Why not just have a bunch of psychics solving all our crimes?
So this program is just pure and total garbage. Its full of lies and its almost complete fiction even though its presented like its real. Naturally most people are too naive to realise they are just being manipulated by this stuff because the TV production companies find it useful to make cheap rubbish like this and present it as local content. Why would they care that they are producing junk that is misleading the ignorant majority into believing psychics are for real?
All I can say is I'm so pleased we now have the Internet. Before then I was almost as ignorant as many of these idiots that take this junk seriously. But the Internet provides several big advantages over traditional media.
First, many web sites don't require huge budgets so they operate relatively free from commercial imperatives. As a rule I find as soon as commercial considerations become important you might as well say goodbye to any sort of intelligent balance in your information sources.
Second, there are a lot of web sites and they are fairly easy to find. This means its easy to get multiple opinions on any topic and a subject can be studied from all the different sides, not just the side which is most entertaining or has the most money supporting it.
Another advantage of the Internet is that its usually very up to date. I often see news items in conventional media which I have already read on the Internet. Its often entertaining to go through the item and see how its been dumbed down.
Of course, I can't be totally critical of conventional media because the article I'm describing was actually in a conventional newspaper. The more analytical of you might ask: why believe it then and reject the TV program? Well the newspaper item was s short piece in the middle of the paper where few people would see it. They had no discernible advantage from presenting this information if it wasn't true. And finally, it agrees with the reliable sources I have access to on the Internet.
So I guess its OK to use any source for information but treat every source with deep suspicion, especially TV programs which present sensational and entertaining material as if it was fact!
Comment 1 (1614) by GadgetDon on 2008-09-06 at 02:54:13:
Was it presented as "fact", or as fiction. If fact, fully agree.
But there's a pretty popular, pretty well-done show in the United States called Medium, which has someone who can talk to ghosts, help solve crimes. As fiction, it's interesting, and can be exciting. And I'm no more convinced that it's true, than I believe that a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, rebels fought an evil empire but they won because the emperor's right-hand guy was secretly the daddy of a major leader of the rebels, and changed sides when the emperor tried to kill the kid.
One of my favorite shows, that alas was not popular so one season and gone, was New Amsterdam, a police detective who was blessed/cursed during the civil war that he could not die until he found his true love. I've also read stories of vampires helping out the police, vampire hunters, and of course future mysteries are also fun if well done.
But I think most people recognize the difference between fiction and reality.
Comment 2 (1616) by OJB on 2008-09-06 at 08:07:58:
This is definitely presented as real psychics helping the real police with real crimes. The reality is they are just a nuisance! I agree that fiction based around the same themes is fine.
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