The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘Ghost Lab’

Discovery Channel’s “The Supernaturalist” is Super Stupid

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 7, 2011

There was a time when I had really high hopes for cable channels like the Discovery Channel – I had hoped that they would be bastions that would promote sound science amidst a sea of sensationalistic cable TV docudrama and crapola (can you tell I don’t watch TV or cable?)  Sadly, the more time that passes, the more and more I shake my head in shame for what has happened to the Discovery Channel.  Case in point: the newest show on this “science” network, “The Supernaturalist”.

The show just launched a few days ago, and the Discovery Channel was promoting it as the Next Big Thing on their network.  Here’s the press release:

Mind-blowing Magic in The Supernaturalist

06/14/2011

MAGICIAN USES HIS OWN SKILLS TO FIND ELUSIVE MAGICAL MONK IN NEW
DISCOVERY SPECIAL ‘THE SUPERNATURALIST

Dan White performs mind-blowing magic: manipulating physical objects, performing surprising card tricks and making items appear from seemingly thin air. All of this, he admits, is merely an illusion. White has a mission: to find REAL magic. In Discovery Channel’s THE SUPERNATURALIST, premiering Wednesday, June 29th at 10PM et/pt, White travels to a remote corner of the planet and finds himself in a place where magic isn’t just tricks. It is believed to be very real… and even dangerous.

Locals in the Himalayan country of Nepal believe there are monks within its borders who use their powers to harm anyone who crosses their path. White relies on his talents as an illusionist to open doors normally closed to outsiders in an attempt to find one of these feared monks and – hopefully – witness his true magic. White’s mission will introduce him to many people, each getting him one step closer to the men in the mountains.

Unfortunately, in Dan White’s quest to “find REAL magic” – and the Discovery Channel’s quest to continue catering to the lowest common denominator (remember their stupid ghost-hunting show?) – it seems that everyone involved has left their basic critical thinking skills at the door.  For example, check out this footage of when Dan White “discovers” the levitating powers of the monk he has sought for so long…

The overly credulous nature of this clip, and how Dan White – the supposed skeptic – plays it up as legitimate (honest!) is downright pathetic.  There are some very basic questions to ask regarding a scenario like this:

1. Why isn’t the filming done in one continuous shot?  Note all the breaks in the clip between the time the monk sits down and when he “levitates”.

2. Why does the monk have to sit where he does, in front of a wall full of curtains that can easily obscure a device which can lift him?

3. Why doesn’t Dan White ask the obvious question as outlined in #2 above, instead of standing there looking like an idiot with his mouth agape?

4. Why doesn’t Dan White, our token “skeptic”, take a moment to simply walk over to the side to make sure there isn’t a mechanical arm or similar contraption connecting the monk to something behind the curtain.  On a related note, why isn’t this camera angle shown?

A simple application of Occam’s Razor is all that is necessary to slice through what is very clearly a bullshit display put together to get ratings.  Folks, this is a big joke, and if anyone takes it seriously the only one’s laughing will be the executives at the Discovery Channel who are guffawing at having one over on gullible viewers.  Fortunately, there is a silver lining: I have been inspired to incorporate this footage and a critical analysis of it into my upcoming talk at The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 in Las Vegas next week – it will make a good lesson for my students 🙂

Posted in ghosts & paranormal, magic tricks, media woo, physics denial/woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments »

The Discovery Channel Jumps on the “Ghost Hunting” Woo Bandwagon

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 7, 2009

In another *facepalm* moment, I discovered recently while being interviewed for Warning Radio that the Discovery Channel is now jumping aboard the “ghost hunting” bandwagon of woo.  Seriously, what the hell happened to the days of the Discovery Channel spotlighting actual science?…

DISCOVERY CHANNEL TACKLES UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA WITH ALL-NEW SERIES GHOST LAB TO PREMIERE OCTOBER 6

Klinge Brothers Use High Tech Mobile Lab and Noted Historical Experts to Test Scientific Theories —

(Silver Spring, Md.) – With the help of the latest technology, two brothers have uncovered some of the most intriguing results in supernatural research to date – including a possible recording of Civil War soldiers talking.  Meet Brad and Barry Klinge, Texas natives who in 2007 founded Everyday Paranormal, an investigation team that has explored more than 70 locations and given a new twist to paranormal research.  The Klinges and their team of investigators are featured in the all-new 13-part series GHOST LAB, to premiere Tuesday, October 6 at 10PM E/P on Discovery Channel.

The Klinge brothers tackle what are thought to be some of America’s most haunted locations with sophisticated equipment housed in a decked-out travelling “ghost lab.”  This 24-foot car hauler is capable of providing 200,000 watts of electricity to power audio, video and photo analysis stations; flat-screen televisions and an interactive touch-screen smartboard.  The lab also houses surveillance video cameras capable of shooting 300 feet away in total darkness with a 180-degree peripheral view; temperature, humidity and dew point data loggers; various digital cameras, including thermal imaging cameras; audio recorders; and more than 8,000 feet of video cable.  This on-site high-tech lab enables investigators to analyze data on the premises in real time, helping them to more narrowly focus their investigations on suspected “hot spots.”

Wow… the stupid is just burning my brain.  I explain in another recent entry why these “ghost hunters” – who should really be called morons-who-stumble-in-the-dark-Blair-Witch-style-saying-“Did you hear THAT?!!” – are so far off base in their analysis. Of course, the big mistake here that these idiots are making is that they assume that “high tech = good science”, which isn’t true.  If you have no real understanding of the physical & scientific principles behind what your devices are actually measuring, and if you instead regard the technology as some kind of magical device, then all the technology in the world will not fix your broken & illogical thinking.  Or, as any computer expert will tell you, no matter how good your machines & gadgetry: “Garbage in = garbage out”

Discovery Channel, this one’s for you…

facepalm

Posted in ghosts & paranormal, media woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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