The Skeptical Teacher

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

Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Notes from Skepchicon/Convergence 2011

Posted by mattusmaximus on July 5, 2011

Well, another Skepchicon/Convergence has come and gone, and once again I had a blast in Minneapolis.  Of course, it wasn’t all play – though there was plenty of that (as evidenced with the photo of me below in the Mos Icee Cantina 🙂 ) – because I participated in a number of good panels on a variety of topics related to skepticism and science.  I recorded every panel in which I took part, and I reproduce this audio along with a brief description of the panel for you below.  Enjoy!

Modern Day Snake Oil – in this panel, the topic of various forms of alternative “medicine” were discussed, from homeopathy to magnetic therapy.

To Vaxx or Not To Vaxx – here we discussed the anti-vaccination movement and why their pseudoscience is dangerous.  Also discussed were some facts about how vaccines do and don’t work, and why it is so important that people vaccinate even if they think it isn’t necessary.

Stuff I Didn’t Know – the panelists share with the audience some of the neat things they’ve learned recently, and the audience gets in on the action as well.

Common Hollywood Science Myths – we all like going to the movies or watching our favorite shows on TV/cable, but boy oh boy does Hollywood screw up a lot of science in the process of entertaining us.  The panelists share some of their pet peeves and also compliment Hollywood when they get it right.

Ask A Scientist Open Forum – just as the name suggests, this panel consisted of audience members asking the panel a variety of questions on everything from the Big Bang to dentistry!

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Skeptical Educators Should Speak Up in Favor of New PBS Show

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 24, 2010

I just wanted to take a moment to pass along a request from Dr. Pamela Gay for help from teachers regarding a new skeptically-oriented show she & Brian Dunning are attempting to get started for public television.  For more details, I’ll refer you to Dr. Steve Novella’s post on this…

Help Launching New Show

You may remember The Skeptologists – a TV pilot featuring a group of skeptical investigators taking on a range of pseudoscientific claims. Well – that project is not over, although it has morphed a bit. The working title of the show is now The Edge. And, rather than try to get a commercial TV executive to bite on the idea, the producers (Brian Dunning and Ryan Johnson) are trying to get a grant to produce a season for public television. It’s still an uphill battle, but they are making progress. Phil Plait has moved on with his Discovery Channel contract, including Phil Plait’s Bad Universe. So, Pamela Gay has stepped in to fill his role on the show.

Pamela is also helping with the grant – and she has asked for help. She needs to show that there is demand for the kind of content we aim to produce, and this is where you (potentially) come in.

So, if you are a teacher and you would use content like The Edge – essentially scientists exploring critical thinking and the evidence as it pertains to specific claims – then send an e-mail to Pamela Gay (starstryder@gmail.com) with a letter, addressed to her and Brian Dunning, that says you would use the content in your class. …

Click here for the rest of the post – and please consider passing this along to all of the teachers whom you know who could use the content provided by this new show 🙂

Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Phil Plait’s “Bad Universe” Coming This Fall!

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 15, 2010

I am pleased to announce that “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait – author of the Bad Astronomy blog – will have his own television show this coming fall on the Discovery Channel called Bad Universe! Way to go, Phil!!! 🙂

I know that Phil’s been working on this for a long time, and it’s hard as hell to get skeptical & scientific shows on cable nowadays, so I want to do all I can to get people to tune in.  So with that, check out the sneak peak of Bad Universe

Coming this fall to Discovery, a new series that debunks all the junk about the Universe! Phil Plait is an astronomer on a mission to challenge the myths of the universe with scientific proof.

Posted in skeptical community, space | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

In a Sign of the Apocalypse, Jenny McCarthy Gets a TV Show

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 14, 2010

Wow… this is bad news, folks.  Uber anti-vaccine loon Jenny “Body Count” McCarthy is getting her own television show thanks to Oprah Winfrey.  We should all be on the lookout, because I think if we thought that McCarthy’s whacky alt-med, anti-vax, and just plain goofy views on medical science in general were getting a lot of press, just wait until her TV show hits the airwaves.  Ugh…

June 14, 2010, 12:19 PM EST

WENN

Jenny McCarthy is set to follow in the footsteps of talk show queen Oprah Winfrey after signing a deal to develop her own TV series with the media mogul.

The Playboy model-turned-actress has landed a development deal with Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.

Harpo executives have not elaborated on the content of McCarthy’s series, but they insist it won’t be in a similar format to the TV star’s current chat show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which will go off the air next year.

Executives have yet to confirm if McCarthy’s series will launch on Winfrey’s new TV network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

A Harpo spokeswoman tells the New York Post, “We do not have anyone taking over for Oprah. We do have a development deal with Jenny McCarthy. We are exploring possibilities across a number of platforms.”

In response to Oprah’s utterly dumbfounding decision to grant McCarthy this broader platform to spread her nonsense, I can only say…

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Psychic Gary Spivey Mega-Fail on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 4, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me how psychics and their ilk manage to persist, despite numerous moments of spectacular fail – such is the nature of cognitive dissonance with the psychics & their followers.  Well, at least we can have a little fun with it… A few days ago (on March 31st), just for a little bit of skeptical fun, Jimmy Kimmel had a psychic named Gary Spivey on his show to make a series of Final Four picks for the NCAA tournament.  Of course, as Kimmel outlines in his opening remarks, most of these games had already taken place, and some of the “teams” (such as Balboa and Flanders) don’t even exist!  Watch as master psychic Gary Spivey makes his predictions…

That’s pretty damn funny, if you ask me.  I will give Gary Spivey one thing, however: he’s got the most wicked-cool looking hairdo EVER!!! 🙂

Message to Gary Spivey…

Posted in humor, psychics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

William Shatner Sets Phasers for “Debunk” and PWNs John Edward

Posted by mattusmaximus on January 16, 2010

During my random Friday-night web surfing, I stumbled across this little gem that I had to share.  William Shatner (who played Captain Kirk on Star Trek) is interviewing psychic charlatan John Edward on his show “Shatner’s Raw Nerve” and definitely had his phasers set for “debunk”.  Check these clips out! 😀

“Is it possible you’re psychotic, not psychic?”

“John, it’s woo woo.”

Mr. Shatner, this one’s for you!!!

Posted in humor, psychics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Happy Carl Sagan Day!

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 9, 2009

Happy Carl Sagan Day… or, to be more accurate, belated Carl Sagan Day 🙂

November 7th is the birthday of that great communicator of science & skepticism, Carl Sagan.  In a time when many of his fellow scientists were loath to communicate directly with the public, Sagan was a unique link between the scientific community and the general populace.  He communicated the power, joy, and importance of science to us through lectures, books, and television.  In particular, I think I can honestly say that an entire generation of scientists were inspired by Carl Sagan’s book and television series Cosmos (which aired in 1980) – I count myself among them. Were it not for the inspiration provided to me in my teenage years by my beat-up copy of the book Cosmos, I may have never pursued a career in science…

The unforgettable introduction to Cosmos: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean is available on Youtube…

And a recently auto-tuned remix of Carl Sagan’s dialog from Cosmos, called “A Glorious Dawn (featuring Stephen Hawking)”, is also available on Youtube.  Check it out…

**Note: You can download your own copy of “A Glorious Dawn” from its creator’s website – SymphonyofScience.com
– where there are many other cool videos & music files available.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in scientific method, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jay Leno Sticks It to Sylvia Browne — On Live TV

Posted by mattusmaximus on November 5, 2009

On Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, psychic Sylvia Browne made a surprise guest appearance on The Jay Leno Show. This is very surprising, seeing as how Leno is a definite skeptic when it comes to psychics & their woo (he coined the now famous phrase “Why don’t you ever see this headline: ‘Psychic Wins Lottery‘?”).  So why was Browne there in the first place?

What happened is that his show has a segment called Earn Your Plug, whereby celebrities who wish to have their TV show or movie plugged have to do something on the show to merit the advertising.  Well, last night the celebs were Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat of the movie “Paranormal Activity”, and for the Earn Your Plug segment they decided to surprise Leno by having Sylvia Browne give him a reading.  See for yourself how it went…

Jay Leno vs. Sylvia Browne

Right off the bat, Leno was completely blindsided by the fact that a psychic like Browne was even on his show.  Notice how he makes the crack at the beginning of the reading about replacing some employees in the near future; something tells me that this is one prediction which is likely to come true.  Had he known that Featherston & Sloat had wanted to bring Browne onto the show, Leno would have likely stopped it from happening.

In addition, I want to point something else out that Leno did – he was openly, though playfully (his show is about entertainment, after all), skeptical of what Browne was attempting to do.  Whenever she made a claim, rather than allow her to prattle on and on with all manner of nonsensical “predictions” (often known as cold reading), he would stop her and challenge her on specific points.  It is also worth noting how she reacted to Leno not simply believing what she said or at least playing along with her: she got angry with him.  She didn’t get screaming mad, but watching her demeanor and body language speaks volumes about how upset she was that he even dared to question her supposed divine prowess (she did claim, after all, that her “abilities” were “from God”).  Essentially, she was doing little more than making a blatant argument from authority in this regard, and it was painfully (for her) obvious that Leno wasn’t having any of it.

I think a good example was this exchange:

Browne: “Do you know how many people over the years have told me that I’m wrong about something, but came back later to tell me that I was right?”

Leno: “No. How many?”

In the end, I think that while it was a negative that a psychic scumbag like Sylvia Browne even got onto Leno’s show in the first place, Leno himself turned it into a more positive experience by not treating her seriously & acting openly skeptical and asking questions.  The result was, in my opinion, that by the end of the reading – which was mercifully short – the vast majority of the audience was laughing at Ms. Browne and not with her.  And if there’s anyone who deserves to be laughed at, it is Sylvia Browne and her ilk.

Good move, Jay, for educating people on how to deal with such supernatural claims.  Johnny Carson would be proud of you 🙂

Posted in psychics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 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 »

Some Humor: Snoutbreak ’09 – The Last 100 Days

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 29, 2009

As a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post – Swine Flu Conspiracy Hogwash – I just had to pass along this little gem.

I just saw a couple of really funny clips over at the Daily Show website regarding the swine flu. One clip does some gentle lampooning of various media outlets for the manner in which they’re reporting on the subject, while the other clip does a great job poking fun at the conspiracy theorists running rampant on the topic.  Enjoy!  🙂

Lampooning the Media

last-100-days-part-11

And the next – and in my opinion much more funny – clip poking fun at those whacky CT-woosters…

Conspiracy Theorists vs. Evidence-Based Journalism… Who Shall Win?

last-100-days-part-2

Posted in humor, media woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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