So, there I am, first thing this morning, enjoying the Breakfast of Champions (coffee and a cigarette), watching Breakfast Television like I do on most weekdays.
You must understand, Dear Reader, that I am completely aware of the intellectual void that is local news programming. I watch for the simple reason that I am completely non-functional from an intelligence perspective until I have my morning coffee. Plus, sports scores and weather are generally immune from bias, as far as I know. The hosts are genial, the content generally inoffensive if not completely unstimulating. No problems with those pesky neurons firing too early and using up all my brain power before I reach work.
Until this morning.
Apparently, the story goes thus: A family lost (misplaced, randomly catapulted, whatever) their family dog somewhere in the wilds of rural Nova Scotia. Although some owners would give up hope after seven months (assuming either road pizza or Predator Chow after all that time), the owners in question kept hope alive, and were convinced that the dog would return at any time. Not without precedent, of course. Stories abound of pets reappearing after a long period of time and joining their owners in tearful reunions – in fact, I believe that’s a whole sub-genre of Disney films.
What Uncle Waltsicle and the folks at Disney haven’t so far written into their scripts is the part where the family goes to the one person they believe can help in their hour of sadness.
The pet psychic.
I’ll wait until the laughter subsides on that. Ready? Good.
Evidently, with the aid of only a photograph of the Beloved Canine Family Member (BCFM), this self-styled ‘energy reader’ was able to somehow communicate with the BCFM and convince it to stop rolling around in whatever it had been rolling around in for seven months and come home. The filmed piece had the husband saying, “You know, I was a little bit skeptical at first…” Not nearly skeptical enough for long enough. Instead of heading for the nearest divorce attorney and having him work his magic powers to make your complete crackpot wife go away, you give in and let this idiocy take place in order to get your BCFM back.
Ok, fine – I hear the New Agers saying, “But the dog came back thanks to this angel working her psychic mojo on the picture!” (or words to that effect) Nononononoooo…Let me introduce you to a little thing we like to call…coincidence! That phenomenon that has led to so many mis-attributed cause-and-effect relationships throughout human history. Also known by pretentious latin speakers through the phrase “post hoc, ergo propter hoc”, which means “Did you see that? Cool! I betcha that guy did that ’cause it happened after he said or did that thing that was totally unrelated but was totally before that cool thing happened! Dude!”
You may by now have caught the subtlest hint of skepticism here.
Believe it or not, it gets worse from a ‘responsible broadcasting’ perspective. After the
charlatan ‘psychic’ gets to give her little spiel about how she believes we all communicate through energy in the filmed bit, we cut back to the studio where, for our edification and unadulterated awe and enjoyment, surprise! the psychic joins us live in the studio for further discussion of her ‘talents’.
As an aside, I watched this lady throughout the filmed and live segments – the poor thing seems to sincerely believe in the reality of her claims. I had mixed emotions about that – ‘feel sorry for’ fought furiously with ‘wants to slap the sh#t out of’ for supremacy, emotion-wise. As she was on my TV, and not anywhere that the slapping would actually accomplish anything, I decided to let my emotional discord go unresolved…until I could get to the computer and rant mercilessly and at length about it. Lucky you, I say.
Anyhoo, the Mensa candidate interviewer, the otherwise bland Jason Baxter, started the interview with two phrases that started me well on the way to where we are now. I actually got to the point where I was shouting at the TV, something I have been known to do in the past (much to the annoyance of family and friends – I’m…challenging to be around at times). The exchange went something like this:
Jason: “It’s easy to be skeptical about these sorts of things…”
Me: “Yes it is!”
Jason: ” But you can’t argue with the results…”
Me: “Yes you CAN!”
At about the point where the poor deluded lady started into the pseudo-scientific claptrap about how thoughts are energy (yes, I know – they are, just not energy that broadcasts like this unfortunate segment, but chemical reaction-type energy), and claimed that she had been doing this for eight years, I was off. I went on about the complete idiocy and irresponsibility of the show, its producers and its network for so long that I didn’t even hear the rest of the interview.
Several questions are begged here:
Whose idea was this? Does this seriously even remotely resemble news, or even minutely useful information, other than at least I know what this knucklehead looks like so I can cross the street if I see her coming?
She’s been doing this for eight years? If this is such a miraculous story, and illustrates the power possessed by this lady, then why haven’t we heard about this before? I’ll tell you why – she has such an abysmal success rate that the one time she gets it right and some gullible pet owner is impressed by her mysterious ‘talents’, somebody calls the TV station and asks the dumbest producer for some airtime. And gets it.
How can BT and CTV be so irresponsible as to promote this as reality? Does this one-sided awe-fest mean that this lady’s phone will be ringing off the hook with families desperate to find their lost BCFM? The money she stands to make from this free advertisement is probably limitless, as is the blissful ignorance and gullibility of the ‘average’ viewer. How much does she get paid, and does she return the money if it doesn’t work, which it will not? Earning money through patently false pretenses has a name: FRAUD.
In no properly designed tests has there ever been, nor will there ever be, evidence to support the existence of psychic powers of any sort. Period. And don’t gimme that horse hockey about ‘science not having all the answers’. Of course it doesn’t, but the answers it has are the right ones. Once we manage to ask all of the questions, science will have all the answers – of course, that day will never come, since humanity is by nature a questioning species (although not nearly questioning enough, it seems). Science shows us the world and explains it as it is, not as we wish it to be. Certainly not in any way that supports any type of psychic abilities. Science, believe it or not, can even explain how and why television panders to the lowest common denominator and perpetuates harmful myths that distract from the real issues in our communities, our countries, our planet.
But just because we can explain it doesn’t mean I have to like it.