Monday, November 15, 2004

Welcome To The New Dark Ages

I need you all to be strong today.
I've uncovered something that many of you will find troubling, disturbing, even chilling. For a wide variety of reasons. Some of you may think that what I've found is redundant, others may think that there must be some mitigating circumstances that can counter the great, seething deposit of stupidity I've stumbled across. But you need to be strong, and face head-on the fact that there is a better reason than ever before to hate the Sci-Fi Channel.
It's difficult to believe, I know. After all, they've given us new Cylon fuckbots. They produced "Mad Mad House", a reality show about a collection of "alternative" (meaning less photogenic) freakjobs with issues. They've spent years giving money and a forum to John "Not The Loser, The Psychic" Edward, who exploits the ignorant for his own personal gain by making up fake conversations with real dead people. They've produced, aided, abetted, and aired hundreds of low-budget direct-to-video features that debase and dilute the genre the channel is supposed to celebrate. And what's worse, they've aired "Sliders" reruns.
But the channel that is basic cable's closest equivalent to the Bataan Death March is not done with its black-hooded experiments into perfidy. They are, apparently, now airing a show called, and this is IMPORTANT, so pay attention, called "Proof Positive: Evidence of the Paranormal".
As we know from previouis experience, c.f. John "Charlatan" Edward and any number of cheap syndicated shows hosted by Jonathan Frakes, the Sci-Fi Channel is no stranger to the short-bus world of ghosts, vampires, strange forces, mysterious disappearances, U.F.O.'s, and their spooky ilk. So with a title like "Proof Positive: Evidence of the Paranormal", what you'd expect would be yet another show filled with synth music, dark rooms, spotlights, and "eyewitness testimony" from the usual collection of people who can't spell S.A.T. and couldn't count how many teeth they had until it hit single digits. You would expect this, but you would be tragically, horribly wrong.
Allow me to introduce you to the host of the show, which I will derisively refer to from now on by its initials, "P.P.", which is also a childish euphemism for male genitalia. The woman who holds P.P. firmly in her grasp is Amanda Tapping. Some of you may know Ms. Tapping from her regular role on Stargate SG-1, and as a result, I pity you. Older readers may be more familiar with the classic dance style invented by her eponymous great-grandfather. As a bit of eye candy on a basic cable spinoff show, Ms. Tapping is eminently qualified to explore the scientific basis for the paranormal. But if her C.V. isn't enough for you, wait till you hear how well she interviews. It's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"Conceptually, I love it. I love the idea that we actually put things to the test, that there are actually forensic tests that you can do to determine the veracity of paranormal phenomena."
Man, she's so dumb and stupid and dumb and... wait a second. That actually sounds reasonable. After all, in the post-election landscape, with creationism running rampant and "ignoring global warming" fast becoming the national pastime now that all the ballparks have sunk under the rising oceans, forensics is the only science people actually believe in. After all, if it's the basis for 97% of the prime-time network schedule, forensics MUST be true, even if it never directly refers to Jesus.
So using forensics to test the claims of paranormal believers... that could actulally work! Boy, I sure hope that later on in the intervew, Tapping doesn't go on to undercut her point with something so mind-bogglingly moronic that it will crush my nascent, flowering hope! Let's look together! Hold hands... take a deep breath...
"I'm a huge believer in the paranormal, so some of the stories really freaked me out." (Uh oh.) "Some of the stories, even though they [may be] proven inconclusive or proven proof negative, you can still go, 'Wait a second. I don't know about that. Just because that test didn't work doesn't mean ... .' So I think it makes for some great debate. I watched the first episode with my twin brother when I was in Chicago, and we had a big debate over it."
There are times that even I come up against my limitations as a writer. I want to convey the image of a broken, dejected man, lying on the floor in the fetal position, weeping quietly, his face covered by his tear-dampened hands. Weeping in utter disbelief that we have sunk to the point where not only are we taking bullshit like faith healing and "intelligent design" and poltergeists at face value just becuase people say they experienced them, but that we're actually going to the trouble to perform tests, for a show called PROOF MOTHERFUCKING POSITIVE, and then utterly dismissing the proof when it comes back negative. And all I can think to write is "Take your P.P. and shove it up your ass."
People, it's one thing to believe in Invisible Bearded Wish-Granting Punishment Man. You can't do tests on a god. But to produce a show that claims to deliver scientific results, and then to say that those results DON'T MATTER in the end because it fosters debate... that's fucking criminal, is what that is. I mean, after Test Subject #5 Of Five drowns horribly, you don't keep debating whether people can breathe underwater, just because you think FISHIES ARE PRETTY.
At least in the Dark Ages, we had an excuse. Nobody knew shit. There was no Google. There were no rocketships. Life was short, knowledge was scarce, and people could be excused for believing that their crops failed because their neighbor gave them the evil eye. Tapping and her fellow P.P.'s have no such excuse. We're awash in facts. We're up to our asses in technology. Every single moment of our lives is better than it could be because a few people, throughout history, spent five seconds realizing that evil eyes were FUCKING STUPID, and spent a few years figuring out that maybe the crops were failing for actual, tangible reasons that could be stopped or mitigated without immolating the old hermit down the road.
If you want to ignore your own tests that tell you the fuckhead with the widow's peak and the robe isn't really reading minds, then do us all a favor and stop taking antibiotics, stop using indoor plumbing, and go back to eating the half-dozen moldy potatoes you can manage to grow by waving your hands over the dirt. And while you're at it, stop using fiber-optic cables and routers and switching systems to send your stupidity out to hundreds of thousands of people who don't need to be any stupider, thank you. Just write your missives on a rock with your own dung, as God intended.