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There aren't enough Sceptical movies and TV shows...
Ozoneocean at 11:12AM, Aug. 19, 2022
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I love fantasy as much as the next person, I really do, and horror fantasy is a perfectly acceptable niche of that genre, but I'm so tired of credulous crap that relies so hard on obvious bulshit- pretending it's a real thing.

It furthers the idea that this stuff isn't fantasy and people genuinely think it's real…
Like ghosts, Ouija boards, astral travel, that cretinois con-couple Ed and Lorraine Warren, demons, psychics, etc.

The amount of conversations I've had where people speak in hushed tones about their “paranormal experiences” with that idiomatic (unconcious movement) Milton Bradley children's game, the Ouija board… Ugh the eyerolling.

I wish there where more movies where they debunk this shit. It used to be popular back in the old days but now people are more credulous as a whole.

———

I've just been watching the movie Constantine… Based on a comic book. It's not bad but it's completely based on its own weird version of the Catholic idea of Christian mythology, which is limited because there are so many and Catholicism is just one.

The thing I super hate though is the depiction of exorcisms. It's shown in the typical way with a teen girl tied to a bed and people forcing the demon out of her, and we're told about this woman who people thought was mad so they forced antipsychotic drugs on her to make her normal when she was actually seeing demons…
- the trouble with that stuff is it's not harmless fantasy- People actually genuinely believe that stuff. Not just deeply stupid people either. People are tortured to death by morons trying to do exorcisms on them all the time in exactly the way it's depicted in the film.
And so many poor schizoid people are encouraged not to take their meds because they might be shutting off their “second sight”…

I just wish we had a healthy counter to this style of fantasy and that supernatural fantasies would not rely on those dangerous and stupid tropes.

It'd be like a (hypothetical fictional) medical drama from South Africa where they have to catch and kill an albino so they can make a potion from their blood, and a lead character has to rape a virgin child so they can cure themselves of HIV.

I'm sick with CoVid so I'm feeling like having a rant.
There are no ghosts, zombies, psychics, no such thing as possession, visitations, alien abductions, spirits, undead, Astral projection…
 
Ozoneocean at 11:14AM, Aug. 19, 2022
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Now something like Hellboy is far superior because it doesn't rely on old stupid tropes, instead it creates its own new things. It also goes full on with the horror fantasy, not pretending it's real in some way.
 
Ozoneocean at 11:17AM, Aug. 19, 2022
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The Conjuring and the type of films in that series are the very worst since by pretending they're based in real events people get the wrong idea about Ed and Lorraine Warren and the crap they peddled.
 
bravo1102 at 11:53AM, Aug. 19, 2022
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YouTube has some great skeptical videos along with a whole debunking culture. A lot of the old Amazing Randi psychic challenge videos are there too.

One recent I saw was Professor Dave Explains host a good documentary video about a South American exorcist.

And AronRa taking apart creationism never gets old for me.

Christian mythology is fascinating for me as so much of what is believed is made up fantasy as opposed to scripture. And movies and TV shows are even worse. Awful how modern Christians confuse TV show fantasy with what is supposed to be part of their own religion. Demonology is particularly suspect. Want good Demonology? There's a live reading of King James of Scotland's treatise of it on YouTube along with a video by an expert breaking it all down.

World of Antiquity has one video debunking occult beliefs about various supposed ancient origins. There are also some going over the Mesopotamian origins of western demons.
last edited on Aug. 19, 2022 12:04PM
Ironscarf at 6:40PM, Aug. 19, 2022
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People enjoy those tropes and are usually willing to buy into them, or suspend disbelief, for deep seated psychological reasons I think. A ghost story can be a safe space to explore a whole range of very human themes and emotions.
A sceptical approach is a harder sell and much harder to write interestingly, though it can be done well. Jonathan Creek was a series with some creative and entertaining debunking and of course, Sherlock Holmes had a touch of that too at times. On the other hand, I often wished Scooby and the gang would just for once encounter a genuine spectre, ghoul or wraith.
 
last edited on Aug. 19, 2022 6:41PM
lothar at 1:41AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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It reminds me of the image that my ex sent me of god parting the clouds with both hands. She thought it was real. She was “spiritual”. It was a doctored version of them old Goatse meme. Some people will belve anything.
Ozoneocean at 4:21AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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lothar wrote:
It reminds me of the image that my ex sent me of god parting the clouds with both hands. She thought it was real. She was “spiritual”. It was a doctored version of them old Goatse meme. Some people will belve anything.
HAHAHAHA! That's beautiful XD

@Bravo- I'm meaning more mainstream entertainment media. We've let the fakers and the snake-oil salesmen creep in too far again
I appreciate the youtube skeptical community to a point, but so many of them just make a sideline in attacking feminists and transpeople or calling religious people doo-doo-heads, which really undermines the entire movement.
It starts to become counter-productive and pushes good people back to the spiritual, alt health brigade. :(

@Ironscarf- Yup Scooby-doo, Jonathan Creek, Sherlock Holmes, The famous 5…
It used to be the theme of a lot of media that silly people were believing in fake rubbish and being fooled… But a while ago it started to flip and science became the bad guy.
It's not just a harmless fantasy and suspension of disbelief unfortunately. I wouldn't mind if that were the case. Rather some things are just taken as a sort of “fact” that you can build you're premise around.

eg: You never have to explain how a Ouija board works to contact spirits to an audience because they all already “know”.
Comparatively very few people know that it's a modern game based on a simple physical trick that was made by a mainstream game company, most people believe it's a dangerous device for talking with “the other side”.

You don't have to explain how exorcisms work either because most people “know”. They don't believe in them as much as Ouija boards or tarot cards, but they still take them as being a real part of culture.

You don't have to explain what “area 51” is either… You just put it in your story as is and build on the audience misconceptions and silly beliefs surrounding it.

Little chinks in the armour of reality like that are dangerous. You take a blullshit thing that many people mistakenly believe is real and then you work to reinforce those misguided beliefs. That's different from creating a fantasy and making it believable.

-The Scooby Gang encountered all sorts of supernatural in the 13 ghosts :)
Without Dafny and Fred and WITH Scrappy Do. It was pretty fun!

 
last edited on Aug. 20, 2022 4:24AM
bravo1102 at 5:05AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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Humans are story tellers. Just as previous cultures had their mythology of woo-woo and flim-flam that was believed so does ours. There are probably Greek and Roman writers bemoaning all these things in their culture, Medieval monks dismissing the credulity of the population, Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken and George Carlin in our own era.

I've been diving into the whys and wherefore of conspiratorial thinking which touches on all this. A recent study on this movement is Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen. The classic is Anti-intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter from 1963.

It's nothing new. Might also want to start reading The Skeptic and Skeptical Enquirer to get some perspective. The work of Martin Gardener(Fads and Fallacies in the name of Science), James Randi(Flim-flam), Michael Shermer (why people believe weird things) and Joe Nickell and others might help to ground you and give you hope that not all is lost.

Joe Nickell is especially worthy because he delves deep into the so-called supernatural and does the real legwork that shows how it's just so much mythical bullshit born of ignorance and copy and paste research. Martin Gardener, Randi, Nickell have inspired a whole new generation of debunking like the book Abominable Science that takes down crypto zoology.

I was in a similar place to where you are just before Y2K and even was an avid listener of Coast to Coast AM whicj was the mecca of all things woo-woo. I knew 2012 was coming so sought out skeptical literature for my own sanity. It doesn't do well in focus studies or pitches for movies and TV shows because viewers like things outside of nature and the more fantastical the better. Audiences like to be scared of things beyond their understanding as opposed to having some college boy explaining it all to them. There's that Anti-intellectualism.

I go back to the old In Search of… which Ancient Aliens is just a modern rehash of fifty years later with more woo-woo but amazingly still spouting the same narrative about gaps in knowledge as if there was no new scientific research the past fifty years!

Go watch Ancientaliensdebunked.com

Its a great start. Supernatural and ancient astronauts beliefs are woven together and feed each other and all very Anti-intellectual. Learn the truth and it'll set you free.

So you'll just face palm at how ignorant they all are as opposed to bemoaning the end of civilization.
last edited on Aug. 20, 2022 5:29AM
Ozoneocean at 6:47AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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I appreciate what you're saying Bravo and your references and I recognise the names you list but that's not actually my point.

I'm well versed in the actual sceptical movement. What I'm talking about is the loss of sceptical thinking in mainstream media and entertainment.
 
Ozoneocean at 6:52AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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Example:
It used to be a standard plot in most Western TV shows that there'd be a rainmaker or snake oil salesman trying to fleece people. The hero would expose them and see them off.

These days you'd be hard pressed to find plots like that (in any show). You're more likely to have the rainmaking actually work, or some magical part of the snake oil actually cure people.
-Take “snake oil” and “rain making” and apply them to anything, don't take it literally.
 
Ironscarf at 7:17AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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Ozoneocean wrote:.
It used to be the theme of a lot of media that silly people were believing in fake rubbish and being fooled… But a while ago it started to flip and science became the bad guy.
It's not just a harmless fantasy and suspension of disbelief unfortunately. I wouldn't mind if that were the case. Rather some things are just taken as a sort of “fact” that you can build you're premise around.

Very true and it can be a gateway drug for conspiracy theorists and some very unpleasant groups. I can't remember the name of the fellow who was getting a lot of airplay back in the 2000s (?) by recycling the old Atlantis myth as reality.

According to his ‘research’, a lost civilisation travelled the globe some 10'000 years ago, bringing civilisation to the rest, citing things like the appearance of pyramids in cultures who had no contact with each other. He had several TV shows to his name before anyone bothered to point out this is an age old racist myth, based on the prejudice that people who aren't white couldn't possibly form a civilisation on their own. White supremacists are obviously very keen on promoting this stuff and I'm sure a lot of people still fall for it.
 
last edited on Aug. 20, 2022 7:18AM
bravo1102 at 8:34AM, Aug. 20, 2022
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Ironscarf wrote:
Ozoneocean wrote:.
It used to be the theme of a lot of media that silly people were believing in fake rubbish and being fooled… But a while ago it started to flip and science became the bad guy.
It's not just a harmless fantasy and suspension of disbelief unfortunately. I wouldn't mind if that were the case. Rather some things are just taken as a sort of “fact” that you can build you're premise around.

Very true and it can be a gateway drug for conspiracy theorists and some very unpleasant groups. I can't remember the name of the fellow who was getting a lot of airplay back in the 2000s (?) by recycling the old Atlantis myth as reality.

According to his ‘research’, a lost civilisation travelled the globe some 10'000 years ago, bringing civilisation to the rest, citing things like the appearance of pyramids in cultures who had no contact with each other. He had several TV shows to his name before anyone bothered to point out this is an age old racist myth, based on the prejudice that people who aren't white couldn't possibly form a civilisation on their own. White supremacists are obviously very keen on promoting this stuff and I'm sure a lot of people still fall for it.
I can actually supply names and cite specific works about the whole Atlantis thing. Great YouTube debunker is World of Antiquity an actual archeologist expert in Mesopotamia who reaches out to his peers for their expert work on the woo-woo topics. See also the book Black Sun by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke for the connection to White supremacists.

@Ozoneocean what you said about the flim-flam man conartist is the theme of Randi's Flim-flam and Gardener's classic study Fads and Fallacies in the name of Science At this point in my life I'm past worrying about popular culture. People will be stupid anyway. Turn the stupid up to a fourteen (on a scale of oneto ten) delight in the arrogance of their ignorance (flerfs looking at you!) Prove Dunning-Kruger in so many ways and I'll keep fighting the good fight on Twitter. I have 1000 followers. Originally went there for webcomics amd more and more post sense in the threads of conspiracy mongers. Facts are stubborn things and evidence doesn't bend to someone's belief system.

last edited on Aug. 20, 2022 8:38AM
kawaiidaigakusei at 9:38PM, Aug. 20, 2022
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lothar wrote:
It reminds me of the image that my ex sent me of god parting the clouds with both hands. She thought it was real. She was “spiritual”. It was a doctored version of them old Goatse meme. Some people will belve anything.

Comedy gold.
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elektro at 9:58PM, Aug. 20, 2022
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While it did have some issues, I do miss Penn & Teller: Bullshit. Too bad Showtime did that show dirty near the end.
Ozoneocean at 11:52PM, Aug. 24, 2022
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Adam Ruins Everything started as a bit on College Humour before that site imploded. Him and his team too that into prime time before College Humour failed, which was lucky.
That was a great antidote to flim-flammery :)

I would still prefer reality based thinking in entertainment shows though, not just infotainment. It's MUCH more important there.
Like I say, a skeptical base used to be the default, so it's definitely not that it's less entertaining or anything like that.

I think part of the issue has to do with people mistakenly thinking that science based thinking is “patriarchal”, “colonial”, western or “white”.
(When I used “western” before I was thinking of the genre).
Science thinking is NOT any of those things!

The mistaken idea that it is stems from the fact that non-western cultures used to be denigrated and the fact they were full off bullshit and flim-flammery was used as a basis for that denigration.
The problem is though that they ARE full of bullshit- Traditional Chinese medicine, Voodoo, etc IS genuinely absolute ARSE, but that doesn't mean those cultures are arse.
We can respect people of different ethnicities and different cultures to our own and at the same time we're allowed to acknowledge that beliefs they have that contradict science are stupid and wrong. Not just allowed, but obligated.

And like Scarf says- it goes in every direction. There are plenty of nationalist, right-wing white supremacist silly beliefs about ultima Thule and even the idea of Aryans and the “Caucasian race” that still persists today, even though neither of those things have anything to do with “white people”
 
dragonsong12 at 6:58AM, Aug. 25, 2022
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Your take on it is pretty much mine. I love outlandish things in my fiction - weird creatures, space aliens, paranormal entities/powers - all great…in fiction. But I'm far more interested in science-based content when it comes to reality. In fact, the more you delve into it, the more you realize that the reality of the situation is far more interesting than the conspiracy theories could ever be.

I'm with you in being frustration that skeptics are far more likely to be villains than heroes these days, and I don't have a lot of fictional examples to share. I'll share a few of my favorite general debunking content though that haven't already been listed:

Captain Disillusion is a lot of fun for short, entertaining debunkings of all kinds of things, from paranormal sightings to viral videos.
https://www.youtube.com/c/CaptainDisillusion/videos

It's Probably Not Aliens is a podcast where the hosts go through episodes of Ancient Aliens and explain the truth behind all these “alien” sightings throughout history. (Below is the link to their apple podcast page, but it's pretty much everywhere you can find podcasts, even youtube!)
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/it-s-probably-not-aliens/id1588595012

Miniminuteman's Awful Archeology series is also great, though it's still pretty new:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-SrCCzkGq0wmSAuRs7EBFg

The only piece of fiction I can offer is a graphic novel titled “Last of the Sandwalkers” which features insect protagonists who are scientists facing off again the religious traditions of their people. Overall I like and recommend it, but I was a bit disappointed that the religious leaders were just presented as mustache twirling villains because I think there would've been more value in representing actual arguments and pushing back against them. When their actions are so cartoonish, it's easy to dismiss. Still, I liked it overall and I'll share:
https://www.amazon.com/Last-Sandwalkers-Jay-Hosler/dp/162672024X
bravo1102 at 8:19PM, Aug. 28, 2022
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I'd also recommend World of Antiquity channel on YouTube. David Miano is a teacher of ancient history.

Sadly I don't think a Joe Nickell Skeptical Enquirer adventures TV series would sell. Woo-woo is easier to dramatize than actual skeptical investigation of the paranormal.

For an example that is probably the prototype of most modern concepts let's go back to the 1970s. Who was the star of the old “In Search of…” series? Uri Geller and Hans Holtzer and Erich von Daniken or James Randi, PSICOP and Carl Sagan? It was always the flim-flam woo-woo types. That's why PSICOP was formed in the first place.

But then the actual paranormal monster show was very even handed even if it did mostly use the supernatural explanation. I have very fond memories of Kolchak:the Night Stalker and rewatch the episodes whenever I get a chance. It usually followed the “whenever all other possibilities are exhausted it's the paranormal ” not jumping feet first into a morass of cooked up fantasy mythology that bears more resemblance to Hammer horror movies than any real legend and lore

The original Night Stalker movie is on YouTube. Might just watch it again.
last edited on Aug. 28, 2022 8:22PM
sleeping_gorilla at 1:41PM, Aug. 31, 2022
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I meet a lot, and I mean a LOT of people who believe in paranormal mumbo jumbo. They think that fire-breathing Dragons once walked the earth. That vampires live down the street. That they can speak with the dead by using pretty crystals. That an old, white guy, is living in the sky watching our every move. (Oh please! God would obviously be a woman.) That vaccinations are a hoax and that they are really implanting location chips. Why would they need implants when even the homeless carry around phones? Do people understand how GPS works?

One time a guy sat next to me at a restaurant and told me he was a genius and was communicating with aliens. He wanted my phone number so that we could reinvent the automobile together. I politely let him talk but had to explain to him the basics of locomotion, and that most cars did not have nuclear-powered motors that controlled each wheel.

People think that I am overly sensitive, but I think that I show an amazing amount of restraint.
last edited on Sept. 1, 2022 10:35AM
kawaiidaigakusei at 5:45PM, Aug. 31, 2022
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sleeping_gorilla wrote:
One time a guy sat next to me at a restaurant and told me he was a genius and was communicating with aliens. He wanted my phone number so that we could reinvent the automobile together. I politely let him talk but had to explain to him the basics of locomotion, and that most cars did not have nuclear-powered motors that controlled each wheel.

People think that I am overly sensitive, but I think that I show an amazing amount of restraint.


Active listening is a skill more difficult to master than speaking.
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