Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The Mentalist Update

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on November 1, 2008

-Oh please I’ve seen that done a dozen times.

-What do you mean? Where?

-On TV.

-Oh on TV, well anything can happen on TV. The question is where have you seen that done in real life?

Episode 4 & 5 just as awesome as the first 3. Go see them before CBS takes the video of the website.

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The Mentalist – Episode 3

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 30, 2008

I’m just catching up on my Mentalist episodes. I can’t believe CBS removes the old episodes so fast. That sucks, I missed Episode #2. No fear, Episode #3 is just as good as the Pilot. I never seen this actor, Simon Baker, before, but boy he’s already one of my favorite male actors out there. Check out the exchange between him and the pervert old man around min 26, right before Jane gets punched. It’s priceless! Oh and he fake hypnotizes a girl, who of course was pretending to be hypnotized. Ha! Episode #4 and 5 are next. Yay!

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PseudoSkeptic Alert – Fox’s new show “Fringe”

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 22, 2008

Now I am not a big fan of FOX, and I don’t turn to them for level headed journalism or reporting. Nevertheless, they did earn a tiny little bit of respect from me with “House“, one of my favorite shows. Even though I am sure it was not their intention to promote skepticism, and most likely they wanted to create a character which people loved for his medical genius, but hated for everything else, such as his rationality and atheism, I am still glad that at least we’re having some skeptical main characters that are being portrayed not quite completely as cynical, no-good, know-nothing, deny-everything, nay-sayers that most of the public thinks we are. You see at the end of the day House is always (almost) right. Even though he at times acts like a jerk, at the end his logic and rationality seem to prevail. That must have been unintended by the show’s producers. Either that or they were really slick how they presented the show when they first sold the idea to FOX.

Nevertheless, that tiny bit of respect has been, quite expectantly, completely lost with the introduction of the new show “Fringe“, as in fringe science, science too far advanced for most scientists, except a select few of course. In this show, Joshua Jackson plays what has to be the worst caricature of a skeptic I’ve seen in my few years on this planet (you see in my previous life there was no television!). He’s portrayed as everything the public thinks is wrong with skeptics, and in that regard this character will be accepted quite willingly by the public. He’s arrogant, always denying his father’s “science”, always saying this cannot work, that is not science, this is ridiculous etc etc. Which is all fine.

Nevertheless, in the show he’s always portrayed as being shown wrong. Episode after episode he keeps repeating the mantra that this particular idea can’t work, then he’s proven wrong by his genius father, just to come back next episode and start ridiculing his always right father all over again. Now to be fair, he never says that “I’m a skeptic and I don’t believe that”, but I think it’s quite clear who this person is supposed to be, just like his father is meant to represent the geniuses that are suppressed by big companies and the government who don’t want their revolutionary work to be know. Why, he could very well write one of those “Blah blah blah…they don’t want you to know” books.

Bottom line

Show is quite entertaining, I won’t deny that. But it does feed into the peoples imaginations and it reinforces wrong stereotypes about skeptics and science in general. If someone had made a show about catholic priests and showing them taking little boys in their rooms every episode, that show would have never made it in the air, unless HBO picked it up. Fringe is tantamount to that except that instead of the priests they have a skeptic and instead of the little boys, is rapes reality. Go watch “The Mentalist” instead (even though I haven’t seen anything beyond the pilot and I hope that they haven’t bastardized it or don’t plan to do so in the future)

The Mentalist

Posted in The Rogues Gallery by Skepdude on September 28, 2008

This week I caught the pilot episode of The Mentalist on CBS. My first impression is that this show has the potential to be skeptically awesome. I hope it lives up to my early expectations. It was refreshing to watch a show with a lead character who is unashamedly skeptical and likable at the same time.

Other shows have done this to some degree. House is clearly a critical thinker, but we like him despite the fact that he is a complete jerk. Grissom from CSI is a likable skeptic, but his skepticism is very much in the background. And I despise pseudoskeptics like Scully from the X-Files, who relentlessly doubts the obviously paranormal activity around her. Scully was designed to be a hopeless character – because she lives in a fictional paranormal world.

Simon Baker plays Patrick Jane, a mentalist who consults for the CBI (I guess that’s a fictional FBI) using his keen powers of observation and critical thinking to solve cases. He is very much a Sherlock Holmes type character, and is very likable.

Even better, Jane used to be a stage fake psychic very much in the mold of John Edward. In the pilot episode we see Jane doing a fake reading. The TV audience is keenly aware that Jane is faking it, but the woman for whom he is giving a reading is reduced to tears of joy at contacting her loved-one.


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The Mentalist: review

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on September 26, 2008

Last night was the premier of the TV “The Mentalist”, what promised to be a skeptical look at psychics and police work.

Quick summary: it rocked.

More thorough summary:

Simon Baker as The Mentalist

Well, it did rock. It’s a crime/detective drama, but also has lots of humor. Simon Baker, dreamy Aussie, plays Patrick Jane, a man who used to be a relatively famous stage psychic, and is now a police detective. He has an incredible gift of observation, able to watch people’s behaviors, notice small background items, note things that are said, and put them together rapidly to form a picture of what’s happening around him.

“The Mentalist” is a different kind of crime drama. Baker is very engaging (especially, evidently, for my wife), and he does have a quality about him that makes him fun to watch. His character invokes sympathy right away, even if he is a bit of a pain in the butt. He’s confident, even a little arrogant, but funny and endearing. It’s hard not to compare him to the titular character from “House”, though he’s not as grumpy.

I love love love his character. He hates so-called “psychics” — hates them. In one scene, he comes right out and says there are no such things as psychics! When he did that, Mrs BA, The Little Astronomer, and I all threw our arms over our heads, fists pumping the air! W00t!

But to the meat of this: I think a real skeptic is behind this show, someone who knows about the frauds, fakes, and evil people who claim to speak to the dead. Here’s why: