Last night, the Sci-Fi channel TV shows Ghost Hunters (a ‘reality’ TV show about a team of ghost hunters who go ’round the United States hunting for ghosts) and “Destination Truth” (a show of the same nature except they go ’round the world looking for mythical creatures… their first episode was about mermaids) started up again.
I don’t have the Sci-Fi channel, so I didn’t watch, but I’m going to be presumptuous and assume that they didn’t find anything conclusive. I could be wrong, but my guess would be that the Ghost Hunters found something along the lines of video footage of
lens flare orbs, or some random static that sounds like a person talking electronic voice phenomena. Likewise, I’ll imagine that on Destination Truth they might’ve gotten some fuzzy picture of something.
Of course, I don’t know, but from my experience with these shows, that’s probably what they found. Crappy, weak evidence leaving the viewer to ‘decide for them self’. And, of course, deciding for oneself, though a virtue of free thought, has no bearing on whether or not the phenomenon is truly a supernatural event. People, no matter how intelligent they are, are easily lead by weak evidence, and not nearly as quick to think about it skeptically.
And how do I know that they didn’t find conclusive evidence that would turn me into a believer in mermaids? If the guy from Destination Truth were really to find conclusive proof of the Yeti, would I be wrong to assume that zoologists and evolutionary biologists would jump on the finding, flock to the Himalayas, and begin studying this exciting, new species? Same goes for the Ghost Hunters. If they found conclusive proof, the scientific community would be buzzing with excitement.
But, humans are naturally gullible (I certainly am prone to gullibility so it’s really nothing to be embarrassed about) though it can be overcome. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s so hard for magicians to convince people that they aren’t truly psychic… perhaps there’s reluctance towards admitting gullibility. Or maybe it’s just the simple will to believe… Whatever it is, more often than not people hang on to their flimsy beliefs long after they’ve been demolished. “Oh, I know you did that through trickery, but real psychics can do it through magical powers” and stuff like that.
Last night, however, another TV show aired. This one was called Secrets of the Psychics Exposed. I was only able to tune in halfway through, but I saw a volunteer from the audience holding the psychic’s hand as he gave her uncanny details about her own house. It was later revealed that his assistant had visited her house the day before to collect those details, and he had memorized what she had said.
She admitted that she really believed he had powers at the time, but instead of clinging to the delusion…
“The next time I see those TV psychics, I think that I’ll know some of the tricks that they’re using. It’s a very effective con they’re running.”
Some sleight of hand tricks used in psychic shops were revealed, exposing how the psychics use trickery to hook customers and keep them coming back with more and more money.
At the end, the warm reading technique used by mediums was also exposed, and the volunteer from the audience said…
“I really wanted to believe that I was really going to talk to my grandfather… and I got let down. ”
Well said by both of them. Wanting to believe does not make it so.
Of course, for every one of these shows, there has gotta be 5 more supernatural ones trying to convince people that this junk is real… But there’s hope for the world.