From: James Randi --- Wizard
Subject: NBC's "Mysterious Origins"

I must thank Jere H. Lipps of UC Berkeley for an excellent e-mail notice on the upcoming repeat of that ridiculous NBC program, "Mysterious Origins," starring noted scientist, biologist, philosopher, anthropologist, right-winger, Bible-thumper, intellectual giant, and dumb-is-better advocate, Charlton Heston.

Jere calls for objections to the program, and rightly so. He even asks NBC to get ethical and make an insert to this re-broadcast.

But bear two things in mind: first, NBC cannot now insert anything into the program as planned for Saturday; the tapes are already distributed weeks ago to the hundreds of stations, and the uplink is "cast in stone" for many reasons. Second, NBC does not want to take the edge off a program that sold -- and will sell -- lots of merchandise.

Don't think that NBC is unaware of the errors made in the show. They just don't care, because the sponsors love it. That's their bottom line. Ethics, integrity, truth, and responsibility are far from the reality they deal with. Educating the producers is unnecessary. They're already aware. All they need is ethics.

Only major scientists and science organizations publishing official denunciations of the program and the producers will make any difference at all. The "Objections to Astrology" statement that came out years ago was an attempt at this, but it missed because it pompously declared that astrology could not work, not that it did not work.

The public doesn't give a damn about scientific theories because it doesn't understand science. But when it is shown, definitively, (a) that a thing doesn't work, and (b) why it appears to work, anyway, the public can be influenced. No number of scientists mumbling "Bah! Humbug! That's not real science!" will be effective.

One scientist telling us and showing us why and how it doesn't work, can be effective.

A dissection of the "mysterious Origins" farce should be prepared and published. Or broadcasted.

More when I return from Amsterdam...

James Randi.


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