A&E's "Biography"

James Randi --- Wizard (randi-hotline@ssr.com)
Wed, 3 Jan 1996 20:41:38 -0500

ORGANIZED, PURPOSEFUL LIES -- on the "Arts & Entertainment Network.

Tonight the A&E TV Network showed a repeat of their program,
"Nostradamus: Prophet of Doom." I'd not seen it in its initial
showing, being out of the country at that time.

I was interviewed in connection with the preparation of that show, and
I'd naively hoped that my input might be fairly and correctly
presented. I spent an afternoon being filmed and responding to
questions. Of course, I expressed my doubts about the powers of the
French seer, and quoted from my book, "The Mask of Nostradamus."
Indeed, the title of my book was shown beneath my picture at every
segment where I appeared. And, in spite of everything I told the
myself or by anyone else, though I could not have expected any of the
others to express anything but gushing acceptance of the wonders
suggested, since they were all authors and "experts" on the subject
who lied, invented and hyperbolized wildly to create the impression
that Nostradamus was a genuine prophet.

I was purposely misused in that show. Nothing but my recitation of
historical facts was used, and the other persons who were featured
came up with whoppers like the claim that Nostradamus (as a teenager!)
discovered and preached the Copernican revolution 25 years before it
occurred to Copernicus, that he had discovered vitamin C as a cure-all
(a curious non-discovery that non-works), and that he was aware of
hygiene and the inadvisability of blood-letting long before medical
science came upon these truths.

Erika Cheetham, the English author of endless books on Nostradamus and
several times a millionaire as a result, was featured. This was one
author that I refused to discuss in my own book, since she is not even
aware of the difference between the letters "f" and "s" in early
type-styles, and interchanges them to suit the required interpretation
of the verses.

This farcical program had Catherine de Medici with seven children
rather than nine, had Nostradamus predicting all sorts of things for
her that he never even thought of, and gave details of the prophet's
life that have no basis whatsoever in recorded history. It was a pack
of lies from start to finish.

I now know what validity I will assign to anything the "Biography"
program presents to me in the future, and I hope that my readers will,
too. The lack of respect for truth and for the education of the
viewers that was demonstrated by the show's producers, Craig Haffner,
Donna Lusitana, and Scott Paddor, will not in the least trouble them;
the money is already in the bank, and they just don't care.

I wonder if the sponsors who paid to have the program shown are
concerned that the producers turned out such an irresponsible stream
of drivel? FedEx, Alamo Car Rentals, Dristan, Orudis, Master Card,
America-On-Line, FiberCon and others might be concerned about their
images.... But I doubt it. The rule today seems to be, "lies and
fantasy sold as truth will sell products; facts have no place in

James Randi.


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