Re: NBC's "Mysterious Origins"

James Randi --- Wizard (
Thu, 6 Jun 1996 00:51:43 -0400

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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