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Probing with Probst

by Mark Edward, Oct 30 2012

Two Charlatans: Edward & Probst 2012

The Good News: We may have reached the tipping point with the tv talk show circus and their propensity for spreading woo and rediculous paranormal trash. With the likes of Witch Dr. Phil and Anderson Cooper continuing to give positive accolades to  mediums, psychic detectives and all manner of un-proven nonsense in their never ending quests for tabloid ratings success, a new face has emerged who just might have the balls to stand up and say enough to all the baloney.  The Jeff Probst Show is the new kid on the block and although he seems to be having some trouble getting off the ground with his no-celebrity-everyman concept, it was refreshing to work with him on a show that I believe (at this point, not having seen the final cut mind you…) will become an excellent piece for critical thinkers everywhere to rally around. No spoilers, just tune in and watch tomorrow;  Halloween at 2:00pm PST on NBC and watch the woo fur fly.

http://www.jeffprobst.com/posts/episode/2116_Jeff_Goes_Undercover/index.html

What you will see as a centerpiece Halloween show  is an effort to put the shoe on the right paranormal foot and show just how powerful “suggestion” can be as a tool for both deception and empowerment; a concept I have tried to champion without much understanding or support from the skeptical community for years.

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/smallscreen/news/article_1706083.php/Jeff-Probst-Goes-Undercover-as-a-Psychic-VIDEO

Jeff and his hard working staff nailed it. Without being condescending, mean- spirited or just another exercise in “de-bunking,” the subtext of this program is a solid “reality show”  indictment of what is so horribly wrong with the media’s blind-sided approach to what is entertainment and what is fraud.

My hope is when the ratings come out for this show, Jeff will realize he has a fantastic opportunity to reveal to the public an almost infinite stream of questionable subjects readymade for skewering: homeopathy, power bracelets and on and on.

This is the guy who can do it with charm, wit and a creative slant that manages to straddle the realm between improvisation and news – a tough sell, but that’s where the once upon a time Jerry Springer demographic is headed.

Science can be just as compelling as throwing chairs around.

Please support this show tomorrow.

Comment on Jeff’s website, tell a friend and let NBC know this kind of informative programming is what we want.

AND THIS JUST IN. It’s the day after I posted this blog and wouldn’t you know it, Anderson Cooper gets cancelled! There you go Andy; you should have had some courage to make up your mind about a few things, especially John Edward. It might have helped.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/10/andersons-coopers-daytime-talk-show-canceled/

I’m Begining to Understand What Randi Goes Through

Recommended Reading

20 Responses to “Probing with Probst”

  1. Steve B says:

    Thanks, I’ve setup my DVR to record it.

  2. d brown says:

    for money in america, aim low.

  3. Susan Gerbic says:

    I’m super excited. I got to watch the first part of the filming when I was in LA and loved it. The crew are all wonderful people, skeptics from what I could tell, I even heard a great story from one guy talking about the harm that came to his friend because of a psychic.

    These people are all on our page, please spread this around, we need them to understand that the skeptic community will support this kind of message.

    Join me on Facebook tomorrow in the Event I have created, we can chat and rant like crazy. http://www.facebook.com/events/187648138026489/

    • Mark Edward says:

      Knowing how editors in Hollywood have screwed up my best intentions before, I’m almost afriad to watch.

      • Susan Gerbic says:

        I just went and “liked” Jeff Probst on Facebook. That allowed me to tag his picture with you.

        Also might be a good idea to comment on the FB page if we liked the show with you and why. It would be great if every month he did a show on a topic the skeptical community thinks is important. We need for him to know we will support him if he does.

      • Mark Edward says:

        Exactly.

        Remember; at one point in the not-so-distant past, we thought we had an ally in Anderson Cooper, and look what happened with that wishy-washy wimp: John Edward got his hooks into Cooper’s mom and the next thing you know, he’s got Edward on nearly every month, without question or any skeptical counterpoint.

        What I’m finding is, like society at large, the younger crop of new Hollywood producers and thinkers just don’t know any better. This is not meant to be disrespectful criticism or taken as arrogance on my part; it’s what we can expect with decades of woo and paranormalism spread all over the networks into “reality” places like “The History Channel,” and “The Learning Channel” and “Discovery Channel.”

        These folks follow orders, doing the best they can supplying whatver “history,” “learning” or “discovery” they can research in the media and whatever cultural meme is getting the most dollar and viewer attention. You can’t really blame them. It’s our own fault for buying into such crap for so long. They are not paid to think – especially skeptically when such non-conformist heresy can quickly lead to the un-employment line. Taking chances like Jeff Probst has chosen to do is a rare instance of televison sticking it’s neck out rather dangerously.

        They did that back in the early 60’s with “The Twilight Zone” and look what happened with that experiment…

        It would be a lot to expect people who work for commercial sponsors and their soap flake selling mentality to suddenly turn into zealous critcal thinkers, but I think we got their attention. Jeff sincerely liked what we did, even if he felt terribly uncomfortable being “the psychic” for a night. It wasn’t at all what he expected and that’s what made this episode a real “reality” show. The reality was there in front of the host’s face. He learned first hand what the blues part of psychic blues is all about. We need that kind of feet on the ground reporting instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator or hyping bullshit for ratings.

        I did my best to let everyone know that I’m available to be their “go to guy” on subjects that involve supernatural claims or anything paranormal. Jeff liked my passion and had a smile on his face whenever he had to rein me in. He was genuinely excited with what went down. We can only hope he clearly sees the advantage of educated skepticism and carries on with his “out-of-the-box” iconoclastic way of doing things.

        Without shouting too loudly, those of us who care need to comment wherever possible on what we think of the “newest trend” toward getting people to at least think about what they are believing in and spending their economically stretched last dollars on.

        I’m not sure if the term “keep up the pressure” is appropriate for Jeff & Co. right now, but if such a thing is possible in a “crowd sourcing” way; on Jeff’s FB page or wherever, we might posit the thought it sure would be great if we could get him to create a special monthly show on some woo topic that could be “revealed” in the same creative way we did with the “undercover psychic” angle.

        Without seeing the final cut, I may be jumping the gun. We will see. The sponsors, producers and NBC execs may turn out not liking the tone and opting to up the woo ante. Such things happen with the best of my hard (and unpaid) work. Stay tuned and please speak up no matter how it turns out. We need this break badly.

  4. Stan Miller says:

    The show is scheduled for 1100 PDST on COX in San Diego.

  5. Leo says:

    Mostly just general information given out anyone would know. Completely a one sided show.

  6. Daniel says:

    I saw the show this afternoon and thought it was well-done. I just had a feeling of deja-vu as I think the fake psychic role done an everyman has been done before.

    Did you think the hypnotist that followed you was appropriate to your theme?

  7. Susan Gerbic says:

    I’m on Pacific Time and watching the show at the correct time. But it isn’t Mark, some other people he’s interviewing. The promos say “coming up next for the the Halloween special” but how is that possible?

  8. tmac57 says:

    Just watched the show,and all things considered,I thought it went as well as those things tend to go.Mark came off great on camera (relaxed and likeable),and I was pleased with the amount of air time he got.Usually the skeptic is relegated to a token spot with a 30 second comment or so.
    Jeff Probst has a real opportunity to become something other than the kind of ‘me too’ daytime TV host here.It worked (the skeptic angle) for Johnny Carson,and I hope Jeff is aware of Carson’s legacy there.

  9. Susan Gerbic says:

    I guess the Halloween special will play here tomorrow. How lame is that! Here is the only bit that is up. http://www.jeffprobst.com/posts/2133_can_jeff_pass_as_a_psychic/index.html

  10. Max says:

    They should do a special on lie detectors, since daytime shows like to use them so much.

  11. Trimegistus says:

    This is great news. Mass media is where the battle must be fought. Blogs and books only reach people who are looking for debunking. Television gets to the people who have never heard anything but media shilling for frauds and crackpots.

  12. Bella says:

    I randomly came across this show and I’m so glad I did! Very interesting! My mother, sister and me went to see a medium about 10 years ago. She was able to provide us with the name of my father who had passed away about 6 years prior. This was before the internet made things so accessible. I don’t know how she got his name, but I didn’t believe at the time and I still don’t believe that she was a real medium. His name was the only thing she got right. The rest of what she told us was so generalised it could have been told to anyone. Still though, she peaked my curiosity so I went back for another reading on my own. I thought if there was even a remote chance that somehow my father was coming to me through her, I couldn’t ignore it. Sound familiar? That is how they rope us in! To make a long story short, that second reading absolutely confirmed my belief that she was nothing but a fake. She has since mysteriously disappeared. I heard she went back to school to change careers. Mediums are like illusionists. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s a shame that so many people are being taken advantage of. I hope other shows will follow suit and get the word out there! I just ordered your book, Psychic Blues, which should arrive tomorrow! Looking forward to reading it. Thank you!

  13. Steve B says:

    What a great spot! Half of the show even. I like how Jeff was cordial to the psychic but let you get in the last word. (really, what ABOUT quantum?? Huh? LOL!)

    Great job Mark!

    • tmac57 says:

      The insidious thing about the ‘quantum’ gambit,is that it is so difficult to grasp,and explain that you rarely have the necessary time to correct the assertion in any kind of debate format,and the weirdness of the concept leaves people feeling like “Well,if that’s true,then I guess anything is possible!”.

  14. noen says:

    There is quite a bit of selection bias in the subjects of the performance. What true skeptic would even seek out a psychic?

    Also, people just want to get along with other people so they will tell people what they think they want to hear. An ordinary person who goes to a psychic reading is NOT going to say “You’re full of it!” Even if they are unsure about the reading they will not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    A lot of people just don’t care if it is real or not. They just want someone to talk to them and to feel they are loved. Lonely little old ladies who have been conned out of thousands in their life savings will go right back to the con artist even when they *know* he’s telling them nothing but lies.

    People *want* lies because reality is too harsh.

  15. Mark Edward says:

    Your apathetic comment doesn’t help the situation.

    While it may indeed be true at this point in time that “a lot of people don’t care if it is real or not,” I can assure you there are more and more people who work very hard to make a difference to those who might be sitting on the fence wondering what the hell is going on in the media.

    Those of us who have personally seen for ourselves the harm that can be done by con artists who offer “someone to talk to them to make them feel they are loved” know this sort of cuddling up leads to a hook being put in very deeply. Check http://www.whatstheharm.net and go to the psychic listing and you can see for yourself.

    These charlatans are most certainly not “trying to get along with everybody” either. Far from it. It’s a billion dollar a year industry based on fear and superstition.

    People *want* lies? Really? Is that what you really think? You need to seriously consider saving your comments for a place like http://www.cynic.com and move on from skepticblog. We haven’t given up. Your sentiment as a blanket statement is incredibly sad and a testament to the work that needs to be done.

    Reality may be harsh, but when the truth comes home to roost; losing your savings, your family – or even your life, is a whole lot more painful then seeing the truth, no matter how hard that truth may be to swallow. Truth being of course subjective to the individual, the truth in the case of learning about the scientific facts of the “reality” of mediumship will set you free. The grief vampires currently on the march are not helping anyone to be free, they want to hook you up for as long as they can squeeze money from you.

    The danger is real. It’s a known fact that mediums will “lovingly” tell a bereaved sitter that their lost loved one is “waiting for them on the Other Side,” causing the same unbalanced vulnerable persons to commit suicide. It happens – and it’s no “performance.” And these poor mis-guided folks might decide to take a few other people with them as well, since it’s apparently so sunny and bright “over there.”

    I work as hard as I can every day to change the paradigm from people wanting lies to turning people around with the truth. It may seem like an up-hill waste of time to some, but I know I will never share your opinion. That has to be the harshest reality of all.

  16. Susan Gerbic says:

    Here is the full show, just went up. Terrific job. Wish there was more!

    http://bcove.me/cokhgd5u