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by Mark Edward, Nov 14 2009


Well, we knew it had to happen. It wasn’t a matter of where, only when. Get your flashlights out ghosthunters! We are about to embark on an new era of supernatural fiction the likes of which have never been seen or heard of  in any other civilized country. Watch as the glimmer of skepticism that was once a bright new concept in television gets buried under an avalanche of dung masquerading as entertainment. Ahhhhhhhh. Only in America…

And will we be treted to a Fox-news style “paranormal news” section hosted by Dan Ackroyd? You think I’m kidding don’t you? Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Up-Date”  has just leapt off the back burners of history and will soon be cooking up a whole new genre of glassy- eyed fandom. Only this time it isn’t comedy. I may be wrong here but I’m guessing this 24-7 deal isn’t going to feature re-runs of “The Nightstalker” or “Twilight Zone.”

No, I’m thinking all the paranormal crap that has been clogging the airwaves for the past ten years will now have a permanent home where it can fester and congeal into the minds of the next generation of cult wooists, unchallenged by anything even approaching critical thinking. The owners or creators of this abomination can take pride in the fact that they will be responsible for the further dumbing down of American culture. I’m sure they don’t care about that though. They will rake in millions.

What are the chances they would include a program of skeptical thinking? None. America has spoken. We are in for a rough ride. As if what we Skeptologists have been pitching for the last year wasn’t hard enough, I’m pretty sure there won’t be a shred of “reality” to this entire venture. I can’t wait for the advertisers too. The woo merchants are going to have a field day with this network. Look at the website and you will clearly see that the Coffey’s, Brownes, Moon’s and all the rest of the shady characters who have been waiting for this moment to spread their webby wings will now be enthroned as the new “people to watch.”  PTN are already trolling for:


And then, Can you hardly wait for this one:


Boy Howdy! “Green Acres” Meets “The X-Files”

Or how about this charmer:


CC looks like she’s seen a lot of, …eh, well, ….hunting? That  might be the kindest word I can think of at this point. And there’s so much more to look forward to (or is it backward to) there on the website:

The sheer length of their URL should dissuade at least a few knuckle-draggers from getting to the site. Maybe this whole charade will turn out for the best. We can only hope that this unrelenting dearth of woo will become so big it will choke itself to death like some science fiction monster fighting to gain complete control of the earth. Remember what happened to “The Psychic Friends Network?”  And I should know. They still owe me money.That wasn’t so long ago. Might this monumental hoax become a parody of itself? Will people begin to refer to anything stupid by eventually saying, “…You belong on PTN dude.”

Can we dare to hope for a pendulum or better yet  …a wrecking ball?


41 Responses to “PTN”

  1. =^skepticat^= says:

    A few years ago someone sent me a bunch of youtube videos (like 8 of them) with Dan Ackroyd yammering on about UFOs and antigravity or something. Looking back now I should have watched them but all 8 videos at once made my laptop really crabby so I hit the delete key and now will never be enlightened by the cutting edge scientific discoveries which had been made by Elwood J. Blues …

  2. =^skepticat^= says:

    When I clicked that URL it asks me if I meant which I think I did mean …

  3. Kruppshin says:

    As annoying as all this ghosthunting crap is, does everyone who watches these programs actually believe whole-heartedly in the paranormal? I’ve no beliefs in the supernatural at all, but love occult and supernatural themed fiction, precisely because of its exotic and fantastic nature. In all likelihood, a great number of those who’ve made these shows popular are the same.

    • Akusai says:

      Not everyone, no, but media effects researcher Glenn Sparks has given us some compelling reasons to believe that this crap does, in fact, help shape people’s beliefs. He’s done studies on the effect of positive media portrayal of the paranormal and subsequent beliefs, and the numbers are positive.

      You have to remember that speculative fiction of all kinds is fiction and is being presented as such. Sure, there are some nutters who think Lestat is real (not least of all Anne Rice herself), but most people who read fantasy/horror/sci-fi/what-have-you understand that they’re reading fiction because the book is in the “fiction” section.

      The current media glut of ghost hunting nonsense is, on the other hand, being presented as fact and, perhaps more importantly, as science. Most people aren’t inclined to question this presentation (or don’t have the toolset to do it properly), and the context change from “fiction” to “non-fiction” is all they need to grow an unscientific belief.

    • kabol says:

      …does everyone who watches these programs actually believe whole-heartedly in the paranormal?

      if you’ve been to any of these shows’ internet discussion boards you’d see that a good many of them do. with unmitigated fervor.

      poor sods.

  4. tmac57 says:

    Don’t be so sure that they might not find a place for the Skeptologists on their network. After all, it might be hard to come up with 24 hours of woo, and they might just have you on for “balance” like the 5 minutes that skeptics usually get on an hour or two hour show. We can hope can’t we? Start pitching now, and remind them that contrary opinions can draw a lot of eyeballs. Some people just like to get all riled up and indignant when their beliefs are challenged.

    • kabol says:

      that’s actually one of the first things that popped into my head – that maybe they’d pick up skeptologists.

      but then i woke up, and was sad.

  5. Shawn S. says:

    Great joke, Mark… it IS a joke… isn’t it? Please?

    The link didn’t work for me, but that might’ve saved me millions of neurons dying screaming.

  6. Nexus says:

    Will this be on one of those channels that you have to pay extra cash for? If so, fewer and fewer people may be spending their hard-earned dollars on this nonsensical tripe. Or so we hope.

  7. Susan Gerbic says:

    I’m hoping that it will do to the paranormal shows what QVC did to TV shopping.

    • kabol says:

      i suppose it’s no better or worse than all of the religion channels disgracing the airwaves. pretty much the same thing, actually.

      catering, in the media, to beliefs and superstitions simply for the almighty dollar (ratings/advertising/promotional revenue) is not a new thing. it’s a disgraceful thing, but not new.

      at least we have the Science Channel and it was here before PTN. why haven’t THEY picked up skeptologists????

  8. The link is

    Honestly, let them have their cake and eat it. I don’t have an issue with their site (apart from the crime against visual design and aesthetics). The kooks and spooks need their own little playground.

    I wonder if they’ll allow skeptical programing? I’d hate to assume they wouldn’t but…

  9. Ugh…

  10. Dax says:

    I don’t know, maybe it’s all a … hoax?

  11. Nayr says:

    I wouldn’t mock CC the Huntess. She is after all, simply fearless!

  12. TonyaK says:

    It’s just some shoddy, disorganized internet “tv station,” managed by the same people who have brought us the IPAA (International Paranormal Awards Association). They banned me from their website after I dared to publicly question where their “donations” were going. Don’t look for it on your cable network. It really is no different from the various internet radio networks that have been popping up over the past 2-3 years….they just offer video to go along with it for the ever increasing population of kook-aid guzzling parasheep being led away from the Village of Reason by the Pied Piper of Woo.

  13. Chas says:

    I’m curious to see how bad Tru TV’s “Conspiracy Theory,” ends up. It’s set to debut in early December. It is going to star my former governor Jesse Ventura. Looks like he’s going to show himself as still wacky. The first episode is supposed to be looking at the HAARP facility in Alaska.

    Skeptoid’s look at HAARP:

  14. Øyvind says:

    Went to the site, feel a lot better about the whole thing now. It’s a shoddy, low-budget (if you can even call it that much) project by amateurs. Not worth much attention.

  15. Baiskeptic says:

    Please let this mean they’ll take most of the paranormal crap off of History, Discovery, etc… please?

    • Susan Gerbic says:

      If they take it off the History Channel then there will be more room for War stuff like they used to.

      I would rather see it become the History Channel sans so much military history.

      You know like when MTV was all about music videos, back in the early 1980’s.

  16. Gary says:

    woo, click, woo, click, more woo, click, smells like woo, click. Maybe I’ll go to bed early….or watch ESPN (Extra Sensory Perception Network) and be a lounge chair quarterback yelling angrily at the TV “NO, you’re an idiot, thats the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, you should have questioned the validity of that claim, ask for empirical evidence! Put the skeptic in there coach!”
    Maybe just treat it like the comedy network, could be good for guffaws.

  17. Tom says:

    I think I know what you’re trying to say, but it looks to me like you’re using the word “dearth” to mean “abundance” or “oversupply”. “Dearth” actually means the opposite: “scarcity” or “inadequate supply”.

    But thanks very much for the warning.

  18. Tim says:

    “Only in America…

    And will we be treted to a Fox-news style “paranormal news” section hosted by Dan Ackroyd?”

    Why is it (yes, it does say treted rather than treated, that quote is exact) that leftists feel the need to attack the country and anyone who doesn’t sing their praises not at any chance they get, but whenever they speak even if it is unrelated to anything they are talking about? When Michael Shermer releases a blog and mentions an economic viewpoint or political viewpoint then it is because the blog entry is about such a thing. I don’t even know what Brian Dunning’s views are outside of skepticism. These leftists though, they just can’t help themselves can they?

    Why does it have to be “only in America,” the most secular and free country in the world? In Germany you have to donate to a church by law, England has their very own church and state mandated teaching of religion, but in America we have a separation of church and state. Why does there have to be something wrong with America, what is it?

    Why does Fox News have to be attacked? Glenn Beck had a gentleman from Popular Mechanics on his program to debunk FEMA prison camps. They’ve had doctors on speaking on the absurdity of the anti-vaccine people. They have people of all political viewpoints on all the time and report the news fairly. Why does Fox News have to be a target here? How are they pushing the paranormal? The most you can say is that their commentators believe in God, but that is true of MSNBC too! I’m all about skepticism and I definitely prefer P&T to PTN, but what is with the out-of-nowhere attacks on America and Fox?

    As far as PTN, I am not too worried. It will probably go the same way as Air America; bankrupt due to lack of ratings.

    • Max says:

      Is there a paranormal TV network anywhere other than America?
      The connotation of “Fox-news style” is more clear than “MSNBC style”.

      • Tim says:

        Yes, there is paranormal garbage all over the world.

        Fox style? Don’t pretend like you don’t know what he means.

      • Max says:

        “Having previously floated August 22 as the possible date of Armageddon, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck and MSNBC host Tucker Carlson admitted on the August 22 editions of their respective programs that the date had not, in fact, brought about the end of days.”

        A year later…

        BECK: Are the cataclysmic events of 9/11, Katrina, tsunami, famine and the threat of global pandemic signs we’re living in the end times?

        Of course Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson have found a home at Fox News.

      • Tim says:

        Oh yes, now I remember, you are the anti-rationalist. That explains the changing of the subject and the deliberate misunderstanding and the irrelevant sources.

        The original point was about how PTN has nothing to do with anti-Americanism or Fox hatred (not whether or not Glenn Beck in particular, while at CNN, speaks of the apocalypse as a figure of speech to describe Iranian agitation which has historically occurred on holidays, or whether or not Glenn Beck in particular is a believing Christian who believes in the End Days). Also, several of the citations you gave (I went over a few problems in the last sentence) you clearly misrepresented on purpose. An intro is not a statement of belief, it is an intro (and again, it is at CNN, not Fox). The source you used, MediaMatters is ridiculous. This organization has been caught slicing and dicing quotes to make (conservative) people seem like they are saying something they are not.

        However the epistemological sickness you seem to suffer from has you considering all things equal, so you do not differentiate between legitimate sources and illegitimate sources because you cannot tell the difference. You are not illustrating why any position given is incorrect, you simply point out that a position is different and since you form your positions through the process of demonizing the (perceived) good and rationalizing the (perceived) bad you conclude that any position not in line with this objective is evil (evil being defined as attempting to be right).

        This philosophy is what makes it possible for people like Reverend Wright, Ward Churchill, and Louis Farrakhan (Black Liberation Theology Christian, presumably atheist, and Islamic nut respectively) can all get along with one another without conflict because while rationally all of their position conflict with one another in extreme ways, anti-rationally all of their positions are in sync with one another. However, that is a digression that has nothing to do with the original point (although I do not know very much about the original poster who may very well fall into this category, but I do not know enough about him to render such a judgment…but I have read enough of the Max posts to recognize this philosophy). The original point was you either talk about your views on Fox and how America sucks or you don’t. To take pot shots at conventional elements of society for no reason pisses me off because I enjoy Fox (even though I hate religion, prohibition, and a number of other positions various fox commentators take) and I love America. I love this article, it is a great article, PTN sounds like a disgusting network that should be panned, mocked, but more importantly debunked, but there is no reason to attack the country and Fox for no reason.

        P.S. As a side note, Skeptic is apolitical, but this is the blog section and not to be confused with the rest of the magazine. I have no problem with somebody bashing Fox or America in the blog section (I know lots of people get on Shermer for posting on economics and politics in his blog). So while I could protest on the grounds that Skeptic is apolitical, such a protest would be unwarranted because this section of the website is the opinion section. So if Mr. Edward wishes to voice such opinions here he is entirely within his rights, but I still think he is wrong both in the substance of what he says (Fox frequently has skeptics on to debunk anti-vaxers, 2012’ers, FEMA prison camps, etc.) and in the format in which he chose to express that incorrect opinion.

      • Max says:

        Let’s see, instead of addressing the claim that paranormal TV happens only in America, you changed the subject to church-state separation. Then, you drew up a strawman and a false equivalence in one sentence: (“The most you can say is that their commentators believe in God, but that is true of MSNBC too!”)

        You misunderstood what Mark Edward meant by “Fox-news” style. He meant biased or propagandistic, but you conveniently focused on anti-US conspiracy theories and unChristian prophecies that Fox News obviously doesn’t promote. But its commentators have promoted their own ridiculous conspiracy theories and Christian prophecies.

        I linked to the whole transcript of Glenn Beck’s show, but you have a problem with my quoting the intro to it? Go read the transcript! Beck’s show was all about promoting nonsense, not debunking it.

        And my philosophy is in sync with insane radicals? Up yours! My philosophy is to call out bullshit where I see it, which makes it rather difficult for me to get along with bullshitters.

        I find uncalled-for political pot shots annoying too, but instead of going with a knee-jerk reaction like you, I actually thought about it for a moment and realized that “Only in America” may well be right and “Fox-news style” has a clear connotation whether you like it or not.

      • Tim says:

        “Let’s see, instead of addressing the claim that paranormal TV happens only in America”

        Well here you will have to forgive me, I didn’t realize that you were making this claim, which is ridiculous at face value. Okay, here are some foreign examples:

        …a mockumentary that has an interesting controversy section

        or if you just want to look up Paranormal Television on wikipedia there is a list of various programs by channel and some by country (would post all links, but Skeptic is telling me my post is looking “a little spammy” due to all the links, so you will just have to navigate).

        So no, not “only in America.”

        “Then, you drew up a strawman and a false equivalence in one sentence”

        Hardly a false equivalence. I explored the possibility that his comment was God related (which I don’t think it was) and then showed it not to be true. I could have said CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. instead of MSNBC and each would have been true in the fact that they all treat religion with the kid gloves too.

        “You misunderstood what Mark Edward meant by “Fox-news” style. He meant biased or propagandistic”

        I didn’t misunderstand, that is what I said. He clearly meant biased or propagandist and that is just not true. If he means biased he should say biased; if he mean propagandist then he should say propagandist. If he says Fox News Style then he is picking a fight.

        “But its commentators have promoted their own ridiculous conspiracy theories and Christian prophecies.”

        Give an example and I will happily continue the off topic discussion and probably agree that Christian prophecies are ridiculous.

        “I linked to the whole transcript of Glenn Beck’s show…”

        All irrelevant. He was at CNN. That was CNN style.

        “And my philosophy is in sync with insane radicals? Up yours!”

        Nice word choice, clearly you have been noticing my previous posts. Yes though, you are clearly nuts, but in your defense less so in this particular thread.

        “[last paragraph]”

        As I demonstrated paranormal television is not confined to the United States nor is it promoted by Fox News. Furthermore, Fox News has actively played a role in debunking nonsense and the most that anyone could show is that their commentators (Glenn Beck from CNN, sometimes Hannity…can’t think of any others) will echo their religious beliefs on air, which are usually in the warm and fuzzy belief category. Indeed the sliced and diced video clip of Glenn Beck while at CNN that you played showed that Beck was worried about Islamic nutjobs trying to bring on the Apocalypse rather then suggesting one might happen himself. He then, in another sliced and diced video, brought on a Christian nut who believed this event with Iran was going to be the end of the world and (after giving a religious disclaimer that he too was a believer in the end times and nobody should doubt his Christian beliefs) proceeded to mock him. He made two rational assessments, and then said if you agree with those two and the notion that Iran and Russia yada yada, then you are gonna’ love dis’ guy (making clear that he didn’t think this guy was correct). He then ate a cake on August 22nd indicating that Media Matters might have done a hatchet job on him.

        So to reiterate, the evidence is clear that paranormal television is not only in America, Fox News has in its news department (and many times in the commentary department) worked to discredit nonsense, Fox is not biased in its news reporting (and commentary by definition is one sided), and it is clear from the context of the original post that these comment were not claims but attacks. So I’m calling pot shot and I’m calling bs.

      • Max says:

        “Well here you will have to forgive me, I didn’t realize that you were making this claim, which is ridiculous at face value. Okay, here are some foreign examples…”

        I wasn’t making that claim. Mark Edward was. Obviously, there are foreign paranormal TV shows, but I didn’t find a paranormal 24/7 network.

        “I could have said CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. instead of MSNBC and each would have been true in the fact that they all treat religion with the kid gloves too.”

        Which one pushes Christian BS like Creationism more than Fox News? Your reasoning is what you’d call indiscriminate.

        “All irrelevant. He was at CNN. That was CNN style.”

        I knew you’d go that route. Reminds of the joke, “I transferred here from Harvard, and as you know, they don’t keep idiots there.”

        I watched Glenn Beck on CNN2, so I got the gist of his show. If that was CNN’s style, it was probably to compete with Fox News. I haven’t seen Beck on Fox News, but I expect it to be worse rather than better.
        I’ve seen Bill O’Reilly’s nonsense, like his interview with Richard Dawkins.

      • Tim says:

        Okay, you clearly are not trying to make points anymore, you are just being contrarian and trying to nit-pick what I say. I’ve made my points, I’ll let any interested onlookers make their own decisions.

      • Max says:

        My point is that your counterarguments were non-sequiturs. Instead of arguing that America has church-state separation, show that a paranormal TV network either exists in other countries or would be popular there. Instead of arguing that Fox News debunks some paranormal claims, explain why “Fox-news style” should not connote bias and propaganda.

      • Tim says:

        The burden of proof lies on those that make the proposition. If you say that America is unique in believing in the paranormal, you have to prove that (and I did provide evidence that paranormal crap exists on foreign TV). If you say that Fox News is a propaganda outfit, you have to prove it. You are taking the process of reason and throwing it in reverse. You do not assume things to be true until other people can prove that they are not. The default position is not believing anything and then you come to believe things when they are objectively proven. Again though, missing the point. There is no reason to badmouth America or Fox in this blog, it is the non-sequitor.

      • Max says:

        “The burden of proof lies on those that make the proposition.”

        That’s right, you could’ve asked Mark for proof, though the post would’ve looked weak.

        “There is no reason to badmouth America or Fox in this blog, it is the non-sequitor.”

        If it was a lame pot shot, I agree. If Mark has been around the world and really does see America as an exception, it’s a valid point that’s worth discussing.

  19. Max says:

    Discovery Health, the channel that aired the first season of “Jon & Kate Plus 8″, will be replaced by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

  20. Viewmaster1977 says:

    I’ve been to that site and I watched a few of their live shows. It’s ok. Better than some of the crap I see on television. There are strange people everywhere, not just in the paranormal.

    You are wrong about them not having skeptics on. They had one skeptic on there who tore up the ghost divas for having some flake in their group who molested kids. He had the court papers I saw them on his site. They didn’t deny it instead they defended the guy. Instead of agree that people should be given background checks before they can go into peoples homes they chose to support the creep (Reverend Robert Hunnicutt aka Bob who plead GUILTY of molesting his small daughter and spent a couple years in jail for it). I made a mental note to never let any of those people around my kids or my kids friends. My sons are both adults and love that paranormal junk. I will take strange entertainment over disgusting sicko any day of the week.

    If you posted that sites images without their consent you may be setting yourself up for a lawsuit. We can post our opinions all we like, freedom of speech covers that. Use trademarked site material and logos you may find you barked up the wrong tree. Just a bit of advice. Great site you have here. Always interesting stuff to be found.