Reality TV gets real

Showtime began airing a reality television program devoted to exposing unproven claims, pseudo-science, supposed “psychics” and “spirit mediums,” amongst other assorted and/or apparent mumbo-jumbo.

Las Vegas magicians Penn & Teller are the hosts and they promise to debunk everything from claims about the dangers of second hand smoke, to global warming.

The show is titled, “Penn & Teller: Bulls—t.”

Some journalists already have begun sniping or snickering, such as LA Times reviewer Brian Lowry and NY Times critic Ron Werthemir.

The two journalists didn’t seem to like the show. Lowry called it “humbug,” while Werthemir describes the program as only “mildly interesting.”

Let’s face it, titillating and sensational claims often draw better ratings than a dose of reality. And this type of “Reality TV” may just be a little too real for many within the viewing audience.

But maybe its time for a show that features some cynical scrutiny? Shouldn’t it be a welcome addition to the growing roster of reality-driven TV programming?

The debunking team’s first target was the so-called “performance art” known as “cold reading.” That is, someone sifting around and asking general questions, then holding forth and giving even more general answers, until someone is convinced they posses “psychic power” or “paranormal ability.”

Sound familiar?

Pen and Teller went after the likes of cable guru John Edward and his show “Crossing Over.”

But pessimistic former magician and fellow debunker Randi said, “No amount of evidence is going to shake them,” a reference to the diehard fans of such sensational paranormal shows.

Maybe so, but it’s good to see some semblance of balance coming to television in this area.


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