Level 1: Obvious Oversimplification

The Learning Channel, A & E, the Sci-Fi Channel. Ancient mysteries. Ancient Atlanteans. Ancient aliens.

Cable tv in its quest for ratings is increasingly the public's main source for an endless stream of pseudo-science. Quite a target for skeptics. Of course, the ideas of Charles Hapgood suffer mightily from half-digested and unchallenged summaries for the half-attending home audience.

But those ideas are typically filtered through the brief comments of someone who gets only a few minutes out of an hour-long grab-bag that typically also manages to touch upon ancient astronauts, angels, Cayce prophecies, comet strikes, the coming of the anti-Christ and--of course--the pyramids.Louis Auchincloss Brown doesn't exist in these strange little tv worlds of myth and mystery.

Pop culture's superficial approach to these ideas is ultimately not fair to public opinion because it's not fair to anyone attempting to take these ideas seriously enough to examine them critically. And, unlike some of the fun notions mentioned above, their implications are serious enough to make them worth taking seriously, but critically.

Cable re-cycles the National Broadcasting Company's conjectural programs. NBC used to be the primary commercial outlet for half-baked and uncritical forays into the conjectural unknown. NBC has attracted a certain amount of justified criticism, on other people's websites, for " The Mysterious Origins of Man: Atlantis, Mammoths, and Crustal Shift." As might be expected, the criticism has also been criticized by other sites, but not in much technical depth. And the battle rages on.

But there's no incentive for commercial tv to provide forums for in-depth exploration and serious debate of these topics. They don't even do that for serious political issues.

But, as the NOVA science show on PBS and similar shows on the LEARNING and DISCOVERY channels have shown over the years, there is a small but enthusiastic audience for shows that examine issues in current thinking, shows that generate dramatic conflicts and truly fascinating battles between belief and proof. While they mostly avoid Level 1 oversimplification, they are filled with the more subtle and more damaging Level 2 Oversimplification.

But the Wierd Wild Web has become the largest source of pop nonsense. This was shown most recently when the world ended on 5/5/2000 because certain planets 'aligned' (as they had previously done in 1961). These planets exerted such a pull on the earth that it turned end over end, has its crust slide around and around, killing billions of innocent and ignorant victims. Or so apocalpytic enthusiasts and 'prophets' would have had you believe in the months leading up to that dreadful date. And if that's not enough, there are the revelations of Nancianity and the Zetas, who have their own catastrophes caused by the return of a mystery planet.

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