Saturday, January 1, 2011

There's Always Another Opinion

Watching the History channel today and the wonderful show, Brad Meltzer's Decoded. Why? Because it is some of the greatest pseudoscience on TV. We must learn from the best!

So, why is this show pseudoscience? One concept: Everybody has an opinion. It is so easy to have an opinion and this show goes out of its way to find the most extreme opinions.  In normal science and historical inquiry, you research and present the evidence that is well tested and confirmed. With opinion, you state your idea and if the evidence does not add up, chalk it up to a conspiracy to hide the truth.

Why base a history show on a set of opinions? Easy, the crazy train is much more fun than plain history.

Let's look at the show on the Statue of Liberty for where they seemed to look more for squirrels with loose nuts than historians. The premiss starts with the statement that there are hidden symbols built into the statue. Of course they did spend about 5 minutes talking with legitimate historians. Nothing exciting. But then they looked for the wacko fringe.

The bizarre circus freaks range from numerologists, someone that believed the statue was the devil, another that believed that the statue represents secret messages to those that would rule the world. Throw in that the artist behind the statue was a freaky mother loving Oedipus sex maniac because he used the face of his mom as inspiration and his girlfriend's body. In our opinion here at Boys Books, the only evidence that added up was the numerologist (they always do).

In the end, the investigators of the Statue of Liberty fond the most important fact, there are a lot of opinions.... Yep, oh and it wasn't the devil, but lucifer (not big L Lucifer, but the little l as in the light bearer.

Science or pseudoscience? Simple way to test: How entertaining was the show? Very entertaining! Must be pseudoscience!

Statue of Liberty. [Internet]. 2011. The History Channel website. Available from: [Accessed 1 Jan 2011].