Turn off your TV

You could also smack it with a hammer and set it on fire. More mass media lunacy is looming, with a new show on TLC called Paranormal Court.

Robert Hansen, a psychic medium famous among people who believe in psychic mediums, will mediate disputes between family members squabbling over possessions left behind by the deceased.

You know, if somebody I loved died, and a fraud like Robert Hanson came along to tell me what that person believed, I think I’d be a bit pissed. And no, I wouldn’t accept that he had any authority or knowledge to determine the state of mind of the deceased.

Oh, and TLC (it stands for The Lamebrain Channel, I think) descends a few more notches in credibility.


  1. llewelly says

    I don’t understand all this outrage. What’s the harm in callously taking advantage of tragic events to get your own tv show? What’s the harm ignorantly interpreting (or even inventing) the intentions of someone you never met? What’s the harm in manipulating your way into personal family squabbles and making a public spectacle of them? What’s the harm in misrepresenting your own prejudices as spiritual communication from the afterlife? Why are skeptics so cynical and so angry?

  2. rattlehed says

    I gave up on tlc years ago, it’s all mindless bullshit. The Learning Channel, indeed!

  3. Titus Flavius Vespasianus says

    In my humble opinion, I just would still want to keep my TV set, only to watch my favorites:

    Democracy Now
    University of California TV

    and, eehh, uhh, OK I can watch the same on my laptop. Yes, cancel your cable and recycle your TV set.

  4. Glen Davidson says

    I have no problem with this at all. The people who get the best of it will believe the psychic, sure, but the people screwed over will be likely to become strong skeptics, and eager to show what a fraud that quack is.

    In some cases, they’ll be able to show that the psychic was almost certainly wrong (unless the person changed his “mind” after death). Hence I suspect that the show will yield some substantial debunking of these buffoons.

    Glen D

  5. blf says

    If the deceased confirm that I am Grand Imperial Everlasting Emperor Without Superior of All the Multiverses, and that you are to put all your possessions in Our care, and that everyone is go naked when We are in the vicinity (within a few parsecs of the planet), plus a few other minor points too numerous to mention in this small comment and short sentence, then We may concede to allow the “Paranormal Court” to continue (as long as all its rulings confirm that We is the Grand Imperial Everlasting Emperor Without Superior of All the Multiverses, etc., etc., etc.). Otherwise, We shall ignore it.

  6. kiyaroru says

    Is he going to tell the heirs to sell the silver and donate the proceeds to the Rebort Honsan Foundation?

  7. Holytape says

    Wow, and I thought crossing over was scraping the bottom of the moral barrel. At least that show didn’t play on actual family fights.

    I wonder, if this guy is supposed to be channeling the dead family members, will the living members have to tell Hansen what possession they are fighting over? After all the dead relative should know and be able to tell Hansen without any help.

    I can see how this show will end.

    Robert Hansen: “Your dead granddaddy, is sad about how this priceless diamond encrusted heirloom is tearing the family apart. He thinks its best for the family if you just give it to me. “in a fake ghosty voice” Give it to the hansom and dashing, Mr. Hansen. See, its just want your granddaddy would have wanted.”

    The Holy Ghost

  8. daveau says

    Did TLC ever use to be non-wacky?

    I used to like The Furniture Guys. I even learned a thing or two from them. That was at least 15 years ago, though.

  9. patt says

    I remember when they first offered TLC to my basic cable . I thought great a science, national geo documentry type channel. Boy was I mistaken.

  10. pcarini says

    And here I thought we’d stopped accepting spectral evidence sometime before the 18th century…

  11. JohnnieCanuck says

    Wishful thinking. That’s what is at the root of all these scams.

    Religious con-artists, psychic con-artists, financial con-artists all prey on the far too prevalent desire for things that are too-good-to-be-true.

    How strange that we actually train our children in wishful thinking. Make a list of the things you want and Santa will make it come true. Maybe.

    Ditto for Jesus. You don’t even have to write it down, just think about it. Getting on your knees first may help.

    Psychics that prey on the bereaved have to be some of the worst sociopaths out there. It’s a wonder that Priests aren’t more vocal in defending what is after all, their traditional territory. Maybe we can expect the Catholic League to weigh in against this show?

  12. RationalMind says

    There is definitely a prospect for some serious debunking. How about setting up someone who has left a will?

    I got invited to a seance a while ago by some local nutty spiritualists. ( leaflet through the door.) I was sorely tempted to turn up and try to
    communicate with a non-existent dead relative.

  13. wilybadger says

    I was watching TLC’s version of Hoarders the other night (the A&E show is much better, btw), and it included an add for a program that features two little people who make chocolate. Two thoughts:

    1. Someone must’ve came in their pants and lit up a smoke after thinking of that idea for a show.

    2. Oompa-loompa, doopity-doo!

  14. jafafahots says

    They all suck now. I don’t even watch Mythbusters anymore, they’ve just gotten too over the top with the quick cutting and music video style editing and loudness.

    Novas is dumbed down, Neil Degrasse-Tyson sounds like he’s talking to an audience of 6 year olds.

    And National Geographic? I remember when Elmer Bernstein’s opening music signalled an event. “Shhh! It’s starting! Come quick, it’s starting!”

    About 4 years back I saw a listing for “National Geographic – The Secrets of Shaving” and another one even worse, which I can’t remember. How hot dogs are made or something.

    It’s over, we lost.

  15. wilybadger says

    @19, I’ll admit that I lost some respect for Mythbusters when they did the “Can you curve a bullet like people in that one movie?” myth. To be fair to them, they made it clear they were only doing it because it was the number one most requested item on their site, but still.

  16. Givesgoodemail says

    Professor Myers, TLC is the network of 19 Kids and Counting, John and Kate Plus 8, and The Hoarders.

    You really expected anything better from those waterheads??

  17. Arachobia says

    My favourite part by far is this line:

    “…a psychic medium famous among people who believe in psychic mediums…”

    So, what is he to people who don’t?

  18. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlGRq0-Z1rszYDoYUtFSF2vTnzW25EHhwo says

    Well, now the Ghost “Hunters” know where to look. They should stake the courtroom out.

  19. Travis says

    TLC introduced me to a couple of great James Burke series like Connections and The Day The Universe Changed. Apparently at one point, long ago, they had some worthwhile content. But now I just flip by and sigh when I see yet another paranormal show, or a show about weddings, and die a little.

    My main method of watching TV is flipping to 2-3 channels that occasionally have something worth watching on before turning the TV off again and watching something online, or going back to reading. I am glad I do not pay for this stuff.

  20. Rachel Bronwyn says

    I still like What Not To Wear.

    Seriously though, TLC already owns the Duggars. Paranormal Court sounds less ridiculous than 19 Kids and Counting to me.

    If it’s any consolation, that last time TLC attempted this route of programming (Psychic Intervention or something else stupid like that) the programme barely lasted a handful of episodes.

  21. Shala says

    I still like What Not To Wear.

    I am sadly being forced to watch 2 episodes of this a week for my class.

  22. https://me.yahoo.com/a/x1CsKko.p.keyee5Rk.DLZd7ts9OdS.ilqZgGw--#2a28e says

    I don’t even know where TLC is on my satellite system and I watch lots of TV. I think I surfed to an episode of 19 and Counting. My reaction: When is her uterus going to fall out? Someone should set up a pool. Less likely, though, would be her going postal and shooting up the place. I saw graffiti in the 60s that said “Tie Ethel’s tubes.” Mrs. 19 and Counting should take this to heart. So should octomom.

  23. Feynmaniac says

    In related news from The Onion: Science Channel Refuses To Dumb Down Science Any Further.

    “Look, we’ve tried, we really have, but it’s simply not possible to set the bar any lower,” said a visibly exhausted Bunting, adding that he “could not in good conscience” make science any more mindless or insultingly juvenile. “We already have a show called Really Big Things, which is just ridiculous if you think about it, and one called Heavy Metal Taskforce, which I guess deals with science on some distant level, though I don’t know what it is. Plus, there’s Punkin Chunkin.”

    Note: While the article is satrical the names of the “science” shows in the above quote are real.

  24. Azkyroth says

    will mediate disputes between family members squabbling over possessions left behind by the deceased

    Which, surprisingly, it turns out all of the relevant decdents had intended to will to Robert Hansen, but died before the changes could be made.

  25. sarniaskeptic says

    Psychics as slimeballs? It can’t be so.

    Take a look at this guy: Robbie Thomas

    He’s using pictures of dead (and missing) people to sell tickets to a show that he is doing.

    Even better, however, is that when a couple local skeptics handed out information outside his first show of his tour, his “talent manager” sent a press release out suggesting that people were afraid of an anthrax attack. I’m serious.

  26. Peter B. says

    Personally, I’ve never heard of Robert Hansen, but then again, I mainly read science and atheism blogs instead of watching TV.
    It is a pity they didn’t use someone else instead – you know, someone with more credibility. Someone who had won the Randi prize, or otherwise unequivocally demonstrated their abilities under controlled and monitored conditions.
    What’s that you say?!?!? Nobody has ever done that? The whole thing is a complete waste of time then.

  27. lizzief says

    And let’s not forget that The Lamebrain Channel is going to be featuring the new hit “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”. Get out your hammers, everyone.

  28. https://me.yahoo.com/a/xPlVxPtkqYiOuD8pqFNgxkJFRxIAfsd94w--#2dca9 says

    Between editing life, choosing oprah (who will be replacing discovery health with the oprah network) as narrator and giving Sarah Palin a reality show i’ve come to the conclusion that discovery has jumped the shark.

  29. Sir Craig says

    TLC has long been on that (ever-growing) list of channels that have dropped their original intent in favor of stuff that appeals to the mouth-breathing WalMart crowd:

    A&E – seriously, Dog the Bounty Hunter?
    Bravo – just go ahead and call it QueenTV already (maybe not the most WalMart-friendly channel)
    MTV – I don’t care if they don’t call it ‘Music Television’ anymore, it hasn’t been ‘M’TV in decades
    TLC – a learning channel shouldn’t leave you dumber than you were before you watched it

    Add more if you can think of them – I’m tired…

  30. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawntU1V3jLuz5_O20UHR-gmzgmNuUhc5kW4 says

    TLC introduced me to a couple of great James Burke series like Connections and The Day The Universe Changed. Apparently at one point, long ago, they had some worthwhile content.

    Neither of those were their own production, though.

    I recall around 1999 seeing a TLC “documentary” on Greek thinkers that claimed Plato preached democracy and egalitarianism, and later illustrated Ptolemy’s geocentric universe with an old engraving with a large disc in the middle clearly marked “Sol”.

    The worst by far I’ve seen was their documentary about Brooke Greenberg, which consisted entirely of an Oprah-style profile of the family that consisted mostly of describing what they ate for breakfast, interviews with various caregivers that always cut away just as they began to say something remotely interesting, and within the last 3 of its 44 minutes set side less than 50 seconds to mention that the discovery of a human being that didn’t age might be of interest to those odd science-y types for some reason.

    I wanted to smash in the TV screen, I wanted to personally travel to TLC’s head office to burn it down, I wanted to kill James Burke, David Suzuki, and the entire staff of BBC Horizons on the of chance that their angry ghosts would return from beyond the grave and haunt the creators of this abomination, this insult to the very idea of human curiosity, until the day they snuffed it, probably from choking on the bag of salted pretzels that they forgot they were supposed to open before attempting to eat it.

    And to think I’d gone through my life thinking that the treatment Fenchurch got in HHGttG was one of the more outlandish things that Adams came up with, surely a sign that by that point he’d started to run out of meaningful observation of human follies and was just flinging out the random firings of his brain.

    Please, someone stop the pain!

  31. ereador says

    JohnnieCanuck@#15: Priests also prey on the bereaved, and those who are afraid of their own demise.

  32. Quagmire says

    TLC and the Discovery Channel used to show very good programming (10-12 years ago) and were the main reasons why I finally got a satellite dish.

    Then something happened – the science programming gradually diminished and was replaced with crap. Instead of storm chasers they offereed people repainting their bedrooms. Instead of space exploration they showed people going on dates and getting married.

    So then I had my satellite dish turned off about five years ago and I haven’t missed it a bit (except sometimes the Weather channel and ESPN). I can get Family Guy via broadcast TV. Fuck you, TLC!

  33. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    I haven’t watched TLC in years, nor has the Redhead since room swap/redecorating program Trading Spaces was canceled. I still watch DSC for Mythbusters and an occasional Dirty Jobs.

  34. https://me.yahoo.com/a/PpB_Qocq2YKv7Jn8kDwfvn1zpgD2hA--#4a636 says

    I have long referred to TLC as “The Lunatic Channel.”

  35. Rob says

    They’ve managed to combine “Crossing Over with John Edward” and “Judge Judy”. It’s like a TV version of the KFC bowl of sadness:

  36. Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom says

    Isn’t Robert Hansen the guy who got a South Park Episode ultimately naming him the biggest douche in the universe?

  37. SteveM says

    And National Geographic? I remember when Elmer Bernstein’s opening music signalled an event. “Shhh! It’s starting! Come quick, it’s starting!”

    You know it was a lot easier to be awesome when you only had to produce one or two specials a year. Having to fill up an entire channel of 24/7 programming makes even the best succumb to producing “filler”. NatGeoChannel still produces on average better programming than TLC.

    I truly believe that we have achieved the state of having more bandwidth available than we can possibly produce programming for and so the crap starts to dominate (over and above the Sturgeon’s Law ratio)

    That is, the absolute number of good programs is probably no worse than it ever was, it is just that it is now surrounded by so much more programming that the ratio has plummeted.

  38. Rob says

    @ #45

    No, that was John Edward from the show “Crossing Over with John Edward”. I’ll never forget that show because the first and only time I ever watched it was about a month before the South Park episode and South Park hit the nail on the head.

  39. Rob says

    Once upon a time TLC stood for “The Learning Channel”, and they actually had cool, sciency, learning shows on it. It’s a shame how far they’ve fallen…

  40. Travis says

    I should say I was in no way trying to imply the James Burke series were produced by TLC just that they aired them, that it was content they once filled their time with. The type of program I very much doubt they would air now.

  41. ahcuah says

    I wonder what sort of legal disclaimer they make all the “guests” on the show sign? Wouldn’t it be cool to appear, have the “psychic” reveal all sorts of easily provable false stuff, and then sue the bejeebus out of them for fraud? So, I’m figuring their disclaimer must have something in it to prevent that.

    Oh, and Junkyard Wars was another TLC show that actually showed some learning (of course, that was 9 years ago, now).

  42. Ing says

    TLC also has the 19 and counting bullshit.

    Yes, let’s fund the continuation of mental and emotional child and spousal abuse! Promote the continuing sexual slavery of women and paternal dictatorial domination of the children’s future for our own entertainment! Coming up next the public rape and execution of Grandma the clown! Here on TLC.

  43. timgueguen says

    I don’t think TLC has called themselves The Learning Channel in a good while.

    The Duggar show is no surprise. How are the supposed to get a certain demographic of fundies to tune in if they don’t have some bait? “I thought that TLC thing was run by libruls and atheists, but then I found out they’ve got a show about those wonderful God fearing Duggars. Someone there must be full of the Lord’s grace!” Meanwhile other parts of their audience will watch for the freakshow element of it.

    As goofy as Dog the Bounty Hunter is A&E deserves criticism for airing far worse, such as Psychic Kids. At least Dog is an adult who went into this with eyes open, unlike those poor kids who are being exploited by their parents and those involved in the show.

  44. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7ii4L-mC-7nonq3ke5T_eUue1-EOeuDE says

    A recent issue of BBC Focus” features this astonishing passage:

    Are black holes a threat to astronauts?

    Given they swallow anything that gets too close, they pose a significant threat. They could be just a few tens of kilometers across, the remnants of stars that ran out of nuclear fuel and collapsed under their own weight. More worrying still, they could be anywhere: in 2000, an international team of astronomers announced the discovery of rogue black holes roaming around the galaxy. Weighing around six times the mass of the Sun they revealed their presence by producing tiny distortions in the light of stars they passed in front of, which was detected by the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories. If interstellar space travel ever becomes a reality, astronomers will have to carry out careful surveys of the proposed routes to check for any marauding black holes.

    The BBC is getting to be less and less like the BBC I remember, and more and more like Calvin’s dad…

  45. druidbros says

    Oh I happened to see this without knowing exactly what it was and I LMAO. I am waiting for the episode where the deceased tells his/her relatives to ‘fuck off and stop bothering me, I’m dead’.

  46. JBlilie says

    Blow up your TV throw away your paper
    Go to the country, build you a home
    Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
    Try an find Jesus on your own

    –John Prine

    Great, except for that Jesus part!

    I haven’t watched TV (more or less at all, except for a few very select special events such as presidential debates and a few superbowl parties) since 1986. I haven’t missed it one little bit. I do however find it difficult to speak with people whose leisure time revolves are the tube.

    The few times I’ve been exposed to TV in the last few years I’ve found it grating when not profoundly absurd and insulting (or all of the above). Pitched the lower 5% attention span. Every word spoken in a shout (I can’t stand being shouted at: this is suppoed to be a relaxing leisure activity?!)

    The few things worth watching (BBC such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth, etc.) we just buy on DVDs.