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The Mentalist

With all of the anti-scientific shows on TV it's nice to see one that actually debunks the psychic crap.




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It will be interesting to watch the flack the show gets.

They can start running this and house back to back. Call it "Must See Reality TV"

What was her last sentence?

You have an immortal soul.

The kingdom of god is a real place, and you have an immortal soul.

Oh I thought she said "immoral" not "immortal." Either way he hopes not.

Ooo, oo, I just clicked on the show link, and you can send a fake mentalist reading to someone. It'd be even better if it were March 31st!

Isn't this just a rip-off of the show "Psych"?

Guy: "Science don't know everything." Girl: "500 years ago, radio waves seemed like magic." Guy: "Exactly."

Hilarious. Too bad they didn't fit a quip about Maxwell predicting radio waves only about 150 years ago. I don't watch TV that often, but I did catch this scene while my girlfriend was flipping channels. Has anybody seen more episodes? At least from this scene, there seems to be an opportunity here for practicing the spotting of logical fallacies.

I think she said, "500 years ago, radio waves would've seemed like magic."

Which makes her not quite so dumb, though her argument is still pretty dumb.

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Serious question: Could you elaborate why her argument is dumb (what fallacies are involved?), it sounded like a normal use of unknowability on her side and pure certainty on his.

The fallacy of bad analogy applies. Any two participants, sender and receiver, can verify that radio works. Any skeptical third party can observe the process of verification - and could have done so 500 years ago, even without understanding Maxwell's equations, quartz crystal oscillators, or piezoelectics. None of this applies to claims of messages being received from the dead. If you interject a skeptical third party into the process of such message sending, the claims don't stand up to scrutiny. (e.g. have a third party debunker at the nearly departed's deathbed who gets to work out a message that s/he must send back from the dead - and make sure that the skeptic can observe that the message is not passed on before the person dies - weird, but possible.) Whatever the means by which such messaging might be verified, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. Since all that we know about senders of messages would suggest that they can no longer "send" – i.e., they are decomposing – claims that they are doing so nevertheless are exceedingly implausible. Therefore, one should minimally demand a standard of verification equal to that we would apply to radio messaging.

Watched both episodes online. Pretty good, but it seems to me they are going for the X-files crowd. The skeptic supervisor thing seems to be an imitation of Scully's critical thinking. It seems to work in these two episodes, hope they can keep it up.

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This clip is somewhat amusing but the show itself is completely without merit. The writing is piss poor and the acting is equally bad.

I checked out the Pilot episode the OP linked to. I really wanted to like the show but the characters have no, well, character what so ever--no spark, no life, no banter. I don't like any of them, nor am I interested in them, and rich characters are one of the keys to a successful show, they can even make a stupid show watchable, even the stupid but generally likable "Chuck". But not the Mentalist. It's like the show was directed by George Lucas or something.

Additionally, the Mentalist character makes lots of psychological conclusions that he'd have no knowledge of from his career as a psychic fraud, such as "an innocent man would have punched me by now." So, instead of a man with impossible "psychic" abilities they've created a man with impossible, perfect "psychological" abilities. I'm not sure that is an improvement.

This is going for the House crowd, if anything. The theme is clearly anti-psychic/superstition, in both episodes so far they have made it clear that "there are no such thing as real psychics".

About scote's comment,

Additionally, the Mentalist character makes lots of psychological conclusions that he'd have no knowledge of from his career as a psychic fraud, such as "an innocent man would have punched me by now." So, instead of a man with impossible "psychic" abilities they've created a man with impossible, perfect "psychological" abilities.

A lot of what he says are not conclusions, but just statements to try to manipulate people into betraying what they're thinking.

I'll agree that it's not completely realistic (as House isn't either), but it's fundamentally in the rational/empirical side of things. And it is a pretty funny show too...

And if I remember correctly, this scene here (my favorite) may be a subtle shout-out to Randi. I think that hack paper-blower Hydrick made the same excuse when Randi did the same thing he did by blowing: "That's another way to do it!"

If it wasn't Randi, I've definitely heard that before from a hack who was proven false by a skeptic.

"A lot of what he says are not conclusions, but just statements to try to manipulate people into betraying what they're thinking."

I suppose there was an element of that at play in the show. However, the reason I bristle a bit at his impossibly perfect "psychology" is that he doesn't actually have a basis for much of it.

In the world of people who perform magic or mentalism, you have performers who use various gimmicks to claim how the do their tricks. Some Mentalists like Kreskin have actually claimed to be psychic. Such claims are ways for dishonest to dress up their ordinary conjuring tricks and make their abilities seem superhuman. Today, a number of mentalists, including Daren Brown, claim to use uncanny psychological ability to dress up their ordinary conjuring tricks and make their abilities seem superhuman. That is my beef with the Mentalist. The Mentalist does the same thing.

In the Mentalist, the protagonist knows things with perfect uncanny ability--not the ability of a Mentalist, who would be able to do cold readings and other mentalist tricks, or detect fraudulent psychics. No, he has the magical inductive skill of Sherlock Holmes. They just call it "mentalism" instead.

Isn't he supposed to be like John Edwards? Crossing Over?

beautiful... it's about time we get to see this broadcast over "Jesusland"

who would be able to do cold readings and other mentalist tricks, or detect fraudulent psychics.

I have an amazing ability to detect fraudulent psychics. Anyone that says they are psychic, I just all a sudden know they are a fraud.

Acumen is exaggerated in fiction, but is a real thing.

Experienced Psychiatrists can spot a disorder during a short conversation. and although I quite far from gifted, as you can tell by me spelling, for a while I got really good at guessing some aspects of peoples personal histories. When I was traveling I got good at placing where people grew up as well as where they currently live by their accents.

The whole trick is that people all feel unique, yet there are really only so many variations on the human story in our country.

A few educated guesses based on some experience dealing with large numbers of people can get people to open up and reveal all sorts of things.

I need to check if this show is on On-demand.

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