31 Jan 02

I'm extremely irritated by the Discovery channel, or, more specifically, the
Discovery Science Channel.  They have some great science shows, but the bulk of
the stuff they show panders to a false sense of wonder.  I assume that many of the
shows in their lineup weren't produced by them, but came from some other outfit,
and they go out in the marketplace and buy entire series to fill out their
schedules with something other than infomercials.

So let's see what I experienced yesterday: I myself was pretty zonked-out by some
unknown malady.  I was achy all over, and was extremely fatigued.  I didn't really
have a fever (not that I checked, but I didn't feel feverish) but I couldn't
really pick up anything either.  I've been sleeping fitfully, but my absolute time
has clocked in at a minimum of 8 hours each night.  I thought that perhaps I had a
low-grade flu or some sleeping problem.

So I got myself ensconced on the couch for some snoozing and knitting for the day,
and noticed that the Discovery channel was playing this 3-hour, 3-program cycle, 3
times in a row during the day.  I forget what the first was about, but the second
was about the spiritual and personal meaning of dreams, somewhat anthropological,
but more of a touchy-feely program.  The third was billed as a program on sleeping

Ah, perhaps I'll learn something useful or interesting I thought.  I used to walk
in my sleep, I still talk in my sleep, I wake up at regular times (not necessarily
a disorder, but possibly something that can be explained), and I've known
narcoleptic people.  I've heard about sleep apnea, and I know many people who
snore.  To a certain extent, people like hearing about medical stuff because it
may actually pertain to them.  If someone came up with "The EGO Channel --
providing you with programming specifically tailored to YOU!" they'd have a
sure-fire money-maker.

But where was I?

Oh yes, so I watch the silly program on dreams, and they're evocative and talk
about issues of importance to people, like death or a loss of culture or faith,
and it's all very soothing and nice.  In fact, I believe I snoozed during the

Then the show on "sleep disorders" comes on -- the series is entitled
"Breakthroughs" (supposedly about the cutting edge of science or medicine) and
this episode is called "The Sleep Files".  Fair enough, I think, and then it

It's not about sleep disorders per se.  It's about paranormal occurances and
sleep!  There was talk about out-of-body experiences and the supposed scientific
evidence to back it up.  There was talk about sleep paralysis, and people's
nightmares associated with such, and tales of alien visitation (which in the
middle ages was the visitation of an incubus or succubus).  There was mention of
sleep telepathy.  

I watched the entire thing, hoping that there would be at least =one= dissenting
voice in the crowd of whitecoats who run these "sleep labs" looking for evidence
of nighttime ESP.  This is the channel that runs short blurbs from The Cigarette
Guy representing =Skeptical Enquirer=, shortly debunking such things as homeopathy
and the like during empty spaces between programs.  I beg pardon?  Not a =single=
dissenting voice?

What a crock.

I was so pissed off.

This channel does a disservice by showing such dreck alongside The Skeptical
Enquirer shorts, the shorts of closeups of the human body (it was neat, showing
how pollen gets caught on mascara-ed eyelashes... also they showed the tissues
that cause the color in the iris), the great program =Connections= (which is
really like a history of science and technology program, with plenty of politics
and other "humanities" thrown in), The Blue Plant, and other great
documentaries.  And you're trying to get me to believe that sleep telepathy is a
sleep disorder?!  

Come on, there are =plenty= of people with =real= sleep disorders, who will be
watching your programs during the day.  People would love to learn about
snoring.  It would be great to explain the psychosis induced by
sleep-deprivation.  Why not show narcoleptics zonking out and popping back
on?  Hey, I've heard there are even narcoleptic dogs!

No, I'm afraid that what was happening here, and I bet in all the
"Breakthroughs" programs is that there are people in marginal fields who are
willing to give lots of access (and possibly money) to get their messages out
without having to put up with criticism.  The type of people who would criticize
their "research" are probably not watching television at those times.


Anyway, my faith in Spongebob Squarepants, the Rugrats, and Samurai Jack has not
been shaken.  Yet.  So television viewing can continue.

Still, argh!

I'm willing to bet they've got a program on how numerology "works".

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