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What TV can teach us: Atheism - VIDEOS

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 25th 2007 4:02PM

cheeseThis is the 27th in my twelve-part series where my friends (that's you) and I (that's also you, but in this case: me) try to learn all we can about a subject by turning to that great teaching tool known as television.

Many people will tell you that whether or not a person ultimately believes in a supreme being is a matter of personal choice, hopefully arrived at through study and reflection. This is not true: both atheism and religion are based on cheese, and which of the following items most interests a person, this:

mary cheese

Or this:

dino cheese

Some would call this an oversimplification, but the fact is that some will see the face of the Virgin Mary in the grilled cheese sandwich, whereas some will just see a sandwich. Similarly, some will see a dinosaur in the other picture, whereas others will see God, who is, as the Bible indicates, "that which you see when you don't see a dinosaur (Thessalonians 4:3)."

Of course, most of us knew that already, so let's see what TV has to say about atheism beyond what we already know:

As an atheist, one tends to take the world at face value. Atheist believe dinosaurs existed long before humans, and that humans and dinosaurs never co-existed. As you can tell from the above video, if a man tried to co-exist with a dinosaur, that dinosaur would be all like, "nuh uh, Miser Man! This is what happens to homo sapiens who try to live before they're born! Suck swamp water, Louis Lartet!"

Also, dinosaurs were masters of camouflage, as the footage shows. They could disguise themselves as toys, and they spoke a dialect very similar to our English, but with dumber lines.

Whether or not you believe in God, you should always be aware of where your information comes from. James Randi, a magician and skeptic, made many appearances on the Tonight Show, and still gives lectures on the importance of science and why he's an atheist. However, Randi has a habit of reciting the same tiresome atheist platitudes again and again:

"I'm here to enforce the guarantee!"

You're here to enforce, nothing, Randi! I'm going to make up my own mind, you got that?

So there you have it. Is there anything TV can't teach us? I don't know, I'll ask my TV and get back to you.

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Just a quick thought, but to me the grilled cheese sandwich looks more like Fay Wray than the Virgin Mary. Maybe it's just me, but take a look if you've got a second:


March 26 2007 at 11:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hmm... you know, I think because I know a lot about BMI and generally how to measure whether you are healthy or not (for instance, my ideal weight is at BMI 25.5 which would still leave mit 0.5 BMI points in the "overweight" region) I got so angry about the show. I thought t would be a good idea to inform people about how to use other means to determine whether you are healthy or not. For instance the info that at different ages your pulse while working out significantly get's lower and lower. Or how much workout a day is ideal. Or maybe that at age X you should be able to climb Y stairs in Z amount of minutes without your pulse getting over W. Or links to websites where you could find out more about that.

But I guess you are right - I think I expected to much of the show. Their general idea was to tell people not to believe in dietary products, in dieting all your life but instead findind a weight you think is good for you, work out (although I would have thought they would tell people to maybe work out two or three times a week). But that would have been too much to ask for - I think they don't want to start preaching, they just want to get a simple message across and honestly I think you might be right - instead of getting angry myself I should hope for the audience to maybe start thinking.

And I guess that was my problem with the show. Knowing that people generally just soak up what they are told they would not start finding out more about their own health. After watching that show they will most likely end up with the information "Don't believe the diet-industry" - nothing more. They would not try to improve their own health or their knowledge, they'd just take the laughs and the idea "Hey, I actually don't have to listen to that obesity crap". And that's what got me angry because just telling people that dieting in general is wrong is wrong itself. Having the Jo-Jo effect because of diets all your life is wrong - I accept that. But not caring about your own weight is just as wrong and I guess those lush sentences like "he is BMI-obese but he still won" don't really get a message across. I thought.

But you showed me that you really can get good advice from that program and in your case I am wrong I have to admit. I can understand that you'd think that I understood the program wrong or that I lack comprehension skills because you are an example for me being wrong. I still think that this topic was handles a bit wrong because of it's general seriousness. But again: I guess I expect to much of this type of show. Sorry for that :-)

March 26 2007 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You were so angry you turned off the TV? Did you watch the whole thing, because if not, how are you a good judge on "all they did." And if you did watch the whole thing, you're letting your anger give you a selective memory. I don't see how anyone can trust what you got from the show when what you got from this particular post was that Adam hates James Randi and that he's right in saying TV is teaching us bullshit - neither of which being things he was saying. On the same level, if people shouldn't trust a TV show's viewpoint, then the users here shouldn't trust your judgement of a TV show they haven't seen, which at least one poster here did.

Anyway, Penn and Teller aren't scientists, and they don't always conduct things in a scientific way (the fat olympics thing being one case) but obviously them picking controversial topics to discuss is going to leave most people talking, and most people are very selective of what they take from a given show. Penn did discuss the advantages of working out, and also pointed out that scientists aren't exactly sure how beneficial it is, that it's still up in the air, which it certainly is. I took from the show that you can't always judge a person's health by their weight, and being active while maintaining a weight is healthier than a fluctuating weight. That you got from it that they were condoning sitting on the couch, or choosing to be obese just because they had the camera centered on fat people, I think is a huge dig to your comprehension skills. Maybe you just got so angry at what you thought they were saying that you stopped listening.

March 26 2007 at 7:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wouldn't call that teaching, I would call it "converting".

March 26 2007 at 2:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am still waiting for the sugar industry to put "0% fat" on sugar-packages. Or the "sugar-free" label on butter.

And to spice things up I'll use a japanese smiley =^_^=

March 25 2007 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow Bash, I actually got through your entire post and my local library gave me a gold star! :o) (Sorry, I always use a bulbous nose on my smileys)

But good points you made and not having ever seen Penn and Teller's Bullshit now I know the title is more appropriate than one would've assumed on the surface. Also, as with Adam's last post about what TV can teach us I learned something surprising: that James Randi is really the traveling gnome, and in Superman/Clark Kent fashion, if he takes off that pointy, red hat nobody knows his true identity.

If Penn and Teller ever have a show about how doughnuts are really good for us and not the fatty killers we've been falsely led to believe they are, I'll have to start watching their show. They do come with a hole right in the middle which is void of calories, so they must be healther than things with no hole, like apples and rice cakes. I smell a book deal.

March 25 2007 at 11:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hehe... first third :-) Boy if you knew how long that post was before I shortened it. I know, it's really hard to believe :-)

Adam I have to admit I used your post as a reason to complain about that episode 'cause Penn & Teller isn't reviewed here :-) And first I really felt like just asking "What's the point of this post". Guess that would've been better overall and more on the point :-)

March 25 2007 at 10:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with what Bash said in the first 1/3 of his comment. This is not to say I disagreed with the rest of what Bash said, but because i only read the first 1/3 of his comment, at which point I decided his comment was too long. Any way I watched an episode of pen and teller's BS where they ragged on Yoga people the entire time. Yoga is very good for you, and can greatly help increase your health, but by singleing out and interviewing the weirdos, they "proved" that yoga was, well... BS.

March 25 2007 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

Thanks for sharing, Bash. Though I do actually like Randi. I found that clip on YouTube months ago and it cracked me up.

Anyway, it's typical for people to only go to sources that echo what they already believe, but understanding the opposing view is always a good thing, you're right.

I pretty much just did this for a larf, but I guess there was kind of a serious point beneath my general goofiness. :)

March 25 2007 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People tend to believe anything they see on TV. I found an episode of "Pen & Teller: Bullsh*it" especially idiotic (S05E01). In the end I was maybe just as angry as you are about this atheism guy here.

All they did was show that the body-mass-index is not a good way to tell whether you are healthy or not. While this might be right, they in the end showed that a person who has the "right" BMI lost during their own "special olympics" and they showed a club of complete and utterly fat women who were advocating the accpetance of fat people in society.

The conclusion: BMI wrong - being fat ok.

I got so angry I turned off the TV. What they SHOULD have told people is that while the BMI might be wrong it is always better to EXERCISE to live a long and healthy life. Because the chances of a person being totally fat (BMI >30) to live as long as a person in the "healthy" region of 20 to 25 BMI (for men) is significantly lower if both are not doing any workout, while a person who is actually working out AND in the "unhealthy" BMI region could actually be living longer than a person in the "healthy" BMI region who isn't working out.

So the conclusion should've been: get your ass off your couch and you can live a long life even IF you BMI is telling you that you are overweight. But simply saying "BMI wrong, accept fat people because we live in a society that is generally wealthier than privious generations" is just wrong.

I would SO have loved to shove statistics about diabetes and the risk of heart-attacks into Penn & Tellers face. They could make another episode about that episode about how much Bullsh*it they told the audience themselves. Man I am angry.

I guess you are right - television is teaching us Bullsh*it. People forget that any source of information they have is not the DEFINATE source and that there is always ANOTHER source you should find and compare to the first one. And to be absolutely sure you should get a THIRD source and a FOURTH and maybe then you can be sure that you got all aspects of a story. That's why universities don't allow their students to cite Wikipedia. Because it is just a reference guide - a collection of sources where you can find the actual information. And people should regard any TV show just as the same thing - ONE side of a story. That's why people should actually watch Fox News now and then or tune in to Bill O'Reilly just to find out what the other side of the story sounds like and THEN go find sources telling the other side of the story. No source has the definate answer. TV is not your teacher. It's a source of information but it is just ONE source. Not THE source.

March 25 2007 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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