Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"The One" thing not worth watching

...on TV. Okay, there's plenty of other things to not bother with on TV too. But the show, The One, is up against The Simpsons. It's a no brainer.

I had started to write a detailed post about “The One”, but the show is so credulous and poorly done, I can’t be bothered. I also can’t be bothered to explain the background of this show – read it from the link above.

All I’ll say is the obvious flaw is they should have seven non-psychics doing the tests with the seven psychics. (Even better if it's double blind and no one knows who is a "real" psychic and who is a fake.) If the psychics beat the non-psychics hands down – there you go. Without a control group, the tests are essentially meaningless. Moreover, because it’s TV, they do a test only once. That isn’t even close to being methodologically sound. I could use it as a test item in my science classes. “Q1: Identity two flaws in experimental design that essentially make ‘The One’ complete BS.”

They should have also employed a magician to perform cold-reading etc. They could have even just explained cold reading. Oh Richard, I hope the pay was worth it. (Then again, someone had to do it I suppose…)

The last thing I’ll point out is Daddo’s introduction:
Good evening. How would you like to live in a world where a chosen few could solve our greatest mysteries [well, why haven’t they already?], or know things about you, you barely knew yourself [and, how are to verify they are not just making it up as they go along, or more likely, making obvious generalisations?]. Or do we live in that world already? You see, a lot of people think we do and others are [long pause] quite certain we don’t [note the skeptics are already painted as being the “certain” ones]. Do you have an open mind [straight after the “certain” skeptic]? Are you up to challenging your beliefs? This is the search for Australia’s most gifted psychic [note the presumption…]. Welcome, to The One.
Then the cat was let out of the bag when Daddo asked the psychic judge: “You know this works?” To which she replied: “Yes, I know this works.”

So who’s certain?

Richard has put himself in a no-win situation. No chance to explain cold-reading, confirmation bias, probability, controlled experiments, all the while having to try and sound “open-minded” and not cynical (a word Daddo interchanged with skeptical at least once), or even worse, “baffled”.

My only hope for the show is the producers have secretly used a magician as one of the psychics… That would be awesome. However, my psychic said I was due for an unluckly second half of the year, so I don't like my chances.

Update: I think The Chasers need to deal with this show.

Update 2: As much as I like Richard Saunders, I think "The One" needs Criss Angel as a judge.