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17 October 2009

Straw Sceptic

I just got home from seeing Paranormal Activity with a friend of mine, and although I didn't enjoy it (that sort of film is really not my cup of metaphorical tea), I did appreciate several things about it.

First off, it was executed well. There was really nothing new or noteworthy about it, but it was a good example of its genre; I'd even go so far as to call it archetypal. I found it thoroughly predictable at every turn, but judging from the reactions of the audience at large (cursing, weeping, rending of garments), it was generally successful.

Secondly (and far more importantly, in my eyes), the Straw Sceptic was missing. Oh sure, Micah was sceptical to begin with, but he was convinced by the evidence (as any good sceptic would be, in that situation), and ended up believing. Few things bother me more* than when various media attempt to portray scepticism as a nihilistic disbelief in any proposition, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence; it's a straw man, and it's harmful. I have no problem suspending my disbelief and watching a movie about wizards or Jedi or ghosts, but seeing slanderous mischaracterisations of scepticism is something that I simply cannot abide.

Now I'm going to bed.

*Nazis, cold toast, and the cancellation of Firefly are potential candidates for inclusion in this category, however.

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