The Flat Earth Society

I spotted this news article today, it was on Twitter – either Derren Brown‘s or Richard Wiseman‘s. (I think the former). I follow them both for very different reasons: Derren because I respect and appreciate his use of NLP etc. to produce seemingly magickal acts and Wiseman because I am torn between respecting his work on Luck and Happiness, and my lack of respect for his paranormal research.

Whilst initially lol-worthy – the idea that there are still people who honest-to-goodness believe that the Earth is not an ovoid chunk of ruck spinning in orbit around a big ball of burning gas – it did make me stop and think.

Forgetting, for the moment, the venom that people like Daniel Shenton get thrown at them, what really struck me was the way that Daniel was expected to share every other odd-ball belief out there. From the expectation that he was a nutjob anti darwinist creationist to surprise at his not being into 9/11 conspiracies, the article’s author seems to believe that if someone believes in one whacky idea then they should really believe them all. Which is probably me being a tad unfair to the author, I have no idea what his beliefs are.

Reading the article fully I was interested to see that the foundation of the Flat Earth Society was one of trusting ‘experience and reason over the “trusting acceptance of dogma”‘. This is one belief I do share with the Flat Earth Society. I’ve argued many a time that Science can be just as dogmatic as Religion – just look at the kind of rabid responses that supporters of homeopathy have had over the last week or so… compare them to the responses that creationists give to my fellow Darwinists. If you forget what these people are arguing about and compare the language and venom you might see, as I do, signs of fundamentalism.

Maybe I’m a zetetic of sorts, although I’ve always considered myself more of a gnostic. I believe there are still many things out there that Science haven’t yet adequately explained and whilst I don’t believe the earth is flat I will happily stand in support of anyone willing to stand up and question dogma.

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Being Human (Series 2)

I am a big fan of BBC’s Being Human. From the pilot through to the end of Series 1, I was very pleased with the unconventional take on a genre that is very familiar to me (as an old school tabletop roleplayer with fond memories of playing games such as Nightlife)

Far from being as dark as the US series Supernatural (another favourite) Being Human still managed to pull no punches and elements of series 2 carried this forward to good effect. The aftermath of Mitchell and Daisy’s retribution on the tube for example; or the horrific possibilities of George’s near transformation in the school.

Series 2 had a weak start, from a supernatural horror point of view, but picked up quickly. The early concentration on Annie helped add to the series’ mythology, the “doors” from series 1 playing a much more sinister role. Along with this we have sinister god botherer, Kemp, and his team successfully conducting surveillance on the house. Despite this, I think Kemp and his team were somehow underplayed. The resources available to Kemp imply a far greater organization than we see, even at the end with the introduction of Kemp’s catamitic storm troopers.

The BBC did make good use of the web through this series, much of what we know about characters such as Lloyd, Ivan and Daisy come from the various blog posts and the CENSSA website, detailing Lloyd’s findings and research into the paranormal entities he has come across.

Lacking the teen angst or mundane americana of US series like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, Being Human still manages to hold its own, interspersing elements of the supernatural with day to day Bristol life. At the end of series 1, Mitchell, George and Annie had finally grown together as a family unit; series 2 tears that apart as George and Mitchell struggle independently to deal with Herrick’s death. So wrapped up with their own issues (Mitchell controlling the local vampires and George struggling to build a surrogate family) they ignore Annie, leaving her to cope with her own horrors alone.

The final episode had a lot to live up to when you think back to the end of series 1. I can’t say I agree with all the decisions made by the writers but I can see why they made the choices they did and appreciate the roller-coaster ending they give us. There is an obvious direction for series 3 now and a good choice of antagonist for our heroes to be hampered by. There were times series 2 seemed to lack direction but I doubt this will be a problem with series 3.

Now if only the BBC would learn from the US networks. 8 episodes is far too short for a series.