Criss Angel is cooler than I ever would have guessed. There's this new show on NBC called Phenomenon. It's basically American Idol, but replace the singers with "mystics" and "mediums" and crap like that, and replace Simon, Randy that tubby Laker girl with goth magician Criss Angel and spoon-bending douchebag Uri Geller. When I first saw ads for this show I had very low expectations. One thing that drives me nuts is pseudoscience. I can't stands that guys like John Edward (The A-hole that hosts Crossing Over, not the A-hole that's running for president) can become gazillionaires by manipulating vulnerable people.
From the ads, two things struck me as troubling about Phenomenon. The first is that they never described any of the contestants as Magicians. This implies that the contestants are suggesting that what they are doing (reading minds and shit) is not a trick, when it should be obvious that it is just a trick. The second problem with the show is Uri Geller.
Uri Geller came to fame in the 1970's by performing various psychic tricks, bending spoons with his mind, dousing and stuff like that. It's obvious that many Americans are not familiar with Geller or have forgotten his downfall since he has a job. Geller has been debunked time and time again. Perhaps the most famous incident occurred when Geller appeared on The Tonight Show in 1975. Prior to the show, Johnny Carson, an amateur magician himself, contacted friend James Randi, a well-known debunker of pseudoscience. He told them to provide their own spoons and other props. As you might have guessed, Geller couldn't do any of his tricks. Here's a video:
But now Uri Geller is back on network TV propagating his bullshit. Luckily, his co-host is Criss Angel. I was unfamiliar with Angel prior to seeing Phenomenon, but apparently he's a very popular street magician similar to David Blain. He's hosted several specials and a TV show called Mindfreak. Although Angel has been the subject of some controversy, he admits that his act is all trickery and doesn't claim to have any supernatural powers. He's one of the good guys.
On the second episode of Phenomenon, a contestant named Jim Callahan did a performance in which he claimed he was in contact with a dead guy named Raymond who told him what object was in a closed case. Uri Geller ate his performance up. Criss Angel didn't:
Angel took a page out of the James Randi playbook and made Callahan look like what he is, a phony.