In 1960, the CBC launched the Nature of Things as a half-hour science series. It was a good idea. People wanted to hear about science and the Nature of Things gave it to them. The CBC describes it as Canada’s longest running documentary television series.
Notice that the word science is not in the description.
That’s because the Nature of Things is not about science anymore, or at least, not just about science. Now it is equally about the increasingly flaky, pseudo-scientific nonsense promoted by the program’s star, Dr. David Suzuki. I remember when Dr. Suzuki first joined the program 30 years ago. He shattered the image of scientist as nerd and presented science in a way that I thought was magic. He was just so cool.
Things have changed. Now, Dr. Suzuki is trying to sell magic as science.Literally. Take a recent example. On May 13, the Nature of Things presented: Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine. The documentary follows Tuvan Lama, Tibetan Monk and traditional healer, as he treats patients, engages in traditional rituals, and passes on this vast medical heritage to the next generation.
Dr. Suzuki’s overly earnest narration provides a nice contrast to the nonsense on the screen. For example, Dr. Suzuki tells us:
- ancient Tibetan medicines are only mixtures of ingredients and are ineffective until they are prayed over using special ancient Tibetan rituals and incantations,
- ancient Tibetan medicine is recognized and accepted as a comprehensive medical system,
- Tibetan medicine understands how the mind affects the body and how our personal energy fields can be used to help the body heal itself.
This is only a small sample of the stupidity presented. There is much more, as it takes a lot of nonsense to fill an hour of television, but I can’t remember it all. I do remember one scene though. It concerns an unfortunate elderly woman who is dying of stomach cancer. She comes to see Tuvan Lama and telling him of her condition, she asks for any help he can provide. Tuvan Lama takes her hand, and after a deep spiritual moment, asks her if her stomach hurts?!! He then provides her with some special medicine that has been prayed over (because you know, you like need that) but reminds her to get right with the Buddha, because evidently, she is going to die anyway.
Wow, this is the kind of medicine we need in the west, especially in Alberta. We have got way too many people going to hospitals for things like cancer and it’s costing us a fortune. We could bring Tuvan Lama and other monks practicing these ancient healing arts over here. That way, our cancer victims could die much faster and at less cost. (Patient: I have Leukemia. Monk: Better get right with the Buddha because you’re toast. That’ll be $100. Next!)
It’s sad to see a what was a great program like The Nature of Things, slide so far downhill. In my view, it is a betrayal of those that originally put the program together so many years ago. They wanted to explain and develop an appreciation for science among their fellow Canadians. Now, the Nature of Things is trying to sell Canadians that mysticism and magic are science and feed the ego of its host in the process.
It turns out, Dr. Suzuki has created a whole new show: The Nature of Nonsense. Weekly on, where else, the CBC.