Posts Tagged 'Movies & TV'

Test the Nation Results

I just finished watching and taking the CBC’s Test the Nation IQ Test, which compared the IQs of 6 groups of Canadians, 2 of those groups being Atheists and Believers (I talked about this test in more detail in a previous post).

The results are in, and here are the standings by group:

1. Nerds
2. Politicians
3. Atheists
4. Tie: Believers & Contact Sport Athletes
5. Twins

The person in the in-studio groups that had the highest IQ was an atheist, who scored 140. Woo!

I scored 110, I squeezed into the above average category…that was a hard test! If you want to take it you still can for now if you click on the image below. I’m not sure how long they’ll leave it up there though so take it soon! If you’re not Canadian you can still take it, just select “Outside Canada” for Province.

iq test

I was hoping the Atheists would win, but lots of nerds are also atheists so I’ll call it a win haha…

There were some comments made by the believers that struck me as really nasty, to paraphrase: “the atheists need to remember there is a hell”, and “we sleep better at night [than the atheists]”…but there was a lot of friendly rivalry between all of the groups so it’s all good. The nerds seemed to take the brunt of the insults though, so I’m glad they won!

I think the part I enjoyed most was George Stroumboulopoulos really sticking it to the politicians, it was pretty hilarious.

Did you watch? How did you do? What did you think of the rankings? Did you think the test was well done?

They haven’t posted detailed results yet on the CBC website, but I’ll try to remember to link to it when they do. They didn’t just compare the results by the groups listed above, they also compared by province, gender, shoe size, and they even hypnotized a group of the in-studio participants to see if they did better. It should be interesting to see how everyone does.

Note: If you missed the chart at the end to find out your IQ, click on the image below to make it bigger:

The results are now up on CBC’s website, comparing the IQs of everyone who took the test (not just the in-studio groups). Almost all of them fall in Above Average, so I’m guessing that says something about they types of people who would spend 2 hours of their weekend taking an IQ test while they could also be watching the Saints/Vikings game!

Here are the national results by religion:

choice Total Respondents Lowest Score Highest Score Average Score Average IQ
Religious 6182 0.0 50.0 31.21 111.48
Agnostic 3955 0.0 50.0 33.4 115.37
Atheist 3584 0.0 50.0 33.41 114.26
Other 4544 0.0 50.0 30.62 109.87

There are also a lot of fun stats like if you seem to have the best IQ if you’ve had 3 concussions, NDP party members have the highest IQ, and Sci/Fi fans did better than fans of other forms of literature. You can see the full results here.

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Test the Nation – Comparing IQs of Atheists & Believers

[NOTE: The results are in, not yet up on the CBC website but they’re here for now.]

I always enjoy clobbering my husband in CBC’s Test the Nation quiz shows. It’s a TV series where you get to test your knowledge alongside different groups of people in the studio, as well as other participants at home. Previous show themes have been sports, trivia, or knowledge of Canada, and previous examples of in-studio groups have been bloggers, advertisers, tour guides, etc. It’s a fun time!

The upcoming show (next Sunday, January 24th) is an IQ test:

Our IQ test gives people across the country the chance to measure their intelligence against the rest of the population. Created by our team of intelligence-testing experts led by psychologists Dr. James Parker of Trent University and Dr. Don Saklofske of the University of Calgary, our test questions are closely modeled after those found in standardized IQ tests. The test aims to evaluate performance in what are considered key areas of intelligence, such as language comprehension, visual perception, memory, math and logical reasoning.

I can’t wait for this show to confirm my immense genius……. I’m also very interested this time in how the different groups will do. There are Politicians, Nerds, Twins, Contact Sport Athletes, but more interestingly (to me) Atheists and Believers.

I’m biased, I think the atheists will win…in my experience with atheists, they’re very good at figuring out the truth, and very thoughtful and intelligent people.

Here’s what representatives from the two in-studio teams have to say:

Believers: Reverend Katherine Brittain

4. Why will your team do well on the IQ test?
A large part of our job as clergy is listening, reading, analyzing and synthesizing information, reflecting on it critically and then presenting it in understandable ways for our congregations – challenging our folks to learn and grow, question and analyze – so we should have a group of folks who know how to use our brains! In addition, many faith traditions have educational requirements for the clergy that includes several years of post-secondary education, so we should do well in traditional IQ testing. If all that fails, well, we have a lot of prayers being offered by the contestants and our congregations who will (hopefully) be watching!
6. If you could have any specific person on your team, who would it be?
The Dalai Lama. Besides the fact I’ve always wanted to meet him, he’s brilliant, so it would bring our team’s score up and he’s got an aura of calm and serenity, so he could lull the opposition into relaxing.
Atheists: Justin Trottier, Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, Toronto
3. Why will your team do well on the test?
I think we will do well because Atheists tend to be questioned on their beliefs so much that they tend to be very well read and well-researched, and as a result are quite knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects. I think that will make our team a dynamic and successful one.
4. If you could have any specific person on your team, who would it be?
Maybe Leonardo Da Vinci – he knew so much and was involved in so many disciplines. There are obviously people who have made more contributions in a given field but he had such a broad range of insights. Also it would be very cool to meet him.
I’m excited that Justin Trottier is representing the atheists, I love CFI and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him interviewed on Point of Inquiry.
If you’re in Canada and you want to participate in Test the Nation, make sure to sign up on the CBC website. You can sign up as a virtual member of one of the groups, and they’ll have stats afterwards of how each group did. So far the atheists are the largest group by far!
Who do you think will win? I’ll be sure to post the results after the test. Good luck!

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Pope No Likey Avatar

Uh-oh everyone, the Pope’s got a new beef: people are caring more about the environment than the magic man in the sky!

He’s worried about this new movie called Avatar, heard of it? Just in case you haven’t (wink wink), it’s a “going native” movie with a core message of protecting nature from industry. The horror!

This scares the Pope:

Vatican Radio said Avatar “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the need to protect the environment, but warned against “neopaganism” and the danger of turning nature into a “new divinity.”

In Avatar, “nature is no longer a creation to defend but a divinity to worship,” the radio reviewer said.

Apparantly this is more of a concern than protecting Africans from AIDS.

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Forgotten Silver – #87 of 100 Top Hoaxes

It says here that my number 87 hoax was proclaimed by Guinness World Records as the greatest film hoax in history. But if any lessons should be taken from this countdown, it’s don’t trust random pieces of information you read on the internet.

In 1995, film directors Peter Jackson and Costa Botes released their documentary, Forgotten Silver, about a forgotten filmmaker named Colin McKenzie, who “presented as the first and greatest innovator of moderncinema, single-handedly inventing the tracking shot (by accident), the close-up (unintentionally), and both sound and color film years before their historically documented creation. The film also shows fragments of an epic Biblical film supposedly made by McKenzie in a giant set in the forests of New Zealand, and a ‘computer enhancement’ of a McKenzie film providing clear evidence that New Zealander Richard Pearse was the first man to invent a powered aircraft, several months prior to the Wright Brothers.”

The hoax wasn’t held up for very long at all, it was revealed the day after the film’s release. But it was an ingenious tribute to the classic film styles that Peter Jackson loved:

Jackson is ultimately a film nut, and “Forgotten Silver” gave him the opportunity of his dreams: to become a part of the medium’s history. Or at least to pretend he was.

The set-up is simple but ingenius. Jackson, tipped off by his neighbor, investigates some old, discarded films. A fan of New Zealand culture, he plans on taking them to the country’s film archive but after viewing what he has in hand there he sees something more incredible than he could have imagined: the lost films of fabled New Zealand director Colin McKenzie. McKenzie was, as he explains, a pioneering director whose works were long thought destroyed, and due to this the man’s legacy in film history had been lost. It turns out, McKenzie in fact pioneered the tracking shot and close-up, not to mention creating the first sound and color films years, sometimes decades, before previously thought. Jackson and Botes explain exactly how monumentally these change the face of film history as we know it and head off in search of McKenzie’s masterpiece, an adaptation of Salome nearly completed before its torturous shooting schedule killed his wife (and unborn child).

It’s a remarkable tale that shows both genuine scholarship and fine documentary work. It’s also, of course, completely and totally fake. Enlisting the help of film historian/critic Leonard Maltin and distributor/sleazeball Harvey Weinstein, Jackson and Botes managed to convincingly convey that they may have made the discovery of a century. The pair also had a journalist friend write up the film in the New Zealand Listener before the broadcast in order to create publicity…

Ultimately, though, the hoopla that surrounded the movie is a lot less interesting than the film itself. Its higlights are the impressively, almost mind-bogglingly perfect recreations of old movie styles… Jackson’s turn-of-the-19th-century-style shorts are done with a loving level of accuracy that’s ultimately what made the entire film so believable.

This hoax is an example of how trickery can be an art form, and how it can be used positively to bring attention to ingenuity.

See a list of hoaxes counted down so far after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Forgotten Silver – #87 of 100 Top Hoaxes’

American Cannibal – #94 of 100 Top Hoaxes

In 2006 a new documentary came out that followed a couple of aspiring filmmakers as they struggled to get a project off the ground. Eventually the pair sells out to make a reality TV series…with disastrous results…

At least that’s what they want you to think…

To be truthful I don’t know that this is a hoax, as the filmmakers haven’t come out and said so, but come on, it has to be! Spoilers ahead, so if you’re planning on seeing American Cannibal, stop reading now!

The filmmakers, Perry and Michael, team up with a TV producer with questionable morals to come up with a survivor-style reality show in which they would push the contestants to their limits. They want to see how far people are willing to be pushed for reality TV fame, even if that means cannibalism.

The whole think gets shut down, though, when an “accident” puts a halt to production. At the end of the film one of the contestants gets injured, and it’s all very mysterious. You see very little, no close-ups, and you don’t get a clue as to what kind of injury it is. The contestant is a thin young woman, so the assumption is that she collapsed after having been deprived of food for too long. At least that’s the assumption I made. After the accident the rest ofAmerican Cannibal shows Perry and Michael feeling guilty and trying to figure out from the girl’s family if she’s okay.

As soon as I finished watching I hit Google to see if I could find out what happened to this girl. Is she even still alive?

I quickly came across this video, which shows her accident from a different perspective, showing that the accident was no accident. It appears to show another contestant flipping out and punching or knifing the girl in the face.

But was it a set up? Why was the picture so grainy, and why wouldn’t the filmmakers have any idea what happened to the girl? Why isn’t this girl’s family or the other contestants on the show speaking out against them? Something’s not right here. American Cannibal‘s website says this about the girl:

Q: What happened to the girl?

MN: The girl on “The Ultimate Ultimate Challenge/Starvation Island” appeared to be badly injured and we looked into that further than is shown in the film.  One of the producers spoke to her not long ago, and apparently she’s okay.

PG: This question comes up a lot and although the movie is about the human cost of reality-entertainment, it’s not about a contestant or her injury and we’re not interested in exploiting it.  However her injury does highlight the public frenzy for real-life drama Ð the media love a damsel in distress, and the public seems to want to know about it —

MN: Particularly when she’s busty and blonde and white.  Laci Peterson, The Runaway Bride, Natalie Holloway, the Aruba girl, Jessica Lynch.

PG: If there’s more to the story, or even if there isn’t, surely several newspapers will find room on their pages to talk about it.  Extra ink if she’s dead and/or nude.

They’re leaving a lot open to speculation, which makes me think that this is all for publicity. After the film premiered at Tribeca the New York Times reported this:

But is it true? An e-mail message that I was sent claims it is not.

“The big secret is that this ‘provocative’ and ‘penetrating’ documentary is not a documentary at all. The whole thing was staged,” said the message, from someone using the name “mistermovieguy,” which circulated last week. The author of the message, who did not respond to e-mailed questions — suggested that he or she had worked on the film and could say with certainty that “it’s all made up.”

The men who made “American Cannibal,” Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro, say that the e-mail message suggesting their movie is a hoax is itself a sham. But they managed to be both earnest and cagey about their documentary when I met them over lunch at a coffee shop in Midtown Manhattan on Friday.

“I am not out to prank anyone,” said Mr. Grebin, who used to work in television news. “We hope that people will be engaged by the blurry line of what is real and what may or may not be.

“We created scenarios in which events unfolded, over which we did not have control, which is very consistent with the documentary tradition,” he said.

“We don’t want to lie, but we want people to peel back the layers of the onion,” said Mr. Grebin. “Nobody really wants to look at truth; they want to see the circus, so we gave them a circus. We used elements of reality TV to make a movie about reality TV.”

So is “American Cannibal” reality, reality television, a comment on reality television or an outright hoax?

If there isn’t a satisfactory answer, perhaps it is because all reality seems to have quotation marks, asterisks, parentheses and a herd of question marks around it…

I love this hoax (or non-hoax) because it’s still a mystery, and it’s a whole lot of fun trying to figure it out! There’s a lot of fun speculation out there, I recommend doing some creative Googling after seeing the movie. Enjoy!

See a list of hoaxes counted down so far after the jump.

Continue reading ‘American Cannibal – #94 of 100 Top Hoaxes’

Family Guy’s Abortion Episode Aborted

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane revealed on a Comic Con panel that Fox may not be allowing the release of an episode dealing with abortion:

“20th Century Fox, as always, allowed us to produce the episode and then said, ‘You know what? We’re scared to f–king death of this,'” MacFarlane said.

I’m completely against censorship, so I was hoping that they would cave and allow the episode to air, but then Fox released this statement:

“Fox will not air the ‘Partial Terms of Endearment’ episode of ‘Family Guy,’ but we fully support the producers’ right to make the episode and distribute it in whatever way they want.”

Pathetic! Seriously I think it’s impossible to offend Family Guy fans, why draw a line now? Hopefully this one goes the way of  “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein” and makes it to the air eventually.


Brad Pitt Atheist/Agnostic

I knew there was a reason I liked this guy:

Brad Pitt

…It couldn’t have anything to do with the way he looks, no, that’s not possible.

In a recent interview Pitt revealed that he doesn’t believe in god:

“No, no, no!,” he declared, when asked if he believes in a higher power, or if he was spiritual. “I’m probably 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic. I don’t think anyone really knows. You’ll either find out or not when you get there, until then there’s no point thinking about it.”

I think it’s risky for someone whose career depends on people liking them to admit something like atheism, especially given the negative connotations associated with the word.

Good on you, Brad! (As if we’re on a first name basis)

Saturday Salute to Scientists…The Science and Entertainment Exchange

At the Amazing Meeting 7 in Las Vegas, we got to see Jennifer Ouellette, a science writer and director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange (SEE), speak about the quality of the science that’s portrayed in popular culture (from Wikipedia):

The Science & Entertainment Exchange (the Exchange) is a program of the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS) developed to increase public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of science through its representation in television, film, and other media. The Exchange provides entertainment industry professionals with access to appropriate scientists and engineers who help to encourage effective representations of science and scientists in storylines, special effects, contextual background, and other elements in popular media. The Exchange also helps the science community understand the needs and requirements of the entertainment industry.

Officially launched in November 2008, the Exchange arranges direct consultations between scientists and entertainment professionals who develop science-themed content; it also provides a variety of other services, including scheduling briefings, brainstorming sessions, screenings, and salons. The Exchange is based in Los Angeles, California.

So often, movies and television shows get the science so wrong, and they perpetuate certain myths and untruths about how our universe really works. But there are an increasing amount of shows that are making an effort to get it right, and the Science and Entertainment Exchange is making it easier for writers to have access to scientists in several fields that can inform the scientific aspect of the script.

SEE, I salute you!

Science and Entertainment Exchange

Bill Prady, Executive Producer of the Big Bang Theory at TAM7

Bill Prady, the Executive Producer and co-creator of one of my favourite shows, the Big Bang Theory, was the keynote speaker at The Amazing Meeting 7 in Las Vegas.

He said something that surprised me, and I think most people who wereBig Bang Theory there: the show has not received any hate  mail! One would think that a show called the Big Bang Theory would have tons of angry letters from creationists. But Prady said he looked, and couldn’t find a single one. He took the time to hunt for them, but the only bad mail he found were creepy letters  to the show’s female lead Kaley Cuoco…yikes!

I’m afraid I can’t recall what Prady said about the lack of angry mail, but I think it’s just because the characters are so likeable. The show follows a group of friends who are also scientists, and it’s full of physics and science fiction references. But the science/geek culture isn’t forced on the audience…The show is more about a group of people just living their lives. The characters have problems with love, family co-workers, you name it. Although they aren’t typical people in that they’re brilliant scientists, they are extremely easy to relate to.

Prady also dealt with the criticisms of the show, which are that the four scientists are huge video game-loving, comic book-reading geeks, and Penny, the main woman on the show, is a ditzy blonde.  I liked what Prady said, and that’s that this is a show about characters. It isn’t meant to give the idea that all scientists are awkward geeks. The show is about geeks who also happen to be scientists. And Penny is not a ditzy blonde. She’s an intelligent woman who is good at life, she just doesn’t have the same interests as the scientists.

I absolutely love this show, and it was a pleasure to learn about how it came to be and how the characters were developed straight from Prady. I hope it has a long run!

Michael Jackson’s Ghost

Last week this video was shown on CNN, and it quickly went viral as many people believe it shows Michael Jackson’s ghost at Neverland Ranch.

Now, somewhat surprisingly, Larry King has debunked the video on his show. I say surprisingly because  King has not hesitated in the past to provide a platform for all sorts of harmful pseudoscience, most notably Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccination nonsense.

I wonder why he has chosen to devote time on his show to debunking a fluff ghost story, yet he gives almost no criticism to dangerous purveyors of woo. Okay, I know why…RATINGS! It’s completely shameless.


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