Channel 9 Does It Again

Channel 9 Does It Again, by Barry Williams (Credit: Australian Skeptics):

September 1998

The following article was created by Barry Williams specifically for the web site and was not published in The Skeptic journal. Prompted by an e-mail question from Graham Donald (see below), Barry describes his presence at the taping of the TV show Prophecies and Predictions.

Well then, hands up those who wasted two hours of their life watching Prophecies and Predictions on Ch 9 last night?

Having spent 3 hours last year being taped talking about these ‘predictions’, I optimistically expected I might get 30 seconds on air. As it happens that was wildly optimistic - I didn’t get onto the screen at all. However, if you are one of those inveterate end title readers (the ones who know who did the makeup, or was the key grip on every film made since 1900) you would have seen my name nestled among 20 or so others who were given "special thanks".

I have no idea why they thanked me, because if they’d taken any notice of what I said they wouldn’t have made such egregiously stupid statements as the ones about the Great Pyramid (I have news for Ronnie Burns - the King’s Chamber is NOT directly under the apex of the pyramid, it is offset from the centre-line, by several metres, as a quick glance at any diagram will show) and the Bermuda Triangle.

I’m not complaining about not appearing, I doubt if my reputation could have withstood being associated with such a load of absolute twaddle. I’ll also bet that the Geol Prof from Monash and the Met Prof from Melbourne Uni are regretting their appearances.

It really was a comprehensive pile of crap. Assorted talking heads babbling about the coming new age and various catastrophes, along with actors (in suitably sepulchural tones) reading the "words" of such predictive luminaries as Nostrababy, Old Ma Shipton, John of God (I wonder if he is related to Fred Thornett’s mate Terrence of God?) Edgar Cayce, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Not to mention a faceless and nameless Hopi Indian, who seems to have predicted everything from two world wars to McDonalds..

Ronnie Burns (a pop singer from the dim past) who was credited with the "original idea", also fronted the show and was shown looking and sounding suitably grave, in suitably picturesque locations and suitably impressive libraries.

Most of the footage was standard newsroom stock - volcanic eruptions, nuclear explosions, tidal waves (actually ordinary waves superimposed on backdrops of the Sydney skyline), floods, wars, plagues, famines and assorted other apocalyptic nastiness.

It didn’t seem to occur to Ronnie, Savior of Mankind, that even with the best spin in the world, the assembled sages all seemed to be predicting different things. The one who seemed to get the most attention (of the living ones that is, Ma Shipton was probably the overall star) was some dingbat named Scallion (which, as a matter of interest, is the name Americans give to shallots, - and very appropriatly too, because he talked s(uc)h-a-lot of crap.) Scallion appears to have visions, and not very nice ones, of doom and gloom. Perhaps he should stop smoking that stuff.

I think the message was that the world is going to: be hit by a meteor; go through the tail of a comet; have a new sun erupt in the solar system (shades of "2010 - Odyssey II" by Arthur C Clarke); switch poles in a mighty Earth rollover effect; have a devastating nuclear war; have Atlantis arise again; suffer death, destruction and general buggery, in the next couple of years. And they are only the BIG ones.

But the REAL message was that it will be all right if we adopt a nice, caring, spiritual, new age approach and that the survivors will live in Peace and Harmony (background choir singing excerpts from "Hair") for a thousand years or more, along the banks of a sylvan stream somewhere, trickling down some canyon somewhere (which, with any luck, will probably have Rob Sitch and Tom Gleissner fishing in it).

The REAL message for this cynical old soul, however, is that there is no end to the drivel that people will perpetrate if they can find a media outlet silly enough to buy it. I await the ratings results with breathless anticipation.


Australian Skeptics

Channel 9

Interview with Barry Williams - 20th August 2003

Interview with Bob Carrol - 21st April 2003

Interview with Phillip Adams - 3rd April 2003


Network Nine Australia