CNN’s Fringe Science

Instead of watching “Gossip Girl” with the rest of them, my new TV show this season is “Fringe” on Fox. It’s sort of “X-Files” meets “Medium,” fewer aliens, more para-psychology stuff. The “fringe” in the title refers to “fringe science,” which is defined as “scientific inquiry in an established field of study which departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the “fringes” of a credible mainstream academic discipline,” by Wikipedia, and in the show’s universe encompasses telepathy, levitation, invisibility, and reanimation.

In one episode we find out that people who have been dead for fewer than six hours can still be interrogated through some sort of brain-waves-reading machine.

And, just recently on CNN, near-death experience researcher Dr. Sam Parnia appeared alongside a near-death experience survivor and said that he’s pursuing a very similar line of inquiry in his research (emphasis mine): “What we have to try to understand, which has not been verified through the studies, is other claims that people can hear and see these outer body experiences and are they real or illusion?”

Is the growing popularity of the show the reason why CNN aired this segment? Is nothing else going on—in science or elsewhere in the newsniverse? And is there no place in this conversation for any kind of skeptical voice who may call into question these not-yet proved assertions? I like my fringe science served with a side of Joshua Jackson, please.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.