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Done with Maher

February 11th, 2015

After watching the vaccination discussion from the most recent Real Time with Bill Maher, I’m pretty much ready to throw in the towel on this show. That episode was just painful to watch.

I’ve been borderline about Bill Maher for a while. Discussions on his show can be interesting, and Maher himself can be funny (though his “You’re all jerks for not laughing at that bad joke I just made” schtick gets old fast). However, I’m looking at his show in the same way I used to consider CNN’s Crossfire before I stopped watching it, some time before it got canceled: it has become only barely watchable. I may still keep watching the “New Rules,” but I’m not ever sure about that.

(Want a good show to replace Real Time? It’s even also on HBO: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It is as brilliant as Maher is dumb. I’d say “more brilliant than” instead of “as brilliant as,” but I’m not feeling generous to Maher at the moment.)

Like Crossfire, a lot of the discussion on Maher’s show is just meaningless babble. Too many guests are pushing an agenda, and are just there to spout completely ridiculous factoids hoping that they either get unaddressed in the rapid back-and-forth, or that no one on the panel knows enough to refute them. Often times a single guest will dominate the discussion and just spew misinformation left and right. Maher, who should have staff whose job it is to prep him on the issues, in particular regarding common and specific tropes his guests are known to champion, often just lets them slips past or feebly says that that “sounds” wrong.

Were Maher to find panelists who vary in their politics but at least stay factual and debate reasonably, that would go a long ways toward making the show better.

But Maher himself is all too often the biggest problem. Aside from not preparing worth a damn, he’s simply too much of an gullible, alarmist schmuck too much of the time. He acted like the fact that 250 tons of radioactive water being released daily from Fukushima is going to kill the oceans or something, when he had no idea how radioactive that water is, or even how much it is, apparently (1 swimming pool has 2500 tons of water, so that’s about 1 swimming pool of water every 10 days), and reacted with disbelief when the scientist he was talking to told him that dissipation in the ocean meant that there was no reason for alarm at the global level (reason: it’s a big-ass ocean; when dissipated, Fukushima’s contribution is hardly even a tiny blip). He’ll accept alarmist crap from dodgy sources and then cast doubt on solid figures provided by respected scientists.

PZ Meyers does a pretty good job explaining how Maher was being an idiot this week—but it didn’t really take a scientist to tell that.

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  1. Tim
    February 15th, 2015 at 11:18 | #1

    I think if he’s going to talk about medicine he should have a medical professional on the panel, otherwise it is just so much bs.

    That said, in September 1998 I moved to Chicago to work at DePaul University. On October 9th or 10th 1998, DePaul offered free flu vaccinations. The nurse told me that if I don’t get sick in the next 11 days, I won’t get the flu all year. 9 days later I came down with the flu. but I was more sick than I can ever remember. On top of that I had massive sinus infections and when I went to a doctor there they wouldn’t give me an antibiotic to treat the sinus infection. The headaches were some of the worst that I have ever had. From about October 20th, for the next 25 weeks I was sick 15 of them. It was massively terrible.

    The constant sickness undermine my position at work. My boss would see me at work sick and just shake his head.

    I’ve gone entire years without getting sick since. The last two years, while I have gotten sick, I have not had to take one sick day as it happene on vacation time.

    I don’t know what the deal is with the flu shot, but there’s something there that is just not right. I don’t know what it is. In theory I like the idea, I understand it. But my experience hasn’t mapped to the theory. I think I was traumatized by my experience in Chicago.

  2. Tim
    February 15th, 2015 at 11:28 | #2

    By the way, the new show to replace Colbert, the Nightly show, uses Maher’s format, (as I understand it- and so they are doing it nightly), while John Oliver’s show at HBO uses John Stewart’s basic format. Interesting revolving door.

    I’ve always liked Maher’s show, I think doing what he does is very difficult: get people on and discuss issues without it getting out of hand, without it getting too boring to watch. I think I’ve seen some very good discussions there.

    I saw the Sam Harris discussion on Islam’s idea’s, and Maher opened his mouth and said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, denying Harris the oppertunity to make and complete his thought which was along the lines: Muslim people aren’t bad, but Islam has some (a mother lode) of bad ideas. I think that is an extremely important distinction that needs to be talked about far and wide: people do act upon ideas that religions purport.

    That brings me to another point. Maher has done a very good job of putting religion on the defensive, in general, and creating a more credible case for atheism. I am not an atheist, but I think it is a credible position that needs to be emphasized because of all the idiot theist out there. Religion should be contained and atheist are an agent to help it to be contained.

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