Commentary: Review of Professor Weird – Dr. Franklin Ruehl on the Science Channel

News is a little slow on the weekend. So, I decided to catch the premier episode of Professor Weird on the Science channel.

I was there when the SciFi channel premiered. I really enjoyed Dr. Franklin Ruehl‘s Mysterious From Beyond the Other Dominion. This show began as a local public access show and, now, here he is on a “science” network. Well, not much has changed except the ability to do some snazzier graphics and actually go out to do some field shots. Otherwise, Professor Weird IS pretty much a showcase for Dr. Ruehl’s quirky, mad scientist persona. It is hilarious.

The best part of this show is the disclaimer which states that ideas in the show do not represent the consensus of science (or something like that. I’m paraphrasing, cause I was too busy laughing out loud at it.)

Dr. Franklin Ruehl, PhD

He has his assistant, Laura, research news events (maybe she should pay attention to this site) and report on her findings to the good doctor who either rules it implausible/a SHAM! or perhaps it is a EUREKA! topic that captures his attention.

The sham stories he exposes constitute a skeptical moment, for sure. Kudos! Dr. Ruehl, however, is NOT know for his skepticism but his entertainment of rather fringe ideas and his particular catchphrases and mannerisms such as “extricating [this information] from its paper prison” and “better than being slapped in the belly with a wet trout”. Comical stuff!

The format of the program is that, after he discusses the potential cases with Laura, he relates some news (again… we have news!) and then goes to investigate two of the research topics Laura has picked out for him. This week, in the first episode, he picked Gravity Hill and alien implants.

For the Gravity Hill piece, a well known optical illusion, they take a car to Altadena to a famous “gravity hill” (there are many) to see for themselves. Of course, the car appears to roll uphill. While I think to myself, “just use a level on the roadway”, he proceeds to use dirt on the car’s trunk to see if they can spot the ghost children’s hand imprints pushing it uphill. Of course, you can imagine how that works out. THEN, he pulls out the level. HURRAY! And, he shows it is indeed a downhill slope and explains why it appears as if the car is rolling uphill. Case closed.

Next, he interviews a woman who claims to have seen the inside of a spaceship and alien hybrid babies. When she was 10. SHE WAS 10! Dr. Ruehl gives her a polygraph test. A POLYGRAPH TEST. (Ok, I’ll stop that emphasizing.) Even though she passes the polygraph, which Dr. Ruehl called “scientifically” verifiable results (ugh, no, not really), he clarifies that her success shows she BELIEVES that which she stated. It is not proof it is true. So, he did not mess up on this. But then…

The doctor and Laura visit a surgeon who says he removed many alien implants. He tells unverifiable stories about the implants moving upon his attempt to remove them. Then, they pull quotes from a lab report that says the pieces of the implants were odd and even attempted to reassemble upon removal. Yikes. As my friends in the U.K. would say, COMPLETE BOLLOCKS! Yet, Dr. Ruehl says this is plausible. Considering the size of the universe, there MUST be life elsewhere and it is conceivable they could be visiting and tracking us. Errr…. No. Not plausible.

So, the half hour show ends with one terrible conclusion but a fun premise. Professor Weird is Dr. Ruehl doing what he does – being the wacky pseudoscientist allowing us to have a little fringe fun with the paranormal. I thought it was a hoot. Just like I enjoyed his other show.  There is no way anyone who isn’t already convinced by the weird is going to be convinced by the bespectacled, purple-tied, pinstriped, nose-haired, Dr. Ruehl. The point is, you are rather entertained by it all.

  2 comments for “Commentary: Review of Professor Weird – Dr. Franklin Ruehl on the Science Channel

  1. August 21, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Seriously? After how many dozens of people have debunked Gravity Hill, he couldn’t go anywhere better? Ugh… I hate television. I have mountains of odd places, stories, and weird historical newspaper articles never researched by anyone. I;d give him a failing grade when it comes to originality.

    But I will agree with him on the other point… that it’s “plausible” for alien life to exist and observe/visit/whatever. But first, let’s go with the Webster definitions:

    1: superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious
    2: superficially pleasing or persuasive

    3: appearing worthy of belief

    Given the vastness of space, countless planets and stars, it’s almost undeniable that somewhere there is likely some form of life in the universe. Plenty of scientists agree with that, just from a statistical standpoint. I’m not talking humanoid creatures, just some form of living thing. Could some of them have developed some form of intelligence? Sure, it’s possible. And could they be curious creatures like us who decide to explore beyond their own planet? Sure. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s fact or is definitely happening. It is plausible that another life form could travel for millennia across the vastness of space and stumble across other life. Highly unlikely as it is, it is plausible.

    In science, there are plenty of things that are theoretically plausible, even if it’s just a snowball’s chance in hell. If he meant it in a vague manner, yes, it’s plausible. But if he meant that is was likely that some alien species was probably zipping through our atmosphere tagging us with chips like we do with dogs and cats to track and identify them, I’d say that’s a big stretch. I could still be wrong, though, and it could actually happen. Still, I’d much rather hear Michio Kaku discuss it than Dr. Ruehl.

  2. Mary Browder
    August 21, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    What really bothered me about the “alien implants” bit was that Dr. Leir and the host both said the lab report that called the extracted metal “extraterrestrial” was from an independent laboratory. However, this obviously has not been independently validated.

    It took about 3 seconds to realize Dr. “AlienScalpel” Leir was a total hack (pun intended) capitalizing belief in the abduction phenomenon. But there’s something even more sinister about a lab report making such outrageous claims without the evidence to back them up, because it’s couched in a medium that strikes most people as genuinely scientific. Even more startling is that I Googled away and couldn’t find any skeptical response (ideally from a real chemist) to the contents of the report, nor any real information on Steve Colbern, the man who authored it. I’m guessing he’s got some stake in the UFO community or at least an incentive to lend authority to Leir’s position. Dr. Leir seems to be a known hack, but Colbern’s report seems to lend his claims credibility–or it least it certainly would to the untrained and less critical eye.

Comments are closed.