One- man myth buster

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

SEE­ING might be be­liev­ing but a new se­ries by co­me­dian Lawrence Leung sets out to prove that we should not al­ways trust what we see.

In Un­be­liev­able, proud scep­tic Leung ( pic­tured) in­ves­ti­gates ways in which peo­ple have their be­liefs ma­nip­u­lated and their senses fooled.

He starts with psy­chics in episode one and over six weeks works his way through ghosts, UFOs, magic and even pro­fes­sional poker play­ers and undercover cops.

In his pre­vi­ous TV se­ries, Choose Your Own Ad­ven­ture, Leung showed a charm­ing abil­ity to laugh at him­self and have some fun when tack­ling the more se­ri­ous as­pects of analysing his own life. And that light­hearted hu­mour is his strong­est weapon as he dis­sects the strange things peo­ple be­lieve in.

As scep­ti­cal as his ap­proach may be he is never con­de­scend­ing or mean­spir­ited, which is an as­set when dis­man­tling ideas that many peo­ple pas­sion­ately cling to.

As a bit of a para­nor­mal nerd my­self, I was con­cerned the se­ries might just be a flip­pant ex­er­cise in lam­poon­ing care­fully se­lected nut­burg­ers who be­lieve their dead aunt vis­its for a cuppa ev­ery Tues­day morn­ing. Thank­fully, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In the first episode, his re­search into the de­vi­ous art of cold-read­ing is quite in­for­ma­tive and the prac­ti­cal demon­stra­tions are a lit­tle bit dis­turb­ing. But he never pokes fun at the peo­ple who are drawn to con­sult psy­chics and the only an­i­mos­ity is to­wards those who brazenly try to con vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

The trick­ery em­ployed by men­tal­ist Banachek to demon­strate how con­vinc­ingly a per­son with no psy­chic abil­i­ties can make it look like they do have spe­cial pow­ers is noth­ing short of amaz­ing.

The sec­ond episode, about ghosts, cul­mi­nates in a fake seance in which Leung brings to­gether a group of vol­un­teers to try to con­tact a fic­tional en­tity – with sur­pris­ing re­sults.

Dog­matic scep­tics and blind be­liev­ers butt heads over these top­ics all the time but, as these things of­ten seem to go, the truth of the mat­ter usu­ally lies some­where in be­tween the two ex­tremes. Leung suc­cess­fully finds this rare bal­ance: open-minded scep­ti­cism.

This sen­si­tive, funny and fair ap­proach makes Un­be­liev­able an ed­u­ca­tional and en­ter­tain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that comes highly rec­om­mended.

But, if you’ll ex­cuse me for just a mo­ment, I have to check eBay to see if any­one has bought my burnt toast with the face of Je­sus on it yet.

Lawrence Leung’s Un­be­liev­able, ABC1, Wed­nes­day, 9.30pm

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