Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
Lies on Television; How Do They Happen?

From the correspondence in connection with the showing of a TV movie

Yu. M. (Ren-TV Channel) to Academician Ye. B. Aleksandrov. I hasten to inform you that on 16 December 2006 there will be a showing of the documentary film, "A Sensational Matter. Careful, Poltergeist!", on the Ren-TV Channel with your participation. In our film, as has been demonstrated to many, you are the only responsible person. Thank you for the interview. However, no matter how much I tried for the opinions and differences in the film to be 50/50 our editor nevertheless put the stress on the existence of poltergeists and threatened us, and the film turned out to be some sort of horror. As you once observed, "people lap it up". Of course, I was very upset and even declared that I not be mentioned in the titles.

Ye. B. Aleksandrov to Yu. M. This is the first time I've seen myself on TV. A feeling of shame dominates me, for TV, for the viewers, for the era, and of course for myself with this foolish role in a farce. Was it worth one or two minutes of my screen existence to rush a crew to St. Petersburg?
All the same, it appears as if the meeting with me produced a mini-subject about James Randi and [David] Copperfield that rendered harmless just 1% of the rest of the wild nonsense. However it is not a fact that anyone but me noticed this.

Sh. to Yu. M. (copy to Ye. B. Aleksandrov). My friend, Academician Ye. B. Aleksandrov, informed me in a timely manner about the showing of a documentary film about poltergeists including fragments of his interview and I have seen this film. The impression is extremely painful.
But it appears that you are an honest person, and I actually didn't see you in the titles. Therefore I ask you to tell me honestly why and how such films are made. The main thing is what moves the creators when they are willing to make something fed by a lie. They cannot fail to understand from the very start that these mysterious phenomena which they intend to show on the screen do not exist in reality and they have to artificially reproduce them by the technical methods of cinematography and then convince the viewers that this all exists in fact. Yes, and these methods are often so primitive that one has to have strong doubts about the talent of the filmmakers. With the modern capabilities of computer graphics one could have thought up something much more clever than the thrashings of an adolescent on a couch supposedly defending oneself against something invisible or flying above a door to the extent of lying on a floor (the method of playing the film backwards). It is clear that the creators agreed from the very start, "We will blatantly deceive the viewer". And you, as one of the members of their collective, agreed to participate in this, willingly or unwillingly. And here, answer me please, what thoughts guide the creators of such spectacles if not frankly fraudulent ones? And don't make reference to Copperfield who also appeared in the film for a moment, because he warns beforehand that his tricks are just the fruit of his imagination and the use of technical devices. But everyone in your film except Ye. B. stubbornly affirms that poltergeists are not an empty fantasy but really exist and this cannot be in any doubt. Such mentally ill people need to be held under a doctor's care, but they are dragged out onto a TV screen. Why? To further addle the brains of our panic-stricken "people"? Please answer, if you really are the honest person whom Ye. B. trusted.

Ye. B. Aleksandrov to Sh. Yu., the poor thing, will explain nothing to you. One of [my] colleagues confidently said to me that this is a political campaign, to whip up all sorts of fears in order for a crazed population to rally around a strong and "competent" government. In any event only the Devil knows what's going on.

Sh. to Ye. B. Aleksandrov. It sometimes seems to me that someone powerful is covertly sending secret directives to all the mass media (newspapers, radio, TV channels), persistently "recommending" some sort of political and ideological line for them to follow, for example, to propagandize religion and pseudoscience and to ignore real science.
But if all this is so, then why has no one been found in any of the mass media capable of exposing this? When coming to work do they not take from ALL journalists the strictest signed agreement not to disclose facts of the ideological pressure on the mass media? And even if they took them, then how did it happen that ALL of them have turned out to be so steadfast that for many years now we are left to be satisfied with only suspicions, without having a single fact in hand?
Here I suggested that honest Yu. "blurt out" what political will the filming group of this shameful film was carrying out and, if not, what reason they had for deciding to intentionally lie to the viewers.

Ye. B. Aleksandrov to Sh. I sent this bitter and reproachful letter to Yuliya but forgave her since it wasn't she who edited all this.

Yu. M. to Ye. B. Aleksandrov. If you knew how sad it was for me to receive such a letter from you. I know what you are feeling and going through right now. Ashamed? I am also ashamed. It is shameful that I was mixed up in this. I said that you were the only clear-thinking person. You are absolutely wrong when you say that you seemed stupid. Not at all. Even if your remarks were fewer in comparison with the "poltergeist researchers", they were essentially all the same. And, believe me, and those viewers who wrote letters and called us - all clear-thinking people heard only what you were saying. This is a normal explanation to anyone. After your brief remarks people started to ascribe all the noises and commotion in their apartments not to "gremlins" but to drafts. Believe me, this means a great deal. Not everything is lost.
I filmed dozens of crazy people. And only after the interview with you did I get settled and put my brain in order. It is another matter that the editor rewrote my written text and decided that "people lap it up". But it is a joy that he didn't "lap it up". The ratings were high not because the viewers believed in poltergeists but because it was interesting to hear different opinions.
I am confident that your participation in this film did not go unnoticed. I am very grateful to you that you devoted time to us. Just imagine what it would have been if the film had only been the stories of retarded people? A horror. But at least an academician and a psychiatrist appeared from time to time.

Ye. B. Aleksandrov to Yu. M. Thank you for the good words. In viewing your film I directed my attention to one very unpleasant detail - in two topics about "poltergeists" the line was followed that these "spirits" gravitate toward sick or very old people, and the spirits disappear after they die. It's like their neighbors or relatives exhausted by the problems of looking after them or desiring to improve their living conditions were the death of these sick and old people (under the cover of stories about poltergeists).

Yu. M. to Sh. I don't even how to answer you. I have already written Yevgeny Borisovich everything that I think about this. Unfortunately, far from everything depends on the author of the film and, as the producer of the project told me after I handed over the film for editing: "This is not the author's film but the producer's!". How do you answer that? They have all the rights to rewrite my text to the point of unrecognizability. Again, unfortunately, the film did not turn out to be objective and the viewer saw the clear position of the Ren-TV Channel that poltergeists exist. Several documentary films dedicated to UFOs have already been on this channel. They have apparently decided to continue this subject matter.
It is very unpleasant for me to talk about this since my rights have been very badly infringed upon.
But why do all of them need this? They are common greedy people. And thanks to the fact that the film got on the air more quickly they are ready to lie to the viewers and be devious. They get money for this. What else is there to say?
Thanks for caring.

Translated by Gary Goldberg