Bill Cosby: Skeptic


Sunday night I was watching a Cosby Show rerun. It was called “The Dead End Kids Meet Mr. Lotus”. In it, the oldest son, Theo, is having relationship problems. So at the behest of his friends he goes to see a Voodoo witch doctor: Dr. Lotus.

One of his friends *does* point out that even though he’s skeptical there is “No way he’s going to say anything against those people because you don’t know what you’re going to wake up as.”. That’s not exactly a skeptical viewpoint. But it’s an attempt at skepticism at least.

For the small fee of just $800, Dr. Lotus would make the young man who was hitting on Theo’s girlfriend move away and not even know why. Dr. Lotus even said, several times, that he had a money back guarantee and he had been in the same location for 25 years.

I’d like to take a brief moment to point out that Dr. Lotus charges $50 less than Sylvia Browne AND he offers a money back guarantee if you don’t get the results he promises. Of course this IS a fictional character and so, has more scruples than our dear Ms. Browne. (Visit this site if you’d like to know more about her: http://bit.ly/4K5YZo)

When Theo asks his Dad for the money, Dr. Huxtable gives Theo a major song and dance about something his grandfather did once. He then proceeds to pour cooking oil on his hands, slather them with peanut butter and dump handfuls of beans into the goop. THEN he convinces Theo to put his face in the mixture and covers his head with a towel.

Dr. Huxtable then, in deep, sonorous tones implores Theo to “Repeat after me.”

Theo “I will! I will!”

Dr. H: Repeat after me…

Theo: Uh-huh! Yeah?

Dr. H: I will pay more attention to my woman.”

And he steps out of the kitchen.

Theo uncovers his head and looks up, face smeared with peanut butter, oil and beans. And in moments…the light dawns and Theo understands suddenly that his answer doesn’t lie in hoping that some magical, mystical Woo will solve his problem. Action is the solution.

He gets up, face still smeared with the glop and calls his girlfriend asking to get together and talk.

The character of Dr. Huxtable applied skepticism and critical thinking skills to his son’s problem with a vivid demonstration. By using a “ritual”, Dr. H showed Theo that being passive about a situation doesn’t solve the problem. It only makes a mess.

And so our Skeptic of the Week Award goes to Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable.

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