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5/21/04 This American Life Act Four
Fake science can be fun, and it can bring people together. Brent Runyon has heard it happen himself in the middle of the night:
At night, I turn on the radio, so I can hear voices when I'm going to sleep. It's tuned to the same station the Red Sox games are on, an all-talk station. They have some local guys in the morning and Rush Limbaugh in the afternoon. But at night, they have this program called Coast to Coast AM.
The whole program runs like an amateur scientific society from the dawn of the Enlightenment. Aliens, Mars, time travel. Listeners call up to talk about shadow people and this ghoulish figure called the old hag who sits on their chest while they sleep.
There's a sense that there's this stuff out there that's barely been studied, and we don't even have good procedures for studying it yet. But if we all sit down and reason together, we can probably make some sense out of it.
I remember the first time I heard the show. It was 1:00 in the morning, and I couldn't sleep. So I turned on the radio. And there were people talking about recordings from beyond the grave.
And then they played the recordings. And at first, there was just a lot of tape hiss and a kind of angry grumbling. I was laughing at how silly it was.
And then a voice seemed to say, I found the link. Except that instead of saying it in a normal voice, the voice said it in a creepy, David Lynch, Twin Peaks, little man in the red room backward, kind of voice.
I sat up in bed and turned the light on. It freaked me out. I was freaked out by some weird voice on a radio show in the middle of the night. And still, I would rather listen to that than worry about money. So I turned the light out and closed my eyes and listened until I fell asleep.
Since then, I've barely missed a night. It's hard for me to fall asleep without it. I travel with an AM radio. I wait to go to bed until 1:00 AM when the opening music kicks in. And when it does, I don't want to go to sleep anymore.
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