Explore the Psi Factor, the unknown, with the O.S.I.R and Dan Aykroyd
July 17, 2016 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Dan Aykroyd grew up with psychic researchers and seances, which lead to the original Ghost Smashers idea, which in turn would become the Ghostbusters film. As he and his father, Peter, discussed on Q TV, their shared interest in the unexplained continued. A significant work of theirs was Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, a Canadian science fiction drama television series co-created by Peter Aykroyd and Christopher Chacon, a researcher of psychic and parapsychological phenomena, and episodes are hosted by Dan Aykroyd. You can now see the show, as archived by fans, on YouTube (72 episode playlist).

Dan's hosting gave the show more cache and believably, but the show was criticized by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
...the actor Dan Aykroyd was presented in absentia the Council's "Snuffed Candle" Award. Aykroyd is host of the new television program Psi Factor and has been a long-time promoter of all sorts of paranormal claims. The award recognized Aykroyd "for encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine, and contributing to the public's lack of understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry."
Though the show aired in the same period as The X-Files, a later article from the Skeptical Inquirer didn't criticize the latter show in the same way, but commented on its general appeal. With that warning, and to fill in the gaps in the single playlist above the break, here's playlists for each of the four seasons: Apparently, the Office of Scientific Investigation and Research (O.S.I.R.) was just one of many names this super-secret agency used since its creation in the 1940s, and the Skeptic's Dictionary captured some of the supposed operational details that were posed on PsiFactor.com for a while. You can dig way back into the site with the Wayback Machine for another view of the show and/or agency.

Bonus parting links, for topics referenced in the Q interview linked above the break:
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I first heard about Psi Factor in the commentary from the original Ghostbusters movie, when it was mentioned that Dan really believed in ghosts and the paranormal, and wandered from there.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:20 PM on July 17, 2016

I loved this show, but it's a Joel/Mike choice when deciding between Non Union Canadian Mulder and Matt Frewer as the team lead. I kept hoping there would be a crossover with the Friday the 13th "Hah Hah You Can't Copyright a Date" show.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:22 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

And I read Peter Ackroyd's book! I was going to take it to be signed by Dan when he was out promoting Crystal Skull, but the line was around the block. He actually grew up in a spiritualist household, which is like twenty times cooler than my parents' lamo Methodist upbringing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:24 PM on July 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

This is a treat, thanks! I've always loved this stuff, I think I was 10 when I got a Hans Holzer book. I dig conventional consistent-with-folklore accounts and off-the-wall bizarre stories with equal relish. To me it's all about the 'what if?', so much so that the idea of 'but do you believe in it?' always feels like a complete non sequitur. Team Science at 3pm, Team Spooky at 3am. But I admire the debunking efforts of Randi and Houdini, too. Other people's certainty one way or the other fascinates me, but it often seems like a heavy burden and I don't envy it.
posted by Fantods at 7:15 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I remember Psi Factor as being my "up too late" channel-surfing TV show, which I would stumble across if I stayed up past ST:TNG reruns.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:41 PM on July 17, 2016

I think in the UK it was billed as "the canadian X-Files", which has more to do with X-Files being big at the time than strict accuracy.
posted by Artw at 8:07 PM on July 17, 2016

I was going to take it to be signed by Dan when he was out promoting Crystal Skull, but the line was around the block.

The delightfully mad promo video
posted by Going To Maine at 8:32 PM on July 17, 2016

I used to watch/listen-to Psi Factor late at night in grad school, since our lowest-budget local TV station tended to run Canadian sci-fi then (Psi F, Forever Knight, Outer Limits, Lexx, Earth: Final Conflict, Poltergeist: The Legacy, etc.). The always-watchable Matt Frewer notwithstanding, those shows really had a recognizable repertory company of Canadian actors: Maurice Dean Wint, Colin Fox, Nigel Bennett, along with Law & Order refugee Michael Moriarty.

I probably enjoyed listening to it more than watching it for a number of reasons. It was just enough background noise while studying or writing. The TV i had was tiny. I've always had a weakness for Canadian accents. And I'd often get (over)empathetically embarrassed seeing the hokey sets and staging that they had to work with.
posted by NumberSix at 8:38 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

> Though the show aired in the same period as The X-Files, a later article from the Skeptical Inquirer didn't criticize the latter show in the same way...

I hope it's because Skeptical Inquirer was inclined to treat each show at face value: X-Files was not packaged as a documentary or dramatic recreation, and Psi Factor was.
posted by ardgedee at 5:27 AM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is this the show where someone casually proposes "have you considered bilocation?" to solve some puzzle? I thought that was hilarious and I still use that line whenever I can.

Of COURSE! Bilocation! Why didn't I think of that?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:53 AM on July 18, 2016

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