Observations of a Nerd

Et tu, BBC?

So the BBC Earth facebook page has put up a photo album of animal factoids under the Halloween inspired theme of “Trick or Treat?” The idea is that you have to guess whether an animal fact is true or not, then you click to the next photo to see if you were right. Those who have read this blog will immediately understand my frustration when I saw this one:

No, no, no, no, no! Not you, BBC! How many times do I have to explain how sharks do get cancer? That the myth that they don’t is a ecologically damaging falsehood causing the slaughter of millions of sharks every year for quack medical treatments? Shame on you, BBC. Shame!

H/T to Kevin for pointing me to the photos

**UPDATE** BBC Earth has responded to my comments on facebook. The offending images were removed from the album, and they had this to say:

Hi Christine, Leslie, this was by no means meant to victimise sharks. The intent was that the game would be a little bit of fun for our friends here on facebook. With a Halloween theme sharks are pretty fitting. The science behind their immune systems is still an area of fascination which we know little about, and thankfully people are still studying. This section of the game has been removed, this is a community where we want everyone to remain happy. Best BBC Earth.

Thanks, BBC, for removing those images, even if you did so without actually owning up to the fact that you were just flat out wrong. And there’s no ‘n’ in my name… grr.


  1. #1 natselrox
    October 29, 2010

    Douchebags! Shows a gross lack of understanding of basic biology.

  2. #2 Leslie
    October 29, 2010

    I understand why you couldn’t hold back … but how the heck do you let them know so it is fixed? … I tweeted them … hopefully that helps!

  3. #3 Myao
    October 29, 2010

    Thank you so much for this post on sharks! I’m a huge shark activist, and I appreciate anyone who brings attention to the cause. 🙂 This misconception about sharks and cancer is definitely detrimental to the sharks, whose existence is already threatened by shark finning.

  4. #4 Brett
    October 29, 2010

    Argh! If they are going to do this kind of thing, they should provide sources so it at least seems credible… they might have actually looked this up and provided accurate info!

  5. #5 Stephen Moore
    October 30, 2010

    I have heard the ‘sharks don’t get cancer’ thing (even used to believe it), but that they are immune to all disease is a new one to me.

  6. #6 Stephen Moore
    October 30, 2010

    Oh, and it seems (at the time of my writing) the the BBC Earth page has been taken down. URL redirects to personal News Feed on FB.

  7. #7 ereador - the dead walk among us
    October 31, 2010

    Thanks for pointing this out to the BBC. Halloween for kids is a blast, but repeating myths causes damage. What cowards for not publishing a retraction! Rhino horns anyone?

  8. #8 Enkidu
    October 31, 2010

    Sure, it would be better if they had not repeated such a stupid, oft refuted factoid. But they jumped when you barked . . . clearly they fear your bite!

  9. #9 Mike Lisieski
    November 1, 2010

    “Immune to every disease”? lol.

  10. #10 rewarp
    November 4, 2010

    Seem like the sort of thing that would be featured by Stephen Fry in the general ignorance section of QI.

  11. #11 Animal Annie
    November 4, 2010

    I think the “immune to every disease” statement is worse than the “shark’s don’t get cancer” statement.

    Good for you for contacting the BBC.

  12. #12 Southern Fried Scientist
    November 5, 2010

    What a weak-ass response from the BBC. “We want you to be happy”?! How about, “we don’t what to spread false information”?

    We don’t want to victimize sharks, but they’re perfect for Halloween because sharks are so scary!

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