For shame, Discovery Channel

It's shark week. I'm not going to watch a bit of it; I'm actually boycotting the Discovery Channel for the indefinite future. The reason: An appalling violation of media ethics and outright scientific dishonesty. They opened the week with a special "documentary" on Megalodon, the awesome 60 foot long shark that went extinct a few million years ago…or at least, that's what the science says. The show outright lied to suggest that Megalodon might still exist somewhere in the ocean.

None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated with it in any way, nor have approved its contents.

Though certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized, sightings of “Submarine” continue to this day.

Megalodon was a real shark. Legends of giant sharks persist all over the world. There is still a debate about what they may be.

There is no evidence of this species' persistence, nor did they present any. They just made it all up; reality isn't awesome enough, so they had to gild the giant shark story. They've gone the way of our other so-called "documentary" channels dedicated to fact-based education -- the History channel, Animal Planet, TLC. Garbage rules.

This also makes me sad because I already have to deal with irrational loons telling me that since coelacanths exist, scientists are wrong and humans walked with dinosaurs. I await with gritted teeth the first creationist who tries to argue that the survival of the Megalodon to modern times means it's perfectly plausible that medieval knights hunted dragons/dinosaurs.

Thanks, Discovery Channel. And screw you.

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Watched Shark Week at the gym on the stair machine with no head phones. It's better that way. If we could only get the Firesign Theater to do the closed captioning.

PZ diplomatically excludes the National Geographic Channel, which is owned by Fox (not the National Geographic Society, which publishes the magazine) and hence has no integrity.

I didn't know that, Libby.

No, the commercial educational channels serve up dreck, with their reality shows that are irrelevant to the original mission of their stations and the marathons thereof. I get so frustrated when i actually have cable and then flip channels looking for something informative only to find some variation on "Storage Wars."

I used to look forward to Shark Week when the kids were younger because some of the shows actually talked about tagging and research and weren't so sensational. It was through Shark Week that I actually learned to appreciate what magnificent animals they really are.

By Michael R Haubrich (not verified) on 06 Aug 2013 #permalink

Why this happens:

TV thrives on attention, and emotions get attention. But the human emotional system is homeostatic and subject to habituation. So whatever level of emotionalism worked last week, won't work this week: the level has to be turned up, just as with any other addictive drug. Upward ever upward, to new heights of violence, new heights of gross-out, new heights of pseudoscientific nonsense.

Just as long as it provides a bigger emotional "hit" than whatever-it-was last week.

I've been reading about a series that's on in the UK and either on in the US or coming soon, about some people who have a meth lab. Friggin' meth cookers! What next? Pedophiles On Parade? And after that? Cannibal Can Do?

Be glad they weren't showing pictures of Megalodon eating swimmers at the beach. Yet. That's for the next round.

And that's also why I won't pay $50 - $100 / month for cable. Nor should you if you object to all that crap plus Fox Noize preaching climate denialism. Vote with your dollars.

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