Friday, August 9, 2013

Shark Week - your trusted source of information? NOT.

Image from Wiki Commons, note that the White shark at the bottom is at a reasonable size range, the small megalodon is probably at its max, the large is just a fish story.
Shark week is done - and it kicked off a controversy this year with a "mockumentary" on the possible continued existence of megalodon, the prehistoric shark. 

The issue? The disclaimer doesn't come until the end of the show, "none of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated with it in any way." The scientists? Actors hamming it up. The evidence, faked. Over half the folks watching it didn't really understand that it was not real. Discovery fights on to say that although they do not have proof, or decent evidence, or anything really, it "could"  be real. 

For our volunteers there is an interesting aspect to consider here. Look at how they deliver the "facts."

Conjure up a dramatic voice here, bold and highlights mine: 
"Imaging the pain that megalodon's jaws inflicted on its prey. In less than a second, the feeling of 276 serrated teeth, each 7 inches in length, would pierce its flesh. With over 35,000 pounds of force, enough to crush a whale's skull. Before a prey knew it was being attacked, it was dead . . ." Umm, okay, so the prey didn't really have time to feel much pain then? And all of the teeth are the same size?

The point is that it is exceptionally sensational and they just went on and on with it. Lots of emotional words interlaced with numbers to make it seem like fact: but it is not, there are a few bits of fact mixed in with lots of wild speculation and sensationalization.

What we really need is to teach people how to think clearly and be able to separate fantasy from reality, not to be misled and confused at what is real or not.

Not only is Discovery Channel not helping - they are actively working against this. And I guess what bothers me, is that they could put the disclaimers up front. They could said, "We are kicking off this week with a far fetched idea, a 'Twilight Zone' bit of fun - Enjoy," but they didn't and it is too bad. 

Hats off to HIMB Christie Wilcox's column which debunks the show quite elegantly. See: 

Shark Week Jumps The Shark: An Open Letter To Discovery Communications

By Christie Wilcox | August 5, 2013 5:17 am

No comments:

Post a Comment