Undermining their audience

I just realized that I haven’t tuned into any of the so-called educational channels for years — Nerdy Christie dissects the latest shark week abomination, and I understand why.

Not only is there no support for the show’s entire premise, each of the hypotheses presented are factually wrong or illogical. Sharkageddon’s pointless pontificating doesn’t leave us any closer to explaining why shark attacks occur—or where, or when. Alexander ends on a conservation message, which Discovery, of course, ensures is brief and buried with credits. But this final thought is what Discovery should have focused on all along. Sharks are vital to Hawaiian ecosystems. We don’t need another “documentary” villifying these ecological and culturally important animals—we need one that explains why they matter, what they do for us, and why we should be fighting to save them.

Although SMBC might have an alternative explanation.


  1. madscientist says

    Humans eating sharks (and killing sharks for no good purpose) are a much bigger problem than sharks eating humans. Besides, the great majority of sharks couldn’t eat a human if they wanted to. Even enormous beasts like the Basking shark and Whale shark aren’t a threat and Nurse sharks despite all their nasty looking teeth aren’ t interested in humans.

    I partly blame Steven Spielberg for promoting the shark hysteria. The idiot government in Western Australia are currently promoting a shark murdering spree – in fact they require that people murder sharks if they have an opportunity. The redneck idiots who blame sharks rather than humans for the decline in fish are all too happy to oblige.

  2. kimberlyherbert says

    The words “but the Discovery Channel said” make elementary science teachers want to beat their heads against the wall. Especially when it comes from the parents.

  3. Francisco Bacopa says

    Shark Week could be an excellent opportunity to discuss shark attacks and promote shark conservation. I often go to the beach near one of the hottest spots for shark attacks in the US, San Luis Pass in Galveston. Yep, San Luis has shark attacks, murky water from the West Bay washes out twice a day which attracts all kinds of game fish. But there have not been but a few shark attacks there in a hundred years even though it has a high rate of shark attacks. In absolute terms there is no place with a high rate of shark attacks. You can go swimming near San Luis when the water is clear and have friendly encounters with sharks, including the dreaded bull shark. I’ve done it. I do not say this to claim I am badass, sharks are not much of a threat.

    And almost every year fishermen drown at San Luis. The current in the Pass is strong, if you lose your footing as low tide comes you will never get back. Sharks, dolphins, and pygmy sperm whales may bite you to have a taste, but you are already dead and your body will not be recovered. One of your shoes might end up in Mobile or Tampa.

  4. Ichthyic says

    this isn’t the only egregiously false crap Disco Channel is sporting.

    Last year, they started off with a fictional (though they promoted it as real) “documentary” featuring “evidence” of Megalodon still being alive and living in deep water.

    The evidence was an obviously photophopped image of a supposed Megalodon swimming next a u-boat.

    …a 70′ long Megalodon.

    …that leaves no bow wave or wake

    someone figured out the “photo” was really a ‘shopped clip from an old movie reel, that of course did not have shark fins in it.

    Disco Channel was called on it, made a “notpology”…. and then doubled down with a “new” version of the EXACT SAME thing to lead off this years shark week. With yet more faked “evidence” and a bunch of actors who pretended to be marine biologists that don’t actually exist.

    fuck these fuckers. They are the Fox News of documentary channels.

  5. Menyambal says

    Yeah, Ichthyic, I saw that U-boat and “megalodon” image somewhere on the ‘net the other day, posted as proof. I wondered who would be skeevy and stupid enough to ‘shop that. Now I know. Thanks.

    Thanks, Discovery Channel.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    madscientist @3:

    I partly blame Steven Spielberg for promoting the shark hysteria.

    Yeah, one small item from Jaws;

    [Quint, talking about USS Indianapolis] So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945.

    I remember feeling a chill as Robert Shaw spoke his lines (bloody good actor!). But;

    According to the accounts of the surviving crew, most of the men died of either exhaustion, exposure to the elements, or drinking the ocean water, not from shark attacks.

    Never let facts get in the way of a Hollywood story.

  7. says

    The film, “Jaws”, certainly did have an effect on me. But somehow I seemed to know that it was mostly hype. Perhaps I’m looking for a silver lining, but I think my initial skepticism may have helped me to learn more about sharks then I otherwise would have.

    Or the above is total self-revising horseshit.

    I used to be afraid, but now I’m fascinated.

    And Quint was cool.

    All said, though, Discovery Channel is terrible.

    Except Mythbusters.

  8. says

    Two additional points:

    1. I am not affiliated with the “Mythbusters” program.

    2. I’ve been known to comment without fully grokking (sp?) the point I had intended to make.

  9. Matrim says

    When I lived on the Gulf coast I was often in the water with sharks, most of the time they just ignored me and the rest of the time they actively avoided me. The only animal I was ever “attacked” by in the ocean was a dolphin, and that was less an attack and more a random act of disregard (it thumped me with its tail as it swam by, knocked me silly). It really saddens me to see the misinformation in this show (I’ve always hated how shark week is marketed, one of several reasons I never watch it), sharks are some of the most amazing creatures in the sea and swimming with them is a real experience.

  10. borax says

    About three months ago I stumbled upon what I thought was an actual nature documentary on Discovery about squid. It had some great footage of Humbolt squid and talked about their habits. I settled back on the sofa and thought “this might be cool.” Then the voice over started talking about the search for the fucking kraken. I hate the discovery channel.

  11. says

    It’s weird some of the place fringe stuff turns up. The website for the Canadian Weather Network TV channel has regular UFO headlines.

  12. tfkreference says

    They must have changed their focus. I saw an episode from shark week a while back (on Netflix, so I don’t remember which season) about shark attacks that was very pro shark. They interviewed one shark hunter with a kill’em all attitude, and then brushed away his opinion and praised the scientific consensus.

  13. says

    Yeah, even Mythbusters isn’t what it used to be. I watched one recent episode, after not seeing it for several years, and found them uncritically spouting evo-psych bullshit, ignoring the existence of numerous confounding variables they’d not accounted for, and several other crimes against science. They used to at least acknowledge when there were uncontrolled variables, even when they couldn’t eliminate them. Not so much anymore.

    It’s happened before. Back in the early 90s, TLC was a really good channel, full of interesting and intelligent shows. I even wrote a letter to the CRTC supporting keeping TLC if a Canadian version came along – that we should have both.

    Now, it’s a nightmare of reality bullshit all the time.

    Very disappointing all around. PBS’ Frontline still has some pretty good shows.

  14. Pteryxx says

    Don’t forget that Discovery Channel is actively misrepresenting scientists: io9 via Tony in the lounge:

    Shark Week Lied to Scientists to Get Them to Appear in “Documentaries”


    Davis was shocked to find that his interview aired during a 2013 Shark Week special called Voodoo Shark, which was about a mythical monster shark called “Rooken” that lived in the Bayous of Louisiana. The “other filming” his interview was combined with featured a Bayou fishermen, and the clips were edited together to make it seem like a race between his team of researchers and the fishermen to see who could catch the mythical voodoo shark faster. In reality, Davis was barely asked about the voodoo shark at all. His answers from unrelated questions were edited together to make it seem like he believed in its existence and was searching for it.