Ripping on the History Channel is always fun


As a measure of the degeneration of our public discourse, all you have to do is turn on your TV, and you’ll find a whole sequence of corrupted discussion. It’s not just Fox News; the people who credulously watch Fox may also find themselves primed by the so-called “educational” stations, the ones people watch because they’re supposed to make learning interesting by explaining stuff that people are already curious about. Somewhere along the line, though, the television programmers realized that you can just drop the difficult “education” part and skip right from “curiosity” to “spectacularly batshit looney-tunes stories from grossly unqualified (that is, cheap) sources”. Take The History Channel, please.

I don’t know if you knew, but the Hebrews didn’t spend forty years in the Sinai after the Exodus because they’d incurred the wrath of God. And they didn’t leave that desert because the offending generation had died off. The chosen people were forced into the Promised Land because the algae-based-protein-bar machine that dispensed the “manna from heaven” they’d been eating finally broke down.

“Of course, [the machine] needed energy, for cultivating the algae, and this was produced, we postulate, by a small nuclear reactor,” says Rodney Dale, a wild-eyed madman.

This is the History Channel, circa 2009. “But,” asks the narrator, “If the Israelites’ survival depended upon the manna machine, where did they get it? Some believe they had stolen it from the Egyptians prior to their exodus. Other suspect extraterrestrials gave it to them as a humanitarian gesture to prevent their starvation in the desert.” The show is “Ancient Aliens,” and it’s everything that’s wrong in America.

I haven’t watched it in years, since it gave up on History and decided that people driving trucks or others buying crap at auctions was more interesting, i.e. profitable. It seems to be oscillating between the mundane, like pawn shops, and absurd bullshit, like aliens building portals in the Southwest desert. The only thing worse than an occasional television show with unbelievable claims is to actually attend a conference by these true believers — I’ve gone to the Paradigm Symposium twice now (and never again), and you discover very quickly that sensational, exaggerated claims without plausible evidence are deeply boring. That’s happened to the History Channel, too — it’s boring, and they try to reinvigorate it by making more and more ridiculous claims. It doesn’t work.

Comments

  1. blf says

    The algae-based-protein-bar machine was Venus, zipping by and depositing a load of hydrocarbons, which magically turned into carbohydrates when they landed on Moses. (Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision in anyone doesn’t know.)

  2. sc_36dfdf084205ad592bcdcbdbde691e2a says

    Back in the 90’s/early 2000’s I watched the History Channel because they actually put on interesting and educational programs by Simon Schama/etc. Eventually I stopped watching most TV and drifted away.

    Imagine my surprise when I was trying out the cable channel app on my set-top box recently and came across the channel again. I was assaulted with a “Mysteries of the Pyramid Powers” sort of thing that I honestly thought it must be a parody.

    Nope.

  3. Raucous Indignation says

    I like the car auction shows. I like cars. And it’s impressive how much accurate knowledge (of admitted minutia) the hosts have. And they never, ever say a Ferrari Daytona might have been powered by a small nuclear reactor given to Enzo Ferrari by ancient aliens.

  4. weylguy says

    It’s a stretch, but one could view the History Channel as a measure of the dumbing-down of America. But there’s also American Idol, America Has Talent and all that other crap in competition for the remaining shreds of American intelligence.

  5. blf says

    And they never, ever say a Ferrari Daytona might have been powered by a small nuclear reactor given to Enzo Ferrari by ancient aliens.

    That’s because it was sold to him by a bloke in the pub after it fell off the back of a lorry. The show’s hosts are keeping silent as they don’t want to alert the aliens where the gadget is — too many people would believe them when they warn the aliens are coming to take it back. It’d be a scum. With death rays, and worse, no chance for an exclusive interview.

  6. microraptor says

    The History Channel originally teamed up with the Smithsonian Institute until the museum decided to produce its own premium channel. But even back then, we still got moronic shows like Jurassic Fight Club.

  7. wcorvi says

    Now, wait a minute, folks. Where ELSE would Moses and his guys get manna in the desert? It can’t be from Venus, as that is all CO2, not a hydrocarbon. (I know, picky picky) So it obviously had to come from a small nuclear (nukulur?) reactor, right? I mean, god could have given them one, to carry along, couldn’t he? No other energy source would be small enough to carry. QED (Quite Easily Done).

  8. zetopan says

    “And it’s impressive how much accurate knowledge (of admitted minutia) the hosts have.”

    And you can see the same thing on Pawn Stars, which is as phony as a $3 bill. Here is how that actually works. The producer knows ahead of time what is going to be sold, and they pay people to research all of that minutia that you see about that particular item. That information then gets memorized by the eventual speaker and you know the rest. Also, do not be surprised if someone buying something is the actual owner of that item to begin with. This was exposed quite some time ago in multiple “reality” shows that include auctions, including Container Wars (or Storage Wars, I forget which).

  9. Raucous Indignation says

    Well, yes, but they are actual car auctions. That’s different that a “reality show” format that’s scripted. The cars at auction are listed weeks ahead of time. Everyone knows what is going up for sale. What I’m saying is that the hosts of the car auction shows have really done their homework preparing AND are also actual experts in the car collector/auction world.

  10. rietpluim says

    You can think what you want, but an algae-based-protein-bar manna machine from aliens is still a lot more credible than the Bible story.

  11. chigau (違う) says

    If the Hebrews had to wander until the offending generation had all died,
    you’d think that, about 20 years in, some of the younger folk would have figured out how to speed up the process.

  12. monad says

    This is a good example of an important point. Trump is the culmination of a party sneaking toward more and more open white supremacy, but he’s also the culmination of it putting more and more value on inventing lies and mistrusting actual expertise. It’s telling his entry into politics was with a racist conspiracy theory.

  13. jrkrideau says

    Not the History Channel but I remember an historian commenting on the film “Brave Heart” and mentioning the 105 errors she had noticed—in the first minute.

  14. archangelospumoni says

    An important aspect of all of this: somebody please tell me who is going to win the next Kentucky Derby, Breeders Cup Classic, etc. At least a good a chance as the History Channel’s deal here.

  15. says

    Discovery Health isn’t bad, though it’s also gone a bit the same way, with “My 600-Pound Life” and, let’s face it, “Bizarre Bodies” is a bit exploitative (if utterly fascinating).

    On the other paw, they also have “Untold Stories of the E.R.” Some of the things I’ve seen on that show, dude, fuckin’ gnarly. Like, this one guy coughed so hard his eye popped out of its socket. Oh, or the other dude who took an industrial dumpster to the face and lived. It’s just a really awesome show.

  16. methuseus says

    @rietplum #11:

    You can think what you want, but an algae-based-protein-bar manna machine from aliens is still a lot more credible than the Bible story.

    I learned two things from this post: Don’t expect any history on the History Channel, and I really want an algae-based-protein-bar manna machine. I’d at least never go hungry, and I could always supplement with other stuff.

  17. rietpluim says

    There is some candy called manna that mainly consists of popped rice and sugar. Not so many proteins, but plenty of carbohydrates I guess.

  18. blf says

    somebody please tell me who is going to win the next Kentucky Derby, Breeders Cup Classic, etc.

    A horse. Possibly containing aliens.

  19. Artor says

    The screed above would have been much more accurate if it stopped on the first sentence. “I don’t know if you knew, but the Hebrews didn’t spend forty years in the Sinai.” Exodus is fiction. I hope people know that.

  20. Callinectes says

    At least in the UK we still have the Yesterday Channel, which (between it’s endless reruns of Sharpe and Blackadder) continues to show decent and informative documentaries.

  21. zetopan says

    Are you sure? How many auctions have you attended? Maybe they were legitimate and maybe not. Here are just a couple of examples (personal anecdotes) from many that I am aware of.

    Many years ago someone bid on an arcade game that his “friend” was selling at an auction and won. He paid a *very* high price for something that was incomplete and could not function. The reason why he paid so much is that the auction “sold” an empty dilapidated cabinet version with zero internal parts for a ridiculously high price immediately before selling this one, which was far more complete. So he incorrectly assumed that these went for really high prices and he drastically overpaid. He was totally unaware of what a “shill” was, and his “friend” (and the auctioneer) took him to the cleaners. I was very aware of the value of a working version of that exact arcade game since I sold a fully functioning one.

    At a farm equipment auction a bunch of farm equipment was be sold because the farmer was approaching bankruptcy. Whenever one of his pieces of equipment came up he would proclaim what a fine piece of machinery that was and bid against others, claiming that he really hated to give up that equipment, complete with tears. He was acting as his own shill and the auctioneer was clearly in on this as well.

    At an “art” auction aboard a cruse ship some prints were being sold for ridiculous prices, with the claim that they were investments that would dramatically increase in value. Someone dressed as a stereotypical rich Texan was often starting the bidding with high prices, but he would nearly always lose out to others. An obvious shill that the ship auction employed.

    The bottom line is be *very* careful at auctions if you are not familiar with how they work because there are often lots of skullduggery involved. I have attended so many that I find it easy to recognize shills and other rip-offs like “buyer’s premium” (where the auction house gets a lot of extra cash by selling at what seems to be a reasonable price only to soak the buyer with an extra 20% or so on top of the winning bid).

  22. zetopan says

    Oops, the above was my reply to “Raucous Indignation” at #10. None of the auctions that I attended have been televised, by the way.

  23. microraptor says

    zetopan @25:

    Moral of the story: if you’re going to go to an auction, do your homework and set a price for how much you’re willing to bid on an item before the auction starts, then stick to it.

  24. Matrim says

    @4, weylguy

    But there’s also American Idol, America Has Talentand all that other crap in competition for the remaining shreds of American intelligence.

    What, exactly, is wrong with American Idol or America’s Got Talent? How is it contributing to or indicating the dumbing down of America? If you don’t like them, that’s fine, I don’t much care for them either, but it seems hyperbolic in the highest to claim they are somehow making America stupid (or indicating that America is becoming more stupid). They’re just talent shows, dude. How does people singing or doing stage magic or gymnastics or whatever become so dire?

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