Animal Planet’s Monster Week tones down the hype for 2016

jump_the_sharkIt’s business as usual at Animal Planet channel. It’s Monster Week. You know, it’s not that bad to air shows like The Cannibal in the Jungle for one week or on occasion. But AnPlan has gone too far in the past several years by suggesting that mermaids, Megalodon and cryptids exist by co-opting bad or outright FAKE science to make people think there is more support for these claims than there really are.

Animal Planet and Discovery channel (both of Discovery Network) often share shows so you may have seen a variety of strange offerings on both. (A complete list of paranormal programming in English, go to my list here.) For AnPlan in particular, fiction began to overtake nature programming in 1997 with the show Animal X about mystery cryptids. Then, they got into the Pet Psychic shows from 2002-2004 and again in 2010. But seriously, pet psychic shows are not even interesting and are kind of ridiculous even to the average person who believes in psychic abilities. River Monsters began in 2009 and is still going. It’s not exactly an unnatural program but occasionally does hype up the drama and lead viewers to misleading ideas. This hinted at what was to come – actual cryptid hunting.

Finding Bigfoot was a ratings success at AnPlan starting in 2011, becoming its top rated series (for a time – I think River Monsters may now hold that spot). Then, in 2012, the shit really began to hit the TV screen. Mermaids: A Body Found was a fictional show that was made to look like an actual documentary. The two-hour special used fake footage, CGI, fake “underwater sound recordings”, and had actors portray scientists to discuss the thoroughly dismissed “aquatic ape theory”. There was an immediate response. People who expect to see science on AnPlan thought this was science! There were some who actually believed mermaids were real and the government was hiding the truth! The NOAA had to issue a public statement to assure the nation that, no, mermaids were NOT real. The network had gone off the deep end but took the position that ratings were more important than information about real animals. After the raging success of Mermaids for Monster Week 2012, a sequel came in 2013 with even more misleading content and fake scientists. Also included in the 2013 Monster Week were programs that sounded like Roger Corman movies: Man-eating Squid, Invasion of the Swamp Monsters, and Invasion of the Mutant Pigs. Discovery Channel meanwhile was basking in the glow of confusing the public again with a fake documentary on an extinct giant shark that they wanted you to think was still around. Cue fake footage and doctored photos. This was the end of association with the network by many scientists who had had enough.mermaids-e1368894096230

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Practical skepticism on “science doesn’t know everything”

I could spend hours and hours responding to really poorly thought out and terribly spelled comments to my blog posts on Doubtful News. But it would be pointless. Half the people wouldn’t read it and the other half would just argue and put up another bunch of syntactical garbage. I typically conclude that people who are vehemently and rudely opposed to what I say have their reasons for being that way, whatever they may be. Perhaps they value personal experiences and what they are told by people they trust. They probably don’t have any experience in critical thinking or were not given the tools to learn how to be objective. Or, they simply prefer to hold a position that is comforting to them in some way – by making them seem special or powerful. I’m trying to understand why some people feel the need to comment as they do but it’s hard because I can’t put myself in their place and imagine I would react the same.

I thought I would share some of the responses that I did not post and answer them on this blog. I don’t post lousy comments to any of my blogs because I employ a strict moderation policy of added value. These folks didn’t give evidence, they made fallacious arguments that didn’t add to the discussion but distracted from it and they are often rude and ignorant. I’ve heard these same arguments countless times before. It would be worthwhile to take some time and formulate a full response. I expect to refer to these piece often as these same situations arise. For the first response, I tackle “AnnMarie” and her position that science can’t explain everything.

I wrote a piece that was extremely skeptical about 19-year-old “celebrity medium” Tyler Henry and disagreed that we need ANY such TV shows that portray psychic powers as “reality”. I question why Tyler is doing a TV show instead of demonstrating his powers to scientists and parapsychologists studying mediumship who could learn about life after death. This would be valuable for humanity, not just the Kardashians…
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True Monsters show basically true to useless formula with one small exception

Krampus_historychannelTrue Monsters debuted on History Channel on Friday night. The show was promoted to be a somewhat different take on “monsters” (cryptids, legends and myths).

“True Monsters sorts the fiction from the often-muddled facts about the most terrifying monsters, awe-inspiring myths, and timeless legends in history. From monstrous creatures to wrathful gods, this series tells the incredible stories that reveal the surprising truths.”

I hadn’t read much about it beforehand, but I did know that historian Dr. Brian Regal was to be interviewed for at least one episode. So, I was hopeful that expert commentary would be the strength of the program to provide us new info about the deeper meanings and alternative explanations for the often overly-simplified and highly-fictionalized pop culture monsters and myths.

The press release for the show called it “provocative”. This was their setup:

“Through a blend of cinematic re-creations and engaging storytelling, ‘True Monsters’ reveals more about our monsters — and about us — than ever before. Touching on traditional myths from countries like Greece and Norway, the series broadens out to include monsters and characters from all kinds of sources, including the Bible and modern day urban legends. ‘True Monsters’ will entertain while also explaining what led humans to create and fear such creatures and stories in the first place.”

A very promising premise but very difficult to do in a hour program on one topic. Unfortunately, they packed several somewhat questionably related topics into the episode thus short-changing them all. I didn’t learn anything new but this show wasn’t made FOR an audience made up of people like me.

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In Search Of… my first exposure to the paranormal

Here’s a funny story…

When I was little, my mom loved the show In Search Of… It was my first introduction to paranormal topics and also to Leonard Nimoy, believe it or not (which reminds me of another show that first introduced me to Jack Palance).

In Search Of… was so influential to my interest in paranormal topics. It was where I saw the Patterson Gimlin Bigfoot film. It was where I first saw the famous Loch Ness monster photos. It was where I heard about the Bermuda Triangle and Amelia Earhart. It was my primer to all these topics I still think about and write about today.

Well now, it’s out on DVD. 152 episodes on 21 discs. 63 hours!

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