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Shark Television Science

Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week 103

Brandon Butler writes As an ode to Shark Week: Sharks have been known to show an appetite for fiber cables underwater, and last week a Google official said to prevent sharks from wreaking havoc on the company's trans-Pacific fiber lines, it wraps them in Kevlar. It's believed that the emission of electrical currents from the fiber piping is mistaken by sharks occasionally as prey. In related news, a growing number of scientists are becoming disgruntled with the Discovery network's sensationalist programs. Many shark experts are refusing to work with the channel after such programs as their Megalodon "documentary" and their latest Shark of Darkness (not to mention the mermaid special, which was sadly missing a singing crab.)

Sockatume writes The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming 's viewing figures.
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Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

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  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @08:50PM (#47674813)

    For the past 15 years, nearly all the channels such as history channel, discovery, etc have been nearly wothless, waste your time with ratings tactics, etc. Some physics series (NDT, Brian Cox) and maybe animal planet being an exception?

    It's easier just to read up on the rest without the bullshit, the commercials, and the ratings grab tactics. Even on netflix, it's rare that a documentary is worth watching, because of the editing geared towards TV.

    It's telling when the most worthwhile educational show the last years came out on Fox.

  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @08:53PM (#47674821) Homepage

    Discovery Channel has long since gone the way of the History Channel, and now bears only coincidental moments of truth.

    All they care about are ratings, and if lying to the public means ratings, well, obviously, Discovery is all over that.

    As a scientist quoted in any of the current Shark Week "dramas" (they don't even rate the "docudrama" label), I'd sue Discovery for misrepresentation and libel. They quoted out of context and stitched together several scientist's different takes (not to mention failing to inform them about the subject being talked about, rather lying to them about the nature of the interview). As a consequence, the "scientist" never said any of the things they were purported to say.

    Don't watch Shark Week. Don't watch Discovery/History/TLC or anything like that any more. heck, even NatGeo is bad. It's a shame.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2014 @09:18PM (#47674911)

    With regards to Discovery, I too have noticed a degrading of quality from them over the years. To be honest the only real show I ever watched from them in recent times was MythBusters, but I don't even watch that anymore because of how far it's fallen. Very little science to speak of, an apparent focus more on explosions and poor attempts at (scripted) humor than actually investigating a myth to its fullest, not to mention of course the lack of any real proper myths these days that aren't from movies or TV shows or anything other than pop culture, but I suppose there's a limit to how many myths there actually are and can be tested, so I'll not be too hard on them for that.

    Oh and of course, all the irritating cross-promotional shit that appears on MythBusters connecting them to other Discovery shows that I have no interest in, but the powers that be still feel the need to plaster the screen with ads for at every occasion (including of course random Twitter messages that serve no purpose but to say "hey look how good our show is" even though you're WATCHING the fucking thing at the same time).

    I've heard MythBusters has had its budget steadily decreased despite the show becoming more and more popular, so with this current focus MythBusters has on things, not to mention Shark Week and the lack of actual truth and rather a push for misrepresentation in the name of entertainment... if taking their shows down this party is hugely successful for Discovery, then people have themselves to blame.

    It appears that one has to go towards an anti-intellectual stance if one wants to make profitable entertainment. I'm not against dumb entertainment at times, but fuck, there's barely anything left on commercial TV that isn't pandering to base standards and give a shit about integrity anymore.

  • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @09:30PM (#47674945) Homepage Journal

    Dunno, it seems to be part of a larger trend:
    Discovery Channel -- full of fiction and unscientific crap
    History Channel -- full of fiction and unscientific crap
    Science Fiction Channel -- full of fiction about unscientific crap (its supposed to be fiction about scientifically plausible stuff -- if they want magic even that would be acceptable if only they would invent a name for it instead of pretending electromagnetism is magical)
    Politicians -- full of fiction and unscientific crap

  • by Brainguy ( 12519 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:36AM (#47675957)

    Hey at least the Sci-Fi channel had the courtesy to change its name to "Syfy" when they realized they had strayed far from their roots, kind of like how food products that don't really contain the ingredient they purport to be based on will change that ingredient's name slightly in their name(Cheez, etc.).

    At the very least the History Channel should put ironic quotes around the word "History."

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @04:59AM (#47676113) Homepage

    Both are terrible, and started going downhill around the same time, racing each other to the bottom - beginning in 2005 (when you started getting shows like Deadliest Catch and Decoding the Past, which became the prototype for many future series of increasingly less "reality"), and then full force by 2007 where you start getting too many shows to name.

    One thing that drives me crazy almost as much as the blatant pseudoscience presented as fact is the extensive acting presented as reality. I mean, okay, I get it, a purely "reality" program is pretty much impossible, the very requirements of filming it make it so. Even in stuff like Les Stroud's "solo" work he always had a base camp just a couple kilometers away from him and stayed in communication with them by radio. But now the stage guidance, product promotion, and "weekly scripted adventures" have gotten so absurd and obvious, they don't even try to hide it any more. I thought that they couldn't get any lower than the bogus survival show Man vs. Wild (where the host pretended to be living in homemade shelters and surviving off wild food, when he was actually staying in luxury hotels and show consultants prepped everything from making "rafts" for him to releasing "wild" animals for him to catch). But now almost all of their shows are like that or even worse. And the product promotion, my god - have you seen the Pawn Stars plugging for Skype? If you're going to have your "reality show" stars plug a product in your show, at least get people who can act.

    The changes are so visible with time, too. Take Mythbusters for example - watch some of the early eps and compare with the modern eps and look at how much more is obviously staged acting with everyone reciting a script (not to the extent of Smash Labs, but still). Apparently Discovery Communications has decided that this is what people want to see - bad actors going on "daily adventures" and having "witty banter".

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