I caught an incredibly bad two-hour “documentary” on the Discovery Channel last night that, in a nut shell, encapsulates many of our societal foibles. That program was “Mermaids: The Body Found.” Listed as “docu-fiction,” which means “made up at will,” the special was presented as entirely real, and purported to prove the existence of mermaids among us, as evidenced by man’s ancient mythologies concerning fish people and the modern-day cover-up of the phenomena by governments around the world.

I really believe that shows like this can be damaging to an overall public perception of reality, imbuing those with no desire to question the “evidence” they are given with a false sense of being “in the know,” which is of course one of the major appeals of any conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter that immediately after airing, all the claims of the show are debunked, because many of the people who watch these programs will spend the next decade of their life walking around, telling other people they meet that mermaids are “totally real, it was on the Discovery Channel, man.” Don’t believe that people are that foolish? There are still people debating an 11-year-old moon landing hoax special that aired on FOX, even though it was complete malarkey. There are human beings walking the face of the Earth right now who believe that this planet is flat. That’s the nature of rumors about secret knowledge—we really want to believe them, because they confirm our biases and make us feel informed.

Even the PROGRAM ITSELF can admit that its content is fraudulent, if it does it covertly enough. In the case of “Mermaids: The Body Found,” that admission can be found two hours in, during the closing credits. A segment is shown that reads “Though certain events in this film are fictional, Navy sonar tests have been directly implicated in whale beachings. ‘The Bloop’ is a real phenomenon. There is still debate about what it may be. None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated or associated with it in any way, nor have they approved its contents. Any similarities in the film to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.”

Aside from “certain events in this film are fictional,” (which means “as much of it as we want”) that sounds like standard legal boilerplate. But in this case, the line about “actual persons” is even more significant, because get this—the two main characters appearing on screen to give “their story” throughout the entire program? They don’t exist. As in, they’re not real human beings. The person presented as “Dr. Paul Robertson” is an actor named Andre Weideman, and at no point does the program make any admission of this. He says he was a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? Lies. He says his team’s data was confiscated by the government? Lies. And how do they get away with saying all of this? By small-print, tacit admissions to anyone in actual authority that “Look, we’re just making something for entertainment, nobody is going to take it seriously.”

The problem is of course that the general public can’t be bothered to verify any of this information, and plenty simply take it at face value. They DO take it seriously. If you go on Google and go searching around for discussion of the program, the stuff you find will blow your mind, as people find reasons to believe a two-hour television special on the secret existence of mermaids. Look a little longer and you’ll run across all sorts of cryptozoological believers. My favorites are the ones who shoot down each other’s theories as ridiculous and then offer even crazier opinions. “You’re a fool for believing the aquatic ape theory! Anyone with half a brain knows that mermaids are the direct descendents of ‘nephilim,’ the gigantic early ancestors of man that existed before the flood of Noah!” The statement to the left is an actual opinion that I read last night. I am not making this up—unlike the filmmakers.

One of the best touches is the website for “Dr. Paul Robertson,” which bears a realistic-looking message saying that it was “seized by Homeland Security.” Good evidence of a cover-up, right? The government doesn’t want you to know the truth! Or at least this would be good evidence, if it hadn’t been put together by the film’s creators themselves to make their case look legitimate. You need look no further than the vagueness claiming that a warrant was issued by “a United States District Court.” In an actual web seizure like this one at a sports streaming website, the specific court is always listed. See the additional detail? Unfortunately, this simply distraction is all a conspiracy theorist needs to leap into action. It’s classic confirmation bias.

This is a disgusting amount of effort for a group of filmmakers to go to, just in order to make a quick buck by sensationalizing their film and trying to cause a stir by portraying it as “banned” or suppressed by the government. A web-savvy community in 2012 shouldn’t be able to be taken in by something so stupid. We’re supposed to be smarter than this. And shame on a network like The Discovery Channel for airing “documentaries” that are entirely fictional accounts of nonexistent creatures. Shows like “A Haunting,” “Ghost Lab” and their faked reality series “The Colony” are bad enough. But mermaids? Mermaids.

What do you think, sirs? Were you taken in by this fish tale?

(12) comments

sollesh
sollesh

No. If they get mermaids then I say, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"

More importantly, Discovery needs to stay away from that kind of stuff and sell it to SyFy where it belongs. The website itself shows, "Bringing stories and experiences that share knowledge, satisfy curiosity and inspire the joy of discovery." Okay, got it. So why are there shows like 'Property Wars' and 'Auction Kings' on there. From what the Google tells me, many of those shows are scripted anyway. What The Science Channel is now is what I thought Discovery was supposed to be in the first place.

civil
civil

Anyone with a single digit IQ knew immediately what the show was and that it was an anti-navy sonar testing diatribe. Last time i checked tv"s had an off switch. Maybe your did not?

proudgrannyjoan
proudgrannyjoan

this show was such a disappointment, yes i too fell for it until i noticed how many navy commercials were sponsoring the show. that prompted me to do an internet search and several articles about this fake program. discovery channel should air real discoveries and leave shows like this for syfy i agree. were my dad still alive he would totally be upset with this, as it is he is probably glad he never lived to see such a sham as this aired on a channel he used to love for the knowledge it provided, shame on them for this.

captaingreg
captaingreg

come on man, the Dramatic scene of the socalled beached half dead Mermaid suddenly rising up and grabbing the Boys hand was a Dead Give Away that this film was a fake. especially making us all wait till the end of the Movie (not a Documentary) to see it.also the Dr.'s were all too Photogenic to be real Docters with PHD Degrees. Shame on Discovery for showing such stuff. What a Collosal Freakin waste of time, shoulda watched Wipe-Out instead .

PeterWestin
PeterWestin

When they present this kind of hooey in this way, you have to treat everything else they show as unbelievable nonsense.

kirkglen
kirkglen

Watched a little of this yesterday. So bad it was hilarious! It was april 1st of course!

Grandmasue
Grandmasue

Ha I feel totally stupid now. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Although when I searched it on line and saw the pictures of the mermaids I started to think how do they poo and have babies. Lol. Started to get a little skeptical.

KCarson
KCarson

I don't know one way from another, but I do know that I am sick and tired of how during programming, commercials match if not exceed the amount of time for the desired show. And if that is not bad enough, duing the program, the networks, in this case Discovery channel, not satisfied with the deluge of commercial interruptions, has the audacity to further ruin what you watch with not only their network icon, in the lower left corner, but continue to advertise upcoming shows, e.g. the deadliest catch, with program times and dates, which completely distracts the viewer from enjoying the content of their show, obstructs the viewer from seeing the any text from translation. I have a suggestion, STOP bombarding us with your effffing stupid program line-up during shows, we have menus, we are not stupid, is there no limits to your 'pimping' programs, back to back commercials, large network icons on the screen? You, your advertisers should be paying us to watch the programming instead of us having to pay for it.......give it a break, allow us to see the program content on screen without further distractions/obstructed viewing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

aclark
aclark

Hey, we could tell the "experts" were actors...we did, however, suggest the dr. may be a direct descendent of Sasquatch with that hair. What's wrong with this? It was harmless. This fantasy was so relaxing and fun to watch together-unlike all the friggin' murder shows where I have to wonder how on earth the families deal with flipping channels to see their loved-one's murder splashed on tv for entertainment. Murder and violence for entertainment and even if purely fictional is much sicker than this. You go away feeling a little happier instead of more despair. TV has come to be painful to watch, including the news which repeats over and over and over shtuff that is NOT news at all...who CARES if an actress had a double mastectomy? And to show it over and over like it's a new story...Lighten up people, the world is a better place when we're smiling. Thank God for shows like this when there are also conspiracy theory shows that whip people into frenzies that the government is coming to get us. Cryptozoololgy is fun, and the best part is that there are new species discovered! A sense of wonder and awe feels awfully good right about now.

Juan D
Juan D

BOYCOTT DISCOVERY CHANNEL!! It's current leadership took a great channel and flushed it down the toilet! It has become trash TV.

Shimghet
Shimghet

Your comments are so very typical of the narrow mindedness that keeps us from growing as humans. I myself believe that there is more out there than we can prove. Why would these people risk their reputations? I hope someday when the truth comes out (after they've killed everything in the ocean) that you people eat your words. Discovery Channel should be given kudos for sticking their necks out there to bring the truth. It makes sense that it would be covered up just for oil so that anything killed with sonar doesn't freak out the masses.

ajohson2433
ajohson2433

I am LOVING that so many of you are so STUPID you could possibly believe fish and human dna combined in any way to make a mermaid. LOL

You people deserve to be enslaved by your huge government. Your ignorance at every level is astounding.
#StupidAmericaWow

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