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Arts and Entertainment

'Shark Week' LIES: Discovery Channel Tricks Scientists Into Appearing On Their Trash Programming

greatwhiteshark.jpg
(Photo by Mogens Trolle via Shutterstock)
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Discovery Channel, proprietor of junk 'science' programming about mermaids and fake alien planets, has been chumming the waters full of deception and lies for its popular Shark Week programming all along.

On July 10, the ostensibly educational cable network released a viral video discreetly on YouTube that supposedly showed a bull shark being hooked in the freshwater Lake Ontario. A week later, the network issued a press release basically saying, "Gotcha! Now watch Shark Week, suckers."

Lie every week like it's Shark Week, right?

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Unfortunately, the deception goes beyond just the publicity. Legitimate scientists the network features in their Shark Week lineup, which includes such specials as Zombie Shark and Sharkageddon (may as well have Sharknado while they're at it), are swindled into being a part of the edutainment. This year, Kristine Stump, a research associate with the Shedd Aquarium doing real research on hammerhead sharks, found herself a part of Monster Hammerhead, a special about a mythical 20-foot hammerhead patrolling the waters off Florida. "Had I known they would combine it with those ridiculous fishermen to make a show about a mythical shark, I would have had some serious second thoughts about participating," she told io9.

Last year, Jonathan Davis, now of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, brought along a Discovery film crew as he did research on sharks in Louisiana and wound up being a part of Voodoo Shark, a program about a supposed mythical shark that swam in the bayous of Louisiana.

With Discovery Channel's reputation diving deeper and deeper into the abyss, scientists and researchers see themselves declining opportunities to be involved with the television specials. And the saddest and most ironic part of the Shark Week spectacle might be that the Shark Week programming that is meant to educate the public about the much-feared but not-that-deadly creatures might have done more damage to their reputation than Jaws.