Shark Week Jumps The Shark: An Open Letter To Discovery Communications

By Christie Wilcox | August 5, 2013 5:17 am

Dear Discovery Communications,

I have to say, I had high hopes for this year’s Shark Week. But we’re only one special in and already, shark week has seriously jumped the shark.

megalodon jaws

The awe-inspiring jaws of Megalodon at the American Museum of Natural History
Photo from Wikipedia user Spotty11222

I get why you had a special about C. megalodon. What shark inspires more fear and fascination than Megalodon, the Chondrichthyean monster that once dominated our planet’s oceans? The shark’s name, which translates to “giant tooth”, says it all. Their hand-sized dental records are some of the only fossilized evidence we have of these gigantic predators, which lived from ~50 million years ago to around 2 million years ago. Based on their size, scientists have estimated these sharks grew to upwards of 60 feet long with a bite force anywhere between 10 and 18 tons, and from scarred fossils we know they likely dined on the giant whales of their time. This year’s Shark Week kick-off special, Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives, claimed to provide evidence that these massive beasts are still out there, using scattered anecdotes and scientific testimony to support the assertion. There’s only one problem: the entire “documentary” wasn’t real.

No whale with a giant bite taken out of it has ever washed up here in Hawaii. No fishing vessel went mysteriously missing off of South Africa in April. No one has ever found unfossilized Megalodon teeth. Collin Drake? Doesn’t exist. The evidence was faked, the stories fabricated, and the scientists portrayed on it were actors. The idea that Megalodon could still be roaming the ocean is a complete and total myth.

shark week viewers fooled

Sobering statistics

Here’s what I don’t get, Discovery: Megalodons were real, incredible, fascinating sharks. There’s a ton of actual science about them that is well worth a two hour special. We’ve discovered their nursery grounds off the coast of Panama, for example. Their bite is thought to be the strongest of all time—strong enough to smash an automobile—beating out even the most monstrous dinosaurs. The real science of these animals should have been more than enough to inspire Discovery Channel viewers. But it’s as if you don’t care anymore about presenting the truth or reality. You chose, instead, to mislead your viewers with 120 minutes of bullshit. And the sad part is, you are so well trusted by your audience that you actually convinced them: according to your poll, upwards of 70% of your viewing public fell for the ruse and now believes that Megalodon isn’t extinct.

Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives was not just a disservice to your genuinely curious audience. It was a lie. You used your reputation to deceive your viewers, and you didn’t even apologize for it.

At least the faux Mermaids documentaries on Animal Planet flashed a brief disclaimer explaining that they were false. Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives had no such warning. Instead, you did the exact opposite. All you put up was this:

None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated with it in any way, nor have approved its contents.

Though certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized, sightings of “Submarine” continue to this day.

Megalodon was a real shark. Legends of giant sharks persist all over the world. There is still a debate about what they may be.

While there may be a debate about what “sightings” may be, there is one thing that scientists are sure of: Megalodon is extinct.

Part of me is furious with you, Discovery, for doing this. But mostly, I’m just deeply saddened. It’s inexplicably depressing that you’ve gone from “the world’s #1 nonfiction media company” to peddling lies and faking stories for ratings. You’ve compromised your integrity so completely with this special, and that breaks my heart. I loved you, Discovery, ever since I was a child. I grew up watching you. It was partly because of you that I became transfixed by the natural world and pursued a career in science. I once dreamed of having my own Discovery Channel special, following in the footsteps of people like Jeff Corwin. Not anymore. This is inexcusable. You have an obligation to your viewers to hold to your non-fiction claims. You used to expose the beautiful, magical, wonderful sides of the world around us. Now, you just make shit up for profit. It’s depressing. It’s disgusting. It’s wrong.

I won’t be watching the rest of Shark Week. I simply can’t.

The last time you disappointed me, I wrote you a letter, and I told you that there was little chance that I could forgive you. I said it felt like you were slipping further and further every day. Sadly, my worst fears have become real. You’re just not the channel I grew up with. You’ve changed.

I sincerely hope that you take a little time and reflect on what you’ve become. Is this really what you want? To abuse the trust of your viewers that you have spent decades building? You say that your mission is “to satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten.” If fraud is the highest quality content you can come up with, then I’m not angry with you—I feel sorry for you.

If that is really your goal, you’ve failed, and you’ve failed miserably.

 

Sincerely,

Christie Wilcox

 

Update: You don’t have to listen to me, Discovery. Read your Facebook wall. This is just a small snippet of the comments your own viewers are posting. Listen to them:

CATEGORIZED UNDER: More Science, select, Top Posts
  • Erik Kreider

    I have to agree with you. I wrote letters on their Facebook page after that stupid mermaid show. What bothered me about that was that and the Megalodon was the selling it as real. There so much fascinating information about the Megalodon that we really don’t need to make anything up. I will still watch shark week. But, I have to admit that I miss the days when it was about science and information whereas now it’s just about attracting stupid people. I will be Laughlin next week and I have no doubt I will end up sitting next to someone at a blackjack table telling me about how the Megalodon is real.

    • Pez Dispenser

      they sold it as nothing more than entertainment. ITS CALLED IDIOT BOX FOR A REASON. You’re just proving that nickname is accurate.

      • Erik Kreider

        Wow, you’re kinda stupid. No, I’m sorry, there’s nothing kinda about it, you’re stupid. That’s not why it’s called an idiot box at all. For future reference maybe you should know what you’re talking about before you post. Just a suggestion. But, what do you expect from someone who hides behind a nickname to post.

  • joe stone

    Totally agree with you.discovery has hit a new low.

  • Ismael Martinez

    Remember MTV when it had music. Same thing, they discovered that the majority of the audience like fluff and it brings eyes to the Tv which in results brings ads. I am not so surprised, This is the same network that will be showing “Tickle” which has has 0% informative value, and Honey Boo Boo in their TLC network. i am not surprised either after seeing what Deadliest Catch has become. Just look at their site and you will see Amish Mafia, Sons of Guns, Weed country all non science or mentally nutritional content. So it was Shark Weak’s turn. Finally if you watch closely, the real scientific shows are coming from the BBC not Discovery. So welcome the new MTV.

    • Cypherpunks (a public account)

      If your answer is their answer, it’s a total cop-out and misses the ENTIRE point of this blog post. Megalodon IS fascinating, IS fun, IS cool and to say that facts alone can’t “bring eyes to the TV” is 100% pure unadulterated bulls*t and a failure of creativity.

    • flakingnapstich

      Hey now, they still air Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters.

      • Heteromeles

        Dirty Jobs is off the air.

    • Real Life

      Ya, I was going to add to my essay above, sadly and oh i am so furious, many people will still watch these programs. Stupid.

    • kgal1298

      Remember when TLC was The Learning Channel? We have no one to blame but outselves and I don’t even watch the crap shows like Honey Boo Boo I like the scripted shows.

      • Mike Stirton

        It all took a sharp turn towards the vapid programming when that writer’s strike came to LaLa land.

        That and there seems to be an overabundance of simpletons these days.

  • sydfynch

    Right on the money. Discovery is heading to the land of Honey Boo Boo.

    • Robert Bonfire

      I agree , so sad

    • Real Life

      Damn. Where is the nearest bridge. And I do not wanna ht water. Strictly hard solid concrete.

    • kgal1298

      Honey Boo Boo is making money so if Discovery is doing it they are doing it for money and in that case we should all probably take a look at what we are watching because what we are watching is dictating programming.

      • Tambit

        We ARE the ones that determine what we watch. By being picky, we, en masse, can change TV, food, music, sports, products, the world. If you don’t like the crap they are showing, don’t watch it. Tell your friends not to watch it. Write blogs. Do something!

    • Heteromeles

      Yep. I’m lucky that I can get the science channel, but even there, the crap is creeping in. I guess they figure that “anyone with a brain” is online and not watching the TV at all, and they’re playing only to people on the unprivileged side of the digital divide.

    • gfish3000

      Well, their parent company are the people who made Honey Boo Boo and unleashed that blight on the unsuspecting Earth.

      Discovery Channel itself is not that far gone yet, but it basically plays shows about blue collar work as if blue collar workers are a different species that merit their own nature documentary series, and whatever big nature and space specials they do have, they just buy from the BBC and edit it as not to offend too many creationists and New Agers.

      • chrisslowik

        Yup. The Learning Channel ROFL… No one is learning anything from that channel anymore.

        • gfish3000

          They re-branded it as the True Life Channel many years ago.

          • Mike Stirton

            What is true life about reality programming? All I see is dysfunctional idiots in front of a camera.

            They succeed ONLY because there evidently are enough dysfunctional idiots watching crap.

    • Norinn Radd

      This comment is great because the portion of my family that fell hook line and sinker for the Megaladon shark week bit is also…wait for it…the same family that wacthes honeybooboo!

      • Pez Dispenser

        this comment is great because the same idiot who criticizes people for watching megalodon and honey boo boo uses the internet AKA idiot box JR to judge other people for their entertainment choices

        • Mike Stirton

          Pot calling kettle black.

          But I guess, those like yourself prefer to be assholes online eh?

  • texomawriter

    Christie, thanks for writing a letter that communicates exactly how I feel today. Although I felt from the get-go that the show was “off”, I kept telling myself that surely they wouldn’t begin Shark Week with a mockumentary! I kept waiting for them to clarify what was and wasn’t real. Instead, the Blair Witch “style” continued but persisted in acting as if it were presenting truth. Shame! I finally quit fooling myself that Discovery just “wouldn’t do something like that” and accepted that it was all hokum. Very disappointing to start the week that way.

  • http://ladyheartcore.tumblr.com/ Miss Heartcore

    Completely insults the intelligence of the viewers to think that they can’t tell the difference between the production quality of a REAL special (Air Jaws) and an overproduced fake production like this Megalodon special. Everything from the talking head expert interviews to footage on the ship screams of staged and scripted. It insults the loyal viewers who’ve been watching for years.

    • Pez Dispenser

      your intelligence was insulted by yourself the second you thought that television should be an adequate stand in for teachers, books, and classrooms.

      • http://ladyheartcore.tumblr.com/ Miss Heartcore

        That’s not at all what my comment was implying, but it seems that you’re mostly on a personal tirade against television itself. So carry on.

  • Alison Ricker

    This is extremely disappointing and disillusioning. Anyone in the northeast Ohio area should visit the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a fantastic and factual exhibit that will engage and inspire you: http://www.cmnh.org/site/AtTheMuseum/OnExhibit/Megalodon.aspx

  • Big Daddy

    Merriam-Webster should change how they define the word “deceit” in their dictionary. They could do it in two words now: “Discovery Channel”.

  • Odin Matanguihan

    And I look forward to the next few weeks being told by people to get a PhD before I challenge the “real scientists” of Discovery channel.

  • Ari Ziv

    This quality of programing ranks right up there with Mermaids, The Body Found and Whale Wars…..

  • MikeHeXt

    Did the board of their company change or something? It seems they pander hard for ratings now and threw the rule book. That disclaimer pretty much would be better summed up with a Trollface.jpg.

  • Todd

    Just more of our society’s quest to make itself dumber. The line from the disclaimer says it all: “Legends of giant sharks persist all over the world. There is still a debate about what they may be.” Just because there’s a debate doesn’t mean the debate is worthwhile, or based in fact. There are still debates, among some people, about whether or not the earth is flat, and whether the earth is a few thousand years old or a few million. The mere existence of a debate doesn’t automatically make it worthy of any merit, and it certainly doesn’t mean it should be presented as fact.

    • Real Life

      No realtion to you personally man, but I have a saying and it applies to these posts; ” I am Sofa King We Todd Did” ……or ………. so !@#$ retarded. Again, I mean the dumb show, your username just reminded me of the it. Cheers!.

    • Pez Dispenser

      society quest to make itself dumber: TRYING TO ACTUALLY BELIEVE WHAT IS BROADCAsT TO YOU THROUGH YOUR IDIOT BOX LMAOOOOOOO GET A LIFE TURN OFF THE TV AND COMPUTER FOR ONCE IN YOUR MEAGER EXISTENCE

      • Todd

        Thank you for proving my point. You comment is an excellent example how how our society embraces stupidity.

        • Mike Stirton

          Pez has being doing his best in this discussion to prove your point and a few others that some people really need to be cut off from the internet.

  • Julie Neltner Reizner

    Megalodon is a genus of clam. One of the ways in which the Discovery Channel has screwed up ROYALLY is by calling it the wrong thing – the correct name for this shark is Carcharocles megalodon. It’s like calling a human “Sapiens” when there is something out there that actually IS called “Sapiens (sp.)” Science and education is clearly irrelevant to these people.

  • kgray10

    I’m heartbroken too. I went to Discovery’s website to see if there was more information on it. Only more reports of sightings from around the world. No mention that this was a complete fabrication. I even watched the After Dark Show and no mention there either. That show was horrible BTW. I’m just Gobsmacked. Discovery used to be about science much like MTV and TLC have nothing to do with name’s sakes anymore.

  • Jeffery Richardson

    I watched the first 10 mins or so of the program and couldn’t stand anymore…it was such blatant bull****!
    I honestly couldn’t believe that the network had the audacity to air such ridiculous fluff!

  • hudasx

    I missed the opening and the disclaimer, and fell for it. Another reason to quit cable tv.

  • Buddy199

    I thought it was a well-produced practical joke, like War of the Worlds (1938). If low info viewers couldn’t figure that out, that’s their problem. Adults ought to point out to their kids that it’s no more real than Jurassic Park, though.

  • Luis García Pimentel Ruiz

    This is really sad, Discovery Channel is now full of BS shows about ghosts and so-called “psiquics” and now they fake real science. Shame on them.

  • Jim Wharton

    The saddest thing is that people came to it with expectation of science, even in the face of a program description that SCREAMED mermaid documentary. Discovery is a science entertainment network. Megalodon just showed everyone the Emperor’s new clothes.

    • Claire Letoret

      Nowadays it is all about ratings and low quality programs get churned to the expense of knowledge, facts, quality – the uproar incurred by Megalodon is a welcome reaction, the proof that the audience out there is discerning –

    • Pez Dispenser

      100% agree. Just goes to show that the name ‘IDIOT BOX’ is still alive and accurate in 2013.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/ Neuroskeptic

    What’s next for Discovery? The Discovery of Atlantis?

  • Keith Arigoni

    It’s not just Discovery sadly, History, and TLC have gone in the same direction. Pawn Stars and American Restoration has a certain amount of historical material learning about some of the old relics, but I don’t want to watch re-runs 24/7. I want the old Discovery History and TLC programming back. When you could believe the information was factual and when there was doubt they would make it a point to let you know that there was doubt. Megalo-horseshit!!! is what your programming is now.

    • FollowMal

      I want the old Discovery, History and TLC AND NatGeo programming back. I only watch PBS and BBCAmerica for true science anymore. It’s just like the news….it’s gotta be attention getting and being untrue is not a worry. Just get those ratings at any cost, increase that ability to run ads and make money at any cost. Well, this time Discovery cost themselves their reputation.
      What little they had left.

      • kgal1298

        So do you watch Dr Who?

        • FollowMal

          Oh yes. LOVE Doctor Who. :) I’m a late to the show fan…since Chris Eccleston. Matt Smith has been my favorite Doctor so far. Trying to adjust to the idea that there will be a new one. ;)

      • Pez Dispenser

        Just like the news- because the news channels never fabricate or dont tell the whole truth. whatever lies you need to tell yourself to sleep better LOOOL

    • Pez Dispenser

      its always been megalo horseshit- ALWAYS! Y DO YOU THINK IT WAS NICKNAMED THE IDIOT BOX

      • Mike Stirton

        so @ssholes like yourself can come online to show your complete lack of superiority for all to observe.

  • JoeyBags

    Spot-on and right on the money. It’s disgusting. I can turn on the SyFy channel and not only see fictional shark movies – but also Sharkoctopus, Giant Alligators with two heads and any other assortment of contrived and horribly-done fiction. It’s enraging to those of us who actually love the science and biology of sharks and their environment. This is the result of a bunch of idiotic suits having NO CLUE what the fcuk they’re doing. I just watched NatGeo’s Shark Fest…not the greatest but MUCH BETTER than the garbage Discovery put on.

  • MiniMax

    What’s next? Noah’s ark?

  • rohneas

    I imagine they’re lining up Honey Boo Boo from their sister station (“The Learning[sic] Channel”) to host next year.

  • Webster

    Thing is, this isn’t the first time they’ve done this; Deception with Keith Berry was the same thing. They peddled this as a true mentalist showing how our brain could be fooled. That is until they started using car lots that don’t exist, restaurants that aren’t and ‘subjects’ that are actors that have been seen on other programs. Once this came to light, the show just disappeared – no explanation, no apology, just gone.
    Now this – Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives. More like: The Special That Is Full of Crap.
    For a network that is alleged to attract intelligent viewers, you really must think we’re stupid.

  • Victoria Ainsworth

    Come on now people – what I am hearing now sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me. I knew from the first few seconds of “found footage” that it was a not-so-real documentary (like the mermaids), and yeah, I was disappointed but I was also entertained – and yes, the real science of these prehistoric sharks would fill a two hour production, and maybe down the road this shark week there will be one, but I believe that this show was meant to open up the discussions regarding that mere possibility that Megalodon might not be extinct. And, it also jogs up the imagination – and it if leads just one person, child or adult, to say to themselves “Hey, I wonder what other things I could learn about Megalodon” and then go and look it up in more detail… perhaps even beginning a life-long fascination with sharks that leads to a lifetime working to preserve and protect them! I too wish that Discovery would kick their “reality” shows to the curb — all the disgusting Gold shows portraying “hard working men and women” raping the earth of it’s natural resources (also see “axe men” and such, on Discovery’s affiliates such as TLC & Animal planet) and bring on more science, but I also think that bringing a little fun into the picture will increase the audiences an therefore increase the possibility of a few more people seeking education, sparking their desire to learn.

    • http://christiewilcox.com/ Christie Wilcox

      The only problem is that many people trust Discovery and take their programming at face value. And, according to their poll anyway, this “documentary” didn’t come off as a joke—an overwhelming majority believed it word for word. There’s no excuse for the lack of a real disclaimer as to what parts were explicitly fake. If they wanted to do a special about cryptozoologists investigating rumors, fine. But don’t pass off photoshop and staged footage as real evidence. They didn’t start a discussion, they tricked a large portion of their audience, and pissed off the rest.

    • Andrew Payne

      We need wood for so many things to help us survive. Plastic takes oil, Metal isn’t renewable (only recyclable), glass isn’t suitable for many applications, we only have so many materials here. Wood harvesting should be managed and there should be requirements to replant any acreage harvested. I think we need to leave a lot of old growth as well, but everytime they cut down a tree they aren’t raping our planet. Do you know that forests do better with managed cutting that allows more sunlight to the younger trees under the canopy?

  • Buddy199

    Hicks doing this and that…vapid materialistic women…zombies. It’s what the fat part of the Bell Curve wants to watch. As a for-profit media operation you can’t blame Discovery for trying to pad their ratings with a few low info viewers. They still put on some quality shows, the fluff you don’t have to watch.

    The Megalodon show was obviously a spoof, an inside joke for all you outraged intellectuals. As Marcus the midget put it in Bad Santa: “It’s a joke. An adult joke for us adults. It’s just a joke!” Lighten up.

    • Light_Horizon

      As much as I appreciate your Bad Santa quote, I must strongly disagree. If money is all that matters, then there would be nothing on TV except reality shows and gossip shows that talk about the people in the reality shows. Don’t BS me and hold out to be an educational channel when that is not the case.

      To me, it screams of pure greed. As if the high ratings for crap-TV weren’t enough, they needed a way to sucker the rest of us in with pseudo-science. This goes far beyond “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.” We have been lied to.

      • Buddy199

        Honestly…did you really think Discovery Channel found evidence of a Carcharodon megalodon and that somehow the New York Times, Science and Scientific American missed that scoop?

        • Light_Horizon

          I honestly believe that a science channel should not mislead an already scientifically ignorant public.

  • http://theinconvenienttruthonwhaling.blogspot.com/ kujirakira

    They’ve been at this for years.
    Just see Whale Wars. Facts and reality don’t matter on that tv show either – only how much rating they can get by filming Caucasians assaulting and dehumanizing Asians for having different dietary preferences.

    • Gentilly Ninja

      Cannibalism is also a dietary preference, sport.

      Quit slaughtering whales and dolphins — most of which are smarter than most people on this board — and we promise to stop pointing at you and laughing at how pitiful and unhuman you are.

      • Andrew Payne

        Yeah I think they can do without their whale products. Western civilization has, even though we were probably more dependent on them than the Japanese. Ambergris :P

    • Andrew Payne

      What are they gonna do when they kill all of them , where are their dietary habits then?

  • Victoria Ainsworth

    What we all really want to know is — where is Colossus?

    • Buddy199

      Rome, I think.

      • raymondschep

        You know what is so extremely ironic is that everybody gets soo upset about a silly docufiction about some overgrown shark, yet they completely accept as gospel lies that could really kill them without sticking a toe in the water, namely that cholesterol causes heart disease, ignoring the true cause which is a copper (SOD) deficiency, and that statins cure heart disease, no it dosn’t it accelerates it, and that chemotherapy cures cancer.
        Raymond Schep,
        Author, Eat Right For Life.

        • DariusPicard

          Sure, for $25 he will tell you what you should eat. Other than that you can die. For the $25 you can die anyway. Humans are living longer than ever eating crap unfortunately.

  • GabyYYZ

    If I wanted s

    • Daoofgeek

      You mean the History channel that USED to have excellent programming but has become a parody of itself? That History Channel?

      Sigh…

  • http://techren.com Ed. Floden

    Adam and Jamie should investigate this myth.

  • Vito Luis

    Discovery raped who I am as a mammal!

  • http://makingourlifematter.com/ Making Our Life Matter

    Glad to see that I am not the only one totally ticked. I am headed over to National Geographic for #Sharkfest!

  • Sebastian Alappat

    Yes , Shame on Discovery Channel. You had me screaming at the TV like an irate MEG fan. I don’t fault you for creating a ‘fake doc’ like this to throwing some new chum to change up your SharkWeek line up, but did you really have to lead with this? Why not end the week with it? We all love sharks here, but why not lead with another ‘intelligent’ program rather than a slightly higher budget Syfy flick? Weaksauce.

  • Balfour Mira

    I used to love Shark Week – and, to be honest, I was like a kid stuck in that place of believing and not believing in Santa while I watched MegaDude last night. How amazing would it be if that thing really did exist? But the whole fishing expedition was so far-fetched, it was insulting. What govn’t would allow a miles-wide chum fest attracting sharks to populated areas? The fake whale? Embarrassing. Fake 6000+ dive after the fake tag? I love watching the shark weeks of old – with actual sharks, not this bad sci-fi nonsense.

  • pritesh patel

    This was basically Bigfoot of the sea.

  • Alex S

    Further proof that In 20 years all TV shows will be home videos of people getting wacked in the groin. For more evidence, see NC’s defunding education and various other anti-science related legislation.

    • Lobosan

      Idiocracy, here we come.

      • disqusmenow

        My thoughts exactly Lobosan…..”GO AWAY…..’baitin!”

        • Pez Dispenser

          My thoughts exactly, but rather than selling my electronic devices and only reading books I’ll continue to HAR HAR and tow the status quo so I can still have something to bullshit about at the watercooler while Im pretending like Im actually doing my job.

          • Mike Stirton

            So, how’s that job at Future Shop going? That master’s degree in bullsh!t working well for you eh?

  • Jonathan Abbey

    Discovery Channel is trying to once again prove that you can’t go broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.

    • Pez Dispenser

      Id say they are right on target- you’re all a bunch of idiotic impressionable television zombies. Cry some more about y the idiot box is telling you lies.

      • Mike Stirton

        If you said that with at least some effort in the grammar, you would have a point. Sadly, you are the poster child for a poor education.

  • Light_Horizon

    MTV realized that stupid crap gets better ratings than music. Do they start the Stupid Crap Channel? No, they ruin a perfectly good music channel. Discovery Channel has been sliding downhill for years. Science channel too. What they all have in common is the desire to get better ratings at all costs. Being the best music or science channel isn’t good enough for the half-wits making decisions. Nope, they all want to take over the world like TLC’s Honey Boo Boo abomination. If ratings are what we solely go by then we can all kiss good TV goodbye. There are more dumb people than smart people. This conclusion is indisputable judging from the dominating ratings of all the shows that brought us Snookie, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.

    I don’t think anyone is learning anything on TLC anymore unless they are learning about exploiting children. There is no music in music television, there is no reality in reality television and there will soon be no learning on science channels.

  • DJ_Zephyr

    Just ridiculous. All the reality TV crap is bad enough, but outright fabrication like this? Makes me wish the Mythbusters did their thing on a different network so I would never have to turn to Discovery again.

  • Mike Herron

    This kind of garbage has been going on for years on other channels, I’m only surprised that it took Discovery this long to do it.
    We have Larry the Cable Guy, The Pawn Stars and a bunch of other nitwits on The History Channel and TLC (formerly known as The Learning Channel) with Honey Boo Boo and The Real Wives of on Bravo.
    It seems the low information Neanderthals can’t handle reality and science so they get the pap and idiocy of fake sharks, the freaky haired pseudo-science of the Alien guy and “Real Life” scripted shows and the Ghost Hunters and Paranormal sewage.

    Discovery Channel used to mean Science, Technology and real facts… Now it’s a cartoon of a bad SyFy channel show.

  • Buddy199

    I can see how an intellect such as you was so offended by such a low class, low brow program.

  • Noaa Fisheries

    Hey Christie and shark conservation friends, if you really want to tap into shark science, check out http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov for video interviews with NOAA scientists (http://1.usa.gov/17tTvpV) about their shark research and how they work to conserve more than 40 species of sharks in U.S. waters. NOAA Fisheries wants to know if you have the guts to watch The Science Behind a Mako’s Last Meal (http://1.usa.gov/1eep6Q4)?

  • Buddy199

    Honestly…did you really think Discovery Channel found evidence of a Carcharodon megalodon and that somehow the rest of the world’s media missed that scoop? You’re outraged that you thought a tongue in cheek obviously phony and hilariously ridiculous “documentary” was…fake!
    Do you get mad at NORAD every Christmas Eve when they report that Santa has just been spotted flying down from the North Pole?

  • Mark Bohenick

    MegaladoNADO!

  • Kwantem Mekanik

    This was really disappointing — and I really hope the Mythbuster crew will join in with the general condemnation.

    • Pez Dispenser

      WHAT IF I TOLD YOU:

      MYTHBUSTERS IS FAKE?!?!?!

  • Kaiser Shahid

    the grammatical errors in the outrage are just as infuriating as discovery channel’s misdeeds.

  • anonymoose

    Honestly, who cares.

    Discovery is not an educational licensed television network. They don’t owe anyone an apology for broadcasting fiction. If you were fooled then it took you a whole day to get unfooled, and maybe that’s why you are crying. Otherwise there is no reason for this even being a story.

    • keddren

      Discovery’s new viewing demographic, everybody.

    • xxgrendelxx

      Actually, yes they do owe an apology (at least): if you buy a soft drink because it advertises itself as sweet and it tastes undeniably salty, that is false advertising. If a magazine makes its repuatation as “todays news today” and fills its pages with articles from the turn of the 19th century – you get the idea.

      People watch Discovery for factual information, not fiction. When they make the bare minimum attempt to inform their viewers that what they are broadcasting is fiction they have a responsiblity to make that know as often as is reasonable during the telecast. Further – people PAY to watch Discovery Channel, and in America if you don’t get what you pay for, you are owed your money back – or at least an apology.

      • anonymoose

        Sorry but your attempt at trying to compare this to “false advertising” is loose.

        First, your understanding of false advertising is erroneous, if people pay to watch discovery channel then they are getting what they pay for. The service is there, you do not pay for the programming, you pay for the service, the channel. The same is true of anything you mention; the magazine is there, you don’t pay for the stories, you pay for the magazine; the soda is there you don’t pay for the flavor, you pay for the content.

        Second, I already stated that discovery does not hold any educational television license, so if you are watching discovery for factual information you are doing so on your own, and no one is responsible for the paradigms you hold except yourself.

        Third, no one at discovery is responsible to make any minimum attempt to convey whether any information that is broadcast on their channel is false or true. That is the job of the viewer.

        Fourth, in America, if you don’t get what you paid for, you didn’t know what you were paying for.

        • Pierre Cloutier

          So lying and deception are a ok?

          • anonymoose

            I wouldn’t say its ok. It’s part of the world we live in and thousands of advertisements hinge on the hope that they can be clever enough to deceive the viewer, yet obvious enough that they don’t break the law. “OK” is a black and white interpretation of a grey area in our society. If you came out with a product and it was the same as your competitors, you are going to take the moral high ground and advertise it as “The same as the other guys but more expensive because we are just starting out!” ? I doubt it.

          • Pierre Cloutier

            Doesn’t wash. In the case of this lying special it was clear cut that they were deliberately lying and deceptive. That is indisputably obvious. As for your comments in your first comment. Crap! If someone is trying to deceive you they have responsibility it is NOT all on you. As for being part of all world. Well so is rape and murder

          • anonymoose

            I wish I could understand what you wrote.

          • Pierre Cloutier

            So it’s okay?

          • anonymoose

            Yes. Our judicial system expects you to have some common sense afterall.

          • Pierre Cloutier

            The judicial system also expects people to not lie and deceive. Look up perjury.

          • anonymoose

            When the deception is “not educational program on not educationally licensed television channel”, then yes, it’s your fault. You can take your case up to court if you wish to test it. Would be a very funny Youtube video.

          • Pierre Cloutier

            Ah so you made the liar and deceiver lie and deceive you. He of course bears absolutely no responsibility for lying and deception. So you are responsible for the ethics and behavior of people acting like sociopaths and they bear zero responsibility for their behavior. Oh and I said nothing about pursuing legal action I am talking about moral responsibility. Someone who is deliberately trying to deceive someone bears responsibility. I am aware of the legalistic and petty fogging attempts via legal ease by which people manage to avoid legal consequences of their lying and deception. It doesn’t make their lying and deception any less immoral.

          • anonymoose

            You sound like its your first day alive in the world.

            Knowing how to see lies and deceptions for what they are is called nature.

            I’m sure you are aware of optical and auditory illusions. I suppose nature and physics is immoral.

            There are reasons why society and civilization expect you to have common sense. No one has time to baby you through every situation in life. Grow up.

          • Pierre Cloutier

            Please explain how it is your fault that someone is lying to you and trying to deceive you. Just how did you force him to do that? Oh and I was talking about moral responsibility. I am well aware of the pettifogging legal ease used to get out of legal responsibility.

          • anonymoose

            You keep generalizing the situation to make your point, but that’s not what this article or my comment was ever about.

            This isn’t about Deception and Lies vs Innocent Dupe, it’s about how “Discovery deceive you because you thought their content was supposed to be 100% educational, despite the fact that they do not hold an educational television license.”

            So face the facts of the situation, not the meta-philosophy of moral responsibility.

            If you want your generalization to make sense then you have to make it analogous to the situation.

            “Please explain how it is your fault that someone is lying to you and trying to deceive you but you have done no effort in finding out if what they say is true or not, you just accept it to be true.”

    • http://christiewilcox.com/ Christie Wilcox

      My issue is that Discovery *is* an educational network—it’s how they advertise and describe themselves. As for broadcasting fiction, any “non-fiction” entity—whether it be Discovery, or a journalist on the news—owes it to their viewers to explain if they choose to fabricate something for entertainment. Even the Mermaids specials included the caveat that they were not real, albeit briefly.

      But more importantly, even if we assume that adults that “were fooled” should take the blame on themselves, what about the millions of children that watch Discovery? Are 7 year olds expected to be able to tell forgery from reality when it’s presented to them on a station that they are told tells them the truth? There are tons of comments on Discovery’s Facebook from parents that are livid that they had to explain to their kids that Discovery lied. That’s not an easy conversation to have with young children, and wouldn’t have been needed if Discovery owned up to the forgeries in the first place and didn’t sell the special as a documentary.

      It’s not that they made a mockumentary—it’s that they sold it as a documentary, and continue to do so. The executive producer told Fox News that Megalodon’s current existence is “one of the most debated shark discussions of all time”. That’s not even kind of true. There is no debate. Maybe a handful of cryptozoologists (the guys that believe in Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster) have their own ideas, but no respectable scientist thinks Megalodon is still out there because there is no evidence whatsoever.

      If you’re going to say you’re a non-fiction company that produces high quality, educational content, you don’t get to just decide on a whim to play fiction for the fun of it. What Discovery did was dishonest, and they should apologize for that.

      • anonymoose

        Please point to these places that the Discovery Channel advertises themselves as “non-fiction company that produces high quality, educational content”. I’ll save you the trouble, you can’t. Go to their homepage, their slogan is “grab life by the globe” what if any connotation that does have to being educational? You also tiptoe around the fact that I said they don’t have an educational LICENSE. So your claims are false.

        If a child watched it and was fooled, then too bad for them. A book, the internet, their parents, or a teacher can give them the proper education if they want it. We don’t ask every company for apologies for fooling children, intentional or accidental. Children will be fooled no matter what. Being tricked and learning how to deal with it, and become smarter to the next time, is part of growing up and learning, take that away from you kids if you want, then they wont know how to handle real situations and give their money to the first snake-oil salesman that comes by.

        And, honestly, if your problem is that “they sold it as a documentary” you are thin ice. Clearly it took less than a day for people to know that is made up. That’s what people do, we find out the truth. It doesn’t matter if the ExecPro is still going around saying this lie or that lie, that’s not Discovery Channel’s problem, its his problem. You wrote a letter to the channel, not the individual.

        Plus thanks for responding to my comment even though you down vote it…

        • http://christiewilcox.com/ Christie Wilcox

          Uh… the links point to where. It’s on their website, their Facebook… everywhere. Those descriptions weren’t random choices—those were quotes from their own sites.

          They not only sold it as a documentary, they STILL HAVEN’T ADMITTED to what was forged. They are still claiming truth, when there is none there.

          • anonymoose

            Only on their Facebook description do they say they are “dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content”. If you really take that at face value then shame on you.

            Like I said, it doesn’t matter if they claim its truth, they don’t owe you an apology. Take it to court if you think otherwise, but I’m sure you would find it hard to prove any damages have been incurred because of their fictional program. Not to mention that they did have a disclaimer in the show. So…

          • http://christiewilcox.com/ Christie Wilcox

            It’s also said here: http://corporate.discovery.com/our-company/overview/

            and here: http://corporate.discovery.com/leadership/

            The latter even says, EXPLICITLY:

            Discovery’s leadership is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct, and to fulfilling the original mission spelled out by Chairman and Founder John Hendricks in 1982:

            “To satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten.”

            They betrayed that mission and their claims of producing non-fictional programming. It’s not an issue of damages, it’s about their reputation and integrity, of which they clearly have none.

          • anonymoose

            It’s a good point that they mention that they are nonfiction twice. Maybe they should change that.

            But you are right, ultimately its a question of reputation and integrity. The two instances of mockumentaries, which had disclaimers, and two instances of claiming they are nonfiction is not enough to go all out and say they have none. Clearly they have a large reputation and integrity if this one show is enough for the reaction that it had.

            Look, I understand where you are coming from, science and truth are important to you and you saw Discovery as a bastion of hope among the cesspool that is modern television. And now their perfect reputation is stained. But as my first comment stated: Who cares?

            You’re making it out like this is some kind of big deal, bringing children, missions, integrity into the debate, but ignoring that its your choice to watch it. No one makes you watch discovery. If all the sudden you hate them, why would you keep going on and on about it, especially with that silly “cooler than #sharkweek” series. It looks to me like you are just upset, there is no story here except your and other peoples outrage at being fooled.

            And you still ignore the fact that they don’t hold an educational television license, so any claim that they make about being nonfiction and educational is false, and if you believed them, guess who’s fault that is?

  • Tim Allgood

    blah blah, just like it said scientists have been “sure” that dozens of species were extinct, then they turned up. Whoops… maybe we should all be a little more skeptical about the things scientists are sure about. At least until they stop having to eat crow every couple years about how superior their opinions were.

    The special was entertaining and had some neat facts about the megalodon mixed in with a good, fun way of showing how looking for a specific species of shark in any given area works.

  • brad tittle

    It took this long for you to realize that Discovery has this problem?

    I applaud your letter, but I get the feeling you will get sucked back to the channel. You managed to do it after the did the Palin thing.

    I do sort of need you to keep watching though. I only get my series through netflix. If you don’t watch them, they won’t make it to me.

  • paulmoloney

    This is precisely why I haven’t flicked over to Discovery in what seems like years.

    P.

  • heidimei

    Dumb tv but they owned up to it 2 seconds after it ended. Scientist explained that the shark doesn’t exist todayand why it can’t exist seconds after the show ended. You guys are freaking out about nothing.

  • Zeek

    Christie – Thank you for your articulate and well reasoned piece. Discovery has lost serious credibility over this. If the date of the boat sinking was 4/1/13 and they had said something up front about this being an April Fool’s joke, I might have been able to see it. But, without that, this is a very sad day for truth.

  • Bover

    It just goes to show how greedy Discovery Channel has become. I had someone in my office talking excitedly about the show and I sat their incredulously listening to it until I googled it. He felt foolish. Now having seen it this evening, I see it wasnt his fault. He had been deceived by an organization that has otherwise been a source of science information and entertainment. Now they’re just a cheap tabloid providing a bag of tricks to make a profit.

    • Pez Dispenser

      its called the IDIOT BOX for a reason, u momo. Keep gossipping at the watercooler while u should be working tho. Very effective.

  • xxgrendelxx

    “Idiocracy” we’re chugging right towards ya….

  • xxgrendelxx

    Actually, yes they do owe an apology (at least): if you buy a soft drink because it advertises itself as sweet and it tastes undeniably salty, that is false advertising. If a magazine makes its repuatation as “todays news today” and fills its pages with articles from the turn of the 19th century – you get the idea.

    People watch Discovery for factual information, not fiction. When they make the bare minimum attempt to inform their viewers that what they are broadcasting is fiction they have a responsiblity to make that know as often as is reasonable during the telecast. Further – people PAY to watch Discovery Channel, and in America if you don’t get what you pay for you are owed your money back – or at least an apology.

  • ChasInNJ

    Shark Week has been upstaged by the Sharknado.

  • Teto85

    Wil Wheaton ✔ @wilw

    Remember when #SharkWeek was about science and biology and learning?

    11:55 PM – 4 Aug 2013

    I have to agree with Mr. Wheaton and add that the last time Shark Week was about science, biology and learning was when he was acting on ST:NG.

  • bob dole

    calm down you pissy wimps

  • Hola Backgrinder

    Interesting that Discovery’s management apparently had no idea their audience was tuning in because they valued learning.

  • Lou Napier

    Grow up people it was a show that was supposed to keep you watching it and it did. I thought it was pretty cool granted it was fake doesn’t stop the fact that it was quite interesting. Yous are acting as if everything you’ve seen on the discovery channel has been all truths. It’s television !! I can’t believe you are takin offense to this. Who cares if it wasn’t real it’s supposed to be fun, discovery channel did not take the fun out of shark week you pecimistic assholes did.

    • Tora

      It didn’t keep me watching. I turned it off after 2 minutes. There was no disclaimer that it was fake so I fast forwarded another 10 just to make sure it didn’t pop up after the opening. Which means that the people who believed it was real wasted 2 hours of their lives watching something they might not have watched if they knew it was just a monster movie because the “disclaimer” was at the end (and STILL didn’t say it was fake). But between the title, the well-shot opening sequence, and my very cynical mood at the time I knew it was fake and I don’t enjoy Syfy monster movies. I do, however, enjoy learning things so an actual documentary with scientists talking about megalodon and some “what if” cgi scenarios would have been fun. Still, all this complaining isn’t a total loss since we helped destroy YOUR fun from Shark Week =p

  • Lou Napier

    You’re all just mad because you realize how easily you can be fooled by your tv!!!!haahahaha!!!

  • SJ Reidhead

    I am so glad I’m not the only one absolutely furious. The after dark show was even worse.

  • whwoodson

    I was logging on to comment on the tastlessness of ‘after dark’, specifically about using the reported tape of people perishing from a shark attack on a boat as humor (in addition to the crude jokes throughout). I find that my trust in Discovery as a source of factual science reporting is grossly misplaced. Signing off. I can find fiction other places.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Andrea Rose

    Your article was wonderfully written. I could not have expressed my identical opinion any better. Let’s hope Discovery actually reads these comments. FYI I am trying to suffer through night 2 of Shark week “Voodoo Sharks” it’s just as ridiculous as Monday’s “Megalodon” episode. Very disappointing, Discovery. To those who would like an actual documentary, National Geographic’s “Wild” network seems to be running quality shark programs.

  • http://www.thealders.net/blogs Doug Alder

    Dear Discovery Network – I’ve put up with a growing tsunami of pseudoscience from you over the past few years – no more. If I could deprogram your station from my remote I would. You suck, big time.

  • Grip Singh

    Sad sad shape. If I want to watch fiction I’ll watch JAWS or Deep Blue Sea. You’ve lost me as a viewer.

  • Collette Ojeda

    WTF? Is it just me or does this Shark Week SUCK??? What the hell is this ridiculous megalodon, voo doo shark and Shark After Dark bulls**t??? My God, make it stop! You single handedly ruined Shark Week for me. Shhh, you hear that Discovery? Yep, that’s me changing the channel. SMH

  • Chris Freestone

    Next from Discovery: Living with Bigfoot.

  • lissamae204

    Explains alot! http://adage.com/article/media/shark-week-ushers-discovery-channel-revamp/243411/ They wish to have uninformed zombie followers. That will be so numb from the skewed truths well wont know the real deal when its right in front of us. We will turn into the fat people in the floaty chairs from wall-e. Metaphorically

  • http://societymatters.org/ Alan Mairson

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav must be taking a page from the playbook of National Geographic: Broadcast bullsh*t, then refute the bullsh*t (to come) under the same corporate umbrella. Create the controversy, then monetize the “debate.” Fact is, I never bother to check out anything about Shark Week — but I did this time! Point to Mr. Zaslav! … For the National Geographic’s approach, please see: http://societymatters.org/2013/04/08/5-easy-steps-to-making-big-money-in-media/

  • J.R. Schaaf

    What’s next? ‘Sharknado’ on the weather channel?!
    The real lesson here is that we can’t trust anything that we see on cabal television, including the so-called ‘news’ networks.
    (BTW, there are no misspellings in this post).

  • Jake Levenson

    Christine, Was about to write a letter and then read this. Great work, you nailed why we all feel let down by SharkWeeks opening special. There’s no shortage of amazing content about sharks and the oceans that there’s no need to make crap up. Sadly, I wonder if this stuff plays to the masses while ‘we’ remain a small but vocal minority. In any event, really well written peice that is exactly how I feel too!

  • Tim

    Even knowing what I now about sharks and Megalodon it took me a minute or two to figure out that we were being duped(my computers always right there by my side to do research no matter what I’m watching )! The article chides The Discovery channel for not taking the opportunity to inform it’s audience with real facts about these magnificent and thrilling creatures and that is what made me the most indignant about this airing ! Thank you Ms. Wilcox for punctuating that sentence for us ! Those who felt let down by lies instead of truths !

  • Matt G.

    I’ve been bemoaning the lack of science programming on Discovery for a few years now. I’m glad the world seems to agree with me now. Almost as bad as History Channel doing Pawn Stars marathon on the anniversary of D-Day this year.

  • disqus_WXOveYQb23

    Get over it.

  • Zack Attack Cole

    As a Marine Biologist who specializes in Sharks, Shark week is like a week of religious observation for me. Megalodon has always been my favorite shark to discuss with and teach the public about. Now I feel shame that I am going to have to tell young children who get excited about Megalodon still being out there, I am going to be the one to crush those false-hopes.

    Discovery, you’ve made us Scientists the bad guys and made our degrees questionable. You have insulted the Intelligence of every viewer who made the mistake of watching this year’s shark week.

    • Daylight Amy

      “Crush the hopes of the young children” may be a little dramatic, but I do understand how it is painful to see a science you love being made into entertainment or public belief.

    • Pez Dispenser

      as a marine biologist you should take pride on educating children about the correct facts and informing them the best way to learn is by reading books and hands on knowledge not sitting in front of an IDIOT BOX hoping to garner a proper education.

      • Mike Stirton

        There you go, spouting off about getting an education, something you evidently lack in your prose.

        And further to that, why should ANYONE go to school to learn about a topic? Evidently your poor grammar has shown a dismal failure on your part to grasp the concept of an education. Or the simple fact that many people may watch such programming for the interest in the topic but not the whole course.

        But that is fine. Your obvious lack of education screams loudly here.

  • Nicole

    If anyone watched this and couldn’t tell it was fake then they shouldn’t be watching tv. That being said, I still think the show was interesting, because it leads you to question things; what if it was possible that something huge is living down there? Not a megalodon, but some big creature that we haven’t discovered yet.

  • Real Life

    For the love of al things nature people, listen up and listen clearly to us here, I almost projectile vomited when the interviews reminded me of district 9 movie, I swear, as an avid nature lover and appreciate sci fi when the time is right, but Discovery? It is now official. But there may be hope, all my cynicism in life about the state of how people mistreat others, birds flying into windows at night, poisoned fish, shark fin soup, etc… now I watch one of my top 3 all time favorite channels and see this sham? Who in the doomed world we piss over decided to air this? I would personally lock you all up in a Turkish prison and I know the ideal ward. Life. Shame on you all, I swear I hope people wake up and stop watching Discovery for 1 full month. Everyone. All. World wide. Then slowly we come back .. for guys like Mike Rowe and other real life real issue real educational programming .. etc. Shame on you again. I wish I could slap you silly.

    • Sarah

      you are so right ‘real life’. i will NOT be in tuned with Discovery, in fact, I wonder if I can cancel it from my tv programs all together.

  • Sarah

    Hello National Geograhic Shark Fest and goodbye Shark Week. I guess the new reality show has better ratings for you. So…what happened to the educational part?????

    • Real Life

      it is; “SOFA KING WEE TODD DID” !

  • Real Life

    this entire thing is “SOFA KING WEE TODD DID” , read it again fast a few times. Got it? Damn. I gotta close the page.

  • Stevareno

    Omg. Lighten up. And now you’ve taken to CNN? Life is too short to complain that Discovery had a bit of fun with its viewers. And, thanks to them people are talking about what was the greatest shark of all time (to date discovered). Bravo to Discovery! An early April Fools for all of us! Thank you.

  • Mrs.Saenz

    So mad!! I’m disgusted, furious, and I will not support this crap!! I’ve already stopped watching Discovery the rest of the year because of their switch to “Reality” shows, looks like this week is gone forever as well…I told my kids, ” Don’t worry, Nat Geo has REAL sharks and REAL things that we can learn.” Thank you Nat Geo!!

  • kgal1298

    It doesn’t bother me that much. I mean I grew up watching these channels, Bill Nye and the Magic School Bus. Thanks to all those shows I learned a lot I also would like to thank Discovery and Animal Planet for teaching me about Mammals having sex because I never had to have that conversation with the parentals and I thank them for letting me avoid that so with that I think I can forgive them for posting farce things and for killing snuffy.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com You Idiots

    apparently because I don’t agree my posts keep getting deleted. so let me direct you here:

    http://www.waaf.com/pages/11304434.php?pid=345743#.UgFdIgmi3og.facebook

    • DariusPicard

      Bowling?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com You Idiots

    While I acknowledge that typically people watch Shark Week due to the non fictional learning vs the fictional story telling, having a slight change in programming didn’t cause me to throw a hissy fit such as this. How many of you have gone out and researched, with 100% certainty, the 90%+ area of the ocean that we haven’t documented and can now say that Megalodon definitely does not exist? Exactly, none of you. It is possible. How many of you were also the ones saying that the Giant Squid didn’t exist anymore? Probably all of you. Did you really believe that a camera dropped into the ocean would still be able to have video that would be recovered? And did you believe that the footage that reminded me of movies like The Blair Witch Project was going to be real? If so, please take a few tissues, dry your crying eyes, then kindly return to your parents’ basements and dwellings under bridges and go back to staying hidden from society. The moment the footage was shown, I could easily tell that this was not the typical HD footage used for all the other shows on DIscovery. I sincerely apologize that you apparently lack the intelligence to tell the difference yourself. You got fooled and you’re upset about it. I get that, but writing Discovery to blast them for your ignorance doesn’t make them wrong. Shark Week is a week dedicated to shows about sharks, and if you consider anything on during shark week to not immediately be considered entertainment, then you need to get the stick surgically removed from your (behind). Maybe you can make a non fictional documentary out of that process and they can put that on Shark Week next year.

  • Melanie Anderson

    What about the rest of Shark Week’s specials? Are all the shark cam stories false also? Boo!!

  • Daylight Amy

    I am a little bit in awe of how offended people are. I do think something should be said, but the scorned-lover-level in some responses (not to this article, towards Discovery Channel by this in general) have me a little confused. Wait, nobody was “offended” by Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, but this is a grave offense, right? Is it because you are disillusioned you cannot believe the TV (whether it calls itself science or god), or is it because you are touchy about this particular subject, Sharks, “today it’s Megalodon, tomorrow it’s a Serial Killer Shark”? What exactly is the root of such passionately offended and disappointed messages? I’m a historian and “TV science” offends my eyes, ears and brain in general all the time. Before you know it, there’ll be people in the media with degrees saying Germany is the capitol of Amsterdam… oh wait, there are. That’s why you teach your kids to think and research for themselves.

    • Roger

      Discover deliberately tried to pawn fiction as fact. That is what is so disappointing. It’s enough that government does this. In the end, you are right, though. Teach your kids to do research themselves. I only knew the megalodon story was fake after I found some of the “evidence” suspicious and tried to verify it online, but couldn’t before the show was even over.

    • Tora

      I’ve been offended by the Ancient Aliens theory for years but barely took note of there being a show on the History Channel because I haven’t watched HC since… 2000? I generally don’t even watch Discovery Channel or very much educational programs these days because I don’t have time and they sensationalize it more and more. But I love Shark Week. And there are a LOT of people who love Shark Week, some of whom might also never watch these “educational channels” at other times. (PBS ftw! usually). So that’s why I’m pissed. Shark Week has helped to demystify a lot about sharks and their role as “jaws” or “man-eater” but that has been less and less of the case. Megalodon (and Serial Killer Shark and Return of Jaws and Voodoo Sharks and god I hope that Aliens one doesn’t actually have aliens in it) is the straw that broke the camels back for many of us. It’s one thing to premiere a monster movie for more ratings (not classy but whatevs), it’s another to premiere it was the start of Shark Week and not preface it with “FAKE no educational value whatsoever”. Personally, I don’t believe TV is, or should be, inherently devoid of educational value or merit. I can only hope that with the recent change in TV landscape (Netflix, Amazon, the internet), more scientific documentaries and film will find its way to us nerds. I mean books are lovely but variety of media is better.

  • Infractor

    Discovery > A&E > OLN > History > TLC in the ever sorrowful race down the drain of credibility.

  • Tambit

    What a sad excuse for entertainment. This is why I don’t have TV. If I want to see a show on Discovery, I go online. If it sucks, I watch something else. Internet. Wave of the future.

  • Melody Anne Ribis-Roy

    Nat Geo it is then. Call me when and if you return to REAL science.

  • clayartist

    I agree 100 per cent. I was offended at the steaming dump “Megaldon” that popped out of Discovery Channel into my living room. They could at least offer to clean it up. Lost a viewer and investor.

  • Laurent Wada

    Teach the controversy!

  • Art Mltby

    really shark week? what about sharks going extinct week… the only thing scary about sharks is that china is eating them all… wake up america… get a passport. get off the couch you fat bastards

  • http://cory.albrecht.name/ Cory Albrecht

    Maybe if everybody were to tweet this at Discovery? http://i.imgur.com/MJxSSk7.png

  • Roger

    I was exceedingly disappointed not only in the Megalodon garbage mockumentary, but then the juvenile “after hours” circus put on that basically mocked its viewers who sincerely look to channels like Discover for its presumably educational content. I haven’t paid for cable for a year now and this crap helped galvanize my opinion that cable is simply not worth the money anymore if you’re into anything but sports. I feel especially bad for folks who sat down with their kids to watch an “educational” program. You’re a disgrace, Discover!

  • Claire Letoret

    Hi Christie
    With your letter you have hit the nail on the head. I have read a lot of angry blogs and letters and yours sums it so perfectly. And the reason why I read all of these postings is because I was part of the crew who worked on this project in South Africa a few months ago. It would be too long to explain how I feel about this whole masquerade – all I can say is that I did not finish the project…I left before the end. Tonight I saw a few trailers and beside the fact that Discovery lured its viewers, the quality of this program is so below average. A total shame.

  • Pez Dispenser

    retards the lot of you- before I knew this was fake by using google I was commenting to my wife about how dramatic it was then the actual ‘shark hit’ to the boat which sounded and looked like a small dynamite charge, the actors didnt sound like scientists but like actors.

    You’re all idiots if you expect to get a GREAT education from television. I miss the days people used to read books for knowledge rather than watch it on the aptly named IDIOT box, then run to idiot box JR aka ‘the intranets’ and whine and complain like the stunted growth 2 year olds you all appear to be.

    Grow up and read a bloody book for once.

    OH WAIT! THERES AN APP FOR THAT!!!

    • Claire Letoret

      Agreed, books are a sure bet as are museums and discussions with like minded people. We could argue at length about the effects of TV on society – however among all the garbage that is fed to millions everyday, there is – was a few exceptions and I think that the general uproar comes from people who have been betrayed by a channel that used to produce higher than average programs. And the realization that this is no longer true leaves a bitter aftertaste….

    • http://twitter.com/kennyvee Kenny Vee

      Well they sure as hell aren’t getting a GREAT education in school. At least not if they’re in America.

      The Discovery Channel used to have higher standards, and the fact that they’ve resorted to carnival barker tactics for ratings SHOULD be called out and commented on. The fact that people feel betrayed by a station which used to be educational but has now decided that education is less important than television ratings should not be scoffed at — it should be applauded.

      I’m sure you miss the old parchment scrolls of your youth, and lament the days gone by when knowledge was passed from mouth to ear before those fancy printing presses came along and destroyed the traditional ways of passing information, so it may be surprising to you to hear that television actually CAN be educational. And the Discovery Channel was indeed a great source of information for quite a long time. Not a well-rounded complete education, of course, but a wonderful supplement.

      And yet here you are, on technology even newer than the television, to read an article ABOUT television, complaining about other people wanting to learn. Despite your views on the “IDIOT box,” rest assured the irony is not lost on most of the people who will read your comment.

      • Tora

        Thank you, Kenny. Some words of wisdom!

        @pezdispenser:disqus You should read recent literature about reverse psychology. Insulting us isn’t likely to make us change our ways.

    • Mklee

      I’m fairly certain anyone with a cursory knowledge of the subject (possibly supplied by previous Shark Weeks) knew it was a fake when they read the title. If it took the awful acting and staged events for you to question the truth of it then perhaps you should reflect on your own shortcomings, and then instead of coming on here trying to make yourself feel superior you could take your own advice and read a book or maybe even watch a legitimate documentary.

  • Claire Letoret

    I see there is a “sobering poll” about Megalodon…there should be one about Discovery channel
    YES – it is a credible channel
    NO – it betrays its viewers

  • Rodman1938

    I missed the first few minutes of the Sun. program. I guess I missed the disclaimer. I have been disappointed with this week’s “Shark Week.” I’m having trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction. Is this what you want from your viewing audience? Sad. . . .

  • Courtney
  • Bob Davis

    What get’s me is they couldn’t even make the documentary look real even though they make documentaries for a living. My kid noticed as soon as the shark attacked the boat a sudden and inexplicable lightening storm also showed on cue. This was such a disappointment Discovery Channel. Don’t play your loyal audience for fools again.

  • Anon

    Mmm delicious tears! Keep crying, it’s pretty funny. Why aren’t any of you bawwwing about the Shark After Dark show that has been on every night of shark week with practically no educational content? It’s just a crappy talk show. The only reason most of you are so defensive and butthurt about this is because you fell for it.

    • Tora

      Ooooh I didn’t fall for it. I’m just disappointed because I was looking forward to Shark Week. Shark After Dark also sucked because everyone, but the scientist who said flat out “it’s not real”, were being idiots (even the lovely Dominic Monaghan). Voodoo Sharks and Return of Jaws were also a bigger disappoint to me than Megalodon because I wasted more of time on them hoping for something interesting (10-20 minutes as opposed to 2 minutes on Megalodon). Shark Week happens once a year and I feel like my Christmas present looked and felt like a book but was really a box of coals. You can keep laughing and licking up our tears like Cartman but I’ll take being righteously angry like Kyle over you any day.

  • filmgrad

    Yeah, megalodons are fascinating. I also wondered why not put together a great 2hr doc on the extinct shark, instead of a fake documentary on it still existing?? Ugh, forget shark week next year, junk. The last good one was 2yrs ago when they had the docudrama on the real life ‘jaws’ attacks. This yea, just more shark attacks, attack survivors, sharkpocalypse?! The only decent thing I’ve seen in the week is a show on sharks of the deep ocean, which I didn’t know about.

  • Peri Baker-horner

    OK people, its a megladon. Of course it is fake. To take Discovery to task because it made a “fake” documentary is stupid. It’s a megladon. To say they are fooling children and destroying credibility implies that we are sheep and every station is all powerful in forcing us to believe what they tell us. Back in the day Discovery was pure science. No it wasn’t it was a TV station. NatGeo has stupid shows too. They all have stupid shows. If you can’t have fun with extinct species what good is life. By the way wrestling is fake to.

  • Andrew

    Seriously? Why are you complaining? It’s a work of FICTION. You don’t hear people complaining about, say, “Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real,” and earlier mockumentary by Animal Planet (owned by Discovery). It had scientific facts, making the fiction more plausible. We haven’t totally mapped the ocean, so I believe it’s entirely possible that a sixty-foot shark has survived into modern times. For all we know, they’re in some place like the Marianas Trench, like in Steve Alten’s “Meg” novels. We’ve been down there, yes, but for how long each dive? Only idiots would believe that this, or any other mockumentary, is actual fact. Unfortunately… well, if idiots could fly, the world would be an airport.
    Take what I say as you wish. I’m just an open-minded individual. Unlike SOME people.

  • raymondschep

    You know what is so extremely ironic is that everybody gets soo upset about a silly docufiction about some overgrown shark, yet they completely accept as gospel lies that could really kill them without sticking a toe in the water, namely that cholesterol causes heart disease, ignoring the true cause which is a copper (SOD) deficiency, and that statins cure heart disease, no it dosn’t it accelerates it, and that chemotherapy cures cancer.
    Reference:
    Dr. Raymond Schep,
    Author, the book: Eat Right For Life, a scientific nutrition treatise.

  • Boud1

    Just to add to my thoughts on the avalanche: Yes. I completely agree with you. Both in tone and in spirit, really. Part of my deep curiosity in the natural world was driven by the documentaries I saw as I child on Discovery, and yes, even Jeff Corwin convinced me to follow my fascination into the shockingly esoteric world of species-level diversity in the world. And all of that, to be sickeningly abused by what can only be seen as profit-driven shit? Fail. Utter failure. Shame, Discovery. Shame.

  • andy

    Guess who just replaced discovery channel with Nat. geo. This guy.

  • Jerry witherspoon

    The Discovery Channel is just following the trend of all the other channels. Look at the History Channel. See any history on their lately? It used to be good also but its all about Unreality Shows now or sci fi. The fact is if it didn’t get more viewers these idiots wouldn’t be doing it. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Stop watching completely and they will change the programming!

  • http://diplomaticat.wordpress.com/ advocatus leonibus

    You realize they are dumbing down the people on purpose don’t you? Corporate media, corporate interests, corporate money machines which run on the energies and apathies of unthinking people. It cannot be an accident that our country is so far out of the race in educational rankings when we were once the power to be reckoned with in the world. Its not as if we don’t have the resources for it.

    There is a reason it is called TV “programming” and a reason they want to control it with broadcast flags and shut down filesharing sites and stop people from having unlimited access to information: Knowledge is power. And power is something that those who have it don’t want to share.

    I am just happy that there is good fiction again on TV. There was a time I feared reality tv would turn our civilization into “The Running Man.” At least imagination is back in fashion, or will be until they figure out that it might lead to THINKING.

  • Mike Stirton

    I have been seeing more and more of this kind of vapid programming from the likes of Discovery, History and the assortment of other “specialty” channels out there. I wasn’t aware of the shark week issue as I find the topic rather dull. But I did come here over that other sorry excuse for a “science” program about the mermaids. In about 5 minutes into that program all I could say was “what the hell kind of BS is THIS?” It was painfully obvious to me that the whole thing was conjecture with little real science behind it and full of blurry, distorted or shown so briefly to really register what I was looking at said it all.

    What is it with these channels trying to pass off this crap as real science? Evidently the owners of the channels themselves haven’t a clue what real science is about. The History channel and its “ancient aliens” bullshit. Interesting, but has no place on such a channel.

    It was because of this kind of activity that I finally pulled the plug on my cable subscription last year and now fully download the TV programs via torrent. And oddly enough, I do not feel one bit of guilt for pirating the shows online. After all, these channels, and A&E or the TLC and more are/were forced on me to have as part of my cable channel in spite of the fact that those specific channels had anything to do with learning, arts NOR entertainment. If the providers and producers are out to rip us off with vapid reality tv or pseudo science, I have no problem ripping them off with torrent downloading.

  • Mike Stirton

    Why don’t you use proper grammar? Evidently reading a book is not your forte. If it was, you would be using real language instead of a made up one based PURELY on being lazy, evidently because you spend far too much time yourself online (likely tweeting in the twit-verse), dissing people like Tambit who has shown they are capable of formulating thought without resorting to “y dont u”. I bet you say “like” several times in your conversations right?

  • Mike Stirton

    I wish you would use your brain for once instead of appearing the hypocrite here. But alas, here you are, being a hypocrite ONLINE no less.

  • Thad_McCone

    Lowest common denominator programming. Nothing but a bunch of hillbilly-themed shows these days.

  • Mark Cornelius

    Even though i agree with every word, your letter made me incredibly sad. I am especially sad for children who will not be inspired as I once was by this channel and others billed as “non-fictional broadcasting” which have gone downhill. My childhood curiosity is what drove me to pursue my engieering degree in the face of what others said was too difficult a career path. In part because the programs I watched on discovery showed what was knowable and attainable with education. What is happening to education and the value of human curiosity! Its absolutely horrible to think that in a free society so many have led themselves(or allowed others to lead them) into ignorance.
    As far is what is to blame? I’d say blind greed..which in this case has a name, David Zaslav and the american shareholder. Watch this video (although it may make your blood boil and break your heart). :-( http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2472026684001/discovery-communications-ceo-on-investing-in-content/

    Bless you for your honest words. Keep up the great work!
    Support national geographic!

  • YukonPhil

    You really ruined Shark week, not to mention the reaction from the University of Washington professors we watched the show with was very funny.

    Fantastic job. The channel I grew up with trusting just flushed down the credibility. You conned me, my family, and my University.

  • Andrew Gordon

    As someone who has lived and fished in Cape Town his whole life of 21 years. It took about the first 5min to call bullshit. Also Cape Town has no tiger sharks and the great whites frequent False Bay not Hout Bay. One is atlantic and cold, the other is indian ocean and (kinda)warm

  • Bo Andersen

    That was the worst piece of inconclusive sh.. I ever watched.
    It is a disgrace that Discovery would even do something like this, most of the elements in the program has been taken straight out of Steve Alten’s book “Meg” (which by the way is a very good and well written book)
    SHAME ON YOU !

  • Jimmy Bergeborn

    Why!? Why!?!? Youtube is full of fakes and i dont know what to beleave of them. Same thing everywhere i look on the internet… And now there are fakes even on Discovery!? Are there any truth left at all!? Do i realy have to gues whats fake or not even on a chanel that supose to tell the truth!? I realy do hate people that finds it amusing to fake storries about mysterious things, when its creadability is lose as it is already, like ufo:s, bigfoot and other… I love documentaries about mystic things an pure sci-fi to. But NOT like this!!! This is informative polution that shold NOT be!!!

  • Gary Jack

    I’m very disappointed because shark week was my favorite series I was so obsessed that I bought a fifty dollar DVD set of it because I loved the detail the testimonies and the scientists that were filmed doing great research on sharks both in and outside the cage. The megalodon episode had me fooled I was so scared and excited to think this shark could still be down deep but it turns out that the only depth I should be concerned with is how much more bs has this channel brought me to believe. You really destroyed your credibility guys in a word you pulled a Miley Cyrus

  • former viewer

    I guess it’s official,we live in an age of deception on television,what with all these so called “REALITY”shows that are more scripted and fake all the time. Now a trusted science channel (DISCOVERY) has decided to get on the band wagon of B*** sh** with this Megalodon crap! Shame on you Discovery

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  • J. Fischer

    The crazy thing is that only about 6 (or so) companies own all these cable channels, so each one could have at least one channel for the Honey Boo-Boo crowd, and leave the rest of them alone. They might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

    Don’t blame the writers’ strike: that was about underpaid scriptwriters for fictional programming. ‘Reality’ programming costs less than scripted shows, and all the producers have to do is find the most volatile mix of people and pare them down while leaving the drama king/queen and whoever SHOULD win (but rarely does).

  • Vernatius Thomsen

    Totally agree that what discovery has done is complete bull and inappropriate for a science channel. The mermaid thing got some of my friends actually believing it BECAUSE it was on discovery, mind you they were 40+ yrs old, i had a hard time trying to convince them it was bs. Than last yr the megladon crap and my teenage son fell for that and was telling everyone of the attack that occurred, make a fool of the adults, but dont make fools ofchildren.

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About Christie Wilcox

Christie Wilcox is a science writer and PhD Student at the University of Hawaii, where she studies the protein toxins in venomous fish. She is renowned in the science blogosphere for her delicate balance of contemporary science and scientific perspective seasoned with just the right amount of wit. Her award-winning posts have been featured in The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing On Blogs four years running and landed on the pages of major media outlets including The New York Times and Scientific American. To learn more about her life and work, check out her webpage or follow her on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook.

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