1. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    The cable network "Science Channel " (© Discovery Communications,LLC) has a show, "What on Earth ?".

    It examines "strange satellite images" (terrestrial images from space satellites), and attempts to explain them.....about 3-4 mysterious satellite anomalies per episode.
    But, the show spends most of it's time proposing conjecture and speculation....from the mouths of science experts !!.
    How does it do this ???
    If you've seen the show, you know what I mean......"scientists with proper labels" like volcanologists, geologists, oceanographers, etc...are interviewed, and seem to present unanswered questions, as to the "mysterious images". Non-experts with conspiratorial guesses, are also interviewed.
    The problem, is the show is concentrated on the "mysteries" of the satellite images, rather than the actual explanations, which they eventually reveal (or never reveal).

    I've been on a cable network TV series interview...and I can say that questions were fed to me by the producers, and I was encouraged to "reply with the question, in my answer". Fair enough, right ? This is standard operation, in an "off camera, no interviewer voice" interview.

    For example....the producer could ask the science expert, "Why is this so mysterious ?"...
    ....and the answer is something like: "This is mysterious because....xxxxxxxxxxx".
    There you go....a science expert caught on video saying/repeating the reasons of mystery, but not (yet) explaining why it's not a mystery......so most of the scientist "verbal on-air content" is describing the mystery, not the real explanation.

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
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  2. Hevach

    Hevach Senior Member

    As an offshoot of the Discovery Channel, it's stuck in the same cycle. Back in the early 90's when my family first got cable, Discovery and their first offshoot TLC were full of stuff on the paranormal and monsters and suchforth. Most of their "scientists" on shows were actually hard science fiction writers who were well versed in science, but specialized in twisting it to fit a narrative, not in actually pursuing it.

    They got criticized a lot for it, and they actually bowed to the pressure for a while, putting real scientists on their shows and not quotemining them down to silliness.

    It tanked their ratings, because only a few topics had broad appeal (mostly nature stuff) and the expertise necessary wasn't always cheap. So we're back to the old stuff.

    There is one thing I'll give them: If you dress it up in a show about overgrown manchildren breaking things, you can get actual, real science on the network. Problem is, it's hard for most viewers to tell the difference between Mythbusters, where something resembling the scientific method is combined with a general knowledge of various fields to do fun stuff while maybe teaching people something, and one of the other shows where bad information is dispensed by clueless talking heads who are just spending the night in a hotel after faking a couple near death encounters, or even just one like Tanked where the science involved is just quietly ignored because everybody on the show is rich and hires people to do i for them.

    It's sad, but the place for real science is on Youtube now, hiding quietly in the darkness where the nerds belong.
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  3. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Well written post.

    It's become the norm now, to expect the "entertainment" to be #1, and "science" #2.....or absent.
    But frankly network "X" is stuck....if they don't acceptably shock normal people..... network "Y" will.
    Ad revenue is "eyeballs on the show, and all the way through commercials"..... using the teaser suspense / cut to a commercial.
    "Finding Bigfoot", has never found Bigfoot, and it likely never will......but it finds viewers, waiting patiently.
  4. MikeG

    MikeG Senior Member

    I agree with all the points already made. Just take a look at History Channel, which falls into the same category of “infotainment” programming.



    Sadly, when I talk to students and their parents, shows like this almost always come up in the conversation.
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  5. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I had to Google "American Pickers". It's sad that so many people are having their very reality affected by this sort of crap TV.
  6. scombrid

    scombrid Senior Member

    Discovery Channel decided a long time ago that dressing up sensational silliness with a sciencey veneer sells more advertising space than anything presenting accurate facts.
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  7. "What On Earth?" is merely one more in a lengthy procession of formulaic "edutainment" programs featured on the Discovery Network over the last couple of decades. Actually, there's very little in the way of education to be found in this or any Discovery Network offering, and the entertainment value is questionable, at best. Rather, the bulk of "What On Earth" is comprised of mundane and easily-researched satellite observations that are spun into urgent little dramas of uninformed speculation and outright disinformation, accompanied by lots of stock video-editing effects and the obligatory percussive soundtrack (to drive home false urgency). Each segment of each episode is rather like viewing an image of skid-marked boxer shorts and then speculating wildly for ten minutes as to the "mystery" of the image: Was it created by asteroid impact, vulcanism, secret military experiment, Biblical plague, UFO visitation, or prehistoric civilization? And the final, entirely predictable conclusion is always the same: It's skid-marked boxer shorts, but think of what it MIGHT have been!
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  8. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    I work at a company that has been pursued as a possible interest for a "reality" cable TV show.
    I signed an NDA, so I can't tell you my specifics.

    The bulk of cable programming in the "reality" realm, is first produced by independent companies. Interested investors and capital ($) is used to create a demo reel, of what the show will possibly look like. Then this reel is marketed to major cable networks at places like NAPTE conventions (or inter-private networkings).
    So these popular cable TV networks will choose among all the current offerings, for possible airing, and at that point they will co-produce it.
    Hardly any reality programming is actually hard-produced by the parent networks, especially at the beginning, or first season.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  9. sb555

    sb555 New Member

    I gotta say this entire thread is pretty misguided. People seem to make the assertion that science is there to give them answers. It's not. If all you have is answers then you have no way to show you arrived at your conclusion with sufficient evidence.

    Most of science is asking questions, researching, making guesses, disproving theories until finally arriving at a theory that has not been disproven. It seems to me that's exactly what this show does.
  10. Giselda

    Giselda New Member

    I completely agree with comments about what is being peddled as "science" and "documentary" these days ... I am watching "What on Earth?" right now and have some comments. First of all, the "historian" that's always on this is more of someone who should be on the pseudo-journalistic "celebrity news shows", etc. Next, they discuss a building/complex in Argentina, and travel there, and are surprised to hear that the locals swear that Hitler lived there .... hello ... I've heard this theory since I was ... either a child or a teenager. And if you happened to miss that, there have been dozens of books, articles and programs based on this idea. Lastly, they talk about a continent between India and Africa that is visible from space but is completely submerged. Anyone ever hear of Plato and Atlantis? No mention of EITHER in this show. They pull out writings from India that speak about this "lost continent". Not one peep about Plato or Atlantis. This program series is getting laughable ... It started out with some promise, and I've watched several episodes, but I believe now it's a waste of time.
  11. Roger Mexico

    Roger Mexico New Member

    I think it goes beyond whether it is a waste of time or not. Is entertainment a waste of time? I think not. But what these shows do is pretend to be science, when they are not. I hate to think how many people watch this [...] thinking they are learning something because, well, it was on the History Channel...
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2017
  12. sb555

    sb555 New Member

    Yeah, if people want real science they are looking in the wrong place for it. They won't find it on tv. The goal of science shows isn't to show real science in action but to entertain people and possibly give them an idea of how science works.