Discovery Channel, Mermaids and Critical Thinking

A week or two ago I wrote a short article about my disgust at Discovery Channel’s cheap ratings grab with their “Mermaids : The body found” episode. I’m guessing that they aired it on TV in the States yesterday, because the views on my blog jumped by about 4,500 views yesterday.

That’s 4,500 people who are unsure if Mermaids really exist, or if Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet segment was fiction or truth. Which kinda adds weight to my point that they should not be engaging in mock documentaries of pseudo-science because a number of people really do struggle to differentiate between the two. Particularly because channels like Discovery set themselves up as an authority in Science and the natural world. Leave it to the Science Fiction Channel please.

Now, I am not going to debate if mermaids actually exist or not, this is a blog about education and pedagogy, not a blog about debunking ridiculous conspiracy theories. I am hoping that anyone reading my blog already has the critical thinking skills to understand that these mythological creatures are just that, mythological. They are about as real as Unicorns and Vampires.

A television show about them seems to confuse some people, are these the same people would believe in the North Pacific Tree Octopus ? After all, they have a convincing looking webpage, a wikipedia entry and even made it on to youtube. But they are NOT real. I use this character as a critical thinking skills activity at the start of every TOK (Theory of Knowledge) course that I teach and most of my IB students do not fail to realise that the evidence is flimsy and contrived. Though they do have fun showing how and why, as they have fun when exploring some good April Fool’s pranks.

But then again, my IB students are not fooled by Moon landing conspiracy theorists,  AIDS deniers, Intelligent Design or Loch Ness Monster enthusiasts either. I guess that’s the benefit of an IB education in critical thinking.


About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
This entry was posted in Science Education and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Discovery Channel, Mermaids and Critical Thinking

  1. meanwhilein3 says:

    I remember they did the same thing with dragons a few years back… not-so-discovery channel.

  2. Pingback: Discovery Channel, Mermaids and Critical Thinking | MYP @ Global ... | MYP |

  3. Pingback: Discovery Channel, Mermaids and Critical Thinking | MYP @ Global ... | IB News |

  4. Jim says:

    Well, I stumbled into this show tonight, kept asking “what channel is this”? It was cleverly made, and would have been suitable for the SciFy Channel. It’s play on the Discovery channel made it appear deceitful, which I found a little annoying. After saying that, admit to thinking critically while watching the show.. which raises the question; how often do we think critically during “entertainment hour”? What does it take. This show forced me to, yet where if it were on ScyFy, I would have gleefully abandoned disbelief, knowing what channel I was watching.

  5. Pak Liam says:

    Fair call, they must be showing the programme again because hits on that page have just 1000% percent, again. It rather suggests that many people are not applying any critical thinking while watching the TV… (or streaming programmes on the internet)

  6. Pingback: A big BOO to Discovery Channel, Mermaids are not real | MYP @ Global Jaya International School

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