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.