Ah, Discovery Channel's Shark Week -- the summer event to which that many television viewers look forward. Last year alone, the "Phelps vs. Shark" stunt garnered 5 million views on the Sunday it aired. However, Shark Week has been battling reports of flat-out lies over the past few years as scientists and others take up arms against the Discovery Channel. It's not hard to prove that a shark is extinct, that shark attacks aren't as common as you might think, or that sharks are not actually terrorizing a town. In fact, Discovery itself often adds disclaimers to Shark Week programming. But who actually reads the fine print, often posted hours after the fact?
As disappointing as it may be to learn that Shark Week isn't real, it's doubtful that many viewers are surprised that reports of monstrous sharks are a mixture of CGI, myths, and edited footage. Read on to find out exactly what lies Shark Week has been peddling to viewers for years.
Turns out that Great White Serial Killer and Return of the Great White Serial Killer are among Discovery's less egregious "documentary" offenses. A shark expert investigated several shark attacks that took place on the same beach. However, correlation does not imply causation, and sharks are not serial killers. Turns out that there's a severe drop off in the ocean in that area, and that's exactly where sharks typically live and hunt.
Ever been on a boat? You're 290 times more likely to die in a boating accident than from a shark. Your odds of being attacked by a shark are estimated to be one in 3.7 million. So, it seems unlikely that with odds like that, sharks are out actively hunting for people. A shark may bite you because it thinks you're a seal, but once it figures out you aren't a seal, it's ready to grocery shop somewhere else. You're simply not that tasty to them. One scientist claimed that most researchers she knows haven't even seen a shark feed.
Though the interview footage is real, some scientists have complained that their interviews were edited to skew their answers. One scientist claimed that while Discovery was filming, a member of the crew told him to let the shark bite him. (Spoiler alert: the scientist did not let the shark bite him.) Many legitimate scientists and shark researchers do not want to be involved with a "mockumentary," particularly when science is so often misrepresented in general. To drive the point home that Discovery isn't that concerned with integrity, one marine biologist noted that the vast majority of scientists on its specials are white and male. If we can't have accuracy, can't we at least have some diversity?
Sure, Discovery technically lets its viewers know that they're watching, uh, fake news. But it's often way after the fact, not unlike the historically infamous panic-inducer War of the Worlds, Is briefly calling the Megalodon production a "dramatization" enough? An online poll indicated that 70% of those who viewed the Megalodon special don't think the mega-shark is extinct. So much for the fine print.