Monday, December 26, 2011

More crockumentaries ...

I just watched an awful show on Discovery Channel:  2011:  The year the Earth went wild.  It was a long litany of distortions and outright hogwash, including blaming La Niña for all the weather events.  I also got to watch the sound bites contributed by my friends offered in support for all the terribly distorted conclusions mandated by the show's producers.  I feel for them.  I've been there, done that.  I, too have had my name associated with more than one TV "documentary" laced liberally with lies and distortions.  My sympathies to them.

The idea that the natural disasters of 2011, of which there certainly have been many, are the result of the Earth "going wild" is perhaps the most ridiculous notion of the entire program.  The premise is apparently that when bad things happen, the planet is somehow going insane.   I can't even begin to imagine what such a concept might entail.  How can a planet go insane?  It's pure nonsense.

The very idea of what is "normal" has been distorted by the producers of these crockumentaries - in reality, it's normal for the geophysical hazards of the Earth to occur at irregular intervals.  It's normal for earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, wildfires, tsunamis, and so on to happen.  It's normal that in some years, more of these disasters happen than in other years.  In some years, these hazards happen normally, by bad luck, to occur in places where loss of life and vast property damage is possible.  Obviously, 2011 has had more than its "normal" share of bad geophysical disasters if you believe that every year is exactly like every other year.  But what happened in 2011 is actually part of normal geophysical processes!  Every year is not just like every other year.  It's normal for the occurrence of disasters to be variable!  It's normal for some years to have more disasters than other years!

The fact is that the Earth has been "going wild" from time to time, in one place or another, all along, for its entire history.  This is actually what is normal!  It's normal planetary geophysical behavior.  Yes, the disasters caused by geophysical hazards create immense social impacts, and people seem to feel comforted, somehow (for reasons that escape me entirely) with the reassurance that this is the planet "going wild" rather than accepting the unpleasant reality that geophysically-created disasters are not freak events.  They're normal!! The Earth is not always benign and friendly to humans - never has been and never will be - in fact, it can be downright hostile to human life and well-being from time to time.

So the show blames La Niña for all the bad weather - pure fabricated baloney!!  La Niña is but one element in a complex tapestry of processes that produce the actual weather.  To assign blame for weather disasters solely to La Niña or El Niño, or the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or whatever, is scientifically unjustifiable.  It's offering a pseudo-explanation to the great unwashed viewing public, rather than meaningful scientific content.  If we assign blame to some process, does this make the victims feel any better?  "Oh well, what could we expect?  It was the evil La Niña that devastated us!  Just knowing that makes it all better.  And we certainly understand it so well, now."

Makes me want to puke!!  We continue to fill the American public's mind with massive doses of bullshit!


fultzrick said...

Very well put most tv productions they like dealing in sensationalism! Pure bobbycock... Rick Fultz, Lock Haven, Pa.

Loretta McKibben said...

This is part of an alarming trend of sensationalizing "science" programs. Are Americans so numb that they don't find REAL science interesting? Did the producers of the "Earth going wild" show think that they needed fictional excitement to get people to watch it? The History Channel suffers from a similar malady, as evidenced by their show and web site on Ancient Aliens, a goofy series that shows "evidence" of extraterrestrials visiting Earth in the past, which of course is more bullshit designed to get viewers. And a local TV "news" show in Tucson spends a lot of time on the idiotic Kardashians, horoscopes and magic as real, while misreporting real science. Like Chuck, we need to all speak up and object to this nonsense, and tell the corporate idiots in charge of these channels that they must clean up their act. Our civilization is in trouble, sadly. WE MUST ALL SPEAK UP AND IMPROVE SCIENCE KNOWLEDGE IN TODAY'S WORLD! When I speak to kids in schools and civic groups about astronomy, how the Earth works, and science in general, people are fascinated and want to know more, so there is still hope out there. The problem is not enough science education in schools, and not enough ways for adults to learn about real science now that TV programs are becoming fictionalized. -Loretta McKibben, Tucson, Arizona

Chuck Doswell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Doswell said...

To think that a fair number of Americans actually watch the Kartoftrashians is bad enough. But when "science" channels present pseudoscience like the "Ancient Aliens" or push bible shows as real historical content is simply inexcusable!

Regrettably, the argument used by producers of this crap is that it sells. And, apparently, it does. All our complaining won't amount to a thing if people continue to accept this trash as science programming.