Last night I was told by my brother that I should check out the documentary Mermaids: The New Evidence and the earlier one: Mermaids: The Body Found. I came home and found them on Discovery Channel and decided to watch them both.
The first thing I noticed was the production value. I do not know how to explain this, but you can always tell when something is a fake news report. There is just something off about it. Does anyone know what I am referring to?
Also, the evidence the show was showing looked very CGI. So I immediately was skeptical and decided to do a little research. Turns out the whole thing is a fake documentary made by Animal Planet. At the end of both programs they have a tiny disclaimer that says something along the lines, “while most of the information is fictional, the beaching of whales due to Navy sonar testing is true.” I believe the intent of the program was to show how damaging that testing can be, but it really is lost when it seems that they trying to promote some fringe ideas and cryptozoology.
The show starts out by talking about “Bloops.” These are unexplained sounds that are recorded in the ocean and are much louder than the songs of blue whales. Some cryptozoologists believe these sounds could be proof of an undiscovered species. Well it turns out that scientists have been able to identify the sounds, they are different icebergs. Here is an episode of Skeptoid dealing with the Bloop. The transcript is even updated to say that they are icebergs.
The next piece of the show is the aquatic ape theory. This theory basically says that the reason humans are so different from other land mammals is that at some early point in evolution, we must have had an aquatic lifestyle and then moved away from it. This show takes that as the point when humans and mermaids split in evolution. Again, Skeptoid does a nice job tearing this one apart, as does any reading of human evolution.
As I said at the beginning, I think this show was designed to bring awareness to the Navy’s use of sonar and how it affects marine life, specifically whales. I hate to keep going back to Skeptoid, but Brian Dunning had an episode about this as well. He makes an interesting conclusion though, he says that there are only about five whale deaths a year from this and there are many more from commercial fishing and maybe that is where people should focus their attention.
The main character of this whole documentary is Dr. Paul Robertson. I looked him up online and discovered (this was not a surprise) that he is not a real doctor, or even a real person. He was played by Andre Weideman. He also has a notable role in the blockbuster film The Dinosaur Project. And yes, everyone else in the program is an actor too. Not so interesting now.
One of the videos they show as “proof” is that of a fish being hit with a spear and then you see something quickly swim by, which is supposed to be a mermaid. If humans divulged at one point and became an aquatic species, would they necessarily have developed spears? Also, would they be able to throw them with any kind of speed at that depth? I believe the video was recorded by a deep diving vessel or something.
Spearfishing is still done today, but most of the people who do it actually use some kind of spear gun. I would imagine that in ancient times, they would have used long poles and jabbed at the fish. I have seen a video of a gauntlet of South American indigenous peoples spearing schools of fish. The way they do it is pretty interesting. They line up on both sides of the river and just jab at them. As the fish run the gauntlet, they get hit enough that by the time they reach the end, they are weak and slow and easy to spear. I would imagine that mermaids would do something similar to this.
Also, there was a part where they talk about the people in Brazil who work with dolphins to catch fish and they believe that the dolphins are recalling a time when they worked with mermaids. What would they have used to make nets? Maybe kelp? Would you need to dry the kelp first though to weave it? I have no clue about rope making.
Anyways, that is enough speculation about a made up species. Allow me to explain why this kind of program angers me. People will watch this show and think it is real. The actual truth and science behind the world are more interesting than made up answers. I would rather people take the time to learn some human evolution instead of some crack-pot theory. These kind of things just help creationists make the argument “see, evolutionists cannot agree on their own theory!”
I would love to find out about a new intelligent species living on our planet, that would be a mind-blowing discovery, but unfortunately there is just no real evidence for such a thing.