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Mermaids TV documentary hoax

And then they'll think that mermaids are real

“Mermaids: The Body Found” is a fictional movie presented as if it was a documentary. It originally aired on May 27, 2012, on Animal Planet, and on June 17 on Discovery Channel. It tells a story of a scientific team’s investigative efforts to uncover the source behind mysterious underwater recordings of an unidentified marine body. The show presents the generally discredited aquatic ape hypothesis as evidence that mermaids exist, along with a digitally manufactured video. A sequel broadcast called Mermaids: The New Evidence aired May 26, 2013. {Wikipedia}

These TV movies were hoaxes. None of the “scientists” portrayed in these films exist. The scientists were portrayed by actors. For instance, the lead “scienists” in this show is presented as Dr. Paul Robertson, of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Robertson” is really the actor Andre Weideman, known for his work in The Bone Snatcher and The Dinosaur Project. The same is true for all members of the cast.
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Discovery Channel had admitted that the show is a hoax, and says that it made it clear to the viewers, by airing this frame at the very end of thr credits:


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put up a page on their web site stating that “no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found”


Brian Swetek wrote a review of the hoax on Wired magazine:
{ http://www.wired.com/2012/05/mermaids-embodies-the-rotting-carcass-of-science-tv/ }

Using the AAH to explain the existence of mermaids would be a clever twist for a Star Trek episode or SyFy original movie. But this was on a self-styled educational network. Animal Planet cashed in on its poorly earned reputation as a science channel – the network previously aired The Pet Psychic, after all – to make gullible viewers believe mermaids are real. Indeed, as Craig McClain noted in his post on Mermaids, the docufiction didn’t pull back the curtain to say “This was fiction! Fooled you!” until the very end, and by then many viewers were not paying attention. Craig shared a few of the shocked responses to the show posted on Twitter, and I trawled for “mermaid” tweets just before posting this essay – people are still writing how fascinated they are by the illusion at the center of the show.

Speculative biology can be a lot of fun – to wonder how different forms of life might have evolved. And, with the right context and presentation, Mermaids could have been a unique way to highlight evolutionary and biological ideas. But rather than being a hook for communicating actual science, Mermaids was a sensationalistic end in itself. The show was meant to titillate and deceive – yet another bit of noxious rot in what I have often called television’s bottomless chum bucket (hat-tip to Sideshow Bob). I’m sure Animal Planet would defend itself by saying that it issued a disclaimer, but clearly viewers either tuned out or just didn’t pay attention. When a science fiction show, dressed up as a documentary, presents the “Dramatic Re-Enactment” caveat at the bottom of some scenes, it’s not surprising that some viewers were confused about what they were actually seeing.


The cast of this movie is revealed on the actor’s on resumes!

Rebeca Davis, NOAA, 1999-2005 is played by the acrtress Candice D’arcy


Dr Brian McCormick is played by Sean C. Michael.


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