VIEWPOINT

Mermaid body found? No, bad TV

2012-07-17T13:49:00Z 2014-12-23T13:39:22Z Mermaid body found? No, bad TVJim Vorel, Decatur Herald & Review The Quad-City Times

I caught an incredibly bad two-hour “documentary” on the Discovery Channel last night that, in a nut shell, encapsulates many of our societal foibles. That program was “Mermaids: The Body Found.” Listed as “docu-fiction,” which means “made up at will,” the special was presented as entirely real, and purported to prove the existence of mermaids among us, as evidenced by man’s ancient mythologies concerning fish people and the modern-day cover-up of the phenomena by governments around the world.

I really believe that shows like this can be damaging to an overall public perception of reality, imbuing those with no desire to question the “evidence” they are given with a false sense of being “in the know,” which is of course one of the major appeals of any conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter that immediately after airing, all the claims of the show are debunked, because many of the people who watch these programs will spend the next decade of their life walking around, telling other people they meet that mermaids are “totally real, it was on the Discovery Channel, man.” Don’t believe that people are that foolish? There are still people debating an 11-year-old moon landing hoax special that aired on FOX, even though it was complete malarkey. There are human beings walking the face of the Earth right now who believe that this planet is flat. That’s the nature of rumors about secret knowledge—we really want to believe them, because they confirm our biases and make us feel informed.

Even the program itself can admit that its content is fraudulent, if it does it covertly enough. In the case of “Mermaids: The Body Found,” that admission can be found two hours in, during the closing credits. A segment is shown that reads “Though certain events in this film are fictional, Navy sonar tests have been directly implicated in whale beachings. ‘The Bloop’ is a real phenomenon. There is still debate about what it may be. None of the institutions or agencies that appear in the film are affiliated or associated with it in any way, nor have they approved its contents. Any similarities in the film to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.”

Aside from “certain events in this film are fictional,” (which means “as much of it as we want”) that sounds like standard legal boilerplate. But in this case, the line about “actual persons” is even more significant, because get this—the two main characters appearing on screen to give “their story” throughout the entire program? They don’t exist. As in, they’re not real human beings. The person presented as “Dr. Paul Robertson” is an actor named Andre Weideman, and at no point does the program make any admission of this. He says he was a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? Lies. He says his team’s data was confiscated by the government? Lies. And how do they get away with saying all of this? By small-print, tacit admissions to anyone in actual authority that “Look, we’re just making something for entertainment, nobody is going to take it seriously.”

The problem is of course that the general public can’t be bothered to verify any of this information, and plenty simply take it at face value. They do take it seriously. If you go on Google and go searching around for discussion of the program, the stuff you find will blow your mind, as people find reasons to believe a two-hour television special on the secret existence of mermaids. Look a little longer and you’ll run across all sorts of cryptozoological believers. My favorites are the ones who shoot down each other’s theories as ridiculous and then offer even crazier opinions. “You’re a fool for believing the aquatic ape theory! Anyone with half a brain knows that mermaids are the direct descendents of ‘nephilim,’ the gigantic early ancestors of man that existed before the flood of Noah!” The statement to the left is an actual opinion that I read last night. I am not making this up—unlike the filmmakers.

One of the best touches is the website for “Dr. Paul Robertson,” which bears a realistic-looking message saying that it was “seized by Homeland Security.” Good evidence of a cover-up, right? The government doesn’t want you to know the truth! Or at least this would be good evidence, if it hadn’t been put together by the film’s creators themselves to make their case look legitimate. You need look no further than the vagueness claiming that a warrant was issued by “a United States District Court.” In an actual web seizure like this one at a sports streaming website, the specific court is always listed. See the additional detail? Unfortunately, this simply distraction is all a conspiracy theorist needs to leap into action. It’s classic confirmation bias.

This is a disgusting amount of effort for a group of filmmakers to go to, just in order to make a quick buck by sensationalizing their film and trying to cause a stir by portraying it as “banned” or suppressed by the government. A web-savvy community in 2012 shouldn’t be able to be taken in by something so stupid. We’re supposed to be smarter than this. And shame on a network like The Discovery Channel for airing “documentaries” that are entirely fictional accounts of nonexistent creatures. Shows like “A Haunting,” “Ghost Lab” and their faked reality series “The Colony” are bad enough. But mermaids? Mermaids.

What do you think, sirs? Were you taken in by this fish tale?

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. KevinLin
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    KevinLin - January 03, 2015 12:32 pm
    well well........are you saying we live in a simplistic world where we've explored everything on this planet?
  2. mikediaz_az
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    mikediaz_az - December 28, 2013 7:25 am
    The article is accurate (the scientists depicted were actors) except that the name of the actor that played Dr. Robertson is David Evans (not Andre Weidmann). See the following article: http://www.insideedition.com/entertainment/6416-animal-planet-mermaid-hoax-catches-wave-of-attention. Here is David Evans on you tube where he introduces himself, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCmmugmFy2c
  3. TheTimsta
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    TheTimsta - December 24, 2013 10:46 pm
    Disclaimers made by companies making television programs such as this are for legal reasons. The label "docu-fiction" is valid given that it contained representations of what the makers deemed may have been possible scenarios. By so labeling it, the makers acknowledge that their computer simulations of these creatures is pure speculation on their part. They have obviously done so to add content as well as context to the findings of the scientists.
    Some posters here seem to be hung up over the actors. But that is all they were. The people fronting the camera face on are those purporting to be the genuine article. So then, what you have to ask yourself is: are they for real? If they are not, explain valid reasons why they are not, rather than resorting to puff, bluster, and name calling, as some have done here.
    Before you claim "so and so does not exist" establish that as fact and provide valid evidence for your claim. Just because you can't find something on the internet does not mean that they [or it] does not exist.
    Other than the "bloop," the makers of the program had nothing by way of hard evidence. They relied on the integrity of a half dozen or so people involved in the purported find who claimed that their evidence was confiscated. So, aside from the bloop, all of that content in the program was a recreation.
    Does that mean that it is all a lie? Would Animal Planet Productions knowingly produce a program that was entirely fraudulent, cognizant of the legal difficulties they could be facing from governments whose vested interests are in their defence programs, specifically, in this instance, sonar testing?
    If you visit: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/aug/30/navy-says-its-probably-about-bomb-hundreds-dolph/
    the article states, "the U.S. Navy acknowledges that bomb testing and sonar use over the next five years will likely kill hundreds of marine mammals and seriously injure thousands more." And that's from the U.S. Navy itself.
    Who has the greater vested interest? The makers of the Mermaid program? Or the respective governments involved?
    Finally, it is my experience in participating in forums that posters who resort to puff, bluster and name calling do so because they are unable to present any viable commentary, so they resort to ad hominem. It is easier to deride rather than give valid reasons why something is, or is not, the case.
  4. CarmenO
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    CarmenO - August 13, 2013 8:21 am
    Thank you for your words. Is so true what you say. Am tired of the same lies about this people always avoiding giving explanations. The fact that they are doing something wrong is what makes me so upset. and I am not even a scientist but still is the world were we live which they are killing little by little.
  5. CarmenO
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    CarmenO - August 13, 2013 8:10 am
    So... Assuming that everything mentioned is not true, how do YOU know is not true? It is not a mystery that the US government is ALWAYS covering things to everybody and when someone has the minimum investigation running or tries to resolve a secret or wants to bring truth to the public, something ALWAYS happens, the people involved strangely die, dissapear, for some reason they are now crazy, and so on... I looked a bit more about who you state are "actors" and the pictures from Dr. Robertson vs the one you say is an actor are not the same persona. Let me tell me you what I believe... I believe that you are just another puppet that the US government used by giving "something" to avoid stating bribery in order to make this people look as liers that are actually only trying to find something AMAZING. Why can't you just let them continue with their research? What is it to you? I agree to the fact that there's a lot of fiction in it, but "IF" their paperwork and several reasources wouldn't have been taken away we would have seen a REAL documentary and not just what you call now a "MOCKERY".
  6. Lenakanarymay
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    Lenakanarymay - July 10, 2013 2:09 am
    With you making a reference to 'Noah and the ark' proves that you are religious correct? More than likely Christian, right? Which proves your more close minded and yet you believe in god that has shown less evidence than mermaids themselves. Yes it is more than likely the footages are false but there are very valid points. With different people come different views. Evolution is how we came to be, we were not simply 'created'.
  7. Miss Sparkle
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    Miss Sparkle - June 08, 2013 1:46 am
    I just left a comment ans what I wrote apparently had red flags because the software did not allow it to be posted?? Hmmmm what happened to freedom of speech?
  8. Miss Sparkle
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    Miss Sparkle - June 08, 2013 1:44 am
    The fact that you were paid to write an article to make viewers question themselves is precisely why there is truth in what they found and even further evidence that they do in fact exist is that the story wound up on CNN the next day to deflate the intellectual findings. I worked as a producer in TV in my 20's and learned then that the TV and News Papers are nothing more then a vehicle to deliver a message. THAT"S it..Don't shoot the messenger..and where there is smoke there is fire. The fact the Government and CNN even has to comment about this topic should let me repeat should wake people up enough to ask themselves why does it matter? Why are the sonic bombs killing whales and an unidentified species and what are the sounds the Bloop? Answer the questions and stop deflecting on the questionable aspects and creating doubt.. let science explain the BLOOP.. forget the bones and eye witness accounts- explain your actions... doesn't the viewing audience deserve that sort of response from CNN or the NAVY or NOAA or the Icelandic Government??
  9. ttdad
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    ttdad - June 02, 2013 9:03 pm
    Darryl Hannah can come cost me anytime!
  10. Jrene
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    Jrene - May 31, 2013 1:06 pm
    bmae29: In Mermaids: Body Found in the re-enactment, of course they used actors to play the scientists, but the man talking to the camera, the one being interviewed who was supposedly the "real" Dr. Paul Robertson, is also a fake, an actor. But if u go to a site called Time No Longer (don't remember if it's .com or what, you can look it up) they do say he is a real person, just hard to find. They "outed" the actor who played Robertson on Mermaids: The New Evidence on Inside Edition last night. His name is Mark ??? and he has played other scientists.....there was a video on YouTube where, again, he was in front of a camera being interviewed, and said his name was Mark Hoyt! It is upsetting because I believed it. And now I am angry. If there is a real Dr. Paul Robertson I wish he'd really come forward.
  11. Boats75
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    Boats75 - May 31, 2013 2:34 am
    It's a show on tv. It's like watching the voice or Dr. Phil it's not real. Over produced yes.
  12. Family man
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    Family man - May 30, 2013 7:10 pm
    What a bunch of idiots, it was fake. Made for entertainment purposes. Would you sit around and debate how real Avatar was? You all sound like a bunch of lame Trekkies or something.
  13. JOHN 315
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    JOHN 315 - May 30, 2013 4:11 am
    True or Not True... GOD Created everything in the beginning. There was Land and there were sea. But where does us human came from? land or sea? As fictional as this show can be, but i came to realize all creatures had been created by GOD for a reason. And either way we still need to preserve what is left on land or on sea. Maybe the message wasn't clear, the whales and dolphins are in jeopardy regardless of the myth? Whether we have found an alien in the sea or not, it is still a life. Is not the show that is interesting, its how you value any living being that is important. GOD bless!
  14. tffhuff
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    tffhuff - May 28, 2013 11:47 pm
    Ok first any of u who have a religion, how can u denie that a animal with same characterist could not exist, look at apes! They were told to be wat we revolution from but even if we didnt have come from apes, how can we not believe other living specie not have some of our structure when we have proof animal have some of our body structure all a round us! And most of us believe in a God, which we have never seen or have shown us real proof they exist but only from books or statue, just like mere people there only proof is from stories and art work done by our ancietors. I can not say they do not exist but cant say they do either, but wats the different if they do? Wat would change? Nothing if we yet to have made contact with these animal they obivious are not curious about us.u so ppl who are calling ppl stupid for believe in such beast should reflect on urself think about something u believe in that has no proof but yet a experience in ur life allows u to believe it. Such as a religion, u are completely intitle to ur believe so goes for merepeople, people are intitle to believe wat they want to believe in them to.
  15. QuestionHeir
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    QuestionHeir - May 28, 2013 9:13 pm
    Real?, fake?, conspiracy?, no conspiracy?, exist?, don't exist?, open minded?, foolish?. In the end none of these things really make a difference. I happened to miss the first few minutes of the show and thus missed the disclaimer that the program was "docu-fiction" and therefore utter nonsense. What convinced me in the first 10 minutes that what I was watching complete garbage., were the totally incompetent and amateurish performances of the actors employed to portray the so-called scientists. An equally pitiful cast one will rarely find. As to your statement that you're "not so shallow or arrogant', your post clearly shows that statement to be as much of a farce as this show was. Your use of the English language is atrocious. You say "would we be excepting to their existence", really?...possibly you meant ACCEPTING!!! Rule #1 is to NEVER call others "idiots" when you yourself are one by definition. All in all I found it quite amusing to be able to expose your entire post for the drivel it is. As you would say, pure "rediculousness"...oops, that's actually spelled ridiculousness!!! My suggestion to you is pick up a dictionary and start reading it. Watching silliness like this is obviously turning your mind to mush. They call it "television programming" for a reason. Don't let anyone program you to be dumber than you already are. Best of luck and my deepest sympathy.
  16. ttdad
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    ttdad - May 28, 2013 12:47 pm
    But when Orsen Wells did it 50 years ago on the radio about Martians landing it was ok?
  17. Khalm
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    Khalm - May 27, 2013 8:25 pm
    I watched this show last night with a group of friends. Normally, I can draw humor from even the dumbest TV, but as I scanned the room and saw everyone utterly entranced, I felt a tiny bubble of anger well up inside me. This article perfectly sums up what I was thinking at the time, and I'm just happy someone else feels the same way, because garbage like this is legitimately damaging to the public psyche.

    Still difficult for me to comprehend how far channels like Discovery, TLC and the History Channel have fallen.
  18. budnight
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    budnight - May 27, 2013 6:07 pm
    AND mermen. Don't be sexist.
  19. YoMamma'sMamma
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    YoMamma'sMamma - May 27, 2013 4:37 pm
    I believed the "documentary" all the way to the end when "...any relation to persons living or dead is purely coincidental..." - the standard legalize that covers the movie creators from lawsuits filed by people who think the movie was about them.

    While I believe in the possibility of undiscovered species, this particular movie was all made up, at least about the mermaids. It mingled real science with complete fiction, from the "Fisheries" department at NOAA - whose primary mission is the earth's atmosphere and weather. There is NO fisheries department there; never has been.

    The mermaid in the movie was pure fiction. The website seizures are fake. The movie belonged on the SyFy Channel, not Animal Planet. All the Discovery and Animal Planet Channels did were to discover just how many of us are very, very naieve.

    And, you have to ask, just how many of America's teenagers had cell phones that took video in 1999, when the whale beaching took place along the Northwest coast of the U.S. Pictures, maybe, but video? The writers didn't check cell phone development. I had a cell phone like the one the teen had, and I can tell that when I got it in 2002, it was top of the line and only took still pictures, not video.
  20. bmae29
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    bmae29 - May 27, 2013 1:21 am
    You are stupid!! Of course on the dramatization Dr.,Paul is played by an actor, but Dr. Paul Robertson is himself on there explaining himself and his bloops!! He is a real person.... Do full research and think before you spew trash from your mouth about him being fake..
  21. JackieA
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    JackieA - May 26, 2013 10:18 pm
    They announced at the beginning that this program was docu-fiction and not just 2 hours into it so I am doubting that you watched the whole program. Get it together and watch a whole program before you start bashing it. Lots of people didn't catch any of the places that stated this and thought it was real even the next day. Considering that viewers were told at the beginning of the program that is was a docu-fiction it was pretty good entertainment...better than lots of the 'reality' programs on tv. I thought the makeup and special effects were pretty good all things considered.
  22. cutiepie705778
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    cutiepie705778 - July 29, 2012 1:56 pm
    i know its out of blue just for you to know i now its not real but in the show their so skinny,but if mermaids were real and that skinny they'd freeze thats why we humans use scooba gear because of the cold water.they would haft to be really fat like a manatee for warmth.
  23. shannyforreal
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    shannyforreal - July 19, 2012 9:12 pm
    Haha, I watched to see how crazy these scientists were. never truly knowing this was a dramatic documentary. Haha, I was thinking these people are nuts to be thinking this...
  24. stacycartrighr
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    stacycartrighr - July 18, 2012 12:12 am
    So foolish people, although the show was rated as fiction ask yourselves how would WE as a people truly respond in the event that mermaids actually exist? Clearly you all are shallow minded enough to believe that with an Infinite universe such as ours ,that there's no possibilities that maybe, just maybe the conspiracy is in making us believe there's no such thing. at any rate we have all heard the famous saying that " nothing from nothing leaves nothing" so think about it for one second IF hypothetically let's say they do exist would we be excepting to their existence? Or would we try to destroy them just like everything else I.e; the land, water,air,trees,and even each other. Its pretty hilarious to see us so full of ourselves and buying right into the conspiracy, foolish people. don't you know the way to desensitize the truth of something that would be considered un real or not possible is to show it; making it seem as though there's no way they would openly expose such rediculousness as you all would put it. do keep in mind that although we are a vast species in our intelligence there are still new animals,mammals,and insects being discovered.. lol but you idiots bought in the hype of it being impossible not saying all is truth. however, I am not so shallow and arrogant to think that it is not possible just like other life forms outside of this planet, please don't tell me you silly humans think that's made up too..lol you are soooo miss informed.

  25. dariansenemy
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    dariansenemy - July 17, 2012 8:27 pm
    I suppose I would be arrogant to believe that in this vast universe we are the only living life form...however in this case all I can think of is Orson Wells Invasion of the Martians and how well that worked (depending on if you were one of the ones that were scared out of your skull) on radio..All of the channels that aired Mermaid are known, until now, for research and documentation. Can you imagine swearin young boys woth a camera to seacrecy?
    Can the stations at least say 'OOOPS'
  26. ohhereitgoes
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    ohhereitgoes - July 17, 2012 7:09 pm
    Not surprising coming from the Discovery Channel, perpetrators of "The Jesus Family Tomb", the widely ridiculed unspecial that purported to tell us the location of the tomb of Jesus and his family. That one at least had a lot of qualifiers in it(in fact it had more conditions than a cheap life insurance policy).

    Mermaids? Really?

    BTW, vaneda 19, if Fox News is that bad, why do you keep watching it? And if you are not watching it, how do you know how bad it is? TVs these days come with channel changers.
  27. vaneda19
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    vaneda19 - July 17, 2012 3:14 pm
    The target audience of this show is obviously geared toward belief in nonsensical stories like Noah and the Ark. A 600 year old man and 2 of every animal (the current number is at 8.7 million species) came to a boat with enough supplies for them all to last 40 days. I have to admit that these shows are getting far to popular for being false. If these directors put half the effort into factual shows and sell the truth for a change, then shows like the Jersey Shore would no longer exists and the Fox News channel would actual be seen as satire.
  28. BertBush
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    BertBush - July 17, 2012 2:30 pm
    Why is everything an issue they made a funny and interesting show. You have to admit it was creative and I bet it got good ratings. So now what your upset because delusional people are blogging about it. Let them have their fun I would rather hear what they have to say then listen to 4 more months of this Presidential race.
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