#SharkWeek: Fact AND Fiction

It’s that time of year again, Discovery’s Shark Week kicks off for a whole week of shark-related stories, documentaries, raw video footage, and more.  I get sucked into this just as much as anyone else, but it’s important to keep in mind that not everything shown on Shark Week is fact… especially not recently.

Sure, the shows may not be as obviously fake as Sharknado (fantastic film, btw), but as shark week enthusiasts, I encourage you all to remain wary of what the real stories are and what are overly dramatized and fictionalized shark “fauxmentaries” put in place to hike up ratings. An article in Discover magazine breaks it down nicely.

The lasting issue is that Shark Week has not only failed to provide real, scientific programming: their constant campaign of fraud is damaging to shark science and conservation. “Frighteningly, they’ve somehow done the impossible and actually contributed negatively to scientific research.”

“Rather than having Shark Week engage the audience with stories of the very real (and quite enthralling) research going on with elasmobranchs, those of us in the field now spend our public outreach efforts debunking silly things like “mermaids” and the continuing existence of Megalodon.” *Quote from David Kerstetter, Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center.  

A lot of researchers agree that little truth remains on Discovery’s Shark Week… I’m not saying don’t watch shark week.  But keep in mind the next time you watch “Great White Serial Killer”, that what may be presented as fact, may in fact be a distortion of the truth!

Are GMO scientists Nazi’s? Do anti-GMO terrorists exist? #science #antiscience

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are certainly a controversial topic these days, especially because when most people think of GMO’s they think of seeds and the corporate greed associated with Monsanto. However, there are many different types of GMO’s that have been designed and used for medical research, drug production, and also food production. Scientifically, GMO’s are an extremely useful tool, and hold promise for helping society deal with all sorts of issues (example: Plants that are resistant to the ill effects of increasing levels of carbon dioxide). Misinformation and misconceptions about GMO’s are everywhere, and just last week a congressional panel decided that most Americans are too stupid to correctly interpret GMO labeling on food products. See previous posts about GMO’s from CauseScience for more information.

GLP

This brings me to the title of this post. Apparently, some anti-GMO activists (namely Mike Adams of Natural News, see his crazy post here) have claimed that pro-GMO scientists and journalists are Nazi’s, or something along those lines (it’s sometimes hard to interpret crazy babble). The article then goes on to claim that these scientists, publishers, and journalists are committing crimes against humanity, and closes with this memorable quote from Nazi’s:

it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.

C-R-A-Z-Y! While not exactly a threat, it certainly seems to be suggesting violence based on non-existent and false accusations. And is compounded by the fact that an update to the post includes a link to a website that lists names and info of journalists, publishers, and scientists that are labelled as ‘Monsanto Collaborators.’ Scary stuff.

C-a-S

I became aware of all of this from a news article by Keith Kloor on the Genetic Literacy Project website (check them out!). Keith Kloor also wrote an article about the Mike Adams post for Discover Magazine blog Collide-a-Scape, and both do a great job summarizing and interpreting the article. No matter your feelings on GMO’s, Monsanto, and/or ‘crimes against humanity’, I think we can all agree that this type of rhetoric is ridiculous. Worst of all, this type of anti-GMO press is anti-science and will only continue the trend of Americans being too stupid or uninformed to make decisions about GMO products (Natural News is in general very anti-science, anti-vaccine etc.). While we should all question GMO’s and the companies that are selling them, just like with other food and drugs, we should also be open to the huge benefits to be gained by current and future GMO’s.

Hooked on science? Discover Magazine shares readers’ scientific stories #science

readers response

When did you get hooked on science? The answer for a number of Discover magazine readers are summarized by Carl Engelking. The snippets and stories are great.

It’s likely that there came a point when science placed you under its spell as well (after all, you are reading Discover right now). So we asked readers to share the moment that they became hooked on science, and their answers are proof that inspiration can occur anywhere.

My favorite response from the article.

“In 1976, my kindergarten teacher was troubled by my assertion that my best friend, Harvey, was 70 years old… Harvey Carr was my next door neighbor. I spent more hours at his house than I did in school. He helped me build a solar eclipse viewer, got me a membership in the Earth Sciences Club of Illinois, and gifted me a subscription to National Geographic. In short, he inspired my love of science.” — Matt Darst

In the end, many of the stories hint that children, and humans, are curious and scientific by nature. I guess Neil deGrasse Tyson was right (previous post). My response below:

My scientific curiosity definitely involved my mom taking me and my siblings on nature walks, getting us interested in the natural world and animals. I have very fond memories of a park outside Rochester, NY, where visitors can feed chickadees out of their hands. We occasionally still go back to feed the birds around the holidays.

Check out the article, leave your response in the comments with other viewers, or leave them here at CauseScience!