Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Two Boooo's for the History Channel

I watched two programs, ostensibly regarding science and archaeology, the past couple of nights, both involving their "Decoding the Past" series. Which, up until these two, had been pretty good. Unfortunately, they went the cheap route for these. They contained some good science, but then went off the rails and into goofball territory.

The first was Doomsday 2012: The End of Days which was about the Maya calendar and how the end of the Long Count comes on Dec 21, 2012. They did a pretty good job of explaining how the Maya developed their calendars and how they worked, but then went into the usual tripe about how various bad things happening in recent history can be somehow, someway, sorta kinda, if-you-want-to-really-see-it predicted by their calendar. Funny how these things only tend to predict doom and gloom; you never see anyone predicting periods of peace and prosperity. At any rate, it was a boondoggle, as usual for these sorts of things.

The other one was Earth's Black Hole . Again, they seemed to get the science right, but then had to go "In Search Of. . ." and blather about whether a black hole was sitting inside the Earth somewhere and maybe, just maybe, this could explain all of the mysterious disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. This seemed to be the primary theory of some Dr. (of what, we're not told) who is described only as a "Theoretician".

So if anyone at THC is reading this: If you can't think of any good material, just end the show.

BTW, I probably shouldn't diss "In Search Of. . ." too much, since it was my favorite show way back when. They did a show on the Great Global Cooling as it was back then, the usual other panoply of mysterious things (Loch Ness, Bigfoot) and some other stuff like Amelia Earhart. I ate that stuff up. Chris Carter (X-Files) once addressed a skeptic society meeting and argued in front of what was ostensibly a hostile audience that, even though his shows trumped up just about every conspiracy theory as true, it still served as a catalyst for science since people would get interested by the science fiction and maybe end up pursuing real science eventually. There's something to this I guess. Well, no, there is something to this. Most scientists you talk to were initiated into it by science fiction. Whether "documentaries" like all of the above serve the same purpose is probably the debatable point.