July 6, 2010

What Happened to the History Channel?

history channelHuman memory is a fragile thing, subject to all sorts of biases that can make it impossible to distinguish between real and false memories. When I think back to the quality of the programming aired on the History Channel several years ago, it seems like it was far superior to the sort of thing they are airing now. I'm not sure if this is an accurate memory or is just a matter of me viewing the past through rose-colored glasses. But have you seen some of the crap they are now showing?

I think I remember a time when the History Channel showed mostly...you know...history. I flipped it on the other night to see a show I'd never heard of before: MonsterQuest. Based on the channel on which it was airing and the description in the onscreen cable guide, I figured this would involve scientists debunking various monster myths. I suspected it might be similar to MythBusters in that respect, one of my favorite shows.

No such luck. Despite there being some science, the producers were determined to leave the question of the particular monster featured on this episode (i.e., the Chupacabra) unanswered. The scientists came off as not being sufficiently open-minded, suggesting that they had likely missed something.

I guess I should have known better. I like the idea of television shows that at least try to expose the American public to scientific concepts. However, I'm not sure why it seems so irresistible for the producers of many of them to present science in an unrealistic or negative manner.
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