The National [Geographic] Inquirer  

Posted by Devin Parker

Lately when I turn on the NatGeo channel, I've found one of two varieties of show on:

1. We Question Something In The Bible And Conclude You Should Not Believe In Christianity


Their documentaries appear invariably to leap to dramatic conclusions which aren't really borne out by the evidence, while simultaneously entertaining the wildest flights of fantasy because "it's within the realm of possibility."

I just watched a documentary looking at the story of Noah's Ark, which concluded with the statement, "The story of Noah is most likely just the story of a guy who saved his family and pets on a little round boat, and got blown into mythic proportions," mostly because they couldn't figure out how Noah built a boat that wouldn't sink.

The very next show was about how the Mayan "prophets" have predicted the violent end of the Earth and all mankind as we know it when the Long Count ends on December 21, 2012. Anyone who knows anything about the Mayan calendar can tell you this is hogwash.

Every time I've turned on NatGeo, I've watched a show about how the Gnostic Gospels should not only be given the same weight as the Four Gospels of the Bible, but are preferrable precisely because they were excluded from the canon; or how earthquakes and polar shifts and all sorts of awful disasters might conceivably occur TOMORROW and destroy everything you hold dear.

Scholarship is questionable in these documentaries, and their phrasing is deliberately obfuscating, leading viewers to accept their alarmist advertisements even when the arguments or evidence they provide say otherwise. So long as it's a sensational conclusion - and one that casts doubt on the claims of Christianity - it's considered ideal fodder for NatGeo to air.

Their documentary on Islam, however, very carefully tiptoed around any questions of the origins of that religion, preferring instead to say, "Well, there are divisions in how the Quran is interpreted, and some people have suggested that the militants are exaggerating." I guess knowing that someone may try to kill you for questioning their religion makes you treat it with kid gloves. Just ask Roland Emmerich.

So much for "educational" TV.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 23, 2010 at Saturday, January 23, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I find their conclusion of Noah very interesting, since last I had heard, they had found evidence of the ark...?

I find it sad that educational channels display such shows, but it saddens me more because it shows how low-brow the majority of the viewing public is and the fact that they won't get ratings if the show isn't sensational and alarmist. I commented to Andy the other night while watching the news that I remember back when anchor people actually looked and acted professionally and you might believe what they said. Nowadays they all dress like hoochies and act like they're "down with the street". Sad, sad, sad.

3:28 PM

This article from The Onion about the "Science" Channel laments the same phenomenon:

Christina: "Hoochies"? That made me snort.

4:28 PM

I should add, in the interest of giving credit where it's due, Marilyn is the one who came up with the title of this blog post, as we were discussing the topic.

That Onion article is really spot-on, too.

I guess the important thing to remember is that television is all about entertainment and spectacle. Reasoned arguments just don't dazzle.

Becoming more casual in appearance and behavior in front of the camera, I assume, is part of an attempt to seem more "relatable" to the average viewer. My sneaking suspicion, however, is that this leads very easily into a lazy, relativistic view toward the information that they present. There's already such a blurring between entertainment and news, and I have to wonder if, despite its merits (and, ironically, its intentions), "The Daily Show" has contributed to this phenomenon.

10:56 PM

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