ATTENTION, Dino-fans! It has come to my attention that 'Clash of the Dinosaurs' is bunk. It's not science, it's pseudoscience.
'Well', you might say. 'Big deal!' You'd be right - because that's not even close to the worst part of it. It has more recently come to my attention that the producers of the show also have engaged in some extremely dishonest QUOTE-MINING, taking quotes out of context to distort their meaning. In other words - "SPIN"! You know... the same BS tactic that crooked politicians in America use to talk about imaginary 'death panels' and 'taxpayer-funded abortions' in the hopes that their money-grubbing insurance company campaign contributors never have to worry about REAL health care reform putting a damper on their rampant greed and ungodly price-gouging profits. The same BS tactic that Creationists use to claim that such and such respected paleontologist is against evolution when they are really for it, etc...
Except now the Discovery Channel is doing it. Or rather, more precisely, the production company they hired to do the show, Dangerous Ltd. This is a very influential documentary production group with lavish offices in the famous and expensive Covent Garden district of London. What exactly did they do that was so dishonest?
Well, let's make it short and simple: Dr. Matt Wedel, the PhD paleontologist who described Sauroposeidon, was deliberately edited out of context on Clash of the Dinosaurs to make it look like he supported the outdated (and nonsensical) notion that sauropods had a "second brain" in their hips. In fact he was merely discussing and then rejecting this popular but false myth.
Judge for yourself; here is what Matt Wedel REALLY said in the full video interview (bold letters and underlines mine):
Here is what the show had him saying, courtesy of Dangerous Ltd's inane editing room staff:
Wow! They actually CUT OUT the "And for a while it was thought that maybe" part! That wasn't even a whole sentence separating those two lines, it was like 2 seconds worth of airtime difference, so WHY did they cut that out to make it look like Wedel endorses the "second brain" myth? I mean, assume you forget about the whole glycogen body part (which isn't too terribly hard to make understandable for non-scientist viewers; glycogen is basically nothing more than a sugar compound, and sugar = energy, not brain). Even THEN, it's very odd that Dangerous Ltd. would edit out those few words "And for a while it was thought...." to make it look like Matt was expressing his own personal view if they simply were editing things for brevity's sake. They are flat-out LYING in his name.
Here is Matt's own testimony from SV-POW:
In your email, you said: ‘Someone in the editing room cut away the framing explanation and left me presenting a thoroughly discredited idea as if it was current science.’ In your interview you carefully set out a context in which you made your argument, a context that was perhaps not included in the show as carefully as it could have been. Whether this was in the interests of brevity or not, I entirely appreciate your position. We had no wish to suggest you were presenting an old, discredited argument, we were simply working on the show ever aware of the demands of our audience. This does not excuse a part of the program which was perhaps not edited with as much finesse as it could have been and consequently I will make your concerns clear to the production team in the hope that we may avoid such situations again.
While I hope this clarifies our position, I will endeavour to call you to ensure all your concerns are properly heard.
This isn't just a case of misinforming the public; Dangerous Ltd. has also put Matt's credibility (and quite possibly his very career as a published researcher) on the line and may have already damaged it severely by dragging his name through the mud of pseudoscience-inspired LIES. This is nothing short of SLANDER and it is both UNETHICAL and ILLEGAL. Frankly, they deserve to be sued for every last dollar they made from that show.
I wrote to Dangerous Ltd. as well as Discovery (as did a number of other dino-bloggers), and to my knowledge, Matt Wedel and the other SV-POWsketeers were also contacting them regularly. Eventually, a man at the Discovery staff (who has asked to remain anonymous) promised to fix the problem today, which was a lot faster than anyone had expected. In Matt's words:
This is an amazingly good response by Discovery to this whole embarrassing quote-mining situation. And they are to be commended for their speedy resolution to this problem. However, there is one burning question in my mind - WHY did Discovery or Dangerous Ltd. let this happen in the first place?
In fact, I'd venture to say that the more corporate a science program becomes, the more idiotic and less scientific it's bound to be. And it's flat-out shameful how they claim their BS myths are "fact" in order to drive up their ratings. If dinosaur fact is truly stranger than fiction (and let's be honest here - it often IS) then why do corporate production teams feel such a need to support so many blatantly FALSE and ridiculous theories for their shows? Aren't REAL dinosaurs already interesting enough without having to turn them into magical dragons, or circus sideshow pinheads with the IQ of a cactus? Why are these guys so obsessed with things like second brains? Come to think of it, why did Spielberg make his Velociraptors too big and leave them unfeathered when they had both Robert Bakker and Gregory Paul as consultants, both of whom supported feathered raptors? There's just too much of a profit motive in producing stereotypical movie monsters. A real dinosaur film or series would DUMP the stereotypes and shock audiences with the TRUTH so they don't have to wait 15 years to learn that raptors actually did have feathers... And the same is true of Clash of the Dinosaurs. There was a good deal of BS "junk science" in Walking with Dinosaurs and Jurassic Fight Club. But that all pales in comparison with what was done in Clash. Because NOW, for once you have a literally all-star lineup of the top experts in the field, offering their commentary, but the show still manages to get so many things wrong! And in Wedel's case, the producers deliberately and dishonestly twisted his words to SUPPORT an obviously wrong conclusion! And then they claimed that they were merely doing this to "meet the needs of the audience" which is an insult to the audience, the scientists, and the science itself. Basically they're TRYING to say: "we lied and quote-mined because we felt the audience is too stupid to understand the real science".
Well then, if that's the case, you're producing nothing more than dumbed-down entertainment, so don't call it a frickin' documentary!
What were these guys thinking? Here's one quick guess: "Hey Mac... lets make some changes to the script to "meet the needs" of our "audience".... A smart sauropod that cares for its eggs? No way, scratch that - it will hurt our ratings and profits because it isn't what we think the "audience" wants to see. Big plant eaters HAVE to all be dimwits who can't tell their front from their rear! Didn't you new guys ever see Fantasia as a kid? And what's this - a raptor that actually has some realistic limitations on its strength? No way, that will also hurt our ratings and profits, everyone likes to see the bad guy win, the plant eater can only be allowed to live if he has horns..."
And in the end Dangerous Ltd. STILL never apologized, it was the Discovery Channel that finally bit the bullet and promised to fix Dangerous Ltd's dishonest editing of Matt's comments. Once again, Dangerous Ltd. has FAILED to apologize for its actions, which are still SLANDEROUS, UNETHICAL, and ILLEGAL.
I won't even bother putting up a "Wall of Shame" for the unrepentant guilty parties at Dangerous Ltd. - they've already done that job for me! Just click HERE to see who's who....
And unlike the quote-mining disaster, the Discovery Channel staff has shown no inclination or even INTEREST in remedying these obvious errors! And I've done my part by making them known to Discovery... This is corporate "science" at work my friends, and until you make your opinions known to Discovery Channel (which hired Dangerous Ltd. to do such a crappy job in the first place) then nothing will change. I encourage you all to write to Discovery about your concerns HERE. Just keep your complaints about the mistakes short and to the point, and avoid any insults or threatening language. Also be sure to make your voice heard by Dangerous Ltd. HERE, and inform their parent company Zodiak Entertainment of their subsidiary's dishonest and illegal behavior HERE (choose the "scripted products" email address). And this isn't some airy-fairy utopian fantasy ideal. Discovery did, after all, cave in and promise to fix the quote mining issue after Wedel and company turned up the heat on them. With enough grassroots email pressure they and Zodiak/Dangerous may well feel inclined to fix these other mistakes as well.