Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

I used to like the History Channel

with 23 comments


I’ve been sick the past few days so I’ve been laying around watching the History Channel. And frankly, I’ve been appalled. Like clockwork on any number of documentaries they have confidently stated things that were so wrong and misleading that it made me want to scream. In come cases I got so angry I did yell, just before turning off the TV in disgust. I could easily devote a whole blog to “Silliness told by the History Channel.” Sigh. Then I’d get sued, run up enormous debts defending myself, get thrown in debtors prison (I believe Cheney is planning on bringing that back) and spend the rest of my days racing cockroaches. So I’ll limit myself to one blog post. And I’m going somewhere with this, so bear with me.

Japanese jets. I watched a show about Japanese secret weapons during World War Two. Cool enough, had some nice footage, one of the main reasons I watch the show. Turns out near the end of the war the Japanese were working on copies of the German ME-163 and ME-262. Now this was quite amazing actually, and was something I hadn’t known. Then the show showed this fanciful graphic of a swarm of Japanese jets attacking an American carrier fleet…and claimed that the war could have turned out differently if the Japanese had been able to build fleets of these jet aircraft.

Sigh. And that’s when I start screaming, because what can at best be described as an entertaining childish idea has been presented as some sort of serious historical speculation. Why is this scenario silly? Because Japan had no fuel for such aircraft. They had no pilots for such aircraft, (Japan foolishly lost virtually all of its trained and experienced pilots and naval gunners early in the war, and spent the rest of the war fighting with barely trained gun crews and pilots.) And tactics for how to use jet aircraft had not yet been developed, having a weapon doesn’t mean you know how to use it effectively…something the German’s aptly demonstrated with their jets in World War Two. And even if by some magical means Japan had managed to get a few squadrons of these planes up and forced the USA to curtail its B-29 attacks on Japanese cities, so what? The war was still lost, they had no fleet, Japan was starving and cut off from what little colonies it had. Even if the allies lost 100 planes for every Japanese jet they shot down jet, the outcome of the war would have remain unchanged. I mean, I have no problem with sci fi fantasy scenarios (Dear God no, I mean, I’m a modern Walter Mitty,) but let’s not interject them into a historical documentary without warning labels.

Sigh. So I turn on the TV to see what’s playing on the History Channel and they are doing a special on Nostradamus. More screaming. Short summary: Nostradamus wrote a book full of nonsense poems. After the fact, some people noticed vague similarities between historical events and some of his poems. Nostradamus was hailed as one of history’s great seers ever since. One little problem. Note the “after the fact” in the above sentence. If one connects the prophecy to the event after the fact, no actual prophecy has taken place. Or as Wikipedia puts it “…none of the sources listed offers any evidence that anyone has ever interpreted any of Nostradamus’s quatrains specifically enough to allow a clear identification of any event in advance.” In other words, there’s no there, there. If it were a show about why people believe silly things and the role that myth and mystery play in society, OK then. Sadly it wasn’t, it gave aid and comfort to the idea that Nostradamus predicted the future.

I go to their web site and it’s no better. What’s the big news on the History Channel? Their new show tonight called UFO Hunter. Sigh. You know, more than anyone I would love to believe that aliens are flitting around overhead (as long as they weren’t big alien pigeons I suppose.) Unfortunately I’ve spent years looking at the evidence and concluded what any rational person would conclude, there’s no reason to think that UFOs are anything other than misidentification of known or unknown natural phenomena, there’s no need to invoke aliens and no evidence that suggests aliens. I don’t have a problem with people looking for aliens, whatever, and one may show up sooner or later…but for now there’s nothing to research or hunt. This sort of show panders to the idea, along with a whole ilk of similar shows, that there is scientific and logical controversy and enquiry when in fact there is none.

So frankly this blurring between sober fact and sensational childish fantasy really bugs me, because I think it really hurts people’s abilities to thing logically about issues. It also really annoys me because science and history is rich with real mysteries and amazing events, why the hell can’t they promote those instead of the grocery store check out line variety? Instead we have grown-ups playing silly games in the woods with video cameras, and getting paid good money to muddy people’s brains about what constitutes science and research.

And by no means is the History Channel the only entity that is blurring the line between fantasy and reality these days, but I will leave the gentle reader to ponder that one. And yes, I even still tell people to watch the History Channel, but take what they say with a good dose of salt. Sigh. Coming soon, a post about Cincinnatus, an amazing man who did something truly incredible, and even better…it really happened!

(The above image of the Adamski Saucer is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is a low resolution version, and it is arguably the most famous UFO hoax picture in history. Here’s a hint for telling fake UFO researcher’s from real UFO researchers: A real researcher would use a 16 mm camera or some other device that yielded an image that could be subjected to spectrographic analysis to determine what the object was made of, and they would use two of them carefully slaved together with a clock so that they could use parallax to determine how far away the object is and how big it is. Might just be useful information, ya think? If someone watches the show, let me know if it addresses either of these issues, I’m betting it doesn’t.)

Written by unitedcats

January 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm

23 Responses

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  1. “So frankly this blurring between sober fact and sensational childish fantasy really bugs me, because I think it really hurts people’s abilities to think logically about issues.”

    Isn’t this what TV is/has always been about?..

    If people allow television to blur their ability to think logically, well then they probably watch too much.. ;)

    Not trying to squash your rant, I’m with ya nearly 100% on most of it.. but.. Really, expecting anything but sensationalism from a TV channel (any TV channel) is, how would you say.. Expecting too much?

    Franklin Handkerchief

    January 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm

  2. “Evidence” So many people continue to say that they want to see evidence of ufo’s/aliens. There is so much evidence out there it will blow your mind. Why doesn’t someone catch an alien to show you? They have been caught, but this has been attempted to be covered up. I wouldn’t recommend the average ufo witness to go trying to catch an alien. Have you ever watched anything on Phil Schneider? Evidence… There are thousands upon thousands of people trying to give you this. Pictures upon videos, but this isn’t good enough. 400 government officials, highly decorated military personnel, Nasa officials on and on have come forward willing to testify before congress that aliens and ufo’s are real. They have stacks upon stacks of documents, photos, video, audio tapes to prove this along with their word. This was the “Disclosure Project” Come on now, if you really want to know, evidence is out there. I am one person trying to tell you that I have witnessed the real thing. It really doesn’t matter who believes me, but I am here to try to get the truth that has been denied to us out there. I have nothing to gain by doing this.
    UFO’s And The Star People Here you will find plenty of evidence. I have only begun, so I know that there is a whole lot more out there to look at in order to discover the truth. Thank you for this post. :)


    January 31, 2008 at 2:05 am

  3. What I find fascinating about the comment above (and so much other UFO documentation) is that the word “Jesus” can be substituted for “UFO” without any loss of meaning. No insult to the people who believe Jesus or aliens are about to be revealed in the flesh, but I’ve heard it all before. Interesting topic though, and I will blog on some famous UFO cases at some point. And hey, a UFO could land on the White House lawn tomorrow, it’s certainly not impossible.


    January 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

  4. Chuckled at the ‘400 governmental officials’ reference. This would amount to maybe one out of every 400,000 folk involved in some level of government in North America.

    Even the ‘CIA/Mossad mined the World Trade Center conspiracists” can do better than that. But, just in case, I still wear my tin hat to bed….


    February 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm

  5. What I dislike is the duplication of shows on the History Channel and Discovery. “Human Weapon” and “Fight Quest”. “The Deadliest Catch” and “Ice Road Truckers”. Sort of like “The Real World” and “Road Rules”. One channel has a good original show and then a red headed step-child pops up.

    History Channel needs to get back to the basics: Nazis.


    February 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm

  6. […] a prior post I promised to tell the story of Cincinnatus, a famous Roman politician and leader. He had a […]

  7. […] the one hand I suppose getting upset about stuff like this is pointless, but as in my railing against the history channel, this sort of thing really lowers the general level of public education and understanding. And […]

  8. Once upon a time there was educational television.
    You could learn all kinds of real facts, history, and science from watching. But then big conglomerate companies got hold… but no seriously. What might happen if the American, or World population was actually informed as well as entertained? What would happen if they could tell the difference between fiction and fact? It’s frightening what might happen., no truly frightening!

    J C

    July 14, 2008 at 12:03 am

  9. the bubing down of television is just astounding. I mean when the history channel showed shit about World War two at least it had something to do with history. Now all it is is hunting UFOs, Nostradamus, other doomsday scenarios, and hunting Bigfoot oh then they had a two hour show about the supposed stealing of Lincolns casket. It is maddening how far TV has fallen it really is becoming a crap heap.

    Peter Irving

    March 9, 2009 at 8:38 am

  10. i really like historychannel thou…

    they have some very nice documentaries…


    April 1, 2009 at 10:04 pm

  11. Orwell was right!!
    The History Channel would be aptly named if it were a fictitious channel in George Orwell’s 1984. For those that prefer reality however, the History Channel should be renamed “The Speculation Channel”. I watched an episode of UFO Hunters last night because it featured my place of work, Brookhaven National Laboratory. I knew History Channel had strayed from their core competency, but now I realize just how disturbingly full of shit they have become. As far as I’m concerned, watching this channel is about as educational as buying a fistful of lotto tickets. I used to watch shows about World War II and think “Wow, that was a crazy and terrible time. This is evidence that the world can really go to hell if we aren’t careful.” And that, I feel, was a worthwhile notion, we are supposed to learn from the mistakes of our forefathers in addition to our own. Nowadays, where there once were gritty black and white photos or video of historic events there are now computer simulations of what things might look like if such-and-such ever happened. I don’t mean to harp on WWII but that did used to be the core content of the channel, and now it seems it is all but gone. If the Second World War is now far enough in the past that we needn’t remember it, then the time for us to repeat it must be drawing near.


    May 21, 2009 at 6:46 am

  12. […] balderdash. This would even include the History Channel, which has gone downhill since I wrote this post. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself, sometimes I think the world […]

  13. The History Channel is pathetic. They show virtually nothing of any intellectual, academic or historic value. It’s just a bunch of sensational nonsense on UFO’s, Nostradamus and 2012 apocalypse scenarios that any person who simply paid attention in science class should be able to debunk. I understand that these things bring in the advertising dollars, but I find it deplorable. Airing such nonsense on the History Channel gives many people the idea that these ideas are actually credible. In fact, the documentaries on these nonsense subjects consistently fail to properly debunk ideas that are easily debunkable. They spread misinformation, like the idea that the Mayans believed that the world would end in 2012 (they didn’t, but even if they did I wouldn’t find this particularly troubling).

    Oh how I wish we had a real history channel. One that has credibility and airs programs that are actually relevant to the study of history. Perhaps we should get an open letter to the History Channel going.


    September 20, 2009 at 9:17 am

  14. Can the History Channel be sued for false advertising?
    Since they show very little history, if any at all certain days, isn’t that false advertising? I really not interested in red necks hunting gators, or two idiots going around the country picking things up, guys with axes chopping down forests and destroying our wilderness. I’m wondering what their definition of History is. Have they been to school? Taken history classes? Give the reality show crap a rest, go back to history, become the channel you once were.


    October 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm

  15. Honestly, they should change it from the History Channel to the “Mystery Channel”. I hate how they time after time state very out science claims as facts. They act like all that Nostradamus/Alien stuff DID happen and is correct, when it is obvious that there is no scientific proof for any of it. The Nostradamus stuff never specifically talks about anything, its so vague it can apply anywhere. Over and over again the “Mystery Channel” feels like im watching a conspiracy documentary.

    Cody M

    January 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm

  16. I’ve been watching the history channel while I’m stuck in a hotel on a business trip and can’t for the lift of me figure out why they have “history” in the title. Ice Road Truckers, Most Dangerous Roads, Ax Men — where is the history? Even a show guessing what Japan would do in 1946 would be superior to the crap they’re showing now.


    January 30, 2011 at 8:13 am

  17. The history channel is shit they play the same fucking thing day in day out the person in charge should do us all a favour….go up to the top floor if your not there already open the window nice and wide and jump the fuck out you mug.


    January 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

  18. Couldn’t agree more. I was watching a show they had about samurai and specifically Miyamoto Musashi. They had so many incorrect facts that i couldn’t help but send them an e-mail pointing it out. They sad that in the Shinto creation myth the islands dripped off the tip of a katana. However, in the Nihongi, an ancient Japanese text that includes elements of mythology and history, it is clearly stated that the islands fell from a spear. Not only this, it would have been impossible for the people living at the time of the creation of the myth to know about katanas as the earliest versions of katanas were not developed for a few hundred years after that and the modern katana was not invented until about 1300 years later. They also misrepresented Musashi’s first duel showing him using a sword when every biography I have read says he used a bo staff. They also mistranslated a few Japanese words. And when they had a chance to go into interesting historical details regarding the war between the Tokugawa and Toyotomi they only mentioned it as a war between east and west. I was outraged when they didn’t even bother to acknowledge my corrections and never responded to my e-mail.


    June 30, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  19. Nice, I just googled the history channel is full of bullshit and this was the first hit. Nice.


    August 1, 2011 at 11:24 pm

  20. Hahahahah…I googled why is the history channel so full of shit. I can’t believe this was the first and best hit when I just saw a “documentary” on the “life” of Jesus Christ in which we were asked to suspend our critical thought processes while “experts” delved deep into the theoretical impact of this theoretical figure without having first proven that he existed in the first place.

    Nova is the only thing left that is still worth watching. The rest of it is just poison.


    November 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

  21. It’s simple, when the History Channel was show factual historically documented shows with true authenticity for some reason that stopped getting high ratings. Now you start showing crap, about Pawn Shops, dumb Cajuns in the bayou, Truckers driving on ice, and all kinds of other bullshit, suddenly the advertising revenue starts rolling in. Just goes to show you the decadence of the American TV viewer. Less interested in historical truth, fact, and logic, and would rather be “entertained” instead of “informed” or “enlightened”. This is evident, just look at what’s the highest rated News channel FOX news. Need I say more?


    November 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm

  22. It’s the best time to make some plans for the long run and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting issues or suggestions. Maybe you could write subsequent articles referring to this article. I desire to learn more issues approximately it!

    howard stern

    December 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm

  23. There were a lot of channels that I used to like but now like the history channel all they do is feed the pooper hole

    Ron Simon

    July 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

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