Aug 22 2012
This article falls a little outside of our normal scope for Battle of the Bilge articles but it does involve a government cover-up that goes as far as creating a fake web page that gives the appearance that the website was seized by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations.
A recent TV show, dressed up as a documentary, about mermaids caused quite a stir. The show claims to provide evidence of the existence of mermaids and a subsequent government cover-up. All footage of these so-called mermaids depicts scary Computer Generated Images (CGI) of thin blue people with tails. Appropriately, the show debuted at the end of Animal Planet’s Monster Week.
Promotion of the Show
The promotional information on the show is misleading. The carefully crafted press release implies that all of the information presented is fact when it is not. If your carefully review their word choice you will notice the words “story”, “film” and “evolutionary possibility”.
A description of Mermaids: The Body Found on the Animal Planet website.
Mermaids: The Body Found makes a strong case for the existence of the mermaid, a creature with a surprisingly human evolutionary history, whose ancestral branch splits off from a shared human root. The film is science fiction, using science as a springboard into imagination and centering the story on the following real-world events:
•In the early 1990s, the US Navy began a series of covert sonar tests, which were linked to mass die-offs of whales, which washed up on beaches throughout the world. For years, the Navy denied they were responsible for these beachings.
•In 1997, scientists at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded a mysterious sound (called “The Bloop”) in the deep Pacific, which was thought to be organic in nature. It has never been identified.
These are facts.
Mermaids: The Body Found is a story that imagines how these real-world phenomena may be related. In this story, startling amateur video and photographic evidence, as well as additional audio recordings, suggests whales weren’t the only creatures affected by the Navy’s sonar. The film follows the two scientists who tracked the whale beachings for years and delivers first-hand, on-camera accounts of what they claim to have discovered in the aftermath of one particular beaching. Their story is nothing less than fantastical: they claim to have found the remains of a mermaid.
With compiled amateur footage, including photos and video shot by deep-sea fishermen that never have been shown in the US, as well as cinema-quality CGI, Mermaids: The Body Found argues how a mythical creature – one of humankind’s most enduring legends – may be real. It depicts how mermaids may have evolved from the early human family tree and persisted into the present day.
Mermaids: The Body Found is so compelling with evidence and so credible, audiences can see it a second time when it repeats Monday, May 28, from 7-9 PM ET/PT as Monster Week comes to a close.
Mermaids: The Body Found is a story about evolutionary possibility grounded in scientific theory, which blends real-life events and phenomena with a first-hand account of a team of government scientists who testify they found the remains of a never-before-identified sea creature with ties to human origins—a mermaid. Stunning computer animation, eyewitness video and photographic evidence shows us what the mermaid looks like, and questions are raised about whether the government is involved in a massive cover-up, hiding information about the possible survival of these creatures and if they exist today.
Adding to the confusion is where the show aired. It originally aired on Animal Planet, a network known for non-fiction content related to animals. Clearly this show was intended for entertainment purposes with just enough misdirection thrown in to increase ratings.
The Aquatic Ape Theory
The scientific theory used in the show, is the Aquatic Ape Theory. This theory uses physiological differences between humans and apes as proof of an aquatic phase during the evolution of humans. This theory has few supporters and was generally dismissed for failing to support the idea that human ancestors were aquatic after a 1987 symposium in Valkenburg, the Netherlands.
Statement from NOAA
The film follows the two scientists who tracked the whale beachings for years and delivers first-hand, on-camera accounts of what they claim to have discovered in the aftermath of one particular beaching.
The show included interviews from two actors portraying NOAA scientists claiming to have discovered proof of mermaids. Due to increased inquiries, NOAA released a statement on their website to clarify that no evidence of mermaids has been found.
But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.
A website created to go along with this TV show, http://believeinmermaids.com/ sports a fake government seizure image. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) generally seize sites for engaging piracy or sales of illegal or false goods aimed at citizens of the U.S.A.
The US Code sections quoted on the page are 18 U.S.C. § 286, § 287, and § 371. Sections 286 and 287 of the Title 18 of the US Code refer to filing fraudulent claims against the government. Section 371 of Title 18 of the US Code refers to conspiracy to commit a crime or defraud the government.
Scientific theories or information about the existence of mermaids would not fall under the jurisdiction of the DOJ and HSI. This domain name does not appear on any list of DOJ or HIS seizures.
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