Break the Fake Part 2: Detective Boogaloo

Are mermaids real!!?? (Of course they aren’t; don’t be ridiculous.)

It was snowing. The kind of snow which reminded you that Christmas was coming. But I, Edgar, private eye, wasn’t feeling very merry. The only present I was getting was the present, and presently I was clueless on my latest case. It’s not that I couldn’t find any clues, but I had a bad case of not finding a case.

The clock was ticking like a bomb. A single lunch period was all I had left to finish my assignment, and I was wasting it on pretending to be a detective.

I did technically have one case, but alas, the case required me to find another case. A case within a case. I’ll cut to the chase.

My assignment? To break the fake. I was asked to shine a little more truth on this world of shadows and deceit by finding an article or video which needed to be verified as true or false.

I searched around for a long while, and finally, after perusing random piles of posts everywhere I could look, I found a Reddit post asking about whether a video on YouTube about mermaids was real or not. I had my case at last, and I was going to crack it better than my eggs in foods class (but really, egg shells are a good source of calcium, so I don’t think it was that big a deal).

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

The video showed a submarine in the Greenland Sea bumping into a supposed mermaid’s hand, and it claimed that the government halted new oil drilling licenses in Greenland because of this. It was an excerpt from the documentary Mermaids: The New Evidence, posted by the Animal Planet YouTube channel in 2013. (I am aware that this content isn’t current, but the repost was recent, and the top comments on the video were almost all no older than a year. Often, this is how misinformation circulates; rehashing and recycling old content with a new coat of paint.)

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.Animal Planet is part of Discovery, which is quite well known. The YouTube channel was indeed verified and had 5.25 million subscribers. The video itself had nearly 8.5 million views and 60,000 likes. From my experience, 60,000 likes is a smaller number for a video with so many millions of views, so if there were many dislikes, it could be a clue that something was wrong with the video. Too bad YouTube just decided to remove dislikes from every video in existence. Anyway, I took a look at the comments instead. I scrolled through for quite a length of time, but I couldn’t find anything suggesting the video to be fake.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.
Yes, I am using dark mode for the internet. I also use it for all Microsoft applications. For some reason that seems to offend some people.

I did a Google search of the Discovery Channel, and it turns out that though they make real nature documentaries, they also make many fake documentaries, using their public image as leverage for views.

I wanted to dive deeper into this documentary, so I went and checked Snopes, a well-regarded fact-checking website, to see what they had to say. Mermaids: The New Evidence was not on Snopes, but I learned it was a follow-up to Mermaids: The Body Found (2011). This documentary was deemed false.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.Looking again at the Animal Planet Channel, there was an excerpt from the first (and much less grounded) documentary with CGI mermaids attacked by a CGI shark, and most of the comments acknowledged it was nothing but a mockumentary; not meant to be taken seriously, but it was taken so by some nonetheless. It seemed doubtful that the creators of a fake documentary would suddenly decide to do everything for real in its sequel.

Oh. You can't see the image. Lucky you.
Don’t look into the mermaid’s eyes . . . You looked, didn’t you? Now this image will be forever burned into your brain. Why does it haunt you? Why does it send shivers through your scared soul? And if you aren’t scared, oh, you should be. You should be.

Still, I wanted solid evidence against this particular documentary. So, I did a Google search, using keywords like “Animal Planet,” “mermaid,” and “fake.”

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

The articles I saw all addressed both documentaries as being fake, and many of them were by reliable sources like the L.A. Times.

Furthermore, I looked at the IMDb (International Movie Database) page for the documentary, and it led me to learn that the supposed Dr. Paul Robertson was actually played by an actor by the name of David Evans.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

And with that, the case was closed, and the case within the case as well. But the case was also cracked, so when I tried to close it, it kind of crumpled into a mess.

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