"IS THE YELLOWSTONE SUPERVOLCANO ABOUT TO ERUPT?"
"DID A PSYCHIC OCTOPUS PREDICT THE OUTCOME OF THE WORLD CUP?"
"DOES THE MAYAN CALENDAR SAY THE WORLD WILL END IN DECEMBER?"
I ran into an especially good example of that yesterday, an article entitled, "DO MERMAIDS EXIST?" Unfortunately, however, the article that followed consisted of more than one word, because the aforementioned law has yet to be passed in the Senate, and also because it was written by noted wingnut and Skeptophilia frequent flyer Dirk Vander Ploeg.
Apparently, the question of whether mermaids really exist is the subject of a recent show on Animal Planet. Myself, I have to question this choice of topics. Given that there's no way they can have already featured each of the ten million species of real animals, there's no reason to move on to the fictional ones quite yet. Be that as it may, they did an entire episode during "Monster Week" on the subject of mermaids, and this just thrills Dirk Vander Ploeg to pieces.
Vander Ploeg is always good for inadvertent humor, and he doesn't fail us here, starting with the first paragraph:
The new documentary, which aired on Sunday night as part of Animal Planet’s “Monster Week,” pieces together a few interesting facts to come to the improbable conclusion that mermaids, like bigfoot, the chupacabra, and vampires, may exist.Yup. Mermaids exist just like Bigfoot, Chupacabra, and vampires do. Exactly that way, in fact.
So, where's the evidence? Vander Ploeg doesn't shy away from this question, and he blames the dearth of evidence for mermaids on the entity that is responsible for so many of the world's problems -- the US government:
In fact, “Mermaids: The Body Found,” claims that several scientists have proven the existence of mermaids. But thanks to the shady government, the evidence has been hidden or destroyed. One of the whistle-blowing scientists said, “The feeling was like something out of Orwell. This was Big Brother. They were rewriting history. Basically writing this creature out of existence.”Oh, okay, that's plausible. I can just see the Joint Chiefs of Staff coming together and saying, "Enough with this nonsense of addressing the economy, international trade policy, and terrorism. We have a much more pressing problem -- how do we cover up the evidence for mermaids?"
Vander Ploeg then goes on to address the origins of mermaids, and here he quotes Charlie Foley, who directed the "Mermaids" episode on Animal Planet:
Charlie Foley, who wrote and directed the film, bases his theory largely on the amount of mermaid references in old sea-tales. "The seafaring Greeks described (Mermaids). As did the Vikings, as did the Chinese during their greatest period of maritime exploration. They are recorded in medieval manuscripts, and even into the 19th century."Because obviously, things recorded in old Greek, Viking, and Chinese manuscripts have to be real. Like the Cyclops, Midgard's Serpent, and the Celestial Dragon. But wait -- there's the scientific angle to the whole thing. We don't just have to rely on mythology, Foley says:
The fact is there are animals that have moved from the land into the sea. Could it have happened to humans? And with aquatic ape theory, if there’s anything to it, what is the logical extension of it if we continued going in that direction. The idea is that people pulled back and we stopped evolving into a marine animal, into an aquatic animal. But what if we kept going? And that to me, knowing that it’s happened before knowing that it’s real science with other animals. Could it have happened with one branch of the human family tree?I'll simply invoke my proposed law here: "No."
Vander Ploeg, of course, can't resist adding his own two cents' worth regarding the origins of mermaids:
I have come to believe that Mermaids and Mermen do exist or at least did exist. I believe that they were created by the Annunaki to mine gold below the waves, perhaps in the deep oceans of the world. If gods did create us, as I believe, then it makes sense, in fact its seems probable that ancient astronaut scientists altered various species' DNA to create creatures: perhaps 50 per cent human and 50 per cent fish. If this hypothesis is correct that perhaps the minotaur and other alleged fabled creatures also existed.Ah, it's all becoming clear. A race of aliens that doesn't exist created a species of humanoid that also doesn't exist by splicing together human and fish DNA. I get it now. I only have one more thing to say, and the more sensitive members of the studio audience might want to plug their ears:
WILL YOU NIMRODS STOP BLATHERING ON ABOUT SCIENCE AS IF YOU ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD IT? BECAUSE YOU'RE PISSING OFF THOSE OF US WHO ACTUALLY DO. THANK YOU.