Clash of the Dinosaurs: Dangerous Ltd document their own dishonest editing

December 17, 2009

Right after I saw the show Sunday night, I wrote to the folks at Dangerous Ltd to point out their dishonest editing and to request an explanation (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this first). Today I finally got a response.

The message didn’t come with any formal or informal requests or warnings about not forwarding or reposting it whole or in part. It’s not all relevant so I won’t quote the whole thing, but it contains the evidence that proves that my claim against Dangerous Ltd is accurate, so I am posting the relevant bits.

For now, can I express our unreserved apologies for the clear fact that we incorrectly spelled your name in the show.

There follows a fairly long and complicated recounting of internal errors and  miscommunications. There is no mention of whether this is something that could be fixed in future broadcasts or in the DVD/Blu-ray release. But the apology is something, at least.

I believe you are also right in pointing out that Sauroposeidon was written incorrectly as Sauroposeiden in one of the ‘quiz bits’. I’m sorry to say that the quiz bits at commercial time were produced by Discovery, and although this part of the production process was beyond our control the least I can do is offer another apology.

I knew that this was probably the fault of the Discovery Channel and not Dangerous, which is why I  was careful to mention in the last post that it was something presented alongside the show and not as part of the show. There were other godawful quiz bits in the same broadcast, which is one reason I am not as quick to absolve the Discovery Channel of all responsibility for the failings of Clash of the Dinosaurs. I acknowledge that some of the shows they broadcast are quite good, but many others are terrible. In my opinion, the low quality of both Clash of the Dinosaurs and the quiz bits aired along with it are symptomatic of a general apathy toward scientific rigor at Discovery Communications; I don’t think that anyone with two neurons to rub together will be shocked by that statement.

Still, nice of them to apologize on behalf of the Discovery Channel; it’s a lot more than I’d get later on.

Now we get into the real meat:

As for the greater part of your concerns, re the part of the show concerning suggestions involving Sauroposeidon, I’ve taken a careful look at what you originally said compared to what was finally aired. In the original interview, you said:

Matt      14.45.08            Ok one of the curious things about saurapods is that they did have a swelling in the spinal chord in the neighbourhood of their pelvis.  And for a while it was thought that may be this was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body.  Erm there are a couple of misconceptions there.  One is that most animals control large part of their body with their spinal chord.  If you’re going through day to day operations like just walking down the street and your minds on something else your brain isn’t even involved in very much controlling your body.  A lot of that is a reflex arc that’s controlled by your spinal chord.

Quick aside: the technical term I was groping for here is not “reflex arc” but “central pattern generator”.

So its not just dinosaurs that are controlling their body with their spinal chord its all animals.  Now the other thing about this swelling at the base of the tail is we find the same thing in birds and its called the glycogen body.  It’s a big swelling in the spinal chord that has glycogen which is this very energy rich compound that animals use to store energy.  Problem is we don’t even know what birds are doing with their glycogen bodies.  Er the function is mysterious – we don’t know if the glycogen is supporting their nervous system – if its there to be mobilised help dry [should be 'drive' -ed.] their hind limbs or the back half of their body and until we find out what birds are doing with theirs we have very little hope of knowing what dinosaurs were doing with their glycogen bodies.

You can understand that a TV show for Discovery doesn’t always have the room to expand a complex argument. It must also accommodate the needs of all sections of the audience (including children) and while it must educate, it must simultaneously hold everybody’s attention. This said, this doesn’t mean there’s room for error. In the transcript of the final edit, you appeared to be saying:

One of the curious things about Sauropods is that they did have a swelling in the spinal cord, in the neighborhood of their pelvis.  This was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body.

There it is  in black and white. I was very clearly explaining why a misconception is no longer held, and they edited the tape to make me regurgitate the misconception as if it was not just a commonly accepted fact, but a fact that I accepted. That is beyond quote-mining, it is the most blatantly dishonest thing that you can do with someone’s recorded words. Let’s see what they have to say about it (quote continues with no omissions):

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.

Notice that there is not even a whiff of an apology anywhere in here. They were “ever aware of the demands of [the] audience”, this part “was perhaps [!] not edited with as much finesse as it could have been”, and they’re going to try to do better next time.

This is crap, crap, crap, just total crap from top to bottom. If you have a segment of an interview that covers ground that you decide is too complex for the audience, JUST DON’T AIR IT. Or, if you insist on presenting this very old and very stupid idea is if it is accurate and current, LEAVE ME OUT OF IT. But the one thing you don’t do is mangle my words to make it sound like I support it. And if you do commit that catastrophically stupid and unethical action, have the decency to apologize! Perhaps they didn’t because that would count as an admission of guilt?

This is not a joke and it is not a minor infringement. This is the broadest publicity that I have ever gotten or may ever get, the description of Sauroposeidon included. This is my professional competence and reputation on the line. This is not just careless editing, this is Dangerous Ltd deliberately making a liar out of me in front of millions of people.

This is intolerable.

What I’m Going To Do

I’m going to write back to Dangerous Ltd and request a copy of the release that I signed, to see what legal rights, if any, I may have to get this fixed. What would fixing it entail? Simple: I don’t care if they leave in the bit where they discuss the “second brain”, just cut out my speaking part. It’s probably all of ten seconds. They could even replace it with something or someone else, I don’t care. Just stop making me lie. I’d prefer to see that edited version replace the one currently in circulation, both for future broadcasts and for the DVD/Blu-ray release.

If they could fix my name while they’re at it, that would be nice, but it’s really small potatoes. “Matthew” Wedel is a dumb error, but it’s just an error. What they did in the ‘second brain’ segment is a lie, and one that is corrosive to my public credibility.

How You Can Help

Send this on to everyone you think might be interested, which potentially includes everyone who watches the Discovery Channel or likes dinosaurs. In particular, copy and paste the quoted section  above that includes the transcript of my interview; the best hope for me in the long run is for this evidence to be backed up in so many places that it can never be suppressed. I have no idea about the legal status of a chunk of text copied from an e-mail message to a blog post to someplace else on the internet. I care far more that what is posted here and elsewhere matches what Dangerous Ltd has on file; the latter ought to be subject to subpoena even if the former is not. Fellow bloggers and science bloggers, I’m asking for your help.

Dangerous Ltd turned my words around 180 degrees because they had to “accomodate the needs of the audience” and “hold everyone’s attention”. This shows stunning contempt for the audience, for the scientists who appeared on the show, and for the truth. Coming from a company that makes documentaries, I think it’s about the most damning statement possible. If you’re working with them, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

You, reading this post: you are the audience. If you disagree with the idea that Dangerous Ltd has to subvert the truth to hold your attention, or if you’d like to support my request that they fix the show by removing the dishonestly edited portion, please contact them here. I shouldn’t have to say it, but this is the net, so: if you do contact them about this, please be brief, stick to the facts, and don’t be abusive, threatening or profane.

I’ve already e-mailed all of the top officers of Dangerous Ltd and this non-apology is the closest to an official response that I’ve gotten or expect to get. It might also be worthwhile to contact Zodiak Entertainment, the parent company of Dangerous Ltd, and make sure that they are aware of how their subsidiary is representing them. You may do so here; the previous plea for brevity and moderation applies.

Finally, outfits like Dangerous Ltd will only be able to pull this kind of crap for as long as Discovery Communications lets them get away with it. The most relevant thing I’ve been able to find for them is the Viewer Relations contact page for Discovery.com, which is here. Please let them know how you feel–briefly and politely, as always.

Parting Shot

Many, many thanks to everyone who has written to me or commented here and elsewhere to show their support. The only way to get better science programming is to demand it. Please speak up!

UPDATE, about 1.5 hours after posting

Mike just pointed me to a post on the publicly archived VRTPALEO Mailing List by Alex Freeman, a BBC employee, that is highly relevant to my situation and maybe even crucial (I can’t link to it yet because the day’s posts haven’t been archived yet, but I will add it as soon as possible). Here’s the good bit:

I’d like to make clear that the BBC has a code of conduct which covers all of its output.  Fair representation of contributors is extremely strictly regulated and if anyone ever made edits like those described they would very quickly be out of a job, and the BBC would have to make a public statement and apology.

First question is, does Discovery Communications have a similar code of conduct (that they are willing to enforce in this case)? Second question is, when is Clash of the Dinosaurs slated to air in the UK, and will it be on the BBC? Dangerous, Zodiak, or Discovery may be willing to fix the problem on their own steam, and I want to give them the opportunity to do so. But if they won’t, hopefully the BBC will have both the clout and the will to get the job done.

Needless to say, this code of conduct would be a useful thing to mention in any communication to Dangerous Ltd, Zodiak Entertainment, or the Discovery Channel.

UPDATE, the next day

The Discovery Channel came through; they will not air the show again or release it on disc until the dishonest editing is fixed.

The real deal: Mike and me in the OMNH collections, with one and a half vertebrae of Sauroposeidon

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37 Responses to “Clash of the Dinosaurs: Dangerous Ltd document their own dishonest editing”


  1. [...] thing in dinosaurs. However come broadcast, the edit makes it appear as if he says this is correct. When he complains, the company admits the ‘error’ without apology or any real [...]

  2. davidmaas Says:

    In case someone is pressed for time, here’s my (very concise) text:

    I’d like to support Matt Wedel’s request (http://svpow.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/clash-of-the-dinosaurs-dangerous-ltd-document-their-own-dishonest-editing/) to have his misleading interview edit in “Clash of the Dinosaurs” altered in subsequent broadcasts, DVD’s etc. I consider this to be of great importance in regard to truthful representation of content.

  3. David Godfrey Says:

    I’ve not seen the programme yet. I’m kinda looking forward to it now, to see what other errors they’ve put in people’s mouths. If they’d wanted to preserve the essence of what you said they could have edited it down to…

    One of the curious things about sauropods is that they did have a swelling in the spinal chord in the neighbourhood of their pelvis. We find the same thing in birds and its called the glycogen body. Problem is until we find out what birds are doing with theirs we have very little hope of knowing what dinosaurs were doing with their glycogen bodies.

    OK so it glosses over much of what you said (including what glycogen is) but it gets across the idea that this is an area of uncertainty.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    David Godfrey’s suggested alternative edit of Matt’s “second brain” transcript also has this in its favour over the Dangerous Ltd. hatchet-job: it’s more interesting (and so more entertaining).

  5. Bart Luyckx Says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve just sent them an email with my concerns about their ‘scientific’ facts in your support.
    Hope they will at least learn their lessons from this major abuse of knowledge and maybe do something about it.
    greetings from snowy Belgium


  6. I’d sue the company if I were you, Matt. They had no right to do what they did in making a real bad dinosaur show.

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    I wouldn’t normally cross-post a comment from another blog, but “Neil”‘s comment on Darren’s Tetrapod Zoology article about this debacle is too good not to bring across here. He quotes the Discovery Channel’s “Leadership statement”, which can be found on their own corporate web-site right here:

    Discovery’s leadership is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct, and to fulfilling the original mission spelled out by Chairman and Founder John Hendricks in 1982:

    “To satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten.”

  8. David Marjanović Says:

    Now it dawns upon me.

    Those morons really believe that you really believe in the “2nd brain” hypothesis. They really believe you’re just quibbling about details. They really believe you took all that time just to prepare the “2nd brain” argument, you long-winded, detail-obsessed scientist, you. They didn’t listen to what they recorded and what they broacast, and they didn’t read the transcript either.

    It’s hard to believe that anyone – adult, literate, in business – could be as stupid as the average YouTube commenter. Yet here is the evidence.

    Now excuse me while I find out if I can break this metal-reinforced desk using only my (likely fused) frontal bones. There’s a sinus pair in them – someone will probably say it’s a shock absorber.

  9. Dan Horwitz Says:

    I think David M. is right. It seems like this was more of an unforgivably retarded misunderstanding of what you said than a deliberately dishonest act.

  10. Matt Wedel Says:

    It seems like this was more of an unforgivably retarded misunderstanding of what you said than a deliberately dishonest act.

    I submit that any outfit that can’t see that this is deeply dishonest is too unforgivably retarded to be presenting anything to the public. I say (to them, not you), keep your dumbass off my science!

  11. Larry Treadwell Says:

    Well, I understand having to edit for times sake.

    BUT they either didn’t understand what you trying to say or they didn’t care what you trying to say. And since this entire series is so littered with error, I imagine the latter is true.

    Matt,

    Do you know if Bakker or Larson or anyone else “interviewed” on this show have made any complaints about how they were quoted?


  12. Larry,

    I can’t say that I was taken out of context in this show or had my quotes chopped to mean something I didn’t mean (if so, I didn’t catch it!), so I have no (personal) complaints of that sort.

  13. Sarah Says:

    I think there is some truth in what David is saying. It may result from dumbassery, or it may result from NCLB’s continued assault on critically evaluative thinking in the classroom. Or it may result from an early mistake in the editing process that propagated because of a quick turnaround to meet a tight deadline.

    I bet a lot of these short documentaries are being made in the same way reality shows or other nonscripted media are made: you wind up with hundreds and hundreds of hours of tape, which has to be gone through, second by second, by a tape logger who notes what is happening when, the main ideas being said, and the quotable quotes. The tape loggers are likely to be overworked (more things to log in one night than there is time to watch), underpaid (did you know the tv industry doesn’t pay overtime, yet requires it from everyone when they are near deadline? it’s illegal, but true!). So the tape logger may be working at 3am (they have teams working round the clock) to get things done on an unreasonably short schedule, taking brief notes, with directions from his boss to find quotes on a given set of topics. If you are searching for keywords as fast as you can, you might not hear things right (we know they aren’t perfect, read the transcription errors in your email). They hear “there is a second brain in the pelvis”, note the time, and then move on to the next quote you have to find. Some of these guys are smart people, and some are not, but all are overworked and stressed from deadlines. The logger may get it right but all his boss sees on the paper that there is an appropriate quote at a given time, and this is propagated through the chain. The boss may look at the footage, hear the quote, and go, “ok” without hearing all of it. This may in turn greenlight some animation, or (more likely) the animation was already halfway done before the filming even started and they needed to find a quote to fit it. But I can assure you of this: the people you spoke with during filming will never interact with the tape logger, or his five immediate bosses. So if there is an error there, by the time it gets to someone you DID work with, it’s probably too late.

    I’m sure at some point SOMEONE has to look over these things in detail, so there is definitely a blamable failure at some point. But it’s highly possible that it’s not malicious or evil in how it happened. It very well might be a “OH SHIT, gotta cover my ass ’cause I want to get work when this project is done” situation. I was really surprised to learn how fast the turnaround is for these sorts of shows—the people working on them have a constant threat to their employment.

    I think this underscores the need to have clear, concise, highly quotable statements when dealing with the media. When you said, “And for a while it was thought that may be this was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body”, this probably would have been a good point to add something along the lines of “but scientists no longer think this is true”. Just to be clear, and just to make sure that it is obvious to anyone with half a brain/attention span/reasonable amount of time to get the job done. And the email is probably also a CMA move, since if Discovery has to deal with a “oh, please run only this edited version in the future” thing, they sure as hell aren’t going to hire them again.

    For the record, I think they should have apologized, owned up to it, and offered to cut Matt’s part from future releases. The effect is the same regardless of the intention.

  14. Matt Wedel Says:

    When you said, “And for a while it was thought that may be this was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body”, this probably would have been a good point to add something along the lines of “but scientists no longer think this is true”.

    As you can see in the transcript, my very next words were “there are a couple of misconceptions there”. Was I insufficiently clear?

  15. Zach Miller Says:

    Coming from the legal profession, Matt, I belive the relevant term here is slander.

  16. Lynn Wilhelm Says:

    I’ve been intrigued by your blog posts, Matt. I felt the need to do something. As I’ve been reading lately about skepticism at Greg Laden’s blog. I think the media are in a perfect position to be able to get accurate information out to the lay person like me. IF they choose to to it carefully.
    So, I sent this email to Dangerous Ltd.

    I have just heard from Matt Wedel about how you misrepresented his interview in your “Clash of the Dinosaurs” program recently broadcast on the Discovery Channel here in the US.
    You, the media, are a valuable connection between information that scientists provide and the general public–your audience. To misrepresent anything that information source provides is as good as lying to your audience. The science is exciting, and doesn’t need to be altered to make for an interesting program.
    Please reconsider how you work with your team to produce programs that can truly inform and entertain.
    Truth can be more interesting than fiction.

    Just note that what you have done is as bad as supporting those who use their flawed scientific knowledge to deny things like evolution, climate change and vaccine safety. If that’s your goal, please inform your collaborators so they are prepared.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
    Lynn Wilhelm

    I hope you get your apology, but even more, I hope they correct the errors they made.

  17. Amy Says:

    My kids were captivated for the most part. Of course now I’ve got to un-learn them about butt-brains, but that’s what I learned when I was growing up too, and just now un-learned thanks to you. The show had its failings, but from what I saw it portrayed you and the others in a very positive way, as paleontologists at the forefront of their field. My kids never cared about dinosaurs before. I think the film makers should have paid more attention, but I see no reason why they would want to make you look bad.


  18. [...] do what he promised, which is to fix the “second brain” segment exactly as I asked in the previous post! He said that the program would not be broadcast again until that segment was fixed, and that the [...]


  19. Keep at it. Here’s what I’ve learned from working in TV for 8 years

    1. The squeaky wheel will always get the oil, it just depends on HOW squeaky that wheel will get and who will finally throw up their hands and apply the oil (anywhere from producer to general manager, etc.)

    2. It is indeed a personal affront to your profession and to your individual work. Remember that the people who cut this thing are probably working from a printed script, and they may not have even attended/finished college. They may or may not get paid a reasonable wage and may or may not be abused daily at their job. Misquoting and erroneous writing happens ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME and they don’t like to issue retractions! No wonder there is such high turnover in TV Land.

    Keep at it.

  20. Blake Stacey Says:

    The “we had to edit for time” excuse doesn’t hold much water when the truth takes just as long to tell.

  21. Sebastian Marquez Says:

    Matt,

    I’ll send in my complaints. I just wish I had the time to send one as poorly edited as Homer Simpsons will…

  22. Daniel N. Says:

    This is why I rarely watch “documentaries” anymore and instead stick to the good ol’ reliable literature.

    I remember back in the mid 1990′s they had Venom Week on Discovery, which was awesome, and Shark Week back then rocked too. But then Discovery and the rest of the Cable news network sold their soul. It really is a shame watching “Hammerheads: Nomads of the Sea”, from 1998 compared to “Ocean of Fear” just a few years ago. I used to love shark week, now I never watch it.

    On a palaeontologically related note, I remember one doc from the early ’90′s discussing A ceratopsian skeleton and it discussed possible range of movement of the limbs with red ribbons. It was just really really informative. Now, they all suck.

  23. The message didn’t come with any formal or informal requests or warnings about not forwarding or reposting it whole or in part. It’s not all relevant so I won’t quote the whole thing, but it contains the evidence that proves that my claim against Da Says:

    Posting private correspondence without permission, selectively quoting it to support an agenda, accusing the author of malicious intent (despite apparent contrition), then calling them liars. This is the pot calling the kettle black.

  24. David Marjanović Says:

    I submit that any outfit that can’t see that this is deeply dishonest is too unforgivably retarded to be presenting anything to the public.

    Of course.

    Sarah’s comment is interesting, and deeply scary, in that regard.

  25. Aaron Says:

    I can actually see how someone who’s scientifically illiterate could mis-read that transcript to think you’re saying that the “second brain” hypothesis is correct. You did say, “There are a couple of misconceptions there,” but you followed that up with the facts that most animals control their movements with their spinal cords to some extent, and that birds and dinosaurs also have a glycogen body which may support the nervous system. Those are both things that could sound like clarifications of the “second brain” idea, rather than a refutation of it.

    Still, it really seems like they should have had an expert look over the final script for problems like this.

  26. Neuroskeptic Says:

    “I think this underscores the need to have clear, concise, highly quotable statements when dealing with the media.”

    Or don’t deal with the media and tell people about your work on your own blog. Fewer people will read it, but they’ll all actually learn stuff, as opposed to if you go on TV and ten million people misunderstand you because the media only gave you 10 badly edited seconds.

  27. Geoff Says:

    It occurred to me that the producer may not have realized you were making a distinction between the term ‘glycogen body’ and the spinal column, or that there was even debate about the role of the swelling. When you say there are a couple of misconceptions about the ‘second brain,’ then follow that by saying that all animals control their bodies through their spinal chord – not just dinosaurs, it’s plausible someone could infer that you’re confirming the role of the swelling as controlling the body without the brain, with the caveat that it’s not just for dinosaurs, it’s for all animals. Then you go on to talk about birds. Obviously what you said was clear on paper, and you owe no one any further explanation, but I do think there is room for misunderstanding by a non-scientist, especially since there’s no clear denial in your statement of the idea of the second brain. How else could anyone think the edited version reflects the meaning of what you said? The producer’s email suggests he believes it does. What does trouble me a bit is that he offered to call to ensure your concerns were properly heard. Did you at least take the call and hear him out before you crucified him online?

  28. Matt Wedel Says:

    What does trouble me a bit is that he offered to call to ensure your concerns were properly heard. Did you at least take the call and hear him out before you crucified him online?

    Here’s a timeline:

    Sunday night I saw the show, and e-mailed the general comment line and all four of the top officers of Dangerous Ltd before I went to bed. I also composed most of the “Damned Lies” post that evening, but didn’t post it.

    Monday evening I finished the “Damned Lies” post and put it up. SV-POW! runs on Greenwich time, so it is dated Tuesday morning.

    Nothing happened on Tuesday.

    Wednesday evening I got the e-mail from Dangerous with the interview transcript. I didn’t wait for the promised call. I was taking on three big companies and all I had on my side was the evidence of quote-mining, so I posted it as rapidly as I could. At this point, it had been three days since I had first contacted them, the only reply they’d sent attempted to justify the quote-mining instead of apologizing for it. I had zero hope that they were going to do anything about it.

    Thursday morning I had a voicemail from an executive at the Discovery Channel. I called him back right after breakfast, he promised to fix the show, and I blogged the news as soon as I could.

    The promised call from Dangerous finally came today (Friday). It came when I was driving in traffic, and with the time difference, the soonest time that worked for both of us was tomorrow morning. I don’t know if the outcome of the call will be worth blogging; as far as I’m concerned, the whole problem was resolved when I got off the phone with the Discovery exec yesterday.

    At least one other commenter has accused me of unethical behavior in posting from someone else’s e-mail without permission. In my view, if someone makes a liar out of you and then sends you the evidence and doesn’t apologize, you’re justified in publicizing that. At the time I was halfway expecting to get slapped with a lawsuit, and felt that my best defense was to spread the evidence so far that a cease-and-desist would be meaningless. If some people think I was a dick for doing so, I can live with that.


  29. [...] quote-mining is a behavior one associates with the creationist movement. So it is shocking when the Discovery channel and Dangerous Ltd (makers of Clash of Dinosaurs) engages in the same behavior. The main culprit here is Dangerous Ltd which made the show… [...]

  30. Geoff Says:

    I just caught up on the next post and am really pleased the problem is resolved. Sorry you had to deal with that.


  31. [...] brought this (and other errors) to the attention of the production company. Their response? They went ahead with the “second brain” myth because their audiences would not be able [...]


  32. [...] understandably flipped out. He complained to the producers and got back a non-apology that just made him angrier. He was transformed into the terrible Blogosaurus, and with his resonant [...]

  33. Miller Donaldson Says:

    I really don’t see what the big deal is. “Acted as sort of a second brain” is basically a simplified version of your explanation. The fact that reflexes in your spinal cord control much of your movement makes it very much like a second brain. Basically, your speech was too long and contained words that the average person wouldn’t understand, so they simplified it and presented it in a single sentence is what I’m getting from all this. As for other inaccuracies, such as the Parasaurolophus’s “secret weapon”, there is an explanation for that too. Parasaurolophus isn’t a very impressive dinosaur, so they spiced it up for the documentary. I don’t think Discovery would deliberately fill peoples’ heads with nonsense.

  34. Matt Wedel Says:

    I really don’t see what the big deal is. “Acted as sort of a second brain” is basically a simplified version of your explanation.

    No, it’s not, for reasons I’m about to explain.

    The fact that reflexes in your spinal cord control much of your movement makes it very much like a second brain.

    No, no, no! The entire spinal cord, in all vertebrates, has pattern generators. They were asking specifically about the sacral expansion in sauropods. Telling people that that specific part of the spinal cord acted like a second brain is wrong, in the sense of being incorrect, and doing so by quote mining me is wrong, morally.

    Basically, your speech was too long and contained words that the average person wouldn’t understand, so they simplified it and presented it in a single sentence is what I’m getting from all this.

    Wrong again. In interviews for documentaries, it’s very common for the interviewee to say something long and complex, and for the interviewer and interviewee to spend the next 10-15 minutes working through various permutations to find a way to convey th complex idea in the simplest terms possible. To a first approximation, that’s what documentary work is all about. So the fact that I said something complex wasn’t unusual. The dishonest editing was.

    As for other inaccuracies, such as the Parasaurolophus’s “secret weapon”, there is an explanation for that too. Parasaurolophus isn’t a very impressive dinosaur, so they spiced it up for the documentary. I don’t think Discovery would deliberately fill peoples’ heads with nonsense.

    Your last sentence contradicts the one immediately previous. Making up bullcrap to “spice it up” is filling peoples’ heads with nonsense.

    If you’d rather be lied to, knock yourself out.


  35. [...] reading Lies, damned lies, and Clash of the Dinosaurs Clash of the Dinosaurs: Dangerous Ltd document their own dishonest editing Clash of the Dinosaurs: The Discovery Channel steps up A scientist is QUOTE MINED on a Discovery [...]


  36. […] TV, the editors deliberately chopped his words until he endorsed the idea. Only after he issued a bitter complaint did Discovery try to set his words straight … long after the myth was spread to thousands of […]

  37. Discovery Channel is garbage Says:

    I just got this series….I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    The pattern of the whole show is stereotypically Discovery Channel – dramatic CG scene / roaring dinosaur -> cut to talking head -> cut to dramatic CG scene. The ratio of facts to filler is pretty low.

    It isn’t ALL bad, but it does remind me of the reason why I cut cable TV completely (3 years now) and haven’t missed it. Discovery Channel used to be awesome back in the late 90s / early 2000s when I watched it. Now it’s full of reality TV shows and fakeumentaries.

    Now, when I get to watch cable TV at other peoples’ places and I have the TV to myself, I switch to “How it’s Made” and that other Science channel in order to get my fix.

    The sad thing is the general public doesn’t know or care enough about this to voice their concerns, even if they had any. They’d much rather be catching up with the Kardashians, or tuning in to hear about Justin Bieber, or seeing reality TV shows where contestants / participants are at each others throats.


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