Monday, 14 July 2014

Big Foot

Some TV shows annoy me, perhaps even more than the adverts. Sandra is watching something on Nat Geo Wild about big foot.

For a start it is one of those documentaries that you get on Nat Geo and Discovery that are clearly written for someone with the attention span of a goldfish with Alzheimer's, repeating the same things over and over again every two minutes.

But then it is also one of those documentaries that try to present some sort of science, or purport to do so at the very least.

They did a load of stuff on analysis of the classic big foot film footage by Patterson–Gimlin. All sorts of computer simulation and animation, motion capture of an actor trying to do the same gait, etc. All supposedly impressive stuff with no real conclusion.

But then they throw in something about hair samples. Apparently big foot hair samples have been collected but inconclusive in DNSA sampling. So they explain how they managed to get some more big foot hair samples with some sort of trap that is a barbed wire connected to some sort of gorilla pheromone and used to snag some hair. They get a hair sample, and it is not like human or primate DNSA or hair type but similar to both. And that was then end of that...

But wait, what? They placed a trap and got what they think is big foot hair?!?!!

So, (a), what happened to the dozens cameras that they must surely have placed around the trap at the time? Surely? They did not place it with no cameras? That would be madness.

But, (b) assuming some brain numbing insanity meant they did not place cameras, they have none the less discovered a way to attract a big foot. So what the hell, do it again, and this time place cameras. Do it 50 times and place cameras at every site. If this was really big foot they attracted then they would get so much media coverage from actually catching one, even if only on good quality film, let alone in real life, surely they have to make use of this trick for luring a big foot? But no, they gloss over the fact that the hairs must be big foot, but that is that...

I mean, the whole thing had bugger all credibility as a documentary in the first place, but it really does fall apart if you try watching it. It was a mistake to watch it, sorry.


  1. What were you saying earlier about the intelligence of the general public? I think you just watched something aimed at the flip side.

  2. DNS Sampling? Is that a typing habit, or do you have a very job-specific autocorrect?

  3. I'm more disturbed by the fact that primates have a domain name system that can be used to identify them (and even more disturbed that you can tell this from a hair sample).

    Do gorillas have DNSSEC? What about lemurs, are they restricted to ftping hosts.txt?

    (sorry, the devil made me say it -- and there isn't really much you can say about such a stupid excuse for a "documentary" so I'll make fun of a typo instead!)

  4. I think a lot of the "short attention span" programming is down to the US networks that break for adverts every 5 minutes, so there is never a long enough contiguous piece of the programme to actually hold your attention. Its one reason that I support the existence of the BBC - having ad-free channels doesn't stop the other channels running ads but it probably keeps them in check so they don't go to the extremes of the US channels.

    The increasing trend towards short-attention-span programming does make me concerned about what it does to the development of kids who watch it though... (I note most of the sciencey youtube vids are of the "speak fast and don't pause long enough for the audience to actually think about what you said" variety too.)

    1. The BBC unfortunately isn't immune to this trend. Although they've recovered from the days of making every Horizon a story of impending doom, the need for sales/co-productions with Discovery have resulted in an obvious quality drop.

    2. You'd think so, sure -- but then why is there so much drama with very long and intricate plot arcs? The writers *there* seem to be able to not only assume that viewers can remember what's happening across an advert break (heck, across years) but even use it to advantage and design their plots around the number of breaks.

      So clearly the US networks think that humans are idiots only with respect to things that are or pretend to be factual. Imaginary stuff -- that they can remember for ever.

  5. While in the US I don't watch some channels - even if they are showing something I want to see - because the advert:programme ratio is ridiculous. So they are shooting themselves in the foot!
    And at home I watch everything recorded so I can skip the adverts (and Pause to make a cup of coffee/Cook dinner/answer the phone). DVRs FTW! :-)