#1. Terrible Nature 'Documentaries'
This year, the #1 junk science story of 2013 is a shared honor, and it belongs to Animal Planet and Discovery Channel for producing perhaps the worst -- and definitely the most misleading -- nature "documentaries" in recent memory.
The fishy fabrications started in May. Animal Planet aired "Mermaids: The New Evidence," weaving together shaky video evidence and genuine scientific theories to entertain and mislead viewers. The only clue to the documentary's fictitious nature was provided at the tail end of the program in the form of an ephemeral disclaimer.
Mermaids, of course, don't exist. No physical evidence has ever been uncovered supporting their existence. Besides, how would they defecate?
Noticing the record ratings that Animal Planet reeled in, Discovery Channel followed up with a fictitious documentary showing that Megalodon, the 60-foot-long extinct mega shark, still exists today. Except they didn't even provide a disclaimer that it was fake!
Boatloads of complaints flowed in, none perhaps more perfectly stated than that of marine biologist Christie Wilcox, who wrote an open letter to Animal Planet:
The real science of these animals should have been more than enough to inspire Discovery Channel viewers. But it’s as if you don’t care anymore about presenting the truth or reality... And the sad part is, you are so well trusted by your audience that you actually convinced them: according to your poll, upwards of 70% of your viewing public fell for the ruse and now believes that Megalodon isn’t extinct.
Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives was not just a disservice to your genuinely curious audience. It was a lie. You used your reputation to deceive your viewers, and you didn’t even apologize for it.