Thursday, July 9, 2009

On the Interview with Paul Gasek, Shark Week Executive

David Shiffman's interview with Discovery's Shark Week executive Paul Gasek has taken place, and is posted on David's blog.

http://southernfriedscience.com/2009/07/07/interview-with-discovery-channel-executive-paul-gasek/

Gasek failed to address the point of our Manifesto--that his company is making a great deal of money victimizing sharks by cultivating hatred and fear of them, when they are on the verge of extinction.

He failed to address the fact that Discovery is considered by reputation to be an educational channel, so that people believe, when shown sharks as monstrous killing machines, that they really are. The truth is that they are not. People all over the world swim with sharks for pleasure, an activity which is possible because sharks are social, calm, intelligent, and do not target people for food.

As expected, Gasek repeated similar platitudes to those he gave The Shark Group representatives when they met with him. When asked about his background, he said he had experience making natural history programming, but he failed to mention that he spent 10 years as a commercial fisherman.

He also failed to mention the level of his scientific education, which is relevant given that he is the scientific advisor for Shark Week. A scientific advisor with no scientific education is questionable in itself. When our representatives met with him, he thought that throwing turkeys to tiger sharks was science.

At this meeting, he said that the horror factor of Shark Week was an institution, but that they were using it less. This year's subject matter consists of five out of six new shows focused on shark attacks, so no effort is being made to improve the content of Shark Week in terms of presenting sharks as they really are. Absolutely magnificent films about sharks have been turned down by them. The mention they make of the need for shark conservation is meaningless when they are causing people to think that sharks SHOULD be hunted to extinction.

Its natural that Gasek would use this opportunity to tell everyone how good Shark Week is but at our private meeting he laughingly referred to what they do as SHARK PORN, emphasizing how proud he is of it. It was clear, and clear to me from seeing what Discovery did to the verified information about shark social lives and intelligence that I offered them, that Gasek cares about sharks uniquely in terms of how much money they can make from them. He glosses over our pointed issues with the slipperiness of an eel.

From a recent article against trying to save sharks from extinction by Justin Clarke:

“Sharks scare the hell out of me. I’ve watched enough Discovery Channel to know that sharks are pure killing machines…”

The theme of the Manifesto is to denounce Discovery Channel, owned by Discovery Communications for profiting from the demonization of ordinary and important animals on the verge of extinction. It calls for a boycott against Shark Week programming until they begin to show sharks as they truly are. Since they began, in 1987, their crimes against sharks have earned them billions of dollars, and created a wave of hatred of sharks that stands in the way of their protection from extinction.

If you have not yet signed the Manifesto, here's the link again: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Boycott-Shark-Week

Thank you very kindly for your attention.

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