English atheists like Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins like little better than to portray saints of the Catholic Church as being frauds. Which makes it rather satisfying indeed to see that one of the secular saints of the High Church of Atheist Science has been exposed as an unapologetic fraud:
In a surprising justification for duping millions of viewers, the TV star argued that owning up to splicing archive film with real Arctic scenes during the programme would have spoiled the mood. His blunt remarks came as more footage from the series was exposed as a sham.
Speaking after our exclusive story yesterday revealed shots of a polar bear and her newborn cubs were staged in a zoo using fake snow, Sir David, 85, said: “The question is, during the middle of this scene when you are trying to paint what it is like in the middle of winter at the pole, to say ‘Oh, by the way, this was filmed in a zoo’.
“It ruins the atmosphere, and destroys the pleasure of the viewers and destroys the atmosphere you are trying to create.
Ah, I see. “Ruining the atmosphere” is apparently a legitimate basis for deceiving people under the agnostic ethic. Remember that when you’re dealing with an agnostic in the future. If afterwards, she happens to complain that you were not truthful about [insert inconvenient truth here], you can simply explain that you were entirely justified in the deceit because telling him the truth would have ruined the atmosphere and destroyed her pleasure.
It’s rather amazing that the man could have reached 85 years of age without understanding the difference between “documentary” and “dramatic re-enactment”. And it is certainly informative to note that “This type of filming is standard practice across the industry when creating natural history programmes.”
Now, I haven’t had much interest in natural history documentaries – or rather, fakumentaries – since Marlin Perkins stopped ordering poor Jim to molest crocodiles in the river. But this confirms what I have always assumed, which is that they are little more than movies primarily designed for entertainment under the guise of being educational.