These 9 Documentaries Lied to You

  • October 11, 2017
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For many people documentaries are a mind-expanding experience. We watch them to learn some new truth or to expand our worldview. Despite our expectations there's nothing about a documentary that makes it immune to deception. Here's a list of nine documentaries that bent the truth for various reasons.

“Was #3 An Outright Lie?”


Super-Size Me

Morgan Spurlock's documentary about the dangers of a fast-food diet is seen by many as having pushed McDonald's in a (relatively) more health-conscious direction, removing the super-size option from their menu and adding healthier options all around. Problem: Spurlock ate five-thousand calories a day with zero exercise. This would have resulted in weight loss regardless of what was consumed: the recommended caloric intake for even active adults is two-thousand less.


Loose Change

The film that spawned the Truther movement was brimming with so many irrefutable facts that it has been revised three times to excise false claims. That said, the second edition was viewed millions of times, so many people didn't seem to get the message. That said, Loose Change is likely to be mistaken in its premise rather than intentionally misleading, so for anyone still hanging on, here's a blog that documents many of the things Loose Change gets wrong.



Before moving into more commonly explored conspiracy theory territory, Zeitgesit begins by discussing popular points of Jesus being myth. Unfortunately, this involves astrology, which the film botches almost immediately. Case in point: there are more or less than twelve signs of the zodiac depending which civilizations and time period you are talking about. The lesson: don't hang your argument on something you haven't fully researched.


Bowling for Columbine

It's easy enough to take a hatchet to Moore's documentaries, but Bowling for Columbine remains his more popular film, so we'll take that. In a scene intended to show how easy it is for Americans to get guns, Moore acts on a promotion that promises a gun to anyone who opens a new savings account at the local bank. In the film he's shown getting the gun at the bank itself after clearing the background check. This was staged, seemingly at Moore's insistence: one of the key points of the promotion was that the bank would give you a certificate to exchange for a gun at a local gun shop. The change makes Moore's point all the more obvious, but wouldn't it be just as valid without the deception?


Mermaids: The Body Found

This was just one of a series of “documentaries” aired by Animal Planet that was pure fiction. It should have been obvious given the premise, and the show itself included a few disclaimers throughout making it clear that it was a for entertainment purposes only, but the style of the footage and the educational nature of the network misled many.