My dad recently forwarded an email to me containing a video clip from the BBC production of Human Planet. It had all the telltale marks of something not to be believed, including large font size, numerous forwarding lines on the left edge, and an overuse of exclamation points. It said that the video was recorded somewhere near Banff and Jasper (two renowned national parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains).
It was a great clip, as all BBC “[anything] Planet” productions are, about a small mountain town that is invaded by rutting elk every summer. But something was fishy.
The license plates on the cars weren’t Canadian. Most of them were from Colorado, USA. A highway sign was definitely American. Then I got a good look at the patch on the sleeve of a featured police officer. It said Estes Park, Colorado.
I looked up the original clip on YouTube and sure enough, it was filmed in Estes Park (though the entry calls it just Estes). The irony of this is, my dad would have appreciated the video all the more had he known that. When I was a kid, we used to live an hour’s drive from Estes Park. That little town was our entry point into the mountains during weekend excursions.
So why was the email so inaccurate? How do you get “somewhere in Alberta near Banff and Jasper” out of the clearly marked “Estes, Colorado” on the video’s YouTube explanation? What’s the point?
I don’t know, but it’s another lesson in how amazingly efficient the internet is at helping humans to spread misinformation. Fortunately, it’s very efficient at spreading cool information as well. So here’s the clip, for your enjoyment. You will be agog at the majesty of the elk, and the idiocy of the tourists.
I wonder how many of those tourists went home and emailed their friends, “Hey, you wouldn’t believe what we just saw in Canada”?