I had on some program about the Shroud of Turin today. I watch a lot of such documentaries because they amuse me. I like real documentaries too but the ones about supernatural phenomenon can be especially entertaining. They tend to be comedies in my mind.

I can understand why people hate such documentaries because they’re often not real documentaries content with trying to record facts (I said “trying”) but pure entertainment filled with guys just plain making stuff up. Supposition piled upon supposition as the saying goes. Trying to find facts among the fiction is a game. A game of chance even.

There is one phrase I always hear from the “experts” in these supernatural documentaries. And this one was one exception. “If this is a hoax it’s the greatest hoax of all time” is what these goofball talking heads always say. Experts continually underestimate the creativity of hoaxers, pranksters, and artists. Maybe it’s because creativity is usually not to found among these experts so they don’t expect it from anyone else. They have no understanding of creativity so it doesn’t make it into their thought processes.

Two examples of experts underestimating hoaxers are: 1) In a show about crop circles that “no person or team of people could ever had made” they actually showed us the two guys (local artists) with boards and ropes making the circles. Still some experts wouldn’t believe it until they were shown video of it being done. And then they said that only that circle was done by the hoaxers. The others couldn’t have been. 2) I love the one I saw on the fake Hitler diaries where experts said the handwriting was genuine and there was no way anyone could fake such a large amount of handwriting. Of course they were faked by an artist and they asked him how he did it and he said that he looked at Hitler’s writing and then, with practice, imitated it. He could write in Hitler’s handwriting as easily as his own. He’s an artist. That’s what artists do. Get creative. Draw things. Pretend they’re someone else.

And don’t these experts watch movies? If they would watch a movie then they would know the lengths that forgers go to to fool them. Yeah, I know that movies aren’t real life but they try to imitate life and one of the ways they do that is to show you what a forger would have to do to fool someone. It establishes a movies credibility. TV and movies like to show us, step by step, how someone pulls a con on someone else. You want to fake a 16th century painting? Get a canvas of the period by finding a valueless old painting and strip the paint off. At least that’s what I get from the movies. Forgers, hoaxers, and movie makers are all creative people.

One of the things I laughed at in the Shroud film is when an expert in ancient fabrics said that the weave of the shroud was a specific weave from the first century and there was no way it could have been faked in the 14th century. Ha! Forgers get period stuff to make forgeries with all the time. Why do people assume hoaxers in the past were dumb? Some clever lad could have found an old piece of linen or, oh my imagine this, noticed old weaving was different then current weaving and had a piece made in the old style. But that’s too clever for those poor dumb people of the 14th century. Today’s experts must be right about their stupidness.

Hey, I think I just became one of the people that this kind of documentary annoys.