19 May 2009

Roll the bones

This article in the New York Times concerns the unveiling of a new fossil, which is slated to be published today. A new fossil in and of itself is interesting, but that’s not the focus of the Times article. No, the Times story is about generating buzz.

In addition to the technical paper, there will be a two hour documentary on The History Channel and a book, both called The Link.

An article... will report more prosaically that the scientists involved said the fossil could be a “stem group” that was a precursor to higher primates, with the caveat, “but we are not advocating this.”

Really? All of that for “could be a stem primate”?

I worry that hype could mean public disappointment if the fossil isn’t spectacular. And really few fossils have that sort of immediacy to capture the level of attention it sounds like this is to be given.

Why Evolution is True reports this was reported in The Daily Mail and The New York Times.

Coincidentally enough, today’s Ph.D. Comics managed to articulate, in a weird way, why the story bothers me.

Ph.D. Comics for 19 May 2009

Additional: Here’s the actual scientific paper.

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