Intelligent Design

When it Comes to Evolution Reporting:  ALWAYS Suspend Judgment Until the Actual Facts Come in

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I read the headline of Denyse O’Leary’s post about the LiveScience article headlined “Gigantic Cambrian Shrimplike Creature Unearthed in Greenland,” and I did what I always do – suspended judgment while I waited for the real facts.

Fortunately in this case, the real facts were not long in coming.  The story itself states that “Gigantic” refers to a beastie that was about two and half feet long.  And the phrase “massive frontal appendage” in the story refers to an appendage that appears to be about one-fourth of that length – i.e., about eight inches long.

It is not hard to understand why I suspend judgment whenever I read the latest hyperventilating story about evolution.  Countless times I have seen articles with claxon-sounding headlines suggesting there has been some massive earth-shattering breakthrough proving the long-held evolutionary narrative, only to later learn the story has been puffed at best and downright sensationalized at worst.  Burn me once, shame on you . . .

It reminds me of the truly sensational revelations in New York Times editor Michael Cieply’s recent article about how the Times has self-consciously rejected a “report the facts” approach to journalism in favor of an “impose our pre-established narrative on the facts” approach.  Cieply writes:

Historically, the Los Angeles Times, where I worked twice, for instance, was a reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper. Most editors wanted to know, every day, before the first morning meeting: “What are you hearing? What have you got?”  It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line. . . .

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

LiveScience has followed the Times approach to journalism here.  The evolutionary “narrative” is utterly confounded by the Cambrian Explosion, as Darwin himself acknowledged in Origin of Species.  Darwin thought subsequent research would solve the problem for his theory, but as Steve Meyers demonstrated in Darwin’s Doubt, if anything, the conundrum has become even more vexing for the Darwinian narrative in the ensuing 150 years.

So what is a good line-toeing journal like LiveScience supposed to do when the facts don’t fit the narrative?  Why, impose the narrative on the facts of course.  We don’t have any truly gigantic species in the Cambrian, so we play games with the word “gigantic.”  It is a relative term after all, and we can make it mean anything we want.  Who are you to say that 2.7 feet isn’t “gigantic” and that 8 inches isn’t “massive.”

The problem with the Times’ and LiveScience’s approach (and the approach of the legacy media in general) is that, thanks to alternative sources of information, the yahoos out in flyover country have begun to catch on.  Everyone knows that while the Times has some excellent coverage on many topics, every story concerning culture and politics is going to be slanted leftwards.

The bottom line:  The legacy media, of which the Times is the most prominent symbol, have squandered their most precious recourse:  trust.  No one but the most doctrinaire progressive reads the Times’ coverage of politics and culture without a massive dose of salt.  Which is to say, when I read something in the Times, I suspend judgment and wait for the true facts to emerge, just as I do when I read sensationalized evolution headlines.

 

 

15 Replies to “When it Comes to Evolution Reporting:  ALWAYS Suspend Judgment Until the Actual Facts Come in

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  2. 2

    “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

    The tragic truth in times past…but not anymore.

    Good riddance to the NY Times’ predominant influence on society. Those days are long gone, thanks in large part to the independent media which is thriving via the internet.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Barry, they diminish science. I put “Gigantic” in quotes because a question worth asking is: Why were Cambrian creatures NOT large? Some claim that they were less complex but it is not clear that largeness and complexity are closely related. Or that they were in fact less complex.

    It would be more helpful to hear a thoughtful discussion on the question than to hear hype. But that’s really askin’.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Part of a standard evolutionary argument that I’ve encountered several times is that after life accidentally emerged from non-life, then there was only unicellular organisms. Those were microscopic. Small and non-complex. Then they evolved into multi-cellular. A little bigger, more complex. Then the cambrian explosion was just a few steps farther – somewhat bigger and more complex. And the process continued until we had elephants and whales. We skipped over the dinosaurs but they don’t count in this story.

    That’s the Darwinian proof: “The cambrian animals are all small and non-very complex”!

    Yes, of course, a single cell possesses infinite complexity, so we can forget the complex part. As for size, any just-so story should do. How about: “There was so little competition for resources that the newly-evolved multi-cellular creatures didn’t need to get big”?

  5. 5
    News says:

    Silver Asiatic at 4: “How about: “There was so little competition for resources that the newly-evolved multi-cellular creatures didn’t need to get big”?” I think I see what you mean. The relationship between size, resources, and competition is bound to vary with the circumstances, so it cannot provide us with a clear account of why Cambrian creatures were small.

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    News @ 5

    You sound a lot more confident about anything that could be said than I could be, but perhaps yes – I have no idea.

    For example, the Titan-o-saur Argentinosaurus was found to be 130 feet long weighing almost 100 tons.

    I can’t even start to make up a story for that. How could that size provide any kind of advantage in anything at all?

    Then again, I still can’t get past the need for bacteria to get any bigger – there is no shortage of resources at that level, or so it would seem to me.

  7. 7
    News says:

    Silver Asiatic at 6: Darwinism is quite simply a metaphysic, not an explanation in science. An explanation need only be an explanation within the correct guidelines; it need provide no actual insight.

    For my money, Michael Denton may prove correct, in Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis, that laws of form based in physics play a role. But first one must get past rule by Darwin.

  8. 8
    EDTA says:

    I have a 1977 evolution text (gathering dust on my bookshelf) that describes “Cope’s Rule”, the general tendency of evolution to produce larger and larger forms in a particular line over time. The text is quick to add that it is only a *general* rule, and there are many lineages of creatures that tend to *decrease* in size over time also…8-)

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    Seems to me a good rule-of-thumb is suspend judgment about any reporting until the facts come in. That’s especially true of the ‘Net given how we have a bunch of cyber-hooligans in Eastern Europe who’ve turned fake news into a “nice little earner”.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev at 10.

    Yes, but evolution journalists were pumping out fake news long before “fake news” became a thing.

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    kairosfocus says:

    BA:

    Smoking gun, given the longstanding claim of NYT to be Newspaper of Record:

    [Cieply:] Historically, the Los Angeles Times, where I worked twice, for instance, was a reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper. Most editors wanted to know, every day, before the first morning meeting: “What are you hearing? What have you got?” It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line. . . .

    The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

    This drives home the significance of my straight vs spin framework, here.

    It seems, there has been an agit-prop agenda-driven takeover of key institutions of communication, information and education, leading to utter corruption. This is tied to evolutionary materialism dressed up in the lab coat and to science thus being held hostage to a radical agenda. The next aspect is that — as Plato pointed out c. 2360 tears ago, in The Laws Bk X — evo mat is utterly relativistic about truth and morals, which corrodes the foundations of a viable society. Mix in a generation of blood guilt over the worst — and ongoing — holocaust in history: 800 million ++ unborn children slaughtered in the womb since the early 1970’s, under false colours of choice, rights, medicine, and law. Blood guilt is the most corrupting influence of all as only blood can answer for blood.

    No wonder our civilisation is increasingly, bizarrely, utterly out of connect with patent reality and is stubbornly embarked on a march of folly similar to the Athenian expedition to Sicily during the Peloponnesian war.

    This is how democracies fail.

    The ghosts of Alcibiades, Socrates and Plato are moaning out a warning, but is anyone listening?

    Knock, knock, anyone home there between the ears?

    KF

    PS: The ugly exchange in the comments underscores the concern I have. And just for record (as the projection game is on the warpath) I supported and support NEITHER main candidate for the US election just past. My personal view — obviously, not that of UD — is, the fact that the USA came down to such a choice and so ugly a campaign is a warning sign of the peril that hangs by a fraying thread over our civilisation.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO: The US toll is 60 mn, the global, per a simple growth model on Guttmacher-UN numbers of 50+ million per year — yes, a million per WEEK — and 40 years is, conservatively 800+ millions. We are the most blood guilty, demon-ridden generation in history. KF

    PS: I am now substantially initially complete across U1 – 5: http://pm101bootcamp.blogspot......uence.html

  14. 14

    Corporate media and tenured academia are loath to link Darwinism to genocide/mass murder, but the truth is still the truth no matter how much they deny it.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....03409.html

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    TWSYF, sacred cow — to see what your god is, look for what is protected by “blasphemy” laws, explicit or implicit. By contrast, they have no such hesitation about slandering the real God, as a Bronze age, genocidal monster. That already tells us much about what spirit energises such. KF

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