Remains of the day

Greek find called earliest

Wow. How bad reporting is that, eh? This is the sort of thing that makes scientists look like morons. The “chunk of skull” becomes a “fossil” and then it just gets worse. Business Insider SA and others call it “a 210,000 year-old skull” when it’s just a piece of one. It’s only when you get into the posts from actual scientists that you see the appropriate caution being used:

“As with any challenging new find, the appropriate initial reaction should be healthy scepticism, even when my own name is on the paper.” – Chris Stringer

What’s missing is corroborating evidence, such as more pieces of bone of the same era. Also there is no accounting for other possible explanations for its presence, such as having been moved to the location at a later date. We had this same problem when a ‘black’ skeleton (a few remains of one) was located further North than it should have been; so many people started declaring it factual that Africans had been in Europe much longer than anyone knew and it was absolute proof of the migration.

Really? Since when does science base its conclusions on a sample size of one?

It’s bad enough we keep getting ‘health reports’ that draw absolute conclusions based on some obviously flawed meta-analysis (the most recent one blamed sugar for cancer), misleading people into changing their life without any actual explanation of why they should (and yet they still ignore making changes that have been proved), but here we corrupt science and history – all because ‘journalists’ can not understand what they’re reporting on. Or maybe they don’t care: “news” these days tends to be sensationalist rubbish designed to grab attention rather than inform. The frequent disassociation between headlines and article content is proof enough of that.

Then when someone points out the mistakes and flaws (such as ridiculously small sample size) they get attacked. After all, it was “in the paper” so it must be true. Well ha, ha. That one has never been true ever since someone invented newspapers. Digital media is simply a faster way to spread lies. (And we can all laugh at the fact the biggest complainer about this is himself the biggest abuser.)

Instead we have people claiming vaccines aren’t safe because of falsified studies and rare instances, ignoring the huge body of positive results. We have people drawing cause-effect conclusions based on coincidence with no proven interactive mechanism. We have people reveling not in ignorance, which is a lack of knowledge, but in stupidity – which is the rejection of knowledge. All exacerbated by media reports constructed by those just as foolish and only marginally better-skilled in writing.

How does the world end? Not with a bang but with a whimper.

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