Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

08 February 2009

From the Department of Misleading Headlines #23

The Associated Press is usually a pretty reliable outfit. When you read a headline like "Record Gas Prices," you'll find a story about record gas prices.

But today we find the following:
On Darwin's 200th, a theory still in controversy


And yet, nowhere in the subsequent story is there a mention of any current controversy.

There is, of course, an excellent reason for this: Darwin's Theory of Evolution is not, in fact, in controversy. It is as disputable as the Theory of Gravity.

The story does mention the rather sad outfit, "Answers in Genesis," which outright ignores science to promote an exclusively creationist worldview. But that's not controversy. Controversy is when someone with a good reputation and solid academic credentials appropriate to the field under discussion say "A-hem ... there seems to be some problem here: The facts don't fit your theory."

Controversy is not when people jam their fingers in their ears and scream "Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah ... I can't hear you!" Which is what AIG and the horrid and dishonest Discovery Institute (whose mandate rather runs away from discovery) are doing.

Let's be clear: Darwin's Theory of Evolution has nothing to say about a) How life began or b) Whether there's actually a god (although it's definitely another nail in the coffin).

It IS supported by the observable facts. Most interestingly by the continuing research into genetics--a wondrous field that Darwin couldn't even have conceived of when he first took ship on his five-year mission to boldly go where no-one (with quite so many clothes) had gone before.

So: To the AP--you need another headline writer. And for all of us celebrating Darwin's birthday, here's a program from the CBC's terrific Quirks and Quarks, celebrating his work.

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7 Comments:

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Stimpson said...

The AP made the same basic error that evolution critic (and total non-scientist) Ben Stein made all last year, at least in his media interviews. (I never saw his movie, but I guess he made the mistake there too.)

You'd think it would be easy for every person of at least normal intelligence to understand the difference between speciation and the origin of life on Earth. Those are two different things.

 
At 2:42 PM, Anonymous DONYK said...

hi there ... I do not agree with DARwin COZ I'M NOT MONGKEY OKAY ;)

 
At 3:19 AM, Blogger Philipa said...

Well I'm sure it's no accident that Peter Hitchens is their top political columnist. See his religion diatribe here.

But Darwin was not alone, Wallace arrived at the same conclusions around the same time, first in fact, yet he is not hailed as a scientific hero.

 
At 7:33 AM, Blogger Metro said...

@Stimpson
Ah yes, the odious Expelled: no Intelligence Allowed. The problem, of course, is that those weren't "errors" to the people supporting that movie. They outright lied about what "Darwinism" means, and of course threw in eugenics and Nazism, just to make sure the well was thoroughly poisoned.

They took scientists and atheists, interviewed them, and then edited out all the bits they didn't like. Many filmakers have done this, but the producers of Expelled were particularly bold.

The film should have been more aptly titled "Distorted: No Facts Allowed."

@DONYK
Reely? U sher doo right lyke wun, tho. Or mebbe u r a lolcat?

@Philipa
It's probably not true that Wallace beat Darwin out the gate. Darwin simply sat on his manuscript for nearly twenty years.

Wallace wrote to Darwin to get his opinions on evolutionary theory--which he does seem to have arrived at independantly--and galvanized Darwin into getting off his backside and publishing.

However, the book he rushed into print was far more condensed than he'd planned. It used only the strongest, clearest, examples to demonstrate evolutionary theory, and was thus more accessible to the layperson than the lengthy tome he'd been scribbling. Darwin literally cast aside twenty years' notes and wrote the whole thing from scratch.

So in an ironic way, Darwin did owe the success of his book to Wallace.

I thought you'd gotten Peter confused with Christopher. Peter Hitchens is supposed to be the religious one, no? It's a pleasant surprise.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Philipa said...

Well I guess there had to be one.

 
At 2:01 PM, OpenID archiearchive said...

Wahhhh - I made a comment and it has disappeared - - -

 
At 11:21 PM, Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonjour, M Metro

V Vorrying

Senor EihCrA's Interesting Komments disappearing into that Black Hole from which no Travellers return - I s'pose this comes from an anti-Podean upside-down typing

and Your WV being furtively taken over by Foreign Languages :

cariphi

What Language is that : Arabic - Arapaho

AND British Government Ministers like Ed Balls pausing from their Inflated Expense Claim Forms long enough to notice that the British Economy is in a Mess, albeit not appreciating their contribution to this Shambles

V Vorrying

 

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