Oh, I’ll grant you, it’s sexy. It’s fun to play with the possibility. And letting this poor gentleman have his say at the GSA shindig was nice, even though his evidence is, shall we say, sketchy, but putting out a press release would seem a bridge too far.
Every geologist I’ve spoken to has met the news with amusement and horror, or amusement and anger, or sometimes horror and anger, and none of them seem to think this claim was ready for prime time. Chris Rowan put together a nice piece showing the geos’ reactions on Twitter and explaining the situation, which is good, because I don’t want people to get the impression from that press release that all geologists are wild-eyed fools ready to swallow extraordinary claims without demanding the evidence to match. They’re scientists. Most of them are damned good scientists (never mind the Flood “geologists” who hang around these professional meetings like ticks on a dog). And their skeptic-sense is tingling like mad.
Speaking of mad, don’t get Brian Switek started on the resulting media dumbfucker – whoops, too late.
We have a serious problem with science journalism. A big one, in fact, and today that problem takes the form of a giant, prehistoric squid with tentacles so formidable that it has sucked the brains right out of staff writer’s heads.
But what really kills me about this story is the fact that no reporter went to get a second opinion. Each and every story appears to be based directly off the press release and uses quotes directly from that document. No outside expert was contacted for another opinion in any of the stories – standard practice in science journalism – and, frankly, all the stories reek of churnalism. What does it say about the general quality of science reporting when major news sources are content to repackage sensationalist, evidence-lite speculations and print them without further thought or comment?
I think he has become upset. And he’s far from the only one.
GSA, you has gots esplainin’ to do.
And you so-called science writers who can’t be bothered to do more than reword a patently-unbelievable press release? You deserve such a smack.