Remember how Brian and PZ and about twenty bajillion other science bloggers warned us that all the hype over Ida was going to become a creationist field day? It did:
Right on cue, the Worldnutdaily shows us why what the scientists, PR people and media outlets who overhyped the find of an early primate fossil did was detrimental to the public’s understanding of science. Such exaggerations and overblown statements are easily turned around and made to cast doubt on the validity of science and the theory of evolution.[snip]
Of course, the Worldnutdaily also has to add their own distortions to the list:
History is replete with discoveries initially proclaimed as some sort of missing link, but later proved to be hoaxes.
And then, of course, they can only name two – Archaeoraptor and Piltdown Man. The Archaeoraptor hoax was perpetrated by a Chinese farmer, not by a scientist, and the Piltdown Man hoax was nearly a century ago – and was discovered by scientists.
Ironically, the article also mentions Nebraska Man, which was another textbook example of the media overhyping a fossil find and building far too much out of a simple tooth. The scientist who actually reported the find, HF Osborn, authored a careful and tentative identification of the find; it was a popular British magazine that turned that into a picture of an ape man, complete with wife and child.
But in this case, the scientists themselves have been caught up in the hype and participating in the very thing that destroys their credibility. I hope this will serve as a warning to other scientists not to do the same thing, but I fear it won’t.
Probably not. But for once, just once, I’d like to see people learn from boneheaded mistakes.
Hell, while I’m wishing, I’d like a ranch with horsies, too.