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Dec 03 2013

Media bias!

OK, so that Daily Mail piece that talked about my refutation of the MFAP hypothesis — the idea that humans are ape-pig hybrids — has been getting a fair amount of attention. The article actually did quote me tearing into the idea fairly thoroughly, although it did also give far too much attention to a crackpot, but here’s the thing: the media doesn’t care that much what I said, it’s all the kook nonsense driving the reporting.

For example, Jennifer Raff heard it on Alex Jones’ radio show. Jones is a wacky, hateful, loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist, and what is he talking about? Not that there are good explanations for human evolution, but that a kook with a ridiculous idea has demolished the theory of evolution.

What really drew my interest in the subject was the way Alex Jones discussed the news article. He called Eugene McCarthy a “top geneticist” and an “expert”, and while rightly dismissing the hypothesis as idiotic, he implied that it was in line with the current scientific consensus on human origins: that evidence was increasingly disproving evolution as an explanation. Instead, alternative ideas, such as an Intelligent Designer (Jones kept calling it “aliens” and mentioning the movie “Prometheus”) were becoming mainstream explanations for human origins, and this chimp-pig hybridization idea was yet another example. Framing the story in this way, he went on to say that “They (scientists) have no idea what they’re doing” (quote paraphrased from my memory), and therefore evolution is nonsense. And he’s not alone. The creationist/Intelligent Design site Uncommon Descent also dismisses McCarthy’s hypothesis while simultaneously dismissing “neo-Darwinism”

Raff goes on to list all the red flags thrown on McCarthy’s loony hypothesis, which ought to get any reasonable journalist to immediately question and reject the idea. But the lesson I’m seeing from the differential attention given to my explanation and McCarthy’s is that I clearly did not throw enough red flags.

So I’m pointing out that a Christian, conservative, dominant minority is conspiring to suppress my radical idea that evolution, a natural process, has generated all the diversity of life on earth, and that as a top expert authority I plan to lead a revolution in scientific thinking. I know that’s a wild claim and that I’ll probably be pilloried by the mainstream establishment, but I’ve just got to get past the scientific gatekeepers to bring this secret knowledge to the masses.

Alex Jones, call me. We’ll talk.

21 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    The media gets pretty much every story wrong, if it’s more complicated than who’s been seen holding hands together. Which means that the place you’re most likely to encounter journalistic excellence is “People” Magazine.

  2. 2
    Moggie

    Now that I know Prometheus was a documentary, I need to watch it again. Maybe it’ll suck less.

  3. 3
    richardelguru

    in the Daily FMail

    Well there’s your problem

  4. 4
    carlie

    It’s a complete non-sequitur to say that new discoveries mean EVOLUTION IS FALSE. It just means that what’s being selected for is more complicated; the basic mechanism is still the same.

  5. 5
    borax

    @3, I was under the impression that the Daily Mail was a respected science journal with rigorous peer review, just like People.

  6. 6
    Trebuchet

    What is it with people named “McCarthy”? First Joe, then Jenny, now this clown.

  7. 7
    Pierce R. Butler

    Trebuchet @ # 6 – You forgot the patriarch of the clan, Charlie!

  8. 8
    Alteredstory

    This is enabled, of course, by a public that is incredibly ignorant about science, and is apparently PROUD of that ignorance. This makes me want to bring out the attack turtles…

  9. 9
    lindsay

    One of the things about the ‘aliens did it, therefore no evolution’ theory (I apologize to the word theory for mistreating it so) that annoys me is that its proponents don’t seem to think through its implications for even five minutes. Where did the aliens come from, and how did they become so advanced? If they were created by another alien race, then where did those aliens come from?

  10. 10
    leftwingfox

    Pierce: Damn, you beat me to it. I’m guessing they were all carved from the same block of wood, and Charlie got the good bits.

  11. 11
    PDX_Greg

    It just ticks me off that they are focusing on man being an ape-pig hybrid when it is suddenly so obvious to me now that pigs are the hybrid! An obvious human-goat hybrid!

    Seriously, anyone ever heard of apes shepherding pigs?

    Julie Andrews cleverly explained the whole process in a beautiful song decades ago, but since it was buried in the middle of a little-known production called The Sound of Music, few have toiled over the true evolutionary implications of The Lonely GoatHerd. (Absolutely needs sound, but totally safe for work, in as much as Sound of Music songs are safe for work.)

    Look, if you don’t believe me, just google the lyrics, and consider how high-pitched some of those notes get. Even I didn’t realize what was going on until I saw this clip and read about the ape-pig silliness the next day. It’s clear now that the ape-pig thing is just a oddly conceived cover-up, probably created by a special kind of goat-herder to cover his own oddly conceived creations.

  12. 12
    Yvonne Rathbone

    I did notice in that DM article that PZ was referred to simply as “a blogger” rather than a scientist or a biology professor. Personally, I would have gone with “octopus-lover,” which would have at least implied a competing theory about the interspecies sex acts that led to hominids.

  13. 13
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Joe Arpaio looks like P.W. Botha with a wig!

    (What is it with the pointy fingers and raised hands of right wingers?)

  14. 14
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Oooops wrong thread!

  15. 15
    bushrat

    Alex Jones…this Conspiracy Theory just got Real!!!

    @2 Moggie – It won’t. It will only get worse.

  16. 16
    grahamjones

    I have a Media Fucking A Professor hypothesis.

  17. 17
    LykeX

    Alex Jones; the man who looks like he’s about to have a heart attack every time he speaks. I swear, he’s got to have a blood pressure in the four digits.

  18. 18
    Nathan Hull

    This sounds like the kind of ”scientific” theory that Mohammed Morsi would come up with. A hybridization theory I am interested in is the Neanderthal hypothesis of the origins of Asperger’s, having been diagnosed in 2011. Has any seen some serious research on this?

  19. 19
    =8)-DX

    Alex Jones, call me. We’ll talk.

    NO. Don’t talk to that imbecile. Whenever he tries to “converse” he turns red and begins frothing at the mouth. I have good respect for PZ’s command of language and ability to use his voice anyone, but shouting matches with Alex Jones are really only useful for comedic value (and even then – a lot of performance art just ends up being crap).

  20. 20
    robb

    PZ: you forgot to compare yourself to Galileo. the establishment tried to silence him too.

  21. 21
    w00dview

    robb@20:

    I love it when cranks immediately compare themselves to Galileo when questioned. These maroons don’t get science at all. Everybody in science gets asked tough questions on their research, there will always be scientists trying to poke holes in your work. It’s not silencing, it is how science advances. If your work is robust then you can easily take on the claims of the establishment over time and your work will eventually be accepted and added to the body of knowledge. But because kooks and cranks peddle pseudoscience/denialism that they can’t back up with actual real world evidence they will just cry persecution! instead of doing the hard work of actually looking at the evidence. The fact they so readily compare themselves to the likes of Newton and Galileo just shows that they are extreme narcissists suffering from Dunning Kruger, not revolutionary geniuses.

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