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Re: Crater may reveal how dinosaurs became extinct



I'm not sure who this was from--Sherry Michael at Flint Weller's machine? 
 (8/15/96; 6:04p):

>Maybe I'd like to see a bit more honest reporting and less fireball in 
>the sky drama!... 

>What is going on here? Does this bother anyone else but me?


Such complaints seem to surface here occasionally, and I bet on other 
paleo lists, as well.  My comments are slightly tangential to our topic 
(dinosaurs), but perhaps this will be a slow news day, and MR will let it 
through.

The problem is that honest reporting can be boring, hence doesn't sell.  
But all commercial news outlets are in the business of _selling_ news.  I 
think even PBS etc. needs ratings, hence has to juice things up a bit.  

Here is another story, but it illustrates more of the same problem (or a 
similar problem).  When the announcement of evidence of _possible life_ 
(or is it _possible evidence_ of life?) on Mars was made, the people who 
made the announcement were very cautious, stressing that more research 
was needed to confirm the hypothesis, and that is also NASA's position.  
Clinton immediately commented on the report, showing that he understood 
the situation by promising funding for the additional research that is 
needed.  Then came the network news reports.  They all went something 
like, "Scientists claim to have found PROOF of life on Mars!"  Switch to 
commentators who said they were skeptical that any such thing has been 
proved.  So there you have it:  attention-getting headlines, followed by 
controversy--a good formula for a successful news show.

The next day an article on the discovery appeared in the local paper.  
This university's astronomer was quoted in the article as believing that 
the whole episode is an example of "bad science" at NASA.  That when the 
actual scientific paper was not to be published for two more weeks!  It 
is, in fact, one of the standard aspects of conservative protestantism (I 
have to mention this because that is the source of the problem; I'm not 
looking for a debate on the matter) that life could only exist on Earth 
because Earth is the only place that was created as an abode for life. 
This gentleman, who is very well known and politically connected in the 
highest circles of our community, knows what people want to hear.  

The way things _are_ and the way things _ought to be_ are different.  I 
HATE THIS PLANET!  Clearly, intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe 
have chosen to ignore us, and I don't blame them.  Beam me up, Scotty.

[Yeah, Scotty, save us from the sand bears!! :-) :-)  -- MR ]


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu