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Bolivian fossils and news reporting
Damn! I was just in Bolivia not even two months ago! Talk
about your bad timing, huh? As soon as I leave, all this cool
stuff turns up.
Try to remember that often the reporters are not scientifically
trained (they're journalistically trained, which is why they're
journalists and not scientists). Try explaining astrophysics to
someone who doesn't even recognize 9.8 m/s squared as
anything important. After all, everything comes down to gravity,
right? (sorry for the blatant, unabashed use of that pun) But lack
of knowledge is still no excuse for getting your basic facts wrong.
Also, don't get too mad about reporters cutting down ten-minute
interviews into one-minute shorts for TV, or a few paragraphs in
a newspaper story. We can't take up the whole space with every
word that you said, because we have limitations on length given
to us ahead of time. If an editor says to me, "I need a 16 inch
story on some dinosaur eggs and footprints some guy found down
in Bolivia," I have to fill that 16" with not only your opinion, but also
the facts (which I should at least get right), other people's opinions,
and some background on Bolivia, dinosaurs and paleo in general.
Now getting back to dinosaurs...
Maybe the correct measurement for the pterosaur egg was 40mm,
not 40cm. That's not quite two inches long, is that about right?
I doubt Mayer literally said "40cm (16 inches)." The reporter
probably added the conversion for us stubborn Americans.
Actually, that wasn't about dinosaurs, was it?
Mike de Sosa, member of the news media "Ahhh! Kill him!"
PS - Weird fact - Did you know that Bolivia has a navy despite the
obvious disadvantages of being completely landlocked and having the
western half covered in the Andes Mts.? No joke -- the Armada
Boliviana, it's called!