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The BBC does it again.
After watching this evening what the BBC "Horizon" has done re-writing
history once again in the presentation the 'Archaeoraptor' fiasco, I
think there should be a serious debate of how pop science programs
continue to present (manipulate I would say) information.
Not only this program's 'novelty value' was already several years too
late, it also distorted the truth (well known by anyone that has
followed the forgery case), withheld and twisted the readily available
information and finally made a mess of all the valuable and serious
people that were duped to be interviewed and form part of the program.
The 'Archaeoraptor' case was originally more a problem about legal
issues and personal reputations than a problem for dinosaur science
itself. I remember that immediately after the photographs were published
in National Geographic, we already were talking that it was a forgery...
but it didn't affect any ideas concerning the dinosaur and bird link
since we already had so much evidence and other feathered specimens and
'Archaeoraptor' was irrelevant at that level. Still the program kept
insisting in ignoring all the other evidence (no mention whatsoever any
other specimens like Protarchaeopteryx, Caudipteryx, Beipiaosaurus and
Sinosauropteryx... all already well known then. No mention that there
were dozens of feathered specimens being discovered and in preparation,
and so on) and fabricated a case that actually made disappear the
importance of even Archaeopteryx itself and turned 'Archaeoraptor' into
the Holy Grail, the Missing Link... even in the face of the forgery,
since the (at least) two animals that form the composite both are
presented as 'unique' missing links themselves: "Nobody had seen before
a bird with teeth"... and that kind of fallacious arguments.
And we may add that the program was still being done two months ago,
well after other perfectly preserved specimens have been discovered
including Norell's "Dave" and well after they spent quite a lot of time
questioning a lot of people around.
The question is, if I noticed all the misinformation and twisted
argumentation it was because I knew the case so well. What about for the
people that really didn't know anything about it? What about all the
Horizon programs that are about scientific areas that are not our
personal expertise? How can anyone trust the BBC on Zoology, Astronomy,
Genetics or Anthropology? The BBC has been caught red-handed again.
These programs are supposedly made to educate people.
Where's the responsibility in TV programs that are to be considered
'serious' in divulging science?
Visit my website on http://www.ndirect.co.uk/~luisrey