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RE: New finds

On Wed, 10 Jul 2002 18:07:12  
 Tracy L. Ford wrote:
>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
>Steve Brusatte
>Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2002 5:52 PM
>To: dinosaur@usc.edu
>Subject: RE: New finds
>I've already sent this to the list once, but that was several hours ago...
>On Wed, 10 Jul 2002
>>Jean-Michel Benoit wrote:
>>> * a new fairly complete skeletton of a sauropod (72 My old, about 12m
>>> long) found in the south of France (near Carcassonne). The reporter
>>> calld it "an empelosaur(?)"
>I would assume the reporter was indicating it was an "ampelosaur," and by
>that meaning it can either be referred to _Ampelosaurus_ (or maybe even the
>species _A. atacis_), or is a titanosaurid closely related to
>This is assuming the reporter got his story right, or knew what he was
>writing about, like that can really happen (unless it's from Jeff Hecht!
>That's different). The press that calls Mammoths dinosaurs, and doesn't know
>that granite can't have footprints or skeletal elements. I hold the press
>lower than ..., well, you can fill in the blank...

Hey now! :-)  Actually, there is a major problem with science reporting.  I was 
fortunate enough to listen to a talk on this subject recently in San Diego 
(given by a young science reporter who recently graduated from Berkeley with a 
degree in biology or biochemistry, or something like that).  The major problem 
is this: science, at its deepest level, is just too technical.  If I were to 
write a story on, say, physics, I'm sure a physics mailing list could pick it 
apart.  When someone is an expert on a subject (as many on this list are), then 
it is easy to catch mistakes.  However, I'm sure that very few of the locals 
who read or listened to the "ampelosaur" story knows what _Ampelosaurus_ is, 
much less a titanosaurid, and, probably, even much less a sauropod.

Therefore, I wouldn't hold the press lower than (_blank_).  Misspellings, bad 
grammar, and bias are valid reasons to criticize the press, but, the press has 
a job to serve the public and present news of value to the common people.  A 
technical article on _Ampelosaurus_ would not be of any real value to the 
average person who reads a newspaper.  An article on a dinosaur discovery, with 
a mention of how it might relate to a previous discovery, is of interest, 

When it comes down to it, the upper levels of science are just too technical 
for those who have not studied it to understand.  As a result, those 
technicalities are of no value to the public.  In a science magazine, like New 
Scientist, however, the stories must be held to a higher standard.  Luckily, 
people like Jeff Hecht (and other gifted science reporters like Carl Zimmer) do 
an excellent job.


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