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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ida? I dunno. I wish I had bet a whack on the pop science press dumping all over it

Holy kazoo! Even Nature isn't buying the hype about the "missing link"? So how soon can we get "evolutionary psychology" relegated to the tabs and the funny papers?

A hyped-up fossil find highlights the potential dangers of publicity machines.
Last week's publication of paper describing a 47-million-year-old fossil primate with a remarkable degree of preservation (see http://tinyurl.com/oycvo8) prompted a trickle of news in The Daily Mail that quickly swelled to a flood of media coverage.

In normal circumstances, the interpretation of the specimen given in the paper (J. L. Franzen et al. PLoS ONE 4, e5723; 2009) would have been no more contentious than that of any other fossil primate, and a good deal less so than some.

[ ... ]

But the circumstances surrounding the paper's publication were anything but normal. Before the paper had even been submitted to the journal, Atlantic, a production company based in New York, had commissioned a television documentary and an accompanying book about the find. Just a week after the paper appeared, the book has been published and the documentary has been aired on the History Channel in the United States, as well as Britain's BBC and Norway's NRK.

Uh, yeah.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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