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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Design of Life: Popular science media solve the origin of life - every couple of weeks ...


When a scrap of evidence supports any one of the competing theories of the origin of life, doubts about that theory itself are often not discussed in the article. That practice distorts the overall picture.

To see why, suppose for example that the police are trying to determine which of three suspects stole a car. None of the suspects is considered a truthful witness, so asking for a confession isn't an option. We hear about - and focus on - information that apparently places one of them at the scene of the crime. However, what if - on the balance of the evidence - the police believe that that particular suspect was out of the country at the time? If our discussion of the new evidence omits that fact, we are not providing a full account of the information. And that is what a lot of reports on origin of life research in science media sound like.

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