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Author Topic:   Scientists unveil fossil of 47 million-year-old primate, Darwinius masillae
Taz
Member (Idle past 1396 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 31 of 45 (509893)
05-25-2009 10:46 PM


I just finished watching the history channel's program The Link. First thought that came to mind: needed less inspirational speeches and more info. That was kinda annoying.
Replies to this message:
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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 209 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 32 of 45 (510049)
05-27-2009 4:07 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by Taz
05-25-2009 10:46 PM


I watched the UK version, with David Attenborough, last night. After the first two minutes which included the choice quotes Percy gave earlier I wasn't hopeful. But apart from some shoddy editing choices (hint to directors, when you're telling us about how you can see seeds in the fossil giving us a slow, blurred zoom in on it is not helpful), the actual program was quite good. It covered the reasons why they claim this creature links prosimians and anthropoids quite well, and while it was somewhat simplified in places I thought it was, altogether, quite good and generally worthy of the great David Attenborough.
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AustinG
Member (Idle past 3273 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 04-06-2009


Message 33 of 45 (510213)
05-28-2009 11:52 PM


From reading some posts on the topic I got the impression you guys think the fossil was uncovered very recently.

I would just like to point out that it was discovered a while back and scientists have been studying it in secret for the last two years.

Austin

Edited by AustinG, : No reason given.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 210 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 34 of 45 (510215)
05-29-2009 12:06 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by AustinG
05-28-2009 11:52 PM


Delayed reporting of the fossil
From reading some posts on the topic I got the impression you guys think the fossil was uncovered very recently.

I would just like to point out that it was discovered a while back and scientists have been studying it in secret for the last two years.

Austin


That's good. That's what scientists should do.

But creationists, on the other hand, have denounced the specimen within hours without having studied it at all!

Therein lies one of the primary differences between science and religious belief.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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Minnemooseus
Member
Posts: 3709
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 7.4


Message 35 of 45 (510323)
05-30-2009 1:05 AM


Nature editorial on the affair
Tip of the hat to http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2009/05/told-you-so.html.

AIGB says:

quote:
A few days ago I blogged on the recent fossil find, dubbed 'Ida', sensationalized in the media as our earliest fossil ancestor. I urged caution about this fossil, stating that it was still very contentious amongst experts as to whether Adapids (the primate group to which Ida belongs) are ancestral to anthropoid (humanlike) monkeys.

Wouldn't you know it? A recent letter to Nature confirmed my suspicions:


AIGB quotes Nature:

quote:
...in the paper the authors explicitly state that Darwinius masillae “could represent a stem group from which later anthropoid primates evolved, but we are not advocating this here, nor do we consider either Darwinius or adapoids to be anthropoids”. The authors also refrain from claiming that the fossil changes our understanding of primate evolution.

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. Both book and documentary include the the suggestive words ‘The Link’ in their titles. A press release associated with the New York press conference at which the fossil was first officially described claimed that the fossil represents revolutionary changes in understanding. The History Channel website calls the find a “human ancestor”, and the BBC website describes it as “our earliest ancestor”.

To be fair, the authors’ claims at the press conference were appropriately measured. Nonetheless, the researchers were fully involved in the documentaries and the media campaign, which associate them with a drastic misrepresentation of their research.


The Nature editorial is part way down the page here. I'd like to quote the whole thing, but that probably wouldn't be proper. The closing paragraph:

quote:
In principle, there is no reason why science should not be accompanied by highly proactive publicity machines. But in practice, such arrangements introduce conflicting incentives that can all too easily undermine the process of the assessment and communication of science.

See the link content for the whole editorial.

Moose

Edited by Minnemooseus, : Add first quote and change ID.

Edited by Minnemooseus, : Missed two extra line feeds.


    
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 209 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 36 of 45 (532160)
10-21-2009 5:30 PM


New analysis questions Darwinus position as human ancestor
Blog link here

This is the summary image:

A different group have done studies on another primate closely related to Darwinus and called the conclusions of the group describing Darwinus into question.

How long before this gets trotted out as an Evolutionist fraud?


Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Briterican, posted 10-22-2009 2:58 PM Dr Jack has acknowledged this reply

  
Briterican
Member (Idle past 2053 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 37 of 45 (532304)
10-22-2009 2:58 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Dr Jack
10-21-2009 5:30 PM


Linkus Failus
From the BBC 22nd October 2009:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8318643.stm

"The exceptionally well-preserved fossil primate known as "Ida" is not a missing link as some have claimed, according to an analysis in the journal Nature." - BBC News

Mr Jack wrote:
How long before this gets trotted out as an Evolutionist fraud?

It's already happening...

http://www.scribd.com/...A-Multi-Million-Dollar-Monkey-Fraud

"Sorry evolutionists: For all the big headlines and grand proclamations this "missing link" is another - if beautifully preserved - fraud, another in a long line of distinguished frauds." - from the abovementioned article.

The article (and other media coverage) seems to ignore the fact that a great many paleontologists were skeptical from the beginning of Ida's connection with our ancestral line.

As always, the fact that science is self-correcting will be viewed by the fundies as some sort of admission of guilt.


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1342 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 38 of 45 (532307)
10-22-2009 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Briterican
10-22-2009 2:58 PM


Re: Linkus Failus
The article (and other media coverage) seems to ignore the fact that a great many paleontologists were skeptical from the beginning of Ida's connection with our ancestral line.

Which is why I'm not a big fan of the way this discovery was trotted out to the world like it was a blockbuster movie premier. While I agree science needs to be pushed to the front pages of newspapers, it shouldn't do so in a way that can so easily blow up in our faces. Especially considering the enemies we're fighting: ignorance and deception.


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 209 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 39 of 45 (532336)
10-22-2009 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Perdition
10-22-2009 3:02 PM


Re: Linkus Failus
Which is why I'm not a big fan of the way this discovery was trotted out to the world like it was a blockbuster movie premier. While I agree science needs to be pushed to the front pages of newspapers, it shouldn't do so in a way that can so easily blow up in our faces. Especially considering the enemies we're fighting: ignorance and deception.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of the way it was trotted out either.

However it would be nice if this kind of actual, real, scientific debate could be conveyed to the public sensibly. The fact is that neither the original group, nor this new study, can actually claim the crown of the scientific fact of the matter. It disappoints me that both the original claim and this new claim are uncritically accepted by the media at large and that the information that makes both claims actually pretty credible is not presented front and center. There's a general stench in public debate (certainly in my country) that disagreement within ranks represents weakness rather than strength and this stench imeasurably weakens politics as well as the public understanding of science.


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hooah212002
Member
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 40 of 45 (532343)
10-22-2009 9:17 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Briterican
10-22-2009 2:58 PM


Re: Linkus Failus
Yes, but who pushed it out? The MEDIA. However, there will not be the distinction between the two. This wil be viewed as a science fraud, not a media fuck up.

Edited by hooah212002, : No reason given.


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 209 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 41 of 45 (532378)
10-23-2009 4:32 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by hooah212002
10-22-2009 9:17 PM


Re: Linkus Failus
Yes, but who pushed it out? The MEDIA. However, there will not be the distinction between the two. This wil be viewed as a science fraud, not a media fuck up.

In this case, I think this is untrue. The media circus was deliberately and systematically arranged by the team that described the fossil. They organised the TV shows, the news briefings and so forth to co-incide with the papers release.

The real reason this is not fraud is the usual one: being wrong is being wrong*; it's not fraud.

* - assuming the new research pans out suitably, and they are wrong.


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1342 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 42 of 45 (532434)
10-23-2009 12:28 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by Dr Jack
10-22-2009 8:04 PM


Re: Linkus Failus
That's the problem wiht the media. They need attention grabbing headlines in order to sell their papers/magazines/web subscriptions. A headline reading "Scientists Discover a New Fossil That May or May Not Be a Human Ancestor Pending More Information" is not as catchy, nor as sensationalistic as "Oldest Human Ancestor Ever Found!!!" And now, on the other end, "Ida Fossil May Not Be The Human Ancestor It's Discoverers Thought According To New Studies" isn't quite as "good" as "Fossil Hunters Wrong, Ida Not Human Ancestor!!!"

It's sad that all most people know about science is filtered from actual science journals through Pop-Science magazines to a newspaper whose science desk is the second hat of the sports writer.


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Lithodid-Man
Member (Idle past 1035 days)
Posts: 504
From: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Joined: 03-22-2004


Message 43 of 45 (532485)
10-23-2009 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Perdition
10-23-2009 12:28 PM


Newspapers and science
I agree perdition, the need to appeal to the masses (a least what some believe appeals to the masses, I think people are underestimated at times) results in some really crappy science reporting.

I really wish that I had, several decades ago, saved an article from the Seattle PI. This article was a report about a new ancient fossil primate from Texas (cannot recall the details, would have been ~87-88). What stood out about an otherwise well written story was the headline and the concluding sentence. The headline was something like "New Fossil Challenges Evolution" or some such nonsense, when iirc it wasn't a even new species but a new older find of a known group. And the worst was the concluding paragraph, which said something like "Scientists formerly believed that humans evolved in Africa". The main body of the article consisted of statements by researchers and was basically accurate. I could just envision some editor tacking on an 'improved' headline and conclusion to make the story more exciting!

This had a real effect on how I view science reporting, and little since has changed my view. It is really unfortunate that we cannot get the word out in a better way consistently.


Doctor Bashir: "Of all the stories you told me, which were true and which weren't?"
Elim Garak: "My dear Doctor, they're all true"
Doctor Bashir: "Even the lies?"
Elim Garak: "Especially the lies"
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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1342 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 44 of 45 (532490)
10-23-2009 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Lithodid-Man
10-23-2009 3:36 PM


Re: Newspapers and science
It is really unfortunate that we cannot get the word out in a better way consistently.

What's really unfortunate is that we have the means and the tools to get it out. There are some great science blogs and websites out there. The biggest obstacle is that people don't usually care, nor are they informed enough to understand anything said in actual "science-speak" unless it's boiled down and analogized.


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 209 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 45 of 45 (549018)
03-03-2010 9:03 AM


Another damning assessment.
There's been another paper published confirming that Darwinius is not a direct human ancestor.

Read about it here.


  
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