Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dishonoring Darwin

When it comes to inane and credulous reporting about religion, my local newspaper, the Waterloo Region Record, is unsurpassed. Reporter Mirko Petricevic has never met a religion he doesn't like. His "reporting" consists mostly of taking dictation from believers, without ever challenging them.

This Saturday the Record published a full-page article about the Canadian chapter of "Creation Ministries International", formerly known as Answers in Genesis. Petricevic gives these anti-science crackpots a full page of free publicity, while not asking them a single hard question.

Reading the article, you wouldn't really understand how overwhelming the weight of evidence against the creationist case is. Petricevic gives the scientific point of view short shrift, mentioning only that "Scientists generally believe the world we know formed about 4.5 billion years ago" and "Many scientists accept that dinosaurs lived about 60 million to 225 million years ago and that humans emerged in Africa between 120,000 and 200,000 years ago". Many scientists? How about saying forthrightly that the scientific consensus is supported by the vast, overwhelming majority of paleontologists and anthropologists?

Defenders of science get only four column inches out of 36, and the defense is rather tepid. As if underlining the reporter's bias, the article closes with two pointers to creationist web sites, but not a single pointer to any website countering creationist claims.

With the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth coming up, I'm fully prepared to see additional shoddy journalism from the Record.

Addendum: Compare Petricevic's article with this article in the Toronto Star. Neither article is very good, but at least the Star article talks about what scientists actually believe, as opposed to what creationists believe.


Jorgon Gorgon said...

My favourite part of the article may just be this: '"Christian opinions, in general, are in a minority," he said.'

Do these people really live in some alternate universe?

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Who is this religious crackpot? He seems to be writing about `faith' only; mostly about christians, but also jews and muslims. He seems to believe that brainwashing children is a good thing.

As for creationsts, there are some recent bad news: The origin of animal life on Earth is tens of millions of years older than what was thought to be: BBC article here. And, to advertize my blog :-) click here.

Corey said...

As evidence that the Earth is relatively young, Fangrad pointed to the story of a T-Rex dinosaur bone found in Montana several years ago. The bone contained some material that appeared to look like blood cells. Blood cells, he argued, would not last 60 million years.

This is lie. They did not find red blood cells. They found some structures that might represent altered blood remains in an exceptionally well preserved specimen where the inside of the bone had been cocooned.

Schweitzer, M. H. and Horner, J. R. 1999. Intrasvascular microstructures in trabecular bone tissues of Tyrannosaurus rex. Annales de Paléontologie 85; 3: 179-192.

Schweitzer, M. H., Johnson, C., Zocco, T. G., Horner, J. H. and Starkey, J. R. 1997. Preservation of biomolecules in cancellous bone of Tyrannosaurus rex. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 17; 2: 349-359.

Anonymous said...

The Schweitzer, claims have been questioned:

Dinosaurian Soft Tissues Interpreted as Bacterial Biofilms
Thomas G. Kay, Gary Gaugler, Zbigniew Sawlowicz
(2008) PLoS ONE 3(7): e2808. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002808