Skeptics of Tucson Message Board › Supposed Missing Link Found - IDA Darwinius masillae

Supposed Missing Link Found - IDA Darwinius masillae

user 2751251
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 134­



There seems to be a media storm about a supposed discovery of a missing link fossil. I don't know my science, biology, media or skepticism that well, but I am very suspicious of it all.

Firstly - they appear to be releasing their journal/findings the day they are also hosting a massive press conference. All of this happens to coincide with the documentary they will be releasing on the history channel. It sounds like a financially motivated, hype motivated, non-scientific and non-academic integrity approach. Knowing that they desire immediate fame and fortune shows that their priorities do not rest on corroborated and peer reviewed scientific data. That is the way I read it, and it makes me sadly suspicious of something that could be so interesting. Whatever conclusions we finally draw from this fossil, will be ultimately corrupted, by the superficial and hyped information that is currently being released in such a sloppy and misleading fashion.

Secondly - they way the fossil was discovered and dealt with sounds also especially suspicious to me. It was discovered in Germany, which seems like an unlikely place from what I can gather. It was discovered decades ago and was held as a piece of art by some collector up on his wall. Eventually some guy, maybe it was the scientist, had it purchased for 1 million us dollars and voila a little while later we have the holy grail that proves evolution. That just sounds retarded. Whoever initially found the thing, would have released it to the scientific world. Why leave time for it to be stolen, damaged? Why prevent science from advancing? Why wait all that time? It just sounds so fishy.

Thirdly - A supposedly credible science writer said this:
Science writer Carl Zimmer berated the media coverage of Ida’s public debut. When the story was first gaining momentum in the press, Zimmer said in his Discover magazine blog The Loom that he waited for “experts who were not involved in the discovery and analysis of the fossil” to “corroborate that this was indeed the Holy Grail of paleontology. … I never found one.” If only those involved with the project are making bold claims, but no one else corroborates them, then this is a sign that something is no quite right. It appears that these people are riding a wave of media ignorance.

I was surprised that my favorite skeptical podcasts and blogs didn't really address this find. This would be the perfect teachable moment as they say in education. I am sure most of us can't/won't be able to understand all the details that will be involved in this case, but we can at least attempt to use our critical thinking skills to analyze this event. Just showing people in the general public, the creationists, the believers, the gullible how we think could be of great benefit. What are your opinions on this topic? Are you suspicious, skeptical? Why? How did you come to your conclusion?

Also, I was wondering. Doesn't the whole approach to this fossil, seem somewhat un-academic to you? If I were an academic and I came to the conclusion that the journal writers were acting without integrity or at least trying to gain profit and fame and/or mislead the public, then wouldn't you try to shame them or rebuke them in some sort of way? How does the academic community rebuke scientists who are exploiting the ignorance of the media and the public? What could the consequences for these scientists/academics be? I don't understand the process very well. Excuse my ignorance.

user 2751251
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 135

I am still researching this ida thing. They have some cool videos at the history channel web site.

But I found these paragraphs compelling. It is from the Wall Street Journal of all places:

While many scientific discoveries tend to be disclosed in sober fashion, this one was heavily promoted. It has already resulted in a rapidly written book called "The Link" about the discovery and implications of the fossil. A two-hour TV documentary will be shown in the U.S. later this month.

Philip Gingerich, a paleontologist from the University of Michigan and a member of the Ida research team, said the latest discovery will prove significant for an understanding of early primate evolution. Asked in an interview last week whether the study ought to have been published in Science or Nature, the two most prestigious scientific journals, he replied: "There was a TV company involved and time pressure. We've been pushed to finish the study; it's not how I like to do science."

At least the interviewer knew that it is suspicious if the findings are published in a documentary and book before they are published in legit journals. Even the scientist admits he doesn't like the fact that they are doing it backwards.

They also wrote:
The fossil was displayed to the media and a small number of invited guests at New York's American Museum of Natural History in an event hyped to an unusual degree for a scientific unveiling.

At least this interviewer seems to know what to look for.

Interviewer was
Gautam Naik­
user 2751251
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 136

Get this:

They may be onto something. Another Another New York Times story analysing the media roll-out of Darwinius masillae included this gem of a quote, from the lead scientist behind the buzz, Jorn Hurum, of the University of Oslo, Norway:

"Any pop band is doing the same thing. Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science."

Hurum is the same researcher who dubbed a recent fossil find "Predator X".

It seems like some scientists are starting to play a bit harder ball now a days. Hopefully it doesn't back fire too hard, if they start mixing the hype with the science.
user 2751251
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 137
Alright, almost done here. Leave it to the right wing / christians and Fox News to expose some of the tactics being used here.

From Fox

"On the whole I think the evidence is less than convincing," said Chris Gilbert, a paleoanthropologist at Yale University. "They make an intriguing argument but I would definitely say that the consensus is not in favor of the hypothesis they're proposing."

The Ida team points to the fact that some of the fossil's teeth, toe and ankle bones resemble anthropoids more than modern lemurs. But other researchers point out that primitive lemurs, as opposed to modern lemurs, also share many of these features.

"They claim in the paper that by examining the anatomy of adapids, these animals have something to do with the direct line of human ancestry and living monkeys and apes. This claim is buttressed with almost no evidence," said paleontologist Richard Kay of Duke University. "And they failed to cite a body of literature that's been going on since at least 1984 that presents evidence against their hypothesis."

Kay said the researchers did not compare Ida to other important fossil primates from this time, especially those from a group called Eosimiads, that could contradict their claims.

Whether or not researchers agree with the conclusions of the Ida team, many said they were thrilled that new evidence has been added to the debate. At the very least, the discovery offers a chance to reevaluate prevailing thinking.

"I think when we find these new discoveries, let's just go back and look at all of the fossils, and just rethink the whole thing," said Jeffrey Schwartz, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Pittsburgh.

And this is from WND - World Net Daily­

A&E executives, the Times reports, also brokered a deal for an exclusive Ida appearance tomorrow morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," as well as appearances on the network's "Nightline" and "World News". The documentary's backers also lined up a publisher for a book on the fossil called "The Link," set to be released tomorrow with 110,000 copies already shipped.

The Times of London reports that some scientists have joined in criticism of the media coverage, arguing it is wrong for a discovery to receive such heavy publicity before other researchers can evaluate it.

"It's obviously a lot of media hype to promote an ideology," Ham told WND. "In the wake of a lot of controversies in creation vs. evolution, evolutionists want to be able to announce they have the ultimate proof. … It's obviously a ploy to promote a book and a television special and to indoctrinate the public in evolution by making a lot of statements that are way beyond what the scientists themselves wrote."

Both Wells and Ham, however, told WND the hype and significance attached to this one fossil only points to how intense the debate is becoming between creation and evolution. It is not, they said, as decided in Darwin's favor as David Attenborough has asserted.

"For Attenborough to come out and say, 'We have the missing link; it's no longer missing,' only admits they haven't had missing links before this time," Ham told WND. "If evolution is so decided, why would they get all excited about one fossil that they find now, when they claim they've had proof of evolution for years?"

"When you listen to Darwinists, they claim their theory is as well established as gravity," Wells told WND. "If that were really the case, we wouldn't be getting these startling announcements that we finally found the proof that we need. There wouldn't be any controversy. This would be like someone running up and saying, 'Stop the presses. I just saw another apple fall from the tree; Newton was right!' In the evolutionists' own framework, it's nonsense. It demonstrates their theory is not as well established as they claim."

I also read the press release and skimmed their Scientific Journal article. I must say it was cool to see all the important documents that led to this media blitz. It doesn't take too much to manipulate the media. The scientists really are cleverly using the whole media as a free marketing campaign to make money and get out their basic message. I guess if you can't beat them, join them right? That must be their philosophy. The politicians do this stuff, the corporations do it, the christians do it, the entertainment industry does it, I guess science is now also ready to play that game. I just have an extreme aversion to the media, because I feel they are lazy, manipulating, money seekers who don't care too much about actual facts. It just seems kind of wrong for science to sink to such a low level.

Powered by mvnForum

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy