Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced

Thursday, January 10, 2002

A few weeks ago, there were some media outlets and blogs (I don't remember who), discussing a story involving the alleged planting of lynx hairs in forests in order to expand the protected habitat. This was naturally decried by the spoon-fed masses, who took these reports at their word (in their defense, they can only interpret what they see). Well, lo and behold, here comes a Nature opinion article that disputes the press version (I think that a subscription is required, but people at academic institutions should be able to read it) of events. In sum, the piece explains that there was a fear that the genetic analysis lab was doing faulty work, so captive lynx hair was sent to the lab as a positive control. This is simply good scientific practice, as all biologists certainly are aware. Now, it is possible that the researchers did what was alleged, but it is much more likely that they were simply misinterpreted and blown out of all proportion by uninformed right-wing activists and gullible reporters. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the truth, or at least the response, will get much play in the press, which is notorious for not liking to admit that they were suckered.