Using the Media

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Feb 5, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    Using the Media
    Suggesting the above as a thread.

    In the interests of that are several articles. I will start with one.
    Michael Shermer is a 'professional skeptic.' Actually, he is basically
    anti-Christian and seems to focus more on that than anything else.
    Nevertheless, he has a regular "Sceptical" column in Scientific American.
    Recently he took on 'creationism' again in such a blatently contradictory
    way that the reviewer of the article in his own article in Christianity
    Today ended up closing his review with the following:

    Did Shermer read what he had written before it went into print? Did
    anyone at Scientific American read it? I know the magazine has been going
    downhill, but this is embarrassing stuff. Remember that a moment ago Shermer
    was saying that creationists "misread the theory of evolution as a challenge
    to their deeply held religious convictions." But now, disabusing people of
    their Christianity and theism is the end product of the "illumination"
    offered by science; how to go about it is just a matter of tactics.

    One final note: How does a professional skeptic, of all people, come by such
    a faith in "the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the
    advance of science"? Skeptic, heal thyself.

    John Wilson


    http://ChristianityToday.com/ct/2002/104/11.0.html
     
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    PATRICK PARSON

    The folks who hope to undermine Christianity by using science are simply the
    mirror image of the ID folks who hope to undermine science using
    Christianity. They are unfortunate ideologues who find reality incomptible
    with the world they demand to be for them.
    I haven't read Schermer's article, and don't know if the quotes are really a
    fair presentation of his ideas, but you can find antiChristian stuff almost
    everywhere. It's unfortunate that Christianity has the same sort trying to
    rearrange God's creation to suit themselves.

    The proper place to work out problems in science is in the literature.
    Yes, even creationist journals. If they produce useful science, they will
    be read by serious scientists. If creation scientists begin to produce
    important new discoveries, they will influence scientists and become
    accepted in their own right. Or so The Barbarian figures.

    But media battles, attempts to use the political process, and the like will
    mostly convince scientists that they have nothing to offer.

    Ditto for those who want to use science to "disabuse" us of our religious
    beliefs. Enough.
     
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    RADIOCHEMIST

    The following paragraph is from Shermer's Scientific American article.
    I think it is noteworthy because of the idea of convergence of
    evidence. Note the remarkably broad and independent lines of
    evidence that support evolution. Helen has her finger in the
    dyke but the tide has already flooded her world.

    "Although such findings are disturbing, truth in science is not
    determined democratically. It does not matter what percentage of
    the public believes a theory. It must stand or fall on the evidence,
    and there are few theories in science that are more robust than the
    theory of evolution. The preponderance of evidence from numerous
    converging lines of inquiry (geology, paleontology, zoology, botany,
    comparative anatomy, genetics, biogeography, and so on) points to the
    same conclusion--evolution is real. The 19th-century philosopher of
    science William Whewell called this process of independent lines of
    inquiry converging together to a conclusion a "consilience of
    inductions." I call it a "convergence of evidence."
    Whatever you call it, it is how historical events are proved.
    "
    --
     
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    HELEN

    The fact that Shermer claims, as do many evolutionist apologists, that
    there is a giant amount of evidence for evolution in a multitude of
    areas is nothing more than a claim. One of the things creationists have
    done is show field by field that the evidences are presumptions yielding
    interpretations on minimal data.
    Take for instance this one: Shrimp have a gene which, when altered,
    causes them to not develop two legs! This is interesting, but it only
    yields deformed shrimp! Nevertheless, look at the hype they got in the
    media!

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Reprinted from ScienceDaily Magazine ...
    Source: University Of California - San Diego
    Date Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2002
    Web Address: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020207075601.htm

    First Genetic Evidence Uncovered Of How Major Changes In Body Shapes
    Occurred During Early Animal Evolution

    Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have uncovered the
    first genetic evidence that explains how large-scale alterations to body
    plans were accomplished during the early evolution of animals.
    In an advance online publication February 6 by Nature of a paper
    scheduled to appear in Nature, the scientists show how mutations in
    regulatory genes that guide the embryonic development of crustaceans and
    fruit flies allowed aquatic crustacean-like arthropods, with limbs on
    every segment of their bodies, to evolve 400 million years ago into a
    radically different body plan: the terrestrial six-legged insects.
    The achievement is a landmark in evolutionary biology, not only because
    it shows how new animal body plans could arise from a simple genetic
    mutation, but because it effectively answers a major criticism
    creationists had long leveled against evolution-the absence of a genetic
    mechanism that could permit animals to introduce radical new body
    designs.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    and so the hype goes. You can read the rest for yourself.

    Here is the response to that hype from Discovery Institute:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> DISCOVERY INSTITUTE
    Wednesday, February 6, 2002
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


    U.C. San Diego Researchers Exaggerate Findings to Promote Evolutionary
    Theory


    A mutant shrimp is being claimed as "a landmark in evolutionary biology"

    that proves Darwin¹s critics wrong. But it¹s nothing of the sort, says
    biologist Jonathan Wells.

    A research team headed by William McGinnis at the University of
    California
    at San Diego has reported discovering a DNA mutation that produces
    shrimp
    without hind legs. Their report is being published in the February 6
    issue
    of Nature.

    Since shrimp normally have lots of legs, and insects have only six, the
    U.
    C. San Diego researchers claim they have discovered the genetic
    mechanism
    that enabled terrestrial insects to evolve from aquatic ancestors
    hundreds
    of millions of years ago. The researchers also claim that this
    discovery
    undercuts a primary argument against the theory of evolution, because it

    shows that major mutations do not result in dead animals.

    Not so, says Dr. Jonathan Wells, who has a Ph.D. in molecular biology
    from
    the University of California at Berkeley and is currently a senior
    fellow at
    Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA. Wells calls the U. C. San Diego
    claim
    "greatly exaggerated," and describes the mutant shrimp as "an
    evolutionary
    dead end that tells us little or nothing about how insects originated."

    Wells points out that the mutation reported by McGinnis and his
    colleagues
    occurs midway through development, after the embryo is already a shrimp.

    "The mutation does not transform the embryo into anything like an
    insect,
    but only into a deformed shrimp that¹s missing its hind legs. Whatever
    produced the first insect would have had to transform the entire embryo
    from
    the very beginning."

    Wells adds that critics of Darwinism do not claim that major mutations
    result in dead animals, but only in animals that are less fit.
    Evolution
    depends on increases in fitness, since animals that are less fit tend to
    be
    eliminated by natural selection. Major developmental mutations,
    however,
    always decrease fitness.

    Wells says he is not surprised that the researchers are making so much
    of
    their discovery. "There is no evidence that genetic mutations can
    produce
    the major changes required by evolution, so people who believe strongly
    in
    the theory often exaggerate the evidence to make it look better than it
    really is."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
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    RUFUSATTICUS

    Jonathan Wells should have read the papers before he panned them.:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> NCSE asks Discovery Institute: Where's the Shrimp?
    by Alan Gishlick

    In a Discovery Institute press release dated Feb. 6, Jonathan Wells accuses
    three developmental biologists of making "exaggerated claims" in a recent
    paper in Nature (advance online publication, Feb. 6, 2002). But it is
    Wells, in his zeal to criticize any research supporting evolution, whose
    claims are "exaggerated."

    One wonders whether he actually read the paper. For example, the press
    release states: "William McGinnis at the University of California at San
    Diego just reported discovering a DNA mutation that produces shrimp without
    hind legs." He did? If Wells has indeed read the paper, currently published
    at http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/dynapage.taf?file=/nature/journal/vaop/ncurren
    t/index.html, then he should know that no shrimp were mutated in the
    production of the research. Further, no mutant shrimp were mentioned in a
    UCSD press release announcing the Nature paper, which is what Wells
    apparently relied upon for his critique. Wells appears obsessed by illusory
    shrimp when he asserts: "The mutation does not transform the embryo into
    anything like an insect, but only into a disabled shrimp."

    As plainly explained in the Nature paper, the research involved inserting
    the crustacean Ubx gene into a fruit fly, and observing that it did not
    function as a limb inhibitor (as the fruit fly Ubx gene does). Further, the
    researchers experimented on the crustacean Ubx gene and specifically
    isolated the mutations that cause the Ubx gene to become a limb inhibitor.
    This is exciting research because crustaceans have many pairs of limbs,
    while insects have just three pairs, and it is the Ubx gene that controls
    limb development in both. The authors conclude that this shows that specific
    micromutations can cause large-scale phenotypic effects, thus helping us
    better to understand the processes that may have been involved in the
    evolution of the insect body plan and by extension those of other animals as
    well. Wells's hostility toward the biological fact that genes govern the
    evolution of new body plans seems to have blinded him to the obvious: There
    were no mutant shrimp.

    Wells wastes a press release on thinly disguised creationist pontifications
    about research that he apparently could not be bothered to read. Intelligent
    Design proponents in general have been repeatedly told that if they want to
    be taken seriously, they must produce scientific research of their own
    rather than uninformed and irresponsible criticism of the work of real
    scientists. They claim that Intelligent Design is not just antievolutionism,
    but Wells's press release is no more than that. We keep waiting for real
    scientific research to emanate from proponents of Intelligent Design but if
    Wells's latest effort is any indication, then -- to paraphrase a Russian
    proverb -- we may be waiting until shrimp begin to whistle.

    Contact: Alan D. Gishlick, Post-Doctoral Scholar

    February 7, 2002<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    source: http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2002/ZZ/693_ncse_asks_discovery_instit
    ute_2_7_2002.asp
     
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    THINKPLEASE

    Helen: Take for instance this one: Shrimp have a gene which, when altered,
    causes them to not develop two legs! This is interesting, but it only
    yields deformed shrimp! Nevertheless, look at the hype they got in the
    media!


    I reply:

    There has been a flotilla of discussion of this on many different forums.
    The problem is that everyone is reading the press releases, and no one is
    reading the paper itself. I took the time to do so, and spent a few hours
    on a crash course to understand the concept of the paper. I sum it up as
    such:

    In the genetic code, there is a series of genes in each set of chromosomes
    called HOX genes that control exterior development. These particular sets
    of genes appear only in vertebrates and create proteins that tell the body
    to create or suppress appendages, tell which end to become a head or foot,
    and everything. In particular, there is a HOX gene called the Ubx/AbdA,
    which suppresses abdominal appendages in fruit flies. What they did was
    took this gene (which is different in each species) in fruit flies and the
    gene in the particular species of shrimp, and told it to activate itself
    in the thorax region in each species (where is where the appendages are).
    They compared the effects of the activated genes in both species and found
    that the gene that is in the shrimp doesn't suppress leg function as well
    as the gene that is in fruit flies. They then created a series of
    HOX/AbdA genes that were various blends of each species, and used the
    effects of these blends to note the number of legs created by each
    particular blend. They used this to locate the molecular sequence of each
    gene that causes appendage suppression. They created blends of each
    sequence to make sure that each sequence alternately suppressed or
    enhanced appendage creation.

    From this, they propose that that particular molecular sequence was
    activated in the past in the thorax shrimp/insect ancestry, which caused
    the species to diverge into insects, arthropods and arachnids. That this
    happens in the genetic code has been hypothesized for some time, but this
    is the first time that someone has actually manipulated a small bit of the
    genetic code to make such large scale changes to the extrior structure of
    an organism. Certainly scientists have genetically altered fruit flies
    to create different species of fly that cannot reproduce with each
    other, but as creationists constantly remind us (as Wells does here) no
    one has ever created a 4 legged fly, or a 6 legged spider, or a spider
    with wings. As they say at the end:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>"On the basis of these results, we propose that Ubx proteins in
    some crustacean/insect ancestors uncovered a limb-repression
    function by the mutation of C-terminal Ser/Thr phosphorylation
    sites. Together with the restriction of Ubx expression to the
    posterior trunk and expansion of a QA-rich domain, the loss of
    these sites would have contributed to the evolution of the hexapod
    body plan. The putative phosphorylation-mediated regulation of
    transcriptional repression function in arthropod Ubx proteins may
    occur by a similar mechanism to that recently described for the
    Drosophila Even-skipped protein. In both cases, such a mechanism
    would provide for the mediation by signal transduction of the
    control of transcriptional activation and repression functions of
    homeobox genes."

    "To our knowledge, this is the first experimental evidence that
    links naturally selected alterations of a specific protein sequence to a
    major morphological transition in evolution. There are at least two
    major reasons why the mutation of mutiple Ser/Thr residues that
    inhibit a repression function might be advantageous from an
    evolutionary aspect. First, mutating the residues would give
    dominant phenotypes, eliminating the need to fix two recessive
    mutations in a morphologically evolving lineage. Second, the
    successive removal of Ser/Thr residues might quantitatively
    influence repression function and morphology, allowing viable
    microevolutionary steps toward "hopeful monsters" with macro-evolutionary
    alterations in body shape." <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    From reading the paper and the press release from each side, it is
    apparent that Wells (and Helen) never actually read the paper, because he
    addresses claims that the scientists never actually make. They never
    claimed to have created shrimp that actually lived and reproduced.

    Secondly, it is becoming apparent to me that Wells might be in for a shock
    sometime in the next decade or two when someone actually does successfully
    mutate an organism with significantly different exterior structures than its
    progenitor. As far as I'm concerned, it's only a matter of time.
     
  7. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    A few responses:
    To Pat Parson: you wrote, … the ID folks who hope to undermine
    science using
    Christianity. They are unfortunate ideologues who find reality
    incomptible with the world they demand to be for them.


    I see. So when the same testing methods are used in archaeology, they
    are science. When they are used in forensics, they are science. But if
    they are used to determine the possibility of intelligent design in
    nature, they are UNDERMINING SCIENCE??? That seems to me where your
    bias is producing some rather strange inconsistencies.

    To all: this thread is about the way the media is used by science.
    There is an excellent book on this type of abuse of the media and the
    betrayal of trust by the media called “Selling Science” by Dorothy
    Nelkin who is, by the way, very evolutionist. Another book recently
    published is “Bias” by Bernard Goldberg, who also talks about news
    presentations, although he does not deal with science. The shrimp news
    article – regardless of what the actual article in Nature actually says
    – is a prime example of this kind of sloppy and deceptive reporting. It
    could be blamed on the media itself if the sloppiness extended to cover
    different viewpoints where science is concerned, but it doesn’t. The
    reporting is consistently exaggerating the claims of the left and the
    claims of evolutionists. At the very least, this would indicate a
    collusion.

    It was said that I never read the paper. No, that is right, I did not.
    It was not available for me to read yet! But the press release was, and
    it seemed to have really misrepresented the more modest claims made by
    the paper itself.

    In the meantime, I asked around a bit about Jonathan’s response put out
    by Discovery Institute. One reply I have so far received back is
    interesting. It is from Dr. Dave DeWitt, professor of biology at
    Liberty University and reads,
    In defense of Wells, I suspect that he, like myself, was provided
    with a copy of the paper to review on February 5. This is standard
    procedure.
    Reporters are provided with papers in advance, show them to experts for
    comment and wait until they are allowed to print their story. The paper
    is "embargoed" until it is lifted and the journal/author says it is OK
    to print. The embargo for this paper was lifted at 2pm on February 6.
    Until that time, Wells and I were not permitted to discuss the paper
    with the public. After that time, it's fair game.

    NCSE would know that since Wells was quoted in that ABC article, he
    would have been able to review the paper early. But this doesn't keep
    them from the smear.

    Their other point is semantics. They insist, "We don't say that man
    came from apes, we say that man and apes share a common ancestor." The
    implication from the article is that a crustacean (shrimp) ancestor was
    mutated and thus had fewer than "normal" legs. This cripple gave rise
    to 6 legged creatures.

    It's all about spin.

    David A. DeWitt
     
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    PATRICK PARSON

    I see. So when the same testing methods are used in archaeology, they
    are science.


    No. In fact, I've never seen anything like ID applied to archaeology.
    There are methods for knowing, for example, whether a broken stone is just a
    broken stone or a primitive tool. But ID has nothing to do with it. The
    usual methods of gathering data and analyzing the evidence are used. You
    might want to read "Making the Silent Stones Speak" to learn how they
    do this. It's fascinating, and ID speculations are never used.


    When they are used in forensics, they are science.

    No. I have a good friend who is the forensics specialist for a large
    police department. We talk about the things he has to do in his work. ID
    is never a part of it. He has been to many FBI training courses. They
    don't use anything by the usual scientific method.


    But if they are used to determine the possibility of intelligent design in
    nature, they are UNDERMINING SCIENCE???


    So far, I've seen a number of requests on various boards, to actually
    demonstrate that ability in blind tests. So far, no ID advocate is willing
    to do it. Would you?
     
  9. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    First, to Pat:
    Your response that neither archaeology nor forensics uses ID methods
    (or, to be more precise, that ID does not use theirs) is not even
    rational. When an archaeologist picks up a shard or funny-shaped rock,
    the very FIRST question in his or her mind runs along the lines of “Is
    this the result of a deliberate work or is this an accident of nature?”
    The idea of ‘deliberate’ vs. ‘accident’ is exactly what ID is all
    about. In forensics, when a possible crime scene is first
    investigated, the FIRST question which must be answered is, “Is this an
    accident or is this the result of criminal intent?” Again, the
    separation of the concept of accident from intent is primary.
    And that is what ID is about – applying these same testing procedures to
    nature itself.

    Enough of that. And I have no idea what on earth you are referring to
    by some kind of blind test for ID. ID is itself a method of testing
    which is taken from fields such as forensics and archaeology. So if you
    want to test these tests for accuracy, I suggest to take your blind
    tests into the fields where they are used much more extensively rather
    than a field which is still being worked out.

    =============

    Now, regarding Jonathan Wells’ article, he will have the following
    posted on the Discovery website tomorrow but has given me permission to
    post it here today:

    [Administrator: This is being edited at the request of Helen. Wells has slightly changed what is being posted on the Discovery webpage]

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> MUTANT SHRIMP?
    A Correction

    In a press release issued by Discovery Institute on February 6, I stated that researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) had produced a mutant shrimp and exaggerated its significance to evolutionary biology.

    I was mistaken. No mutant shrimp were produced. Alan Gishlick of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) was quick to point this out, calling my statements “thinly disguised creationist pontifications.”

    In fact, I made the mistake because I gave the UCSD researchers more credit than they deserved. Their actual results provide even less evidence for evolution than I was initially led to believe.

    On February 5, a reporter from ABC.com called and asked me to comment on a UCSD press release that claimed: “Using laboratory fruit flies and a crustacean known as Artemia, or brine shrimp, the scientists showed how modifications in the Hox gene Ubx – which suppresses 100 percent of the limb development in the thoracic region of fruit flies, but only 15 percent in Artemia – would have allowed the crustacean-like ancestors of Artemia, with limbs on every segment, to lose their hind legs and diverge 400 million years ago into the six-legged insects.”

    William McGinnis, who led the UCSD research team, was quoted as saying that “during the early evolution of insects, this gene [i.e., Ubx] and the protein it encoded changed so that they now turned off those genes required to make legs, essentially removing those legs from what would be the abdomen in insects.”

    Based on the wording of the press release and McGinnis’s matter-of-fact statement, I assumed that the UCSD scientists had produced a mutant shrimp without hind legs. I then argued that this would not justify the researchers’ claim to have discovered a “general mechanism for producing major leaps in evolutionary change,” since it takes a lot more to turn a shrimp into a fruit fly than eliminating a few legs.

    Once I read the Nature paper (which was not made available until the day after the press release), I realized that the UCSD researchers had actually put a shrimp protein into a fruit fly embryo. A comparable protein from the fruit fly’s abdomen would have suppressed limb development in the embryo’s thorax (chest) region, but the shrimp protein permitted embryonic limb rudiments to form.

    So the UCSD researchers did not produce a mutant shrimp. Apparently, they didn’t even produce a mutant fruit fly – they merely showed that a shrimp protein enabled a fruit fly embryo to form leg rudiments where they would have formed normally. The results are interesting, but they fall far short of demonstrating how an aquatic crustacean might have evolved into a terrestrial insect.

    Gishlick and other defenders of Darwinian evolution should take no comfort from my mistake. In light of the UCSD researchers’ actual results, their claim to have discovered a “general mechanism for producing major leaps in evolutionary change” is even more exaggerated than I originally thought.


    "Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You kin barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it, - but you cain't turn it into a fruit fly."
    - with apologies to Bubba in "Forrest Gump"


    Jonathan Wells, Ph.D.
    Discovery Institute, Seattle <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    All of which goes to show what I was trying to demonstrate in the first
    place – the media is used to promote various ideas and ‘conclusions’ to
    an unsuspecting public where science is concerned. The dishonesty
    involved is pervasive and rampant.

    [ February 11, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    KEVIN KLEIN

    Helen wrote:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>All of which goes to show what I was trying to demonstrate in the first place the media is used to promote various ideas and ‘conclusions’ to an unsuspecting public where science is concerned. The dishonesty involved is pervasive and rampant.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think the fact that Wells was so quick to write his critique of the UCSD news release without even reading the original paper speaks for itself.

    On the other hand, since you claim that dishonesty is so "pervasive and rampant", maybe you could show us where exactly the UCSD press release and/or Nature paper are being dishonest. About the only problem I see is that the press release is less tentative about the interpretation of the results than it probably should be. Is this due to dishonesty or is it due to space or editorial constraints?
     
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    HELEN

    I think Dr. Wells answered your questions in his response. They did not see the papers but were asked to comment on the articles about the papers. When they realized the difference between the articles and what the papers actually said, there was a change in their responses. And this is simply one example of many regarding the way the press is used by the researches and such to exaggerate claims for them and impress people. This way, when the papers are actually published, the conclusions, rightly or wrongly, have already been impressed on the public mind.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> This book has suggested that many of the characteristics of science and technology reporting reflect the nature of the relationship between journalists and their sources. Concerned about their legitimacy in the political arena and anxious to receive support for thier work, scientists are sensitive to their image in the press. Hoping to shape that image, they are becoming adept at packaging information for journalists. Like advocates in any field, they are prone to overestimate the benefit of their work and minimize its risks.

    For their part, journalists, especially those with limited experience in science reporting, are vulnerable to manipulation by their sources of information. They are concerned about balance and objectivity and accept the ideoology of science as a neutral authority; an objective judge of truth. ience writers are in awe of scientists; others are intimidated. But most are bewildered by the complexity of technical issues. The difficulty of evaluating a complex and uncertain subject converges with the day-to-day constraints of the journalistic profession to reinforce the tendency to rely uncritically on scientific expertise. While political writers often go well beyond press briefings to probe the stories behind the news, science reporters tend to rely on authoritative researchers, press conferences, and professional journals. The result? Many journalists have adopted the mindeset or "frame" of scientists, interpreting science in terms defined by their sources, even when those sources clearly display a special bias.

    ...Unagressive in their reporting and reliant on official sources, science journalists present a narrow range of coverage. Many journalists are, in effect, retailing science and technology rather than investigating them, identifying with their sources rather than challenging them. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    from pages 163-164 in Dorothy Nelkin's Selling Science, (1995, W.H. Freeman and Co., New York).
     

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