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Follow Up on that Big Missing Link Discovery

John on May 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

When this hit the papers, I noted the NY Times story and said:

I’m not saying this isn’t a significant find, just that the hype is overblown.

Time magazine has a follow up which reaches pretty much the same conclusion:

From the beginning, Ida’s unveiling has been a master class in ballyhoo…

[...]

All of which renders the press release touting a “revolutionary scientific find that will change everything” absolutely true — as long as by “everything,” you mean “whether the branch of the primate family that includes monkeys, apes and humans comes from the suborder strepsirrhinae or the suborder haplorrhinae,” according to the PLoS One paper. And by “change,” you mean “adds information that may or may not help settle the question, but whose implications won’t be known for a long time in any case.”

Most paleontologists will roll their eyes at that sort of overhyped nonsense, especially given that there’s real science lurking underneath. After wading through the false advertising, though, most people might have a hard time finding it.

This is not a good trend in science. And again, I stick by my previous assessment that this was at best the 2nd biggest science story of the week.  This was the first.

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