Ok, I’ve finally found a little time to provide some commentary after posting the Gobekli Tepe YD Comet paper last week. I have more substantive comments underway (believe it or not) but first I thought I would rail a bit about the press.
The treatment of this particular story by the American press, and its larger context, the Younger Dryas Boundary Impact Hypothesis, continues to be despicable. The Brits led the way again on this subject and carried most of the planet in their wake. This fascinating little paper is being picked up all over the globe with dozens of re-writes by hundreds of publications — but very nearly zero from the US.
It would seem the US science desks and editors could find some common interest in this subject with our closest intellectual cousin, global warming certainly dominates coverage in both countries. But no. Just like the Widespread Platinum paper in Nature Reports last month, crickets in the US and reported in the UK. It seems we have our own science news, and they have theirs. How’s that for legitimacy of science?
The always depressing fact is that the U.S. science press has become so overtly politicized that it has no ink for anything that does not extend the narrative. There is no room for a serious, mitigable and global “science” threat that does not involve polluters and conservatives as the bad guys. Space rocks are hard to blame – and distracting.
Imagine if a media kid dares take this seriously, and (gasp) does some ‘enterprise reporting’ on the magnitude and quality of the research? They may reveal to themselves a threat on a par with CO2. Who would embark on a writing project that might result in THAT? For the rest of their career they would be intellectually compelled to write the next global warming story with an acknowledgement that the subject is our #2 global problem. That makes it hard to get up in the morning to cover the March for Science.
So why the Brits? I think catastrophism, as a philosophy and a way to see world history, is still a faint cultural recollection for them. And therefore of more interest to their readers and their writers. Like so many non-US cultures, in the United Kingdom they are still surrounded by their dragons — and most have had to consider, at least once, whether their ancestors really saw flying fire lizards, were full of shit, or maybe, just maybe, they saw flaming bolides with snake-like smoke tails — just like they record today with their iPhones.
Moreover, a hardy band of UK researchers has been making precisely these same claims in peer-reviewed publications for decades — approximately 40 decades. From Newton and Whiston, to Clube and Napier, it is hard to put a Brit down who knows he has been right for millennia. There is clearly some thread of understanding in the UK Fourth Estate that this is an area of legitimate intellectual inquiry with a long and distinguished history. Our press, on the other hand, only honors fashions that were born after they were.
So that’s that on the press coverage. As I say, more is coming, on our newest British friend, Dr. Martin Sweatman, author of the paper that inspired this deviation.
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