Monday, February 23, 2009


Pressing Concerns

If you would like to see how not to conduct an interview and maintain a shred of journalistic objectivity, go look at Suzan Mazur's attempt to chivvy David H. Koch (wealthy industrialist and major backer of PBS' Nova) into strong-arming the program to run something on her fantasized imminent collapse of the "Darwinian paradigm."

Mazur, you may remember, is the Geraldo Rivera of evolutionary science who has never found an interesting idea she can't hype beyond any recognition or met a kook, like Stuart Pivar, who she can't confuse with a real scientist. Needless to say, she keeps trying to shine klieg lights into empty vaults. Mazur created such overblown rhetoric about the "Altenberg 16" meeting, organized by Massimo Pigliucci, that it lent much comfort to creationists, not unlike the "Darwin Was Wrong" cover at New Scientist."

As far as her interviewing "skills," she can't seem to ask a question without appending to it a long personal (and pointless) anecdote or an extended diatribe about her Secretariat-like hobbyhorse. Many of her questions are longer than any of the answers that Koch gave and you can practically hear the wheels turning in his head going "how did I wind up in a room with this woman?" Koch sidestepped most of her claims of the impending end-of-evolution-as-we-know-it by saying that he was unaware of her "examples" or unqualified to assess the science or by making reassuring but noncommittal noises about how the public is served by knowing more about the subject. Asked if "we are now witnessing a sea change in evolutionary thinking?" he rather sensibly answered:

No. I don't think it's a sea change. The sea change occurred back when Darwin published his evolutionary theories, backed up by massive, overwhelming evidence. What's happened since is that there's been a rather steady progressive acceptance of the concepts of evolution in the general public. It's amazing to me that in America a large faction of the population still doesn't believe in it.

Not so amazing if this type of "journalism" is where they are getting their information from.

Any questions, Chris Mooney?

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