I knew it! I just had a feeling there was something funny going on here!
Remember the story about hybrid sharks I posted about the other day? I mocked it for it’s use of weasel words to scare the reader and push a climate-alarmist, pro-AGW agenda. The story was cited by several news outlets under different bylines (I quoted the original AFP report by writer Amy Coopes), but a Business Insider story by Dina Spector carried (for a while) an even more lurid headline:
“The World’s First Hybrid Shark Is Another Scary Sign That Global Warming Is Real”
At Watt’s Up With That, a commenter wrote directly the researcher cited in the articles, Jess Morgan, to ask her if she really said anything about shark hybridization being possibly related to global warming/climate change. Here’s her answer:
Quote not correct – I have now stated numerous times that it is extremely unlikely that climate change caused the hybridization event – however, the hybrid-Australian blacktips are now being seen further south of their known range (Australain blacktips have a tropical distribution) in cooler waters suggesting that the hybrids may have a wider temperature tolerance than their parents (ie the hybrids may be better adapted to handle changing water temperatures). That long statement is being condensed and printed as your quote below.
(Emphasis in the WUWT post)
Well, well, well. As Arte Johnson might have said, “verrry interesting… but shtinky!” Whether Spector or Coopes or someone else was the original source, and whether the misrepresentation of Morgan’s words was deliberate or unintentionally born of a do-gooder’s enthusiasm, what might have been an interesting bit of scientific reportage was transformed into street-corner preaching for the Cult of Anthropogenic Global Warming, agenda journalism of the worst sort.
It’s a prima-facie example of what Professor Bob Carter has called “noble cause corruption,” the perversion of of scientific (and other) ethics in the service of some cause or vested interest, rather than empirical truth:
Such corruption arises from the belief of a vested interest, or powerful person or group, in the moral righteousness of their cause. For example, a police officer may apprehend a person committing a crime and, stuck with a lack of incriminating evidence, proceed to manufacture it. For many social mores, of which “stopping global warming” and “saving the Great Barrier Reef” are two iconic Australian examples, it has become a common practice for evidence to be manipulated in dishonest ways, under the justification of helping to achieve a worthy end. After all, who wouldn’t want to help to “save the Great Barrier Reef”?
And this is yet another example that journalists are no more immune than cops or scientists — or anyone. It also serves as a healthy reminder to us all to read critically and, when possible, do like the commenter at WUWT and go straight to the source when something catches our eye, rather than relying on authority.
Be sure to read the whole post at WUWT. At the end, you’ll see Business Insider was forced by all the embarrassing questions to change both its headline and article text.
PS: As of this writing, AFP/Yahoo has not corrected the text of the article I originally quoted. Also, be sure to check out Bob Carter’s excellent critique of the “science” behind the theory of dangerous man-caused climate change, “Climate: The Counter-Consensus.”
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)