Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dolphins have names, new evidence DOES NOT show

That "dolphin names" news story was such a lie, to judge by this NPR, Science Friday interview that one of the scientist authors gave. Dolphins each whistle with a signature pattern--is the "new" finding, for which there was plenty evidence already. Based on that interview, all that's new this time is they recorded the pattern onto a computer and played back an electronic version that wasn't in the dolphin's voice. But birds have signature songs. Do we doubt that a bird doesn't know it's mate by the pattern of its song? My hunch is that if the same experiment as they just did on dolphins hasn't already been done on birds, you can expect it done next week. What lit my fuse was that after this gal described her dolphin experiment in detail, she later referenced what she found out like this: Dolphins use a "name" to "refer to another." Unless she left that very exciting finding out of her intro, this is nothing but a lie under the pretense of simplification. And I can't help noticing how it makes the discovery seem a whole lot more newsworthy. Alas, a whole lot of people now think we've learned something about dolphins that we haven't, and which may well not be true. Oh well, it's more dollars for dolphin research.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, Murky.
You've nailed this.
I didn't write this story (I'm a science journalist)for all the reasons you give.

Then saw it, miscast, everywhere.