Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I don't really like the science coverage on BBC radio. The Beeb may be good for some things, but they tend to take the most breathless university press releases (already a pretty bad source of information) and somehow make them even more breathless.

The latest example came over the wireless tonight. I paraphrase, but the words in bold were used in the report: "Scientists confirm that woolly mammoths went extinct because of climate change, not human predation. The issue had been in doubt, but a team of researchers at [English University] proved that that climate change was the culprit. Using computer models, the researchers showed that warming trends at the end of the ice age would have replaced the mammoths' preferred forests with grassland."

Just in case any of the editors at the Beeb are reading...

Dear sirs/madams: a computer simulation, based on incomplete data, is not proof of what happened 16,000 years ago over a large, diverse, and multifactorial habitat. It may be useful to generate certain hypotheses, but that's all. I would happily welcome you into my introductory biology class, in which it seems you could learn something.

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