Today, just a pointer to a hilarious story by Robert McHenry in The American of how a workaday paper in a chemical journal with the title
Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth
became, after a severe manhandling by journalists,
Do Intelligent Dinosaurs Really Rule Alien Worlds?
Since we’ve so often seen how some obscure paper with dicey conclusions is tarted up in the press to confirm this or that bias, it’s good to read the steps McHenry identifies in the common process:
1. Some scientists publish a report of their work.
2. An alert PR guy who works for the university or institute notices some potentially hype-able words in the report.
3. He writes up a release, under the impression that he is Arthur C. Clarke.
4. J-school grads at a number of media outlets, whose science education ended in 8th grade, pick up the release, change three words to make it their own, and it is published to an unsuspecting public.
5. The unsuspecting public, which is not as dumb as the PR guy believes, dismisses the story as bushwah and blames the scientists.
Go and read the rest.