Headline writers need to be poked with a sharp stick

Headline writers need to be poked with a sharp stick

Headline writers need to be poked with a sharp stick

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 9 2009 3:30 PM

Headline writers need to be poked with a sharp stick


Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Generally, in the news biz, both online and in print, the journalist writes the article, and the editors write the headline.

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Therefore, we should not want to shout obscenities at David Derbyshire about the dumb and grossly inaccurate headline for his article, "Ancient skeletons discovered in Georgia threaten to overturn the theory of human evolution". Unless he did write it, whereupon he should then be tied to a chair and forced to read Chick tracts for three hours or until his brain melts.

The story is actually interesting, about hominid fossils found in (east European) Georgia indicating that diaspora patterns of our early primate cousins were very different than currently thought. However, this certainly doesn't "overturn" anything about evolution. Instead, if it pans out, it will be another piece of the vast puzzle that is human prehistory. That's how science works.

It's obvious that the headline was written in an attempt to garner attention by hyperbolizing an otherwise already-cool story. Of course, the Daily Mail is well-known for this sort of shenanigans. You'd be better off getting your science news elsewhere. Where, you ask? I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?

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