05 April 2010

The more newspapers change the more they stay the same

My perennial annoyance with newspapers will not end until the last one shutters its doors.

The general unscientific and unintellectual attitude of the news media is, of course, nothing new. The following was published under the heading "Newspaper Conchology" in the February 1893 issue of the Nautilus.

The gloriously free daily press of this country does not often discuss scientific matters, but when it does, facts are apt to be mangled. The following clipping is not so bad : "It is generally supposed to be a sign of wet weather when snails go about without their shells. One species of snail never takes its walks abroad except when rain is at hand. Some climb trees two days before a down fall, setting upon the upper side of the leaves if a storm is to be of short duration, but taking shelter on the under side if it is to last some time. Still other snails turn yellow before rain, and blue when it is over."
This short, anonymous note without a citation was probably written by Henry Pilsbry who was the editor of the Nautilus at that time. If he could consider claims of color changing snails leaving their shells during rains "not so bad", I don't want to know any of the stuff that was bad.

1 comment:

fred schueler said...

Doubtless Pilsbury had his ommatophore firmly up his pneumostome when he wrote that this wasn't so bad.