Growing up you believe the world is meant to be the way it is. The older I get the more I realise that this is not the case. The world is full of injustices and atrocities that governments and the voice of faith expect us to accept, though with each passing year they grow fewer and fewer, at least one would hope. I have created this blog as a space for me to rant about all things science, politics, philosophy and religion, before it’s too late and the vessel of new atheism propelled by a growing surge in secularism solves all of the world’s problems for good.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Pseudo-scientists irritate me...

I was reading this article today on the New Scientist website regarding a so called "deaf-mute frog". It's an interesting article on a cool charismatic little frog from French Guiana in South America. However, the frog in question is not mute as the article eventually professes.
"Males make two kinds of call: an aggressive one to defend territory from other males and an advertisement to attract females. Calls had an average volume of 72 decibels at a distance of 1 metre, which is pretty feeble: most frogs that size manage 87 to 113 dB."
Nor is it deaf, as many of you would gather if the males are calling. If they're doing so to defend territory and attract females, clearly both sexes are able to hear as well. Again the article goes on to contradict it's own title.
"Boistel took a close look at their ears and found that they are pretty bad at carrying sound from the skin to the sensitive cells within.
He thinks there must be a second pathway by which sound travels to the inner ear. Some frogs absorb sound through skin and lungs – maybe this toad is one of them. The bones of its skull might also help carry the sound."
You don't need ears to hear. If you can pick up vibrations of any kind this is in a 'sense' hearing (mind the pun). Snakes have no ears but can hear, through their lower jaw. Funnily enough, the lower jaw bones differentiated in our ancestors, separating and migrating into what are today are our tiny ear bones. 

I was also a little annoyed to read statements such as:
"Stubfoot toads belong to the South American genus Atelopus, known as the harlequin frogs despite actually being toads. 
At this point, the central coast stubfoot toad starts to look like an evolutionary mistake."
This is not true. There's not taxonomical differentiation between frogs and toads, they are all frogs. It's an entirely arbitrary distinction that people use for frogs they decide have leathery skin and 'warts', etc. 
"A distinction between frogs and toads, though common in popular culture, is not made in taxonomy..." ref.
Evolution doesn't make mistakes. Anything that has the potential to become a 'mistake' doesn't survive, and if it had the ability to survive just as well in its environment it wouldn't be a mistake would it? Evolution is a blind force, it is passive, objective and has no personal goal or end point.

I know I'm probably being a bit of a stickler for scientific correctness. I'm not trying to ruin xmas for the children by telling them santa isn't real, but I do get annoyed at misinformation, jazzed up, distorted and sensationalised in an attempt to gain interest. A lot of the time this doesn't need to be done as the real story when stripped back to its reality is just as interesting.

To be honest, I expect a lot more from such a highly respected science magazine like New Scientist.

No comments:

Post a Comment