October 21 from Canada’s Weekend Post
Weekend Post HQ received one of those Thingamaboobs in the mail this week. And no, that’s not a typo..
The Thingamaboob is a key chain the Canadian Cancer Society is selling for $5 to increase awareness of breast-cancer screening programs. The graduated beads on the key chain represent the significant difference in the size of lumps that may be discovered through regular screenings v. self-examination. (We also received a comically large balloon version of the Thingamaboob that has elicited no shortage of, er, titters from our colleagues. Thanks, CCS.) Kidding aside, the purpose of the society’s PR blitz is to highlight the launch of the Boob-a-Gram, a light-hearted e-greeting card you send to loved ones reminding them of the importance of getting screened regularly. (cancer.ca/boobagram and cancer.ca/thingamaboob) …..
And here, from the October 21 edition of UK’s The Guardian:
All men will have big willies, said the headline in the Sun. This was the story of Oliver Curry, “evolution theorist” from the Darwin@LSE research centre. “By the year 3000, the average human will be 6ft tall, have coffee-coloured skin and live for 120 years, new research predicts. And the good news does not end there. Blokes will be chuffed to learn their willies will get bigger – and women’s boobs will become more pert.”Where did this story come from? Does it stand up? Well, what has been represented as important “new research” is a rather fanciful essay from a political theorist at LSE, and while it’s not ridiculous, there’s a lot to take issue with.
For example, Dr Curry seems to think that geographical and social mobility is a new thing, and that this will produce uniformly coffee coloured humans in 1,000 years. Oliver has perhaps not been to Brazil, where black African, white European and Amerindian have lived side by side and bred together for centuries. The Brazilians have not gone coffee coloured; they show a wide range of skin pigmentation. This is because skin pigmentation seems to be coded for by a small number of genes and probably doesn’t blend and even out as Oliver suggests.
What about his other ideas? Like the one that ultimately, through extreme socioeconomic divisions, humans will divide into two species: one tall, thin, symmetrical, intelligent and creative; the other short, stocky, asymmetrical, grubby, and not as bright?
Dividing into species requires fairly strong pressures, like geographical divisions: even then, the Tasmanian aboriginals, who were isolated for 10,000 years, can still have children perfectly easily with white Europeans.
“Sympatric speciation”, a division into species where the two groups live in the same place, as Curry is proposing, is even tougher. It would require that socioeconomic divides were absolute, although history shows attractive, impoverished females and wealthy, ugly men can be remarkably resourceful in love.
I could go on. But the trivial problems in this trivial essay are not the issue: what’s odd is how it became a science story, all over the media, with the BBC, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Scotsman, and many more lapping it up.
How does this happen? The “research” was paid for by Bravo, a bikini and fast-car “men’s TV channel”.
More and more, empty “science” stories are being generated by PR companies who pay academics to produce some spurious piece of “research”.Uhm….they are both pretty bad…or not? Your opinions please??