The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 6 No.
4 • September 2003
Ecology and Bias in Scientific Media: Is It 300 Years or 50 Years of Deformed Frogs? Neither Multilegged Frogs Nor Biased Reporting Is New
Science published a news story in its 15 August 2003 issue entitled “Fifty Years of Deformed Frogs.” In the text of the story, however, they mention that “Reports of multilegged amphibians aren’t new; they go back to the early 1700s.” Then why should we be worried about something going on for nearly 300 years, in fact to well before the Industrial Revolution and the dreaded “anthropogenic” effects? It is obviously something to worry about because, as the news story says, “The scientists have found 50 hot spots for malformed amphibians in the past five years, far more than the nine historical accounts they dug up.” This all assumes that, in the past all the way to the early 1700s, people were as likely to write accounts of malformed frogs as recently as, say, in the past 50 years. Also, it assumes that accounts written by naturalists without long lists of alphabet-soup credentials after their names would be as likely to attract attention to their observations as recent stuff written by their credentialed “betters.” And just how hard did these guys search the available literature, such as reports not published in scientific journals? In the early 1700s and even the early 1800s, much of America was not settled. Who would be reporting on multilegged frogs then?