Insects & Fake News

Starting about three weeks ago we saw the media flooded with headlines like these:

So, if we listened to all the news — we were soon doomed.  But then two scientist decided to double check the study all this hype was based on and found it hugely lacking.  Listen to this great short 13 minute podcast here for the details, but here are a few main weaknesses of the original article:

  • They did not count bugs themselves but review articles by people who did.
  • They searched all bug articles using the word “decline” so they had a huge bias there.  Searching for articles with “increase” yielded even more studies.
  • They ignored many other confounding points.

Conclusion, and I hate to agree with Trump here, you should not blindly trust the media.  Consumers beware.

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3 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

3 responses to “Insects & Fake News

  1. My conclusion goes in a different direction. First off, I never take news items as fact, and I am fairly sensitive to the sentences within news pieces which are opinionized against those which are not. The main point is rather: never blindly trust “science”. For most often, all science-oriented news items are are sensationalized (to varying degrees) announcements about some new, usually vaguely iconoclastic opinion. This is borne out by the ‘news’ of recent years around how difficult it is to reproduce (confirm) previous experimental results — to say nothing about the conclusions. Getting hip to the agenda-driven divergences from verity within ‘news’ is just the tip of the iceberg. The deeper thing to realize are the agenda-driven divergences from verity within what we label ‘science’.

  2. My understanding prior to the UN report was from two different sources. One a study in Germany based on field study surveys and another in Costa Rica. The decline in Germany may have been due to farming methods and use of pesticides but the one in Costa Rica was in the rainforest. It is hard to get to the original studies but most ecologists despair over the steady decline of many species. Most is due to human activity and little understanding of the consequences.

  3. @nava: My guess: bugs and bacteria and fungus and more are just fine. Life is fine. It is just humans who are really endangered in any lasting way.

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