Saturday, January 06, 2007

Embarrassed Blogger (I)

The truth is that the National Park Service does teach real, honest to God (and science) geology in the Grand Canyon.

The truth is I screwed up.

To paraphrase Doctor McCoy, "I'm a priest, not a journalist." Even still, I believe that bloggers, even though they are usually offering their own opinion, should at least be responsible in their use of facts, quotes and sources. I like to have people link over to sources I've found or read, even if they disagree with me. The internet provides a kind of instant accountability through e-mail and comments--such as when people e-mail (or in extreme cases, flame) me for things I have written--or through the ability to instantly cross-check sources independently of the writer/publisher.

The last time I did this--publish something I thought was reliable, e.g. coming from two independent sources that turned out to both point to the same erroneous and slanted place--I didn't know what to do and just kinda hid for a while. Well, this time I will fess up and admit.

I screwed up. The story so fit my prejudices and assumptions that I suspended just enough (if not all) critical judgment. If the issue were of greater importance it would have been truly dangerous and perhaps even hurtful. It is not an excuse, and I take responsibility for my own part in being duped, and I am sorry for it.

So to fix this, I will not pull my last post about "embarrassing religion," but instead publish and link to the report of a real, professional journalist who found actual facts. (I will also add a disclaimer to the original post.) Notice that I have two links to the NPS and one to Mr. Repanshek's blog.

So, again for the record, the National Park Service teaches geology.

And I repent of junk-blogging and will continue to learn and try to get better.

And Creationism is still embarrassing religion. (I just had to stick that in. Sorry.)

Here is the whole story as written by Kurt Repanshek on the National Parks Traveler Blog.

God, Geology, and the Grand Canyon

Talk about a story that will make a reporter drool.
Allegations from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility about what Park Service rangers can and can't say about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon arrived like a late Christmas present during the notoriously news-dead week between Christmas and New Year's.
"How Old is the Grand Canyon? Park Service Won't Say," crowed the headline pasted atop the group's press release that was distributed Dec. 28. If that wasn't enough to attract attention, the sub-head would: "Orders to Cater to Creationists Make National Park Service Agnostic on Geology."
Then, to truly set the hook, the first sentence of PEER's release stated that: "Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature due to pressure from Bush administration appointees."
This would be like shooting fish in a barrel to any reporter who likes to skewer the current administration. I was already rearranging my day to plunge into this baby.
But then a funny thing happened: I couldn't immediately confirm the gist of the release to my satisfaction. A few days later I stumbled across an even worse conclusion: It wasn't true.

Read it all.

A tip of the hat to Louie Crew for pointing this fuller, more accurate story on the HoBD listserve.

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