Friday, December 5, 2008

An Octopus and CNN

Here are two seemingly unrelated stories, but in fact have a lot to do with each other. The first story is of a little mischievous octopus named Otto. It seems that in the winter months, when the aquarium in Germany is closed to the public, little Otto gets bored and takes it upon himself to fix that problem. One of he things he discovered he could do was stand on the rim of his tank and shoot a stream of water to short out a spotlight. He's also been known to juggle hermit crabs, throw rocks against the tank's glass, and rearrange the decor of the tank to suit his own tastes nevermind the other creatures living there (see dizzy hermit crabs.) 

What isn't stated in this article is that Octopuses are very, very intelligent creatures who will get into all sorts of trouble unless given enough stimulation such as toys to play with. There is no background on our scientific understanding of the behavior of these creatures nor any indication that this is anything other than an anomaly in the undersea world. 

The Second story is the aftermath of a dumbing down of the science reporting that has been going on for years. CNN is cutting its entire science, technology, and environment news staff. Now, they're reply to what seems like an outrageously stupid idea is that they want to integrate these areas into the general news structure rather than have a standalone unit. Sounds reasonable? It's not. Mainly because they are letting all of their science writers go, so instead of getting people who actually understand science and tech and can also actually write so that others can understand it correctly (something most scientists are themselves terrible at) are going to have the stories they should be writing written up by people who are more interested in covering Sarah Palin's wardrobe. 

If the other networks like MSNBC and FOX were smart, they would grab these folks and make a damn big deal out of having the premier science and technology news team. 

The Rational Moderate

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