UPDATE: 1/5/12 5:30AM – Due to reader pressure, the article has been changed – see below the Continue reading line.
The story about the hybrid sharks being a byproduct of climate change turns out to be an act of quote fabrication in some media outlets. This story by Dina Spector of the Business Insider, is a prime example of such quote fabrication:
After I showed the original press release contained not one mention of “global warming” or “climate change”, one of our readers decided to ask the researcher about this statement attributed to to Jessica Morgan in that Business Insider story:
According to lead researcher Jess Morgan, the hybridization might be a sign that the animals are adapting to rising temperature levels as a result of climate change.
Here’s the answer. Bolding mine.
I did the obvious thing this morning and emailed Jessica Morgan the following:
From: Dennis Kuzara [mailto:xxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, 5 January 2012 1:04 AM
To: jessica morgan
Subject: Is this quote accurate?
Dina Spector of the Business Insider,| Jan. 3, 2012, 3:09 PM, stated the following:
> The world’s first hybrid shark was discovered by scientists in waters off Australia’s east coast on Tuesday, reports Amy Coopes of the AFP.
> According to lead researcher Jess Morgan, the hybridization might be a sign that the animals are adapting to rising temperature levels as a result of climate change.
The press release made no mention of “climate change” or “global warming”. Is the quote in this news article that is attributed to Jess Morgan, (which I assume is Jessica Morgan) accurate?
Since sea surface temperatures have increased less than 0.45 degree C over the last 30 years, clarification of any known ties between shark interbreeding and climate change would be appreciated.
And I received this reply:
On 1/4/2012 7:34 PM, Morgan, Jessica wrote:
Quote not correct – I have now stated numerous times that it is extremely unlikely that climate change caused the hybridization event – however, the hybrid-Australian blacktips are now being seen further south of their known range (Australain blacktips have a tropical distribution) in cooler waters suggesting that the hybrids may have a wider temperature tolerance than their parents (ie the hybrids may be better adapted to handle changing water temperatures). That long statement is being condensed and printed as your quote below.
Interestingly and refreshingly, Business Insider allows you to ask a question of the reporter, here’s a screencap of the footer allowing you to do just that:
You can click anywhere on the screencap (or the button) above to ask Dina that question. I’m sure we all want to know why. We look forward to hearing why the Business Insider makes up “scary” quotes from scientists where none actually exist.
According to her website at http://dinaspector.com:
Dina Spector graduated summa cum laude from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a B.S. in magazine journalism and a minor in geography.
A fine reference, and I’m sure she’ll have a good reason rooted in solid journalism that she’ll gladly share with us.
UPDATE: The article has been significantly changed, both the headline and body of the text have been modified significantly, and the fabricated quote from researcher Jessica Morgan has been removed. See the screencap:
There’s no mention though of any correction on the story. http://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-first-hybrid-shark–2012-1
And, even though researcher Jessica Morgan says:
I have now stated numerous times that it is extremely unlikely that climate change caused the hybridization event
They still have “climate change” in the headline.
No duty to the truth or scruples with these folks I guess.
UPDATE2: I’ve heard back from the editor:
CEO/EIC, Business Insider
257 Park Avenue South, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10010