It seems that the doubts expressed my earlier post about the accuracy of information acquired via e-mail were well founded. A recent study has found that office workers are most likely to lie to their bosses via e-mail or telephone. Employees are least likely to lie with face-to-face communication, particularly where they feel close to their boss.
In another topic relating back to “wanting to believe”, it seems that Terry Lane might have been duped again. This time, he said in his column that the Bush government had pressured Rangers not to mention the geological age of the Canyon to try and appease creationists. To be fair, he relied on what I would suggest was a deliberately ambiguous and misleading press release from an organisation called PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) which opened by stating 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.”
Also, Lane was certainly not alone in being misled by the press release: the Daily Kos, Time Magazine, Dvorak Uncensored, Digg, Centreblue.org, History News Network, and US Gov Info all have information on their websites about the supposed “gag” on Rangers.
However, the press release was misleading in the inference that Rangers were “gagged”. Its real gripe is about the fact that the Grand Canyon Bookstore is selling a book giving a creationist account of the way in which the Canyon came into being (…God was feeling adventurous and decided to make some pretty rock formations? The mind boggles. I don’t even want to know…)
In fact, the Canyon website specifically mentions the fact that the gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon dates back 1,800 million years. The website also notes that the oldest human artefacts found at the Canyon are 12,000 years old.
Subsequently, the following emerged, as related in this post on Seattlest (a website about Seattle):
“Jeff Rook, who wrote the release, said that others have indeed contacted the PEER office and complained of being misled. “If they felt misled by it, we’re sorry.” There is no intentional obfuscation required when answering questions about the chasm’s age in response to Creationist queries or pressure. “At least not this week” quips Rook. Rangers and interpretive staff are free to discuss its scientific history with impunity.The PR rep for the park service, Dave Barna (arguably, not someone PEER trusts all that much, obviously), adamantly told us that the Grand Canyon is as old as scientists say it is, and no-one who works for the park would be asked to say otherwise. He also said he’d send us their official statement on the matter, which we have yet to receive. (PEER asserts that at one point, an administrator in the Canyon’s office would reply to media requests about the age of the Grand Canyon with “No comment.” But one fool does not a conspiracy make.)”
The Daily Kos has also corrected the story here.
The problem is that I’m sure this one will keep going around like it’s fact – again, it’s one of those things which people just want to believe is true!!!