Saturday, January 01, 2011

Guardian is again promoting anti-vivisectionism


Here's the offending article, written by Alok Jha, which is headlined:

Animals don't show how chemicals act in humans

This is an appalling lie being promoted by an ostensibly credible and influential media source. Let me explain why. 

Much of the article quotes verbatim from the website of an EU project called AXLR8. However, I can find no statement that accords with the article's headline statement. This is unsurprising as the statement is complete bollocks. If animals don't show how chemicals act in humans, where have all those marvellous medicines that cure cancer, prolong life and defeat pathogens come from? As the Pro-Test website states: 

Without animal research, medicine as we know it today wouldn't exist. Animal research has enabled us to find treatments for cancer, antibiotics for infections, vaccines to prevent some of the most deadly and debilitating viruses and surgery for injuries, illnesses and deformities.

It seems that the Graun headline writer has pulled this absurd statement from thin air. Complaint sent.


Just checked the Guardian website and they have changed the headline. It now reads "How animal testing is minimised". Just to confirm my side of the story, here's a screenshot of the google search for the original title:

And here's the Guardian page that that first link took me too:

Note the changed title. Now here's Google's cache of the page as it still was at 12:51 GMT, 9 hours after I posted this:

Note the original title in place. There is no explanation or apology attached to the article mentioning why they've changed the title.

I'm glad they've changed it because it was a fucking journalistic travesty but I'm appalled that that shite got put up in the first place. Vivisectionists have a hard enough time reminding the placid herd how important our work is without national newspapers misrepresenting and undermining us too. My fear is that the damage has been done. The number of google hits for the original title shows how quickly the story was propagated across the internet. I want to compare this to a recent post I read on one of the media watch blogs  but I can't remember where it was. It was about how insane tabloid stories become accepted as fact by the public because, even though the final paragraph of story presents facts that contradict the headline, the headline is all that most people take in (particularly tabloid readers, who struggle to fit more than a dozen words in their head at any one time). That process seems likely to have occurred here too, despite the less moronic nature of the average Graun reader. The headline has been changed within hours  but not before it has been reproduced a thousand times on all the shitty little bunny-cuddling blogs across the world, written by people determined to see people die of curable diseases.

I should also emphasise that this is the second time in less than a fortnight that I have caught the Guardian promoting mindless antivivisectionism. I'm considering complaining to the PCC as this appears to consitute a breach of Clauses 1.i and 1.ii of the Editor's Code of Practice. My grounds are that the headline was clearly inaccurate and misleading and that the Guardian failed to correct the headline with "due prominence" by adding a footnote to explain why it had done so. I'd like to see an apology too.


 Okay, so now we have a third example of the Guardian misrepresenting vivisection. This article has a footnote explaining why one of the bullet points in the subheading was amended. Its late and I'm tired so I'll finish this tomorrow but FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!!!!!


Just checked Twitter before shutting down for the night and Alok Jha has responded to my query about the absence of an explanatory footnote with the following:
 alokjha  @punkscience No idea, there shld be note. Hope readers' ed will do it when he's in from hols nxt wk. Headline changed coz it was obv wrong
 Good man.

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