May 22, 2002
Education or Agenda?
After Smallville went off, I turned on a special on PBS. (In other words, I was bored out of my skull.) It was about evolution and mass-extinctions, so it was fairly interesting in its own right. I caught it at about the time they got to the mass-extinction at the beginning of the Triassic Period (the one that allowed the dinosaurs and mammals to evolve), and proceeded to the "KT Event" that wiped out the dinos 65 million years ago.
Those were mass extinctions four and five that geologists and archaeologists have been able to find. The show then jumped to the present day and posed the question: Are we, as the only industrial species ever to eveolve here, playing the same role as the "KT" asteroid and causing mass extinction number six? It's an interesting question, because no other species in the three-billion-year history of life on Earth compares to humanity in terms of raw potential.
But there's a problem. Since we've come on the scene, the rate of extinction has allegedly increased by a factor of 100. That would mean a lot more to me if I knew (a) what the rate was before, (b) what the rate is now, (c) how far back we have reliable evidence, and (d) how this data was collected. If the data was collected, and the numbers arrived at in a scientifically valid manner, I'll readily agree that this could be a large problem. But I have a gut feeling that the numbers have been "massaged" a great deal to make them look the way they do.
Add to that the fact that this show apparently ran from 3,000,000,000 BCE to 500,000 BCE in an hour and fifteen minutes, and will spend the final 45 minutes on Humans = Bad. Am I the only one who thinks this screams, "Uber-environmentalist Agenda"? I'd hate to think I'm the only one out there who's that skepitcal (and cynical).