Is Jack Andraka One of Those B.S. News Stories on the Internet?

Remember the thing about 5 Easy Ways to Spot a B.S. News Story on the Internet? A couple of hours later someone posted this on Facebook: Jack Andraka, the Teen Prodigy of Pancreatic Cancer. From his Wikipedia entry:

Jack Thomas Andraka (born in 1997) is an inventor, scientist and cancer researcher. He is the 2012 Intel Science Fair grand prize winner. Andraka was awarded the Gordon E. Moore Award for his work in developing a new method to detect pancreatic cancer. [1] The Gordon E. Moore Award, named in honor of the co-founder of Intel, is for $75,000. He also won other prizes in smaller individual categories for a total award of $100,500.[2]

The result of his project was a new dipstick type diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer using a novel paper sensor, similar to that of the diabetic test strip. This strip tests for the level of mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker, in blood or urine, to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. The test is over 90 percent accurate in detecting the presence of mesothelin.[1] According to Andraka, it is also 168 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive (costing around three cents), over 400 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic tests and only takes five minutes to run. He says the test is also effective for detecting ovarian and lung cancer, due to the same mesothelin biomarker they have in common.[5]

Officials at Intel have said that Andraka’s method is more than 90 percent accurate in detecting the presence of mesothelin.[1]

Which sounds exactly like #1 in the Cracked article – #1. It’s About a Miracle Cure for Obesity, Cancer, or Clean Energy:

I’m not a pessimist, and I think the future will be awesome. But the vast majority of the positive science news that turns up on Reddit or science blogs or tech sites is pure bullshit.

Sometimes the stories are outright false, like the one about that genius 13-year-old who invented a far more efficient way to collect solar energy, or the group of African teenagers who invented a machine to get electricity from urine (in the first case, it turned out the kid did his calculations wrong, and in the second, the reporters misunderstood what the machine did — the former was retracted a few days later, the latter was debunked by people who have a better idea of what they’re talking about)

Andraka received a prize for his invention from Intel, which is a smart bunch who you wouldn’t expect to make a mistake. Yet the 13 year old with his solar energy invention received his prize from the American Museum of Natural History (also a smart bunch), who it turns out didn’t understand that they should have been measuring total power output and not just voltage. It makes you wonder how much Intel doesn’t know about medicine.

So yeah, I won’t be surprised if Jack Andraka’s miracle pancreatic cancer test never makes it to market.

Floyd Corkins Inspired to Murder by SPLC “Hate Map”

SPLC: Southern Poverty Law Center, or Sending People to Liquidate Conservatives?

As I noted yesterday, Floyd Corkins, the guy who planned to kill a bunch of people at the Family Research Council offices in Washington, DC and then rub Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces as they died, pleaded guilty yesterday. And he admitted that he picked the FRC and several other targets based on a “Hate Map” at the Southern Poverty Law Center website:

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s exactly what the left and the media (PTR) claimed was the cause behind Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting spree in Arizona two years ago, in which he killed six people and severely wounded Gabby Giffords. Within hours, our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters seized upon a map from Sarah Palin’s website as the cause.

According to leftist logic, this map made Jared Loughner shoot a bunch of people, whether he ever saw it or not. It didn’t matter whether he saw it. It didn’t matter that blaming Palin for it made no sense. It didn’t matter that it was insane. It felt right. So they went with it.

Now we have another maniac and another map. Except this time, the maniac is pointing directly at that map and saying, “That’s why I picked those people.” But since the targets of his thwarted rampage don’t hold the correct opinions, they don’t count.

Judge: You Don’t Lose Your Picture’s Copyright Just Because You Tweeted It

Seems like a a big duh, but it’s a good ruling all the same.

Article on breast-related scientific study includes helpful illustration

Because some readers might know what these whatchamacall “breast” thingies look like.

Squeezing breasts could prevent cancer, best study ever says:

Getting to second base, the holy grail for hormonal boys, is now science: New research has shown that squeezing breasts could prevent malignant breast cells from causing cancer. This doesn’t give pervy dudes license to grope you on the subway, ladies, but it does mean boob-grabbing should be a regular part of your self-care routine (yes, absolutely try it DIY-style). Experiments found that physical pressure led cells back to normal growth patterns, and that even after compression was no longer applied, the malignant cells stopped growing. Spread the word, boob-lovers of the world. [Source]

Hat tip to Mike S.


It’s thoughtful of them to include a picture for people who don’t know what breasts are

HeliumStudy: Women with large breasts are smarter:

A study by a Chicago university sociologist of 1,200 women found that large-breasted women tend to have higher intelligence. The study divided the women into five groups ranging from virtually flat-chested to extra-large breasts.

The results revealed that the big-breasted women had an overall higher I.Q.—about 10 points—than the lesser endowed members of the study. Women with average-sized breasts also beat out those that were in the smallest size group.

George Zimmerman suing NBC for misleading edits to his 911 call

 I hope he wins and wins big. Via Unc.

Here’s the edited version the Today show played:

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black”

And here’s what Zimmerman really said on the 911 call:

ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 DISPATCHER: Okay, is this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.


MSNBC without the MS

Microsoft, NBC dissolve joint venture

Cronkite Wasn’t “Most Trusted Man in America”

ReasonWalter Cronkite wasn’t the Most Trusted Man in America? Q&A with author Joseph Campbell

It’s safe to say that Walter Cronkite was not the most trusted man in America, and it’s safe to say he was not even the most trusted man among newsmen,” says American University Professor Joseph Campbell, author of Getting it Wrong.

Campbell says the 1972 survey that gave Cronkite the title of “Most Trusted Man” compared Cronkite with prominent politicians of the time, not newscasters, and so he “inevitably came out on top.” He says CBS then used the survey results to promote the network.

Read this latest post on my soon to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize blog

GawkerCongratulations to Jonah Goldberg on the Pulitzer Nominations He Received From Himself:

As’s Bill Dedman notes, Goldberg’s claim to have been a “nominee” rests not on the fact that he was judged as a runner-up by the Pulitzer Committee—he most certainly was not, at all, ever—but on the fact that his bosses twice put his name on a little form and mailed it to the Pulitzer folks along with a $50 fee. For $100, you can be a Two-Time Pulitzer Nominee just like Jonah Goldberg!

Note to self: write a fart joke. Give someone 50 bucks. Have them nominate it for a Pulitzer Prize. Go around telling people about your Pulitzer-nominated fart joke.

Hat tip to Michael Silence.

NBC Fires a Third Employee Over Zimmerman Edits

From Mediabistro, via reader Jim:

Lilia Luciano, a Miami-based NBC News correspondent, is no longer working for the network, TVNewser has learned.

Luciano last reported for NBC News March 31. Until that point, she had been reporting mainly on the Trayvon Martin story. Sources tell TVNewser Luciano’s dismissal came after an investigation which also led to the firing of a seasoned NBC News producer over a similar, misleading edit. In a story for the “Today” show on March 20, Luciano used part of the George Zimmerman 911 call in which an entire phrase (italicized below) was taken from a later part of the conversation:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something. He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah.
Dispatcher: Okay, we don’t need you to do that.

Miami NBC6 Fires Reporer Jeff Burnside Over Altered George Zimmerman 911 Call

NBC6 Zimmerman edit explanation:

On March 19 NBC6 ran a story on the phone call George Zimmerman made in connection with the Trayvon Martin case. In that story an error in editorial judgment was made in which a question from the operator was deleted which could have created the impression that Mr. Zimmerman’s statement may have been singling out Trayvon Martin because of his race. We take this incident very seriously and apologize to our viewers. After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

That’s the entirety of the NBC explanation, but the Miami Herald has much more, including the identity of the report fired over the editing incident (hat tip to reader Jim) – NBC6 fires local reporter Jeff Burnside in editing of Zimmerman police call:

In an astonishing admission, Miami’s NBC6 has acknowledged the local affiliate made the same questionable edits to George Zimmerman’s call to police that were widely attacked when the network aired a similarly misleading clip on the Today show last month.

Jeff Burnside, a 13-year veteran of the local WTVJ station, was fired Friday and two other employees were disciplined, The Miami Herald confirmed. Unlike the Today show, NBC6 aired a correction and apology during its Wednesday evening newscasts.

The controversy started last month, when the Today show aired a segment on the call Zimmerman made to police the night he encountered a Miami Gardens teenager he found suspicious. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” Zimmerman said on the Today show tape.

But the unedited version of the call showed that before Zimmerman mentioned Trayvon Martin’s race, the police operator asked him, “Is he black, white or Hispanic?” Conservative blogs skewered the network’s March 22 and 27 blunders, calling them a deliberate misrepresentation aimed at keeping the Zimmerman-is-a-racist narrative alive.

Jeff Burnside was one of three bylines on the original story, along with Christina Hernandez and Edward Colby. I was working on a connection between them and the Today show edits. A spokesman for the NBC affiliate quoted in the Miami Herald article claims there isn’t a connection. “Glassman stressed that the Today show and Miami edits took place in two separate incidents involving different people.”

As part of my research I had saved some information on all three reporters. Here is the information I found on Burnside.


NBC fires editor for altering Zimmerman 911 call; when will MSNBC fire the writer who did the same?

Welcome, visitors from Instapundit, JustOneMinute, Michelle Malkin, Ace of Spades, and elsewhere. One interesting update to this story is that TalkLeft found that there was an earlier version of the Today show story from March 27th.

NBC Producer Out But Unnamed

The NY Tmes breaks its Trayvon Martin silence long enough to report at one of their blogs that an unnamed NBC producer has been fired as a result of the doctored Zimmerman “He looks black” report.

Before NBC’s alteration on TV, MSNBC did the exact same thing in print. When will MSNBC fire someone?

UPDATE: A reader named Jim notes this NBC Miami piece credited to Jeff Burnside that may have been the source of the MSNBC piece. It’s substantially the same, with minor editing differences. Though it has the same March 21st date as the MSNBC piece there are comments from March 20th.

In case it changes, here’s a Google cache of the NBC Miami piece, and here’s a screenshot:

Oddly, the hyperlink in that story goes to this April 2nd NBC Miami story about the Martin/Zimmerman shooting. That means the piece has been edited since March 21st.

And another update from Jim:

I just realized the following story was posted on 3/19/2012- which means it was the original story.

Burnside, Hernandez and Colby are the authors. Burnside and Hernandez apparently work for NBC Miami but Colby apparently does not. Since AP is listed on the article, Colby may have been acting as a stringer. Burnside alone wrote the second article using the altered quote.

I’m sorry I didn’t notice that at first. Nonetheless, it does seem to disprove NBC’s explanation the whole thing was a mistake. The important thing is we actually have names: Hernandez and Burnside. If NBC fired a producer for this, they’re gonna have to fire these two reporters, as well.

Screenshot here in case it gets edited. LATER: It’s a good thing I got the screenshot. They’ve completely removed the 911 conversation.

Actor Don Cheadle Criticizes NBC’s Alteration of Zimmerman 911 Call

More here. Hat tip to Ace of Spades.


NBC Today Show does to the Zimmerman 911 call exactly what MSNBC did in print

The Hollywood ReporterNBC News Accused of Editing 911 Call in Trayvon Martin Controversy. Same deal as with MSNBC. Here’s the edited version the Today show played:

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black”

And here’s what he really said on the 911 call:

ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 DISPATCHER: Okay, is this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

NBC says they’re investigating.

PreviouslyMSNBC Dowdifies a George Zimmerman Quote into Newspaper Blackout Poetry

MSNBC Dowdifies a George Zimmerman Quote into Newspaper Blackout Poetry

dowdification – The omission of a word or a phrase in order to reframe a quote and alter its meaning. This is usually done to help an author portray a particular viewpoint and is very common amongst weblogs. The term is named after the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
Urban Dictionary

Jake caught MSNBC Dowdifying the 911 call in the George Zimmerman/Tryevon Martin  shooting. Here’s what MSNBC has George Zimmerman saying on the 911 call (UPDATE March 29:they’ve changed it since, but you can see the Google cache here, or a screenshot here):

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black,” Zimmerman told a police dispatcher from his car.

That sure makes Zimmerman sound racist, doesn’t it? But notice the ellipsis. Those three dots indicate that something’s been edited out. Here’s the full, un-Dowdified quote from the 911 recording:

ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 DISPATCHER: Okay, is this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

So instead of saying “he looks black” immediately after saying “he’s up to no good,” Zimmerman only mentions Martin’s ethnicity after being specifically asked by the 911 dispatcher.

What MSNBC did to Zimmerman’s 911 call isn’t editing and it goes even beyond Dowdificiation. This is newspaper blackout poetry, where people take newspaper columns and redact out most of the words, leaving just the parts they want to create an entirely different meaning.

"How To Be Cool" by Austin Kleon"

P.S. The Urban Dictionary definition says that Dowdifying is common on blogs, but if anything I see it more often in the mainstream media. Bloggers are more likely to cut and paste quotes in whole. That’s probably due in equal parts to honesty, laziness, and knowing how easy it is for people to check quotes on the Internet.