Re: Rensberger and anthro (was industry finger)

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Tue, 22 Oct 1996 20:03:36 -0500

I think the comment may say a lot more about Rensberger than it does
about anthropologists or journalists.

I once spent a week on a small boat with Rensberger; I found him
uninterested in most everything, also arrogant and amazingly uninformed
about science, especially for a science reporter. He was more interested
in his beer than in the story he was working on, as I recall. And he was
more interested in sucking up to the undersecretary of defense who was
also on the boat, than he was in his beer. The story that resulted from
this little jaunt bore almost no relationship at all to what he had seen.

I have also spent time with science reporters who were smart, incisive,
and good listeners. But even the best is usually pressuring you to get
some complex idea into a sound bite. I have also found science reporters
in general are always happy to report that "genes cause x,y, and z" and
they never want to hear that science can be wrong unless its fraud. I had
some very frustrating talks with reporters last year when psychologists
started to announce that they had proved that beauty was genetically
coded and entirely biologically based - the reporters just wouldnt listen
to evidence that beauty standards vary tremendously across cultures
because they wanted to report a genetic breakthrough.

Richard Wilk ******************** Cultural Anthropologist **
Student Building 242 office: 812 855 3901
Anthropology Dept. fax: 812 855 4358
Indiana University "A Change is better than a rest"
Bloomington IN 47405 Elvis Costello