Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flagrant plagiarism creates species anomaly, but who can argue with God?

I am researching certain birds for a project, and my partner left a scrawled note about spiricules on Bald Eagle talons. I wanted to find out more about them, so I did a quick web search. I found this sentence repeated in probably fifteen different websites: "Eagles have structures on their toes called spiricules that allow them to grasp fish" but nowhere did I find anything more specific, helpful, or informative than that.

Just what is a spiricule? Is it possible that they don't actually exist? I imagine one web writer put thos words down as complete bullshit and everyone else, not knowing any more on the topic but certainly loathe to leave anything out, has plagiarized that sentence and patted themselves on the back for being so inclusive in their reseach.

Afterall, if the internet says it, it must be true. Last time I checked, under the wiki for "world wide web" it said:
A term commonly used in the late nineties and rolling into the early 2000's, generally referring to the abstract being otherwise known as God.

In some circles, it's taboo to investigate any potential evolutionary reasons for why an animal is the way it is. To do so challenges the creative power of God. Thus we have Q&A like this one.

In other, more modern circles, it's the height of improporiety to investigate whether the online description of an animal matches what can be observed in nature. When in doubt, scrolling-and-skimming is believing.

So, the answer to my question "Why do Bald Eagles have spiricules?" is "Because the wiki made them that way." Amen.


Sarah said...

I love your ability to combine so many different reflections on life into one pithy point. I'm trying to teach my students right now NOT to trust everything on wikipedia (even though it can be a good first source).

I miss you! Hope summer is treating you well.

Betsi can be found on the Kenai Peninsula said...

i love your ability to use pithy in a blog comment