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 Was the media accurate?

After the Raman ink analysis study was announced in August 2002, there was a flurry of media attention in major domestic and international newspapers, as well as many magazines, radio and TV stations. There were two types of reports: Some reports announced the map is a fake, others presented an ongoing controversy between the 14C dating of the parchment and the analysis of the ink.

News that the Vinland Map is a fake was widely distributed by the Agence France-Press wire service, based directly on the researchers? press release.

News that the controversy was rekindled began with an article distributed by the Associated Press wire service, which claimed the 14C dating and pigment analysis studies conflicted with each other. However, this logic is wrong. The 14C dating only proves its sample of parchment was legitimate; the ink analysis only proves its samples of ink were illegitimate.

Many news agencies reported the Associated Press article directly. Others agencies, including the Economist, Nature, Science, and Discover wrote their own articles or adapted the Associated Press article. Few reporters did additional research. Thus, having the same bad seed, all these reports suVer the same misrepresentation. Although the facts are generally accurate, the reports intersperse generalized comments from long-time Vinland Map proponents such as, "I don't think what they've done supports what they're saying," or "It'll never be settled," but never provide actual rebuttal. The reader is left with the sense the Vinland Map might be genuine.

Another problem is the headlines. Many news agencies have separate headline editors. Science used the headline, Old Map, New Ink? But the wording Old Map is technically incorrect. The brief Economist article was titled, To be or not to be, with a subtitle, Ain't science a wonderful thing. The caption for the (albeit odd looking) map was, Here be dragons. Does this strike you as mocking? What does it mean? The Discover (Walt Disney) article was a modest expansion of the Associated Press article, with bogus speculation that Columbus might have used the Vinland Map to Wnd America, including the absurd (but interesting) headline, Remapping History: Did a 15th-century parchment guide Columbus to the New World.

How do these headlines affect your interpretation?


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