There is always the question of how to spin the story.
Take, for example, a recent item in the New York Times called Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior. Nicholas Wade, the author, is continuing the NYT‘s unofficial series of articles about the science of morality some might call experimental philosophy.
While I continue to find it difficult to reconcile my commitment to moral realism with my penchant for moral naturalism, I have great enthusiasm for the subject matter. And it appears many others do as well – as of this evening, the NYT ranks this article as its most e-mailed and blogged item.
Still, I have a complaint, and I’m directing it to the NYT copy-editor.
I don’t like the title of the piece.
Yes, as bones-to-pick go, it is pretty small. But often, those are the ones that end up sticking in the throat.
The problem is that the title misrepresents the article as breaking science news, and misrepresents the state of scientific knowledge.
It gives the impression that Frans de Waal (the scientist referenced by the headline) is working alone on a novel question, and that his conclusions are new findings, new facts. In fact, this piece is really a summary exploration of issues raised by the book de Wall published last year, Primates and Philosophers.
What do you think? Have I been over-sensitized by too many Eureka Alert press releases? Am I pinning too much on the meaning of ‘finds’?