Monday, February 19, 2007

Do Editors Read Headlines?

It is a question I often ask myself: Do editors read headlines? Or do they read the articles for which they are inventing headlines? (It appears to be an oddity of newspapers in particular that headlines are crafted by editors, not the writer of the piece. This, I believe, is how things like this, which actually occurred in my local paper a few years ago, happen: The headline is something like, "100s Sickened by Tainted Ice Cream" while the article begins, "Nearly 100 people became ill..."

Anyhow, here's this gem from ABC News: "Can Earth Dodge Asteroid Heading This Way?"

Um, it's only a guess, but I would have to answer no. I find the earth to be extraordinarily un-nimble when it comes to dodging things. It's pretty good at that rotation-and-revolution stuff, but that's all very predictable and, frankly, hidebound. I have no confidence whatsoever that the planet can move out of the way of an asteroid.

Later on, the article (which is here, by the way) tells us, "Scientists believe that if advance warnings of dangerous asteroids like Apophis can be made decades in advance, there will be enough time to try and knock them off course."

Setting aside the clumsiness of "advance warnings...decades in advance", one is left to wonder why scientists would believe that advance warning of dangerous asteroids will do any good. Were they not around when Hurricane Katrina struck? What makes them think that our political "leaders" will be any more prepared for a potentially bigger catastrophe?

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