Fox News story on asteroid impact 13,000 years ago expresses certainty not supported by the research article it reports on
Note: The interpretations and reviews of the original news story according to the SciFeye Index differ substantially between the two independent reviewers. Therefore, we encourage you to read the original news story and with the help of the SciFeye Index, come to your own conclusions on the validity of the claims made.
Chris Ciaccia of Fox News details a study from the journal Science that investigates a 1-meter section of a lake core from White Pond, South Carolina. The paper aims to shed light on asteroid impacts that may have been the cause of widespread biomass burning and climate change during the Younger Dryas period.
Researchers from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, along with colleagues from other institutions, concluded that an extraterrestrial impact event characterized by several airbursts and separate impacts likely triggered widespread biomass burning and corresponded with global climate change.
The news article claims that ecological disruption and extinction of many species occurred as a direct result of this proposed event, however, the research article does not mention any of the animals listed other than woolly mammoths and mastodons. Moore et al. state “the severity of environmental disruption at White Pond, its role in local megaherbivore extinction, and its impact on human life are yet to be determined.” The claims on direct impacts by the Fox News article as they relate to extinction and Clovis culture human impacts is not supported by the literature – nor by any other source – making the article a misleading representation of the research.
The article is concise and void of conflicting interests or bias. Fox News is a popular news source, and it directly links the journal Science (where the article is published), one of the most credible repositories for scientific research. The article is from a reputable news source and the study is published in a credible journal. However, the news article does not correctly interpret the literature.
The content of the news article makes overstated or incorrect conclusions from the research. The title claims an asteroid definitely caused extinction of mammoths and sabre-tooth cats; the study suggests local megafauna may have undergone an extinction event following the onset of the Younger Dryas, but no evidence was found at the study site supporting their presence or absence. In addition, sabre-tooth cats are not mentioned in the article.
The article contains relatively little jargon that would be inaccessible to the general public. Supporting quotes from reputable sources are not provided, however, the original paper is easily found following links provided on the news article.
Chris Ciaccia of Fox News provides reasonable coverage of the recent findings of an asteroid impact. A research group out of South Carolina, USA has published an article that provides further evidence for the Younger Dyras (YD) event. This event is hypothesized to have created mass glaciation of various regions of the world, impacted human hunter gatherer cultures, and caused the extinction of megafauna species such as the Woolly Mammoth. While the results of the impact are still up for debate in modern literature, the publication from South Carolina does seem to support the happening of the actual event itself.
In the coverage of this publication, Ciaccia covers the science fairly well, however the title comes across more certain of the science than even the authors themselves will admit. While the article does find solid evidence of asteroid contact, authors admit the details of the ancient impact are far from resolved. The title however seems quite certain, and one can’t help feeling it is a little too similar to click bait. Further, the overall tone of the article seems to be very confident that the TY hypothesis is correct and spends lots of time focussing on the details that are still largely unresolved and hotly debated among academics.
While most of the reporting is honest, this article could be clearer if it was more transparent about the level of uncertainty of the theories it so confidently reports on.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.