Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pravda is now a joke

One of the reasons I gave any ink at all (post below) to the possibility that a spy satellite, rather than a meteor, had fallen in Peru was that the report appeared in Pravda, which I guessed had some sympathetic sources in the Kremlin.

A few years ago Pravda published a serious article on Richard Perle that was based on a backgrounder supplied by Znewz1. So I had reason to think the Communist Party newspaper was still serious, though clearly highly political. But honestly I never read Pravda's online English version and so I guess my guard was down.

Now clearly, it is possible that a secret satellite rather than a meteorite crashed in Peru, but the source of the report, Sorcha Faal, has written some other rather weird stuff in the Chariots of the gods vein. One would think Pravda editors would be a bit more selective in publication of internet reports. Their standards are now so low as to make the political voice of communism a ridiculous joke. Unfortunately, the joke was on me to some extent, though I was cautious and my follow-up material posted below (see 'Sept. 26 update') tried to clarify things.

The BBC and others have been focusing on the "mass hysteria" aspect of the story. At first, only a couple dozen people were sickened by the fumes, but the numbers were bumped up to 200 and then to 600 within a few days. At work seems to be the natural tendency of news-hungry reporters to exaggerate and the likelihood that residents will worry that their minor ailments are related.

Another reason for the panicky reaction was an early story in the Peruvian paper Diario La Republica which reported locals sickened by radiation poisoning. That claim was not repeated by the paper, as far as I could tell.

A story today by Andrea Thompson casts doubt on the assessment of Peruvian scientists that a meteorite struck and focuses on the alternative idea that a local geothermal eruption occurred coincidentally with a fireball in the sky.

Her story is at

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