Earlier this week I was looking through CNN’s website when I found a small, 4-minute video on the Yellowstone Super Volcano. As a general rule of thumb I avoid anything science related that’s posted on CNN or any other major news outlet. Most of the time I just get irritated with the flagrant exaggerations and manipulations of the actual facts. Going against my better judgement though, I decided to watch the video and give CNN the benefit of the doubt.
Oh boy. I should have just watched 2012. ’cause that’s exactly what the interview reminded me of.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by CNN’s abismal science reporting. As far as I’m concerned they are about as reliable as the woomeisters at the Huffington Post. I was only mildly peeved to see that they decided to bring a physicist on to explain concepts that lie within the realm of volcanology. When I saw that the physicist was Michio Kaku I hoped that maybe he would inject some real science into the interview. Once again my hopes were dashed and replaced with disappointment.
Instead of citing any real evidence that Yellowstone will soon pop it’s top and destroy the country, Kaku decides to do what he does best: speculate and turn science fact into science fiction. Granted he was just answering the interviewers asinine questions, but Kaku’s prophetic doomsaying did nothing but distort the actual facts. You would think a theoretical physicist of his expertise would know how to conduct basic research prior to postulating such sensationalistic nonsense.
So what do the real experts at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory have to say?
Ground Deformation Summary: Careful analysis of the Yellowstone GPS data shows that the period of accelerated Yellowstone caldera uplift, beginning in 2004, has stopped. Some GPS stations exhibit little change and others reflect slight subsidence…
In other words, the expansion has stopped and is actually receding in some parts of the caldera. That little piece of information took me approximately 30 seconds to Google. If I, a lowly geology undergrad still learning to differentiate andesite from rhyolite, can do such basic fact checking, surly Michio Kaku can as well. The bright side to all this, is that a lot of commenters called CNN on their bad science reporting (I think I recognized a couple from the geoblogosphere). While I won’t bet on it, maybe this will motivate CNN to do some basic research before airing such drivel.