Mark Johnson is WEWS-TV ABC News Channel 5's Chief Meteorologist, which means for better or for worse, he is heard and trusted by a good portion of the population. His science background is not extensive: his education includes a bachelor's degree in telecommunications and a 'meteorology certification'.
Of course, he nevertheless weighs in on science issues to a broad audience (Northeast Ohio boasts ca. 4.5 million people). Unfortunately, he's a climate change denialist. Earlier this year, Johnson voiced his dissenting view on climate change, writing a full piece about claiming the Earth hasn't warmed in 15 years:
"Last week, the UK Met released its latest global temperature data to the world. It shows that the Earth has not warmed in 15 years. The warming ceased after the great super El Nino of 1998."It's little wonder denialism is prevalent when public figures who should be versed in the science make these statements.
Bigfoot likely-hoax has attracted a flurry of attention from the general public but has been treated with due caution by science bloggers, including Greg Laden, Steven Novella, and Eric Berger, who have pointed out issues with the claim.
Unfortunately, Johnson's at it again. Yesterday, he wrote an article titled "New DNA Study Proves Existence of Sasquatch." Proves? Proves???? Sigh. It's, as you might expect, a pretty one-sided article that paints Dr. Ketchum's story as an effort commensurate to the Human Genome Project. And given the CSI phenomenon on TV (side node: apparently CSI effect is a real term), the mere fact that 'DNA' is in the title will carry a lot of weight toward convincing the public of the story's truthfulness. From the article:
"Researchers’ extensive five-year DNA sequencing study suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species."
"The study was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, Texas. In response to recent interest in the study, Dr. Ketchum can confirm that her team has sequenced three complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and determined the species is a human hybrid."The piece is all-hype, without a word of caution or a shred of doubt. Pretty bold, for a press release about a study that has no accompanying data and some dubious claims from a company, as Eric Berger points out, with the worst possible rating from the Better Business Bureau.