- rants.org - http://www.rants.org -

Dead Pig Coverup?

Breaking news from James Vasile [1]:

Scientists going back to Galileo have secretly abused corpses in the pursuit of knowledge. Researchers studying the Atlantic Ocean garbage patch have been throwing dead pigs into the sea just to see what happens next. Yes, that’s shocking and gross, but just like in the Whitewater scandal, it’s the coverup that is the crime.

National Geographic originally (maybe accidentally?) revealed the dead pig experiment in an article at nationalgeographic.com [2]. You can clearly see references to the dead pigs in Google’s search results (see attached screen shot [3]). The National Geographic url, though, makes no mention of the pigs at all. They scrubbed the record.

Why the coverup, National Geographic? Who are you protecting?!

Naturally, we had the rants.org crack investigative team look into this. James is right — something does smell funny here, and it’s not just dead pigs.

Let’s start with the Google search results. As you can see, at some point in the past the National Geographic article did talk about scientists using dead pigs to measure something about a newly-discovered Atlantic Ocean garbage patch:

DPC Google results (annotated) [4]
The Google search results; red highlights the key words. (Original image here [5].)

The exact words in the Google preview snippet are: “After dropping dead pigs into the sea and watching via Webcams, researchers were…”.

Uh. What?

But if you visit the article now, it no longer mentions anything about dead pigs — the red arrow points to a failed search for the word “dead” in the page:

DPC National Geographic article (annotated) [6]
The National Geographic article; red arrow highlights the failed search for “dead”. (Original image here [7].)

The original article is no longer in Google’s cache, unfortunately; it’s been superseded by a revised version of the article. But the cached version does have a message at the top indicating that the word “pigs” appears only in links from other pages, not in the article itself, so obviously other people were on to this too:

DPC Google cache (annotated) [8]
Google’s cache of the page has already lost the mention of dead pigs. (Original image here [9].)

(The word “dead” doesn’t appear in the cached text of the article either; it’s just in the title of an unrelated sidebar news item [10] in the cache.)

I know National Geographic isn’t the New York Times (then again, neither is the New York Times… but I digress). Still, silently removing a substantial fact from an article, leaving no notice of the change? That’s just not kosher.

National Geographic, the people have a right to know: what’s behind the dead pig coverup?