Here’s a cautionary tale about research rumors gone wild.
Yesterday, numerous news outlets, from NBC and Fox to the U.K’s Independent reported that Harvard professor and renowned geneticist George Church was actively looking for an “adventurous” woman to give birth to a baby Neanderthal. The newspaper asserted that Church has a plan to bring “our long-extinct relative back to life using artificial DNA.”
A juicy story, yes, but apparently wrong, Church tells The Boston Herald:
Harvard University geneticist George M. Church, the scientist at the center of the viral vortex, says it was: Way too outlandish, and entirely untrue.
“The real story here is how these stories have percolated and changed in different ways,” George M. Church, a Harvard geneticist who helped kick off the Human Genome Project, told the Herald last night. “I’m sure we’ll get it sorted out eventually.”
Church said his phone was ringing off the hook yesterday with reporters from around the world calling to talk to what they believed, and no doubt hoped, was a modern-day Dr. Moreau — the H.G. Wells character who created weird hybrid animals. Continue reading