Right. I was going to write about life tables this week*. But then this happened. Yeah, that’s right! Headline: “Shallow grave bones linked to Burke and Hare.”
[Cue Osteologist Me]
Wait a minute…
I’m just re-reading that bit.
You know the bit further down where it says: “We can’t rule out that those [the remains] found on Grove Street were sold by the resurrectionists, as they were called, although it might be a stretch to say it was Burke and Hare themselves, given their crimes are well-documented.” Emphasis mine.
Nope nope nope.
I have been wracking my brain for the past few days, trying to figure out exactly how the journalist (or editor) came up with a headline and byline that states pretty much the exact opposite of what is quoted in the article.
Lazy flibberdegibbety click-baiting.
I meant it folks.
While the discovery of human remains formerly used as medical specimens isn’t that unusual (indeed, there was an entire exhibit about it recently) it is obviously still super fascinating.
Headlines like this cheapen an incredible chance discovery by making claims for it that the researchers have not (in fact, they essentially ruled out those claims IN THE ARTICLE INTERVIEW).
It needs to stop.
It’s ruining everything.
I mean, isn’t it just as interesting that the role of the resurrectionists was so wide-spread? That it went so far beyond the infamous resurrectionists turned murderers Burke and Hare? And supposing they weren’t the victims of resurrectionists either! Isn’t the history of human remains as medical specimens in itself fascinating? And in this particular case that they should end up buried in a back garden? Or rather, that pieces of them were buried in a back garden?!
Change yer damned headline.
“Shallow grave bones may have resurrectionist link.”†
And while you’re at it, how about the byline too?‡
Sixty bones, representing four adults and one child, discovered in townhouse backgarden – believed to be 19th century medical specimens, with possible links to ressurectionists.
Ooh… now doesn’t that sound interesting?
AND YET ALSO FACTUALLY CORRECT?
*Sorry to disappoint! Now you’ll have to wait for that brilliant post.
†Since I started writing this post there have been a few other iterations of this story (see below) that do, in fact, use a headline more similar to mine.
‡ Added in update January 8th, 2013.