The Sunday Times recently published an article with the headline “Blonde women born to be warrior princesses.” The article reported that “Researchers claim that blondes are more likely to display a “warlike” streak because they attract more attention than other women and are used to getting their own way – the so-called “princess effect.”” The Sunday Times article quotes the evolutionary psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Aaron Sell. Sadly, none of it is true, or at least not according to Sell.
The Scientific Fundamentalist blog written by Satoshi Kanazawa has a field day slamming British newspapers for routinely publishing fiction. Yes, headlines are designed to grab your attention - they may even lure you with a false promise - but the content should still have some link to real news. If journalists can't get a scientist to utter a few sentences on the phone that they can then distort or publish out of context they will just resort to making up stories. The right to free speech seems to be the right to distort reality - anything to sell papers. These are the same people crying over a loss of revenue to the new online media. Your support for them rather depends on whether you want news or fiction.
I have a little experience of British newspapers and my advice to anybody who is on the receiving end of journalistic charm and flattery is to write down a statement and email it to them. Spoken words are ephemeral and you will have a hard time proving that you didn't say something. Write your own press release and if you're still misquoted you'll have a stronger case for the Press Complaints Commission to adjudicate on. As Kanazawa says "[...] it is their job as British journalists to make things up. They don’t care if it’s true or not." Strong stuff... now where's that article about blondes?