Tuesday, October 27, 2009


There was a game I used to play with some friends when I was still a teenager. We’d all sit in a big circle. Then one of us would start a single line message by whispering into the ear of his neighbour. He could only say it once. His neighbour would then pass on the message to his neighbour, again only once. And the process continued up to the last person in that circle. It’s interesting to note that the person at the end of the line almost always would come up with something different from the original message.

People have the habit to change, whether intentionally or not, what they read or hear. After passing through several in-between messengers, one is apt to find that the original message has gone through a kind of “evolution” in which the final message may be substantially different from its original version.

A couple of days ago, I found an interesting article entitled “Human Evolution: Are Humans Still Evolving?” The article was mainly about a study of the evolution process in modern-day women, of which the findings, inter alia, could be summarized as follows:

“If these trends were to continue with no cultural changes in the town for the next 10 generations, by 2409 the average Framingham woman would be 2 cm (0.8 in) shorter, 1 kg (2.2 lb.) heavier, have a healthier heart, have her first child five months earlier and enter menopause 10 months later than a woman today, the study found.”

This story was quickly picked up by another internet source, The Daily Chili. But the title of the article has been changed to “Shorter, chubbier and having sex earlier.” This article also quoted the same study. As you can see, there’s a slight inaccuracy in this second article; it’s found in the title itself, i.e. “having sex earlier”.

One can quickly see that “having her first child five months earlier” does not necessarily mean “having sex earlier”. We all know that a woman may be sexually active but not having children until many years later. The same headline also appeared in The Star Online which is linked to the article to The Daily Chili.

So as you can see, even after passing through only a few parties, we can already see the “evolution” in the original facts of the study conducted by Yale University into something different.

I bet that if a few more people have a hand in reporting the findings of the same study, women will eventually be predicted to have the temperament of some scary monsters. But of course such prediction may not be totally wrong, as it’s already evident in some women even now.


delurk said...

it's about getting more eyeballs.

more people will click on "having sex earlier" compared to "having her first child five months earlier"

BTW, Daily Chilli is a online portal under The Star.

"Daily Chilli, however, exist on its own. The news would be different as we aim to be exciting, more breezy and more provocative,", according to Star Group Chief Editor Wong Chun Wai"


Cornelius said...


I can fully appreciate the aim to get as many eyeballs as possible. In fact, if I were a journalist, I would probably try my best to use eye-catching words and phrases myself; I would try to write in such a way to make my articles "exciting" and "provocative". But I doubt that I would do so to the extent of distorting facts.