… and regrets, and regrets, and regrets. In fact, The Atlantic may have entered into an infinite loop of regret, but their primary regret has to be publishing a shockingly ignorant and warped attack on science itself. John took the magazine to task over Moira Weigel’s screed on ultrasounds, originally titled “How the Ultrasound Pushed the Idea That a Fetus Is a Person,” later changed to “How Ultrasound Became Political.”
Three days after the editors allowed this to appear under their “Health” category — not “Politics and Policy”? — they have belatedly reviewed the claims Weigel made and appended their corrections. So far, they’ve managed to contradict almost every point Weigel made:
* This article originally stated that there is “no heart to speak of” in a six-week-old fetus. By that point in a pregnancy, a heart has already begun to form. We regret the error.
** This article originally stated that the fetus was already suffering from a genetic disorder. We regret the error.
*** This article originally stated that Bernard Nathanson headed the National Right-to-Life Committee and became a born-again Christian. Nathanson was active in but did not head the committee, and he converted to Roman Catholicism after The Silent Scream was produced. We regret the error.
**** This article originally stated that the doctors claimed fetuses had no reflexive responses to medical instruments at 12 weeks. We regret the error.
At least as of 1 pm ET today, The Atlantic hadn’t added any other corrections, but … this is pretty comprehensive. So why not retract the article? In this, The Atlantic is making the difficult but necessary choice of taking its public beating rather than “disappearing” the piece. Given the nature of these errors, they should be at the top of the article so that readers can know the context of the ignorance contained within before proceeding, but they do annotate the corrections with links.
Still, this list of errors entirely contradicts the piece, which calls into question how it got published in the first place. “That piece,”one of my friends in the media told me privately, “was eligible for FEMA funding.” It’s a complete and utter disaster, one that goes beyond what corrections can address. The editors of The Atlantic should explain how that piece got to print in the first place, and why no one did even a cursory review of some very easily checked assertions.
Maybe they’ll update the story with that explanation. Keep checking back, and also check to see if they’ve discovered even more regrets along the way.