The other week we, along with the rest of the media world, highlighted the achievement of a very bright 13-year-old, Aidan Dwyer, whose work on using the Fibonacci sequence in solar panel positioning won a Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History. But then it turned out his data was quite flawed, as we also reported. But that made many wonder, how did the American Museum of Natural History not catch these errors? This week the museum posted their response, standing up for their choice because everyone learned some important lessons.
Sure a million zillion blogs had written up the boy-genius, but isn't it curious that an institution of knowledge didn't notice the flaws before awarding him the award and writing up his achievements? After the media latched onto Dwyer's story, The Capacity Factor, which debunked the science, chastised news outlets for getting way ahead of themselves. "The news is to blame. All the usual suspects -- popular environment blogs, tech magazines -- blindly parrot the words of this very misinformed (not to blame him, he's an unguided 13 year old) kid." Yet, it's not like the information came from an unreliable source. It is a museum prize, after-all, argues TreeHugger's Jaymi Heimbuch. "We would trust that when a teen gets an award from the American Museum of Natural History, then he's probably right, or at least right enough, to write about."