The Guardian has photo issues as well as evolution issues

June 30, 2022 • 1:45 pm

I just had to put up as a standalone this posted comment from reader Mike on yesterday’s Guardian article on why evolutionary theory is supposedly obsolete. There was a rather substantial boo-boo in one image, which was wonky in three ways: the species identification was wrong, and two parts were photoshopped in. This manipulation was not indicated.  It’s just one more sign that the Guardian needs some kind of science editor.

From Mike:

In case anyone is still checking in on this post and that crazy Grauniad article, turns out one of the feature images of the “spadefoot toad” was a photoshop nightmare: not a spadefoot toad; has a chameleon’s tongue; catching a dragonfly that’s photoshopped into the image; and perched on a toadstool.

Now that’s phenotypic plasticity!

The kicker is that the Guardian has stealth edited the image out of the version that’s up today on the website. The wayback machine shows the original article with that frankenimage.

The “frankenimage” from the wayback machine.

It’s gone now; no toad photo to be seen and no indication it was ever there.  And whoever Buddy Mays is, he should be roundly trounced (I think that this is him.)

Below: the tweet that corrects the species ID and the photoshopped tongue and dragonfly.

I have a big stupid grin on my face!

23 thoughts on “The Guardian has photo issues as well as evolution issues

  1. Using stock images for a science article… very unprofessional. I use stock images occasionally and I have seen photos of subjects in my own field misidentified. Lovely photos, they just didn’t know what they were photographing. But putting out a fake photoshopped work like this for sale is pretty low.

    1. Reminds me why half of DNA stock images has the wrong common chirality (if they want to show the generic chirality). Often misused by science articles et cetera.

      1. Ah, good one!

        How about (IIRC) Neil DeGrasse Tyson telling John Stewart, during his interview, that the planet Earth model in The Daily Show’s introduction was spinning the wrong way.

        They changed it.

  2. As a former photo editor of a national newspaper Photoshopping an image like that would be reason for immediate dismissal. Pretty incredible that the image even made it to the web page.

      1. But still grounds for a misconduct charge (within company), and if enough “points” had accumulated, dismissal.

  3. Wonder whether the toad with the chameleon’s tongue and the dragonfly will run into Nikolai Yezhov strolling next to Stalin along the Moscow Canal down there at the bottom of the memory hole.

  4. The “photo” looked fine to ignorant me. But these moonshots

    What motivates this kind of person to misrepresent so much?

    “A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Buddy Mays is a travel and lifestyle photographer whose color photographs, taken in sixty countries on six continents, have appeared in thousands of publications throughout North America and Europe. He has won numerous national and international photography awards, and several of his images reside in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography in 1977 and in 2009 he was selected by Digital Photographer Magazine as one of the best sixty wildlife photographers in the world.
    Buddy attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces from 1967-1970 where he majored in vertebrate zoology, English, and archaeology. He is a former contract photographer for the National Geographic Society, a field editor, writer, and photographer for Outdoor Life Magazine, and he has written twelve books on subjects ranging from southwestern archaeology to white water rafting to wildlife identification. His newest book is a novel, Hard to Have Heroes,”

    1. “The ‘photo’ looked fine to ignorant me.”

      I wouldn’t ever have spotted the togue, but the dragonfly really does stand out.

  5. To be fair to Buddy Mays his web-site offers ‘frogs and reptiles wall art’ that includes a number of very obviously photoshopped images (including for example a toad wearing a crown). It doesn’t seem to me that he is necessarily seeking to present these images as anything other than fantasy. This does not excuse the Guardian which at the very least showed a very disappointing lack of rigour in selecting the picture to illustrate its article.

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