Rolling Stone began a recent article with this provocative lede: "The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." [emphasis mine]
This metaphor, and all its implications, have provoked plenty of discussion amongst economists, politicians, journalists, and the general public. But you know why it provokes me? Vampire squid are tiny, like six inches long, and while they have several anatomical oddities, they possess nothing as ridiculous (though creative) as a "blood funnel"!
It's true, there is such a thing as a vampire squid, though I'm not sure how many Rolling Stone readers realize that. In fact, the literal translation of the scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, is "vampire squid from hell." We can imagine that this unfeeling epithet has delivered considerable emotional trauma to the poor animal--
--but it is a pretty cool name, and it gets people jazzed about the deep sea. Unfortunately, it's misleading. Vampire squid were named only for their freaky looks, not because they have any propensity for drinking blood. As far as we know, their diet is about what one would expect from a small gelatinous deep-sea cephalopod: shrimp and other little crustaceans.
Sure, I understand that the Rolling Stone writer was reaching for a literary device, not a biology lesson, but there are so many honest-to-God freaky parasites that could have been chosen for such a metaphor! Why malign the poor vampire squid?
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- Education: Stop New Age Thinking, Chalk And Talk Might Be The Best Way After All
- Big Data Could Be A Big Problem For Workplace Discrimination Law
- Interstellar Is A Dangerous Fantasy Of US Colonialism
- Reasons Serious Scientists Should Not Fear The Winnower and other OA Open Review Journals.
- Lockheed Martin Keeps Fingers Crossed for Orion's First Test Flight
- Why Computer Programs Can't Understand Truth - And Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence Babies
- "I take exception to this vicious attack on a renowned scientist from a renowned institution of..."
- "I plan to write some more articles when I have the time to follow up the ideas in these comments..."
- "Great :)...."
- "Here's the problem. I see a number of people writing as if R will go to zero instantly at..."
- "Choosing a coordinate system such that the metric is diagonal 1,-1,-1,-1 at some point, this means..."
- Motor coordination issues in autism are caused by abnormal neural connections
- Adult survivors of childhood eye cancer experience few cognitive or social setbacks
- Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say
- Schizophrenia may be triggered by excess protein during brain development
- The sound of status: People know high-power voices when they hear them