Jordan’s government, religious authorities and media fall for the Genpets HOAX!!

16/10/2008

Genpet

If you want to believe the “Life” front page Al Ghad article today, then you would believe that:

1. A company in Canada has created a “real living toy/doll”, called Genepet, from human and animal genes, that is and ACTUAL LIVING BEING that eats, feels, breathes and bleeds when hurt and eventually dies in 1 to 3 years.

2. That this creature is on sale worldwide.

The story goes on to say..

* How authorities in Qatar have “forbidden” this creature from entering the country. * That the Jordanian Cabinet prohibited its import into Jordan * That religious scholars consider it a violation of human rights and Islamic law “which prohibits mixing human genes and animal genes” (This is a quote from a religion professor at the University of Jordan).

The article quotes a psychiatric medical doctor, the head of standards at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the head of the Jordan Consumer Protection Society too. All of them warn against this toy/creature.

This is FRONT PAGE NEWS on a MAJOR JORDANIAN DAILY, which means that tens of thousands of mothers, fathers, and citizens read this story and totally believe its true. After all the CABINET and all kinds of OFFICIAL PEOPLE are being quoted.

This is a DISASTER. This is an exposure of ignorance of monumental proportions at every level of society: from the journalist who has written the story, to the editor who approved it to run on the front page, to the governmental, religious and civil society people who where quoted in the article who who issued bans and statements.

THIS IS A HOAX. A JOKE. By an artist called Adam Bradejs, who created this “sculpture”/”installation art exhibit” as social commentary on genetic engineering and patenting. In 2005!

Here is his website explaining his art.

Adam Brandejs website And here is information about Genpets in Wikipedia.

From Qatar to Jordan.. From the Cabinet to the press.. No one has bothered to check Wikipedia.

With all due respect to the people mentioned and to the newspaper, this is shameful. This misinformation based on a joke should not go unchecked. I will most definitely call or contact Al-Ghad to complain today. I would advise everyone to call or email them to publish a correction of the same size and position of the original article tomorrow.

If an obvious joke/hoax like this is presented to people as real information, how can we trust the press (or the government or the religious authorities) to deal with more complex, less obvious social, political or scientific issues.

UNBELIEVABLE.

Al-Ghad contacts:

Telephone: +(962 6) 55 44 000 (an editor or the editor in chief should be contracted) Email: editorial@alghad.jo Fax: +(962 6) 55 44 055 (a fax has a good chance of getting noticed as email boxes are always full of spam these days)

27 Comments

  1. wael says:

    have you read the comments on the article!!!

  2. Why your attacking al Ghad that much!! ok, they made A MISTAKE.. sure, they should have checked the sources of their story better, and that’s why I call it a mistake. I never actually believed it when I first heard about it for simple reason, if it was true, I definitely would have heard about it from my trustful science sources, cause after all, it’s not like a new update for Windows! it’s a commercial industry for creating a new life for gods sake!!

    As for the professor (and the other people quoted), the poor guy didn’t know, they just told him that those damn seculares did so and so, and he responded.. :)

  3. PH says:

    Wow, this is truly sad, but laughable really! My mother read the article today, and I was in total disbelief that technology has reached this far, and that it was so out of the blue. If such a toy was in the making, surely we would heard a lot about it before seeing it on Al Ghad, no?

    Anyway, she went on this whole spiel on how crazy humanity has become. I am seriously going to write them a letter now, but really, “hayatana” is just a very disappointing section, the quality of stories published in the section is very mundane and uninspiring to begin with.

  4. karim says:

    this is unbelievable… you made my day… of course, it’s sad also… all this ignorance…

  5. hussein says:

    it seems that Al Ghad readers much aware of these issues than the Al Ghad it self.. i read some of the comments and they were very logical and true.

    Also this is a 3 years old story! and they discovered it now.. that’s funny :)

  6. Nadine says:

    LMTO!!!

    I think it’s part of the Jordan Reality Show – toying with the gullibility barometer! LOL

  7. rami says:

    Great reporting, really.. You should maybe invite the AlGhad reporter to a journalism 101 course (and blog about it!) :-)

  8. 3awwadkhalaf says:

    they should fire this journalist. Maybe she wanted to impress her boss with a catchy story! ignorance!

    [edited]

  9. Raji says:

    lol..
    al ghad is turning into shee7an
    btw, i dont read newspapers, i dont read at all, thank god for that!! (except for work or the apealing articles in Yahoo, msn or internet..)

  10. Tarek says:

    You know I actually believed these things… A friend of mine told me about them earlier this year and when I googled them on the phone and saw their pic, I didnt bother reading more, cause I took my friend’s word for it… And I thought it WAS really disturbing…

    Damn… Thanks for the clarification dude.

  11. bambam says:

    It was in al-rai about a year ago in the tech and science section …. not sure whether they mentioned it as a hoax or not (i just remember the pic)

  12. hamede says:

    I remember 2 or 3 years ago you said that al ghad newspaper is the best in jordan.

  13. George says:

    But it’s true, my cousin went to jail for bringing one to Qatar! That’s what people might say :p
    But it’s really amazing, great that i seldom read local newspapers

  14. Hani obaid says:

    Qwaider had written about the hoax 7 months ago when some UAE papers fell for it as well. I don’t think the fact that people fell for it is such a disaster, or that the people whom the media asked for opinions were idiots. Al-ghad should have checked its facts first.

    The guy who invented this hoax had an axe to grind against genetic engineering, and this was his way of bringing it to the limelight. A sneaky lie to promote a hidden agenda. That’s all.

  15. Hani obaid says:

    This made me remember the Al-ghad review of Star wars. The reviewer thought the holograms the jedi council used when to represent them when they’re attending meetings remotely were “creatures of light”!

    Oh well.

  16. nadine says:

    Breaking news:
    Merger finalized as this and this masterminds create new powerhouse….. details to follow shortly.

  17. Batir Wardam says:

    The only element missing from the so-called feature story was a statement from the “social left” party accusing Basem Awadallah and the neoliberals of importing this toy as another tool in their conspiracy to degrade the Jordanian state.
    Great as usual, Ahmad!

  18. Humeid says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I wrote a letter to the publisher and editor-in-chief. The story is still online. Many comments on the story are from people who are rightfully shouting that this is an art work/joke.

    But numerous comments still take the feature seriously. Some commenter are actually angry with the comments that are saying that this is a joke. They insist the toy/creature does exist (because it has a website!!!).

    This is really dangerous. It shows that people are willing to believe everything. It shows ignorance at so many levels. Seriously, everyone should contact the newspaper.

    Batir, your comment made me laugh. But guess what, Ad Dustour carried a similar story 2 days ago in the economy section, I was told today. Maybe you can alert them too.

    This is not funny.

  19. Zaid says:

    I took the time to call the paper , i did not get through the editor but to one of the assistant editors , i told him that the “human animal hybrid cloning creation” is still beyond the reach of modern science and this whole thing is an internet hoax … etc . He actually sheepishly said that ” ana baini wo bainak istaghrabat min hal gissa” , but then he asked me for a “proof” that this creature does not exist by which I replied that he can ask any school kid between 9th grade and tawjeehi . Anyways, I was not getting anywhere with this guy who insisted that although it a strange story , it is still a probable story!

  20. Humeid says:

    Ziad: it’s great that you called the paper. The experience you describe with the journalist you talked to proves how gullible a lot of people are.

    Without showing him the story, I asked my son, who’s in the 5th grade, if he thinks that a living creature toy would be possible. He basically answered no.

    Even if someone believes that this is scientifically possible (which is hilarious) the “proof” that this creature doesn’t exist is the WEBSITE OF THE ARTIST.

    Again, this story is a symptom of something so dangerous. We really live in the Middle Ages.

    I will make sure that the publisher hears from me again about this. I am asking them to publish a story in the same place to refute what they wrote and follow up on how the government and others fell for this joke.

  21. Sid Vicious says:

    This can’t be real; Everyone knows at least The Terminator T-800 comes before “bioengineered buddies” in the tech tree. And I don’t see no Arnies running around.

  22. tariq says:

    this is twisted and sick thing what matter with the world
    it shocking 7sbee alah waaa n3m al wkeeeell

  23. Nas says:

    someone commented earlier how this was just a silly mistake that doesn’t deserve ahmad’s lashing out.

    it should be noted that in the media and journalism field this is a “mistake” of enormous proportions. a mistake is a typo.

    running a whole article of a hoax and passing it off as truth is irresponsible journalism.

    a typo requires a correction, a hoax requires a firing.

  24. [...] The web (174) « Jordan’s government, religious authorities and media fall for the Genpets HOAX!! [...]

  25. Ibby says:

    Tarek: Thanks for sharing. I especially enjoyed the “googling on the phone” bit – very kinky. I am a more conventional, some might say boring, computer googler though I sometimes google on laptops as well. Variety is the spice of life as they say….

  26. [...] Tim Sebastian on Journalism in Jordan I have for some time wanted to do a longer piece on the state of Journalism in Jordan. We in the West stress Freedom of Press and there is surely a long way to go on that issue in this region. But the quality of journalism also needs to be discussed. Since I arrived in Jordan I have been taken aback by some of the stories that have been approved by the various editors to go to print without having been subject to normal journalistic procedures such as confronting first hand sources, getting statements from “victims” or just pure and simple checking of facts. Stories like McCains “Jordan Option“, Publicis involvement in “the Jordan Festival“, “Genpets” and “The Jesus Sandals” are examples of such kinds of  journalism and of course an illustration of the fact that some of these stories are run or elaborated by people with personal or political agendas. Some are just plain bad journalism. [...]

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