October 24, 2019
Dean Bisco | MediaWise Teen Fact-Checker

Normal people avoid bees. Today, we are chasing them. Kinda.

On Oct. 14, a Twitter account called the Physics and Astronomy Zone posted this tweet saying the bee was just declared the most important living being on our planet. But is this legit? Here’s what we found out.

Who is behind the information?

When it comes to the Physics and Astronomy Zone, it’s hard to say who is behind this claim. The article doesn’t have a byline, and the website’s about page lacks any valuable information. Aside from a broken link to a Facebook page, the about page says the site’s goal is for readers to “understand stuff beyond Earth through science, specifically through physics” and that any other website claiming to be Physics-Astronomy is “fake.” The article only hyperlinked one source, which brought me to a site that was completely in Spanish. According to this article — which I translated — it was the Earthwatch Institute that declared the bee as the most important species on the Earth.

Do a keyword search

When I typed “bee most important living being” into Google, a lot of recent articles making the same claim popped up. I focused on this post from The Guardian, which said that the Earthwatch Institute made this declaration 11 years ago during its annual debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London. This debate had five scientists state their reasoning for which species was the most important, and it was actually the audience that voted.

I did another keyword search of “Earthwatch debate” and found that 2019’s topic of discussion wasn’t endangered species, but rather if veganism can save the planet. That event was back in March.

Our Rating: Needs Context

Overall, the post NEEDS CONTEXT. While the bee was voted the most important species during an Earthwatch debate, sites reporting on this are 11 years late to the party. And it was actually an audience that chose the bee as the most invaluable species.

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has…
Alex Mahadevan

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