The media is beginning to reflect critically upon the frenzy that surrounded cloning claims made by the Raelian “Sci-fi cult” shortly after Christmas.

It increasingly looks like Claude Vorilhon now known as “Rael” and his acolyte Brigitte Boisselier cynically staged a media event, hoping to cash in on a well-established slow news cycle just after Christmas.

Many within the media hungry for a sensational story were easily and quickly hooked by the duo.

Without any evidence whatsoever Boisselier managed to get 30 uninterrupted minutes for her monologue on CNN. Other news outlets quickly ran with the story, without any meaningful proof or additional sources to verify her outlandish claims.

Eric Lander, Director Whitehead/MIT genome sequencing center in Cambridge, Massachusetts said it is really quite “simple…to verify this claim scientifically,” reports the Washington Post in the story “Cloning a Previous Hoax?” by Rick Weiss (December 31, 2002).

So why didn’t anyone in the media require such proof before running this story?

LA Times reporter Tim Rutten offers some context.

“Consider, for one moment, the objective circumstances: a crackpot cult, whose French founder says he got his marching orders from a space alien, calls a press conference in Miami to announce that a cloned child has been born to an unidentified woman in an unspecified place the day after Christmas,” the reporter jibed within the LA Times in his piece titled, “Cult ‘clones’ a baby! Read (and read) all about it” (January 1, 2003).

Orville Schell, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism summarized the so-called news story about “cloning” succinctly. “This story is a very obvious example of a larger, more worrisome problem, which is that there are a thousand ways every day in which the contemporary media doesn’t know how to make the dignified decision.” Schell concluded, “Everybody associated with the media became a little less dignified.”


And Rael laughed all the way back to “UFO Land,” his Canadian base of operations, the proud recipient of a belated Christmas present from the media. That is, the greatest news bonanza the known publicity hound has ever received.

Don’t expect too much self-analysis and contrition from those who irresponsibly ran with this story. It’s just too embarrassing to admit you’ve been had, and by no less than a “cult leader” and ridiculous buffoon like “Rael.”


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