We’ve all observed National Geographic magazine going down the tubes and going soft on religion (e.g., investigating and affirming the historicity of scripture), and on woo. Apparently this issue, highlighted by fellow skeptic Phil Ferguson on his Facebook page, is about trying to validate woo, or at least about implying that there might be something to it. (Until recently National Geographic was owned by Fox, but as of this year it’s a Walt Disney property.)
Yes, it is sad, and I wasn’t pleased by the prospect of trying to find out what was between the covers (it’s not easy to find that!). I did notice the subtitle, which hearkens to the woo-ey X-Files. But I was saved from having to read this tripe by Hayley Stevens, who wrote an analysis and critique of the issue’s contents on her website, Hayley is a Ghost (click on screenshot below). Stevens researches claims of the paranormal, trying to find out what’s behind them (she says she isn’t committed to debunking these claims, but to understanding them).Jerry Coyne, “Once more, National Geographic goes for the woo” at Why Evolution Is True
So he hasn’t read it.
He says that National Geographic has “lost half its subscription base” in the last few decades, a claim we were not immediately able to source. However, it’s not clear how that loss, if true, relates to the woo issue—unless the mag is simply trying new formulas to see what works for the new boss, Disney. Some people are angry with NG over errors and inaccuracies on contentious issues (in the linked case, the oil sands).
But in general, National Geographic dances to Jerry Coyne’s tune where evolution is concerned and the decline, if real, has continued during that same period. The only thing we really know is that the internet has drop kicked almost all magazines.
More generally, while we certainly don’t have much use for sprites and frites around here, one significant change over the last few years has been a general recognition that the atheistic naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism,” that Coyne espouses, which underlies the Darwinism he professes, has some serious problems accounting for what we know about the universe.
See, for example,
Why some scientists believe the universe is conscious
Why materialism fails as a science-based philosophy. There is no doubt that consciousness is a fundamental property of animal and human existence. As philosopher Philip Goff notes, a philosophy that cannot plausibly account for it cannot be correct.
The problem is, when people can’t discuss this stuff straightforwardly due to the din created by people like Jerry Coyne, it has a way of reappearing as nonsense. Ironically, he had a hand in creating the stuff he can’t bear to read.
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