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Physicist Rob Sheldon’s somewhat different take on New York Times’ science writing

Dr Sheldon
Rob Sheldon

Yesterday, we asked, “Should the dying Gray Lady stop writing about science?

That got started because the Real Clear Science founding editor wondered about it, based on recent coverage he deems faulty. (It would be no surprise to us.*) Anyway, Sheldon here:

Fascinating blog on NYT! It is exactly what Paul Johnson said would happen to America when he wrote in the 1990’s that America was being taken over by special interest groups, who like a pantheon of demi-gods, would endlessly bicker about whose ox was being gored. This is because America had rejected the Western synthesis of theology-philosophy-religion that had rocketed to supremacy over all other civilizations on this planet. And once the synthesis was destroyed in our Post-Modern society, once unity was sacrificed at the altar of diversity, then it became a free-for-all, a schoolyard brawl between various bullies and their affiliated gangs.

In this case, Mr. Alex Berezow, who doesn’t want to be called a journalist, argues that the Gray Lady has been so committed to left-wing editorial direction, that their market share has slipped and so has their science reporting. He then castigates their science reporters for departing from the government consensus on various issues–vaccinations, cell-phone radiation, etc. He doesn’t actually refute their science, mind you, he merely flings ad hominem name-calling upon anyone willing to stand up to the government bureaucrats. Evidently scientism is a religion firmly in the control of respectable institutions like the EPA, FCC and the FDC.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I laugh because in the name of science Berezow is bowing down to the government funding czars who historically have been the abusers of science. I laugh because the argument of the left ever since the Bolsheviks has been the importance of scientific methods. I cry because Berezow worships conformity over integrity, faceless organizations over brave scientists, consensus over truth. For Berezow, science is a religion practiced by consensus, and he learned this doctrine in government funded journalism schools. The left-wing NYT editors won the Culture war but lost the Science.
GK understood perfectly when he wrote the final lines of his 1911 masterpiece. Over the silent teletypes in the empty NYT newsrooms comes the sound of laughter.

Yes. The New York Times model itself doesn’t work any more. Those who really want to know can go to the sources directly, so increasingly, Times type outfits convey “narratives” to those who wish to hear them.

Of course, that might work as a business plan except for one thing: One can get that for free on the Internet as well, especially from lobbies, pressure groups, and politicians of one’s choice.

* Consider, for example, the no-homework prof episode. The Times writer seemed genuinely surprised that a Darwin-in-the-schools lobbyist would completely misrepresent another prof and—horrors!—the journal resented that fact. So he simply had no idea how Darwin’s followers retain their social and cultural power. Tht can happen once or twice, maybe but when it happens repeatedly … it tends to mean that people do not really want to know. (“I myself warned Nick Matzke, Forrest’s defender, not to continue turning the debacle into a [debris] storm.”)

Which means that the Times people, with the best of intentions, do not really want to be in the news business. But we will let that settle out.

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Coulda, woulda, shoulda... Wherefore art thou, Judge Jud?Axel
March 26, 2015
08:05 AM

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