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Science writer: New York Times is cool with pseudoscience

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From Alex Berezow at American Council for Science and Health:

Scientists have a common saying about models: “Garbage in, garbage out.” That means if you put bad data into a model, you can fully expect for the model to spit out bad conclusions. The same is true for organizations. If a newspaper hires improperly educated, hyperpartisan people who possess merely a casual relationship with the truth, we can fully expect the newspaper to produce absolute rubbish. And that’s exactly what has happened at the New York Times.

Consider the following:

– Just two days ago, a piece in Slate criticized the NYT for its coverage of topics like “wellness” and “detox.” The NYT has entire pages dedicated to these wishy-washy topics, which often promote unscientific fad diets and other pseudoscience.

– For years, NYT writers such as Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, have used their platform to trash biotechnology (e.g., GMOs) and shamelessly promote organic food (as well as sell their books). It’s probably not a coincidence that the wife of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the former publisher of the Times, sits on the board of Whole Foods. More.

Wow. We rarely hear a science writer address the failures of traditional media in such blunt terms but the times are changing.

One change is that ttraditional media simply do not control “the narrative” to the extent that they used to. The Times cannot obliterate findings by pronouncing them pseudoscience or validate them by pronouncing them science. We have all been able to get other views within seconds for nearly two decades now.

Traditional media probably don’t control; science writers the way they used to either. For one thing, they cannot afford to employ so many of them. It’s a tough world out there but maybe a more honest one – and more fun. If we can keep the internet free, we can keep it that way too.

See also: Another academic freedom meltdown in science, this time re GMOs

and

Journalist wonders, why Creation Museum inspires rage, whole foods scams don’t (sky fell last night too, by the way) (a fun oldie from 2014)

2 Replies to “Science writer: New York Times is cool with pseudoscience

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Wow. We rarely hear a science writer address the failures of traditional media in such blunt terms but the times are changing.

    I think back to life before the internet. The NY Times was a fearful, powerful force. Nobody could touch it. There were always critics but they were totally dismissed and ridiculed. Plus, where could you read criticism on an article-by-article basis? A few magazines and alternative papers perhaps. But like all media-businesses, they struggled to make money.

    The NY Times had an ethos. “No, we are the truth tellers. We understand everything”. I live in NY state and I love my neighbors in the big apple but it’s a NY city attitude also. “We know everything, we have the best – because we’re in NY city”. For a long time, nobody could doubt it. Plus, the propaganda machine was more subtle, for some unknown reason.

    One change is that ttraditional media simply do not control “the narrative” to the extent that they used to. The Times cannot obliterate findings by pronouncing them pseudoscience or validate them by pronouncing them science. We have all been able to get other views within seconds for nearly two decades now.

    That’s it. I think there are still many people who will proclaim “the NY Times said …” as if that wins every argument. But more and more, we usually hear that as a form of ridicule.

    Traditional media probably don’t control; science writers the way they used to either.

    I hope not. Everybody is looking for money and career success. If they can find sources of income outside of the standard monopolies, science writers won’t need to submit to censorious control.

    ID is a good example. It never would have survived this long if it only depended on books by Behe and Meyer and a few others. It’s blogs and youtube keeping it alive. There’s still not enough revenue for a huge impact, but the reason for that is the scope of ID is narrow.

    For one thing, they cannot afford to employ so many of them. It’s a tough world out there but maybe a more honest one – and more fun. If we can keep the internet free, we can keep it that way too.

    It’s very tough, more competitive but more honest – yes.

  2. 2
    blip says:

    The problem is not just with their reporting of science and not just in recent decades.

    From NYT Apologist for Stalin, Walter Duranty:

    “There is no famine or actual starvation nor is there likely to be.”
    –New York Times, Nov. 15, 1931, page 1

    “Enemies and foreign critics can say what they please. Weaklings and despondents at home may groan under the burden, but the youth and strength of the Russian people is essentially at one with the Kremlin’s program, believes it worthwhile and supports it, however hard be the sledding.”
    –New York Times, December 9, 1932, page 6

    “There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”
    –New York Times, March 31, 1933, page 13

    “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
    –New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 18

    “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”
    –New York Times, August 23, 1933

    The NYT’s deceit continued with Herbert L. Matthews’ coverage of America’s favorite tyrant, Fidel Castro.

    And it goes on today with “the religion of peace”, Islam. And with “consensus” science.

    Has the NYT repudiated any of this? No, not really. They still churn socialist goose-stepping-group-think to this very day, as they always have, as they always will until the day they die.

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