National Geographic appears to go all numinous again

October 1, 2019 • 10:30 am

UPDATE: Al added his own version of National Geographic, below:



In the past few years I’ve posted sporadically about how National Geographic magazine, which is now owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Media conglomerate largely by The Walt Disney Company [since March] has been writing about religion, spirituality, and other numinous topics, and, disturbingly, in a way that seems to make things like the existence of Jesus and God credible (see, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). This is, I suppose, a way to attract subscribers, but it sure has eroded the reputation of the magazine, which used to be in almost every American home.

Now reader Al Lee has called my attention to a new issue of the magazine, although neither he nor I have read it (it’s not online). Have a look at the cover and see if you don’t think the contents will be dire (I’m going to find out what’s in there). Al added this note:

It’s been a while since I complained about National Geographic, I know. I’ve failed, I get that!  But I do have an actual life outside of whinging about NG’s ostensible new ‘direction’ of articles on Jesus and Mary and various of its mystical meanderings.
See pasted photo below… 
Again, if it is at it appears to be, it’s very sad, but now not unexpected.
Of course, I could be wrong, and the publication is actually looking at this through a very skeptical and critical eye. It *could* be… But considering its recent history, then I am doubtful. Then again, I will not buy one to find out. So they have lost one purchase!

Now doesn’t this look like the “X-Files” motto: “The truth is out there”? And if you are a subscriber, and have looked at this, by all means tell us what’s inside. Stay tuned.

37 thoughts on “National Geographic appears to go all numinous again

  1. My wife and I bought this copy. We both enjoy the entertainment behind this sociocultural phenomenon. It certainly doesn’t say anything that I would deem as being incorrect or groundbreaking. Just more from the mythology/history. It’s entertaining, and hits on a sociocultural topic.

  2. Huh. I just gave a talk on this same subject for the local Secular Humanist group. I wonder if National Geographic has the same take on it that I do?

  3. I gave up reading this rag years ago – before the Murdoch takeover – because, while the photographs were always stunning, reading the prose was like chewing a ball of cotton wool.

  4. It seems the National Geographic is now indistinguishable from the National Enquirer.

    I’d love any of the current editors of the magazine to show me the “geographical” component of any of those cover stories.

  5. Could it be just because it’s an October issue, in prep for Halloween, and not to be taken too seriously? I’m trying to bend over backward to be charitable, in honor of what the magazine used to be.

    1. At one time, National Geo was (sort of) a science mag.

      That notwithstanding, Murdoch is out, Disney is in, as of about 6 months ago. (mar2019-ish)

  6. I too cancelled my subscription after the Murdoch takeover. I always see the covers in the grocery store lines, and numinous subjects often appear there. Too bad. I had a gripe even before the takeover though. They had this special edition on climate change with charts, predictions and a section about “what you can do to shrink your carbon footprint”. There was a lot of advice, and yet not one mention about limiting one’s number of children or not having children at all. I knew it was a purposeful oversight and I lost a lot of respect for the rag; they really weren’t taking climate change seriously.

    1. My dad is evangelical on the subject of people having less children. Which is a bit hurtful.

      Mind you, once when some friends of the family went round to see him he brought out a big photo album. They’d recently been talking about me with him so they were expecting some baby photos or something like that. Turns out he’d filled it with pictures of the vegetables from his allotment.

      This tells you everything about the warmth with which he regards me, his only child.

      1. Damn…that puts a tear in my eye. Being an evangelical on pretty much any subject matter is irrational and harmful.

        1. Okay I didn’t realise how grim that sounded. I thought the vegetable photo album anecdote was funny! – it wasn’t meant to be a poor-me story.

          I mean…we don’t get on, but I can laugh about the absurdity of it, and the fact that he used to talk about how important it was not to have children, to me, his son. He’s got a blindspot about his own callousness that’s quite funny to me.

          I guess my sense of humour is quite cynical.

          1. Oh…sheesh. Sometimes that’s how posts are…no nuance. Thanks for clarifying…seeing your side of it, it is actually quite hilarious…in a weird sort of way.

      1. It lead me to Sean Carroll’s page on The World in one Equation…which seems appropriate. I read it some time ago, I think. Bottom line: there ain’t no stinkin’ supernatural.

      1. Ha! Thanks Yakaru, most kind.

        Just a quick thing really… I didn’t have time to think of any decent gags!


  7. Wondering by the magazine rack at the drugstore (waiting for a prescription to be filled) I always went strait to the NG. I could thumb through and look at the pictures until an interesting article about Antarctica or the Aleutian Islands would catch my eye and I could spend a half out with it. Nowadays, I glance at the cover (*gag*) and move on to see how those muscle men work out.

    1. I guess they don’t bother with the topless “native” women any more, what with all the stuff available online🤓

  8. Egads! And here is some more indications of NG’s move to the right:

    Here are two articles from Skeptical Inquirer about National Geographic’s pushing snake oil not unlike their more recent religious stuff:

    Chapter 1 The Remedies Of National Geographic
    Chapter 2 Victor Benson
    From: Volume 43, No. 5
    September / October 2019

    Chapter 3 Review
    Chapter 4 National Geographic Book Is A ‘Natural’ Disaster
    Chapter 5 Harriet Hall
    From: Volume 43, No. 5
    September / October 2019

  9. If you want to read numinous stuff, this time with a large pinch of skeptical salt and the occasional good laugh, forget National Geographic and read Fortean Times instead.

  10. It was once such a great magazine. I have a complete set in my library covering the years from about 1932 to 2007, when I finally let our long-running subscription elapse. I learned so much about geography, science, history, and culture from reading NG.

Leave a Reply