by Greg Mayer
The New York Times
is dying before our eyes, and for longtime subscribers, such as myself, it is a sad and painful experience. From Orwellian editorial practices
to crusading for wokeism
, the decline has been clear for some time now. I used to think that Jerry was reacting too strongly to some of the Times
‘ missteps, but I’ve realized for a while that, sadly, he was prescient.
One area in which the Times
has stumbled in a major way has been its coverage of woo, everything from “energy healing
” to “non-invasive face lifts
“. Its embrace of astrology has been especially dismaying– why on heaven’s earth would they do this? We’ve noted this before here at WEIT (for example here
), and the woo just keeps coming. Here’s one of the latest:
The online sub-header is exquisite in its irony:
Will Coronavirus Kill Astrology? The pandemic has affected all of us. Who saw it coming?
The answer, of course, is epidemiologists
saw it coming, not astrologers. But through journalistic gymnastics that defy common sense, it turns out that, according to the article, astrology is doing a fine job. It’s like all those various millennial cults who have gathered for the second coming (or the rapture, or Armageddon, or whatever), and when it doesn’t happen, they double down, finding some excuse for why the prophecy really is
correct– it’s not just that the believers are fools. It’s textbook motivated reasoning
. I’m reminded of what a colleague said after 9-11: “If this doesn’t give religion a bad name, nothing will.” Nothing did, and I guess the same goes for astrology.
This next example of the Times‘ love affair with woo one goes beyond astrology to ghosts!!
The online sub-header is oh-so dishonest:
For those who believe they’re locked down with spectral roommates, the pandemic has been less isolating than they bargained for.
“For those who believe…” What crap. Do they do articles coddling the idiotic myopia of “those who believe” that Obama is not an American? Or “those who believe” the world is flat?
In an article last summer, which I missed at the time, but which Jerry has recently brought to my attention, the Times actually lays out its strategy and goals for its popularization of astrology. It’s disturbing reading coming from a paper that once aspired to be, and was thought of as, the ‘newspaper of record‘.
Read this, and weep:
“We cover it because people have made it newsworthy,” said Choire Sicha, the editor of The Times’s Styles section, which reports on cultural trends and has published many of the recent articles on astrology. “It is a so frequently used part of people’s Instagram lives and online lives.”
Cicero said there is nothing so absurd that it has not been said by one philosopher or another. And the corollary to that you is don’t have to be a philosopher; masses of people, both small and large, may say and do absurd things (see Wikipedia on Heaven’s Gate; if you click on the immediately previous link, I would not advise clicking on anything within the page it goes to). It may be interesting to explore and understand the motivation for why people hold absurd beliefs. The study of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds has been well underway since at least the 19th century. But we should take the phenomenon of credulity and delusion seriously, not the beliefs themselves.
The Times used to boast that it had “All the news that’s fit to print.” Now its motto and operating procedure is “Anything that will attract eyeballs.” And they’re willing to swallow their principles—if they still have them—to do so.