by Denyse O'Leary
Two things changed a lot. One was public awareness of the state of the evidence for design in nature, and the other was the state of media technology.
First big change: The state of the evidence
Massive evidence is accumulating against materialism: This is true in cosmology (fine-tuning of the universe) , in biology (cells as supercomputers, inexplicable origin of life), neuroscience (the hard problem of consciousness), and so forth.
Darwinism - the creation story of materialism - began to run into really serious problems. Seeing that cells are like supercomputers, a number of biologists, including the Altenberg 16, are now arguing against Darwinism, though they are not arguing for design.
But most science journalists are not really aware of this stuff because their template for understanding issues is simply to reinterpret all problems as support for materialism, with Darwinism as its creation story.
Fine-tuning of the universe = That proves that many flopped universes exist!
Cells as super-computers = That just shows what Darwinism can do!
Origin of life? = Harvard will spend $50 million on "the answer"!
Hard problem of consciousness = Science (materialism) will solve it [no end date for evaluation of project suggested]
Almost all coverage of the intelligent design controversy in major media is provided by people who cannot acknowledge any problem with materialism. They think you must be a fraud or just plain stupid if you raise problems that cannot even exist, in their opinion. And remember, as far as they are concerned, their opinion is science.
Evidence plays very little role in the matter. Only evidence that supports Darwinism - no matter how ridiculous - can be admitted by definition. All other evidence is kicked into the Attic of Unsolved Problems that materialist ideas will supposedly solve some day. But that's a pretty big attic now ...
Summary: Current legacy media journalism is founded on assumptions that prevent the recognition that materialism is not true. Any idea that might rescue materialism, no matter how ridiculous, will be entertained and promoted first.
A classic case
An excellent example of the legacy media's handling of information that is not friendly to materialism is Amanda Gefter's recent article in New Scientist on the September 11, 2008, Mind-Body conference at the United Nations.
Materialist neuroscientists believe that your mind is an illusion created by the buzz of neurons in your brain. Non-materialist neuroscientists believe that your mind is a real fact of nature and affects your brain and body in important ways. Not surprisingly, most of the non-materialists who spoke at the conference were involved in one way or another with medical research.
Gefter assumed, without evidence and contrary to fact, that non-materialist neuroscience was concocted by "creationists" and that its principal backer was the ID-friendly Discovery Institute.
Her claim is completely erroneous. The Discovery Institute played no role in the recent UN conference. Non-materialist neuroscience is supported in a number of research environments, including the University of California - Berkeley ( Jeff Schwartz's research) and the Universite de Montreal in Canada (Mario Beauregard's research).
Gefter and her audience would not be able to grasp that materialism might not provide useful explanations for their work, especially in medicine. So she and they readily believe that the conference is a conspiracy involving the Discovery Institute, even though it had nothing to do with that Institute. (Go here for the facts.)
Summary: A legacy media environment full of rumour-mongering, in which few bother to do any serious research, is how most of your unplugged neighbours get news about the intelligent design controversy.
Second big change? (I promised you another one, didn't I?)
Major media have been disastrously impacted by the growth of the blogosphere, starting when blogging software came out in 1999.
They are impacted two ways: One is professional and the other is financial.
Professional impact: Bloggers scoop major media for news.
I did that several times myself. For example, I scooped the New York Times on the showing of The Privileged Planet film at the Smithsonian, and was the first to report (at my blogs) on the making of the Expelled film.
Increasingly, people do not need to buy a newspaper or sit through sixteen TV advertisements to find out what they personally want to know. A specialist blogger can tell them sooner and more accurately.
The specialist blogger is not cleverer than other people, but he or she learns a particular beat intensively. No general print or broadcast medium can afford to give much space or time to specialist interests. But the blogosphere is limited only by the space the blogger wants to allot to a topic and the time that a viewer wants to give to it. The two find each other via search engines.
Financial impact: Obviously, the financial impact of the new media on the legacy media is disastrous. The market is fragmenting into thousands of small, specialized groups, for whom the legacy mainstream media no longer decide what is news or what the news means. So the advertising dollar must pursue specialty markets, not mass markets.
The results? The New York Times slashed its dividend recently:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times Co slashed its dividend by almost three-quarters and plans to cut spending and reevaluate its assets to cope with an advertising decline that is gouging U.S. newspaper publishers. (November 21, 2008)And the Chicago Tribune has just filed for bankruptcy protection. But those are only straws in the wind. Virtually all major media are hurting financially, with cuts and layoffs throughout the industry. Commentator Mark Steyn jokes that the Miami Herald's principle asset is the lot the building is on.
Perhaps the most significant new development is U.S. President-Elect Obama's intention to prioritize the new media for communication. That's no surprise; he was most popular among younger voters; and younger people primarily use new media, not old media.
Essentially, young people are not reading much print media. That should not especially surprise anyone - travelling the Toronto subway, I often see young people listening to music or texting each other, but almost never see them reading newspapers or listening to regular radio. Now and then, I see a young woman flapping swiftly through a fashion mag, but the fashion writers are kidding themselves if they think that she is reading their work closely.And as Wendy Elaine Nelles writes in the same venue,
If anyone in a given subway car is reading a book, chances are it is a Bible or a Koran, or else it is "on the lit course."
I think books like the Bible and the Koran will survive, because to those who read them, they aren't just books, they're Books. Ritual surrounds their reading. At my own (Catholic) church, for example, an elaborate procession bears the Bible to the lectern and everyone stands as the priest reads (and kisses the book). Similarly, at Simchat Torah, Jews dance with the Torah. That kind of thing hasn't changed in thousands of years and I don't expect it to. But typical print culture - tabloids and fashion mags, for example - is going the way of all mere culture - into oblivion.
We already know that the key to New Media is less structure, less formality, more personalization, more authenticity, more dialogue. We're already struggling for terms and definitions. What is now called "New Media" is quickly become established media, the go-to source and the first choice for obtaining news and information by increasing numbers of people.Very well, but old media have a lot to lose, and are fighting back. Like the banking and auto sector, they will want the government to bail them out. In their case, however, bailouts would probably mainly take the form of restrictions on new media, such as blogging and talk radio.
With the leader of what is still the most powerful nation on earth tapping into New Media's capabilities, we will be sure to see major effects on all spheres of media and publishing.
* Future Tense is a blog operated by The Word Guild, an organization of Canadian writers who are Christian. Its purpose is to provide information and help to all interested writers during this historic transition to new media.
Next: Part 3: What forms could restrictions on new media take?
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
No Pingbacks for this post yet...
|<< <||> >>|
Evolution has become a favorite topic of the news media recently, but for some reason, they never seem to get the story straight. The staff at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture started this Blog to set the record straight and make sure you knew "the rest of the story".
A blogger from New England offers his intelligent reasoning.
We are a group of individuals, coming from diverse backgrounds and not speaking for any organization, who have found common ground around teleological concepts, including intelligent design. We think these concepts have real potential to generate insights about our reality that are being drowned out by political advocacy from both sides. We hope this blog will provide a small voice that helps rectify this situation.
Website dedicated to comparing scenes from the "Inherit the Wind" movie with factual information from actual Scopes Trial. View 37 clips from the movie and decide for yourself if this movie is more fact or fiction.
Don Cicchetti blogs on: Culture, Music, Faith, Intelligent Design, Guitar, Audio
Australian biologist Stephen E. Jones maintains one of the best origins "quote" databases around. He is meticulous about accuracy and working from original sources.
Most guys going through midlife crisis buy a convertible. Austrialian Stephen E. Jones went back to college to get a biology degree and is now a proponent of ID and common ancestry.
Complete zipped downloadable pdf copy of David Stove's devastating, and yet hard-to-find, critique of neo-Darwinism entitled "Darwinian Fairytales"
Intelligent Design The Future is a multiple contributor weblog whose participants include the nation's leading design scientists and theorists: biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, philosophers of science Stephen Meyer, and Jay Richards, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Jonathan Wells, and science writer Jonathan Witt. Posts will focus primarily on the intellectual issues at stake in the debate over intelligent design, rather than its implications for education or public policy.
A Philosopher's Journey: Political and cultural reflections of John Mark N. Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds is Director of the Torrey Honors Institute at