Monday, February 14, 2005

National Geographic is a fine magazine, but it can't be trusted

I subscribe to a magazine that is nearly unparalleled in its quality of writing and photography. You probably subscribe to it as well. National Geographic is one of the most widely circulated periodicals in the world. It didn’t get that way through shoddiness. It is immensely informative and enjoyable to read. That does not mean that it always honestly seeks to promote the truth.

Anyone that has read the Geographic long enough is aware that it prides itself on being a high quality scientific journal. They are also aware that it has actively advocated Darwin’s theory for over a century. Some have become aware of a decided note of environmental activism that has crept in over the past couple of decades. Several of my acquaintances have discontinued their subscriptions due to this increasingly obvious slant.

Could a magazine that produced the likes of Patagonia (Jan. 2004), Polar Bears (Feb. 2004), Maya Royal Grave (May 2004), The Battle for America’s Front Yard (June 2004), Lost Gold (Sep 2004), Who Were the Phoenicians? (October 2004), and Search for Other Earths (Dec. 2004) be all that bad? Indeed, articles like these are what keep my subscription alive.

However, it is important to be informed as to the intent of the publications you read. While the National Geographic paints itself as being painstakingly objective, it is anything but objective when it comes to matters of faith. What do I mean by matters of faith? I specifically refer to the gospels of left-wing environmentalism and secular evolutionism, both of which are shadowy substitutes for gospel truth.

While the Geographic’s promotion of Darwinism is nothing new, it has recently taken this to a new height with Was Darwin Wrong? (Nov. 2004). The article exceeds the bounds of verity by over emphasizing “facts” that seem to support the theory while ignoring, minimizing and denigrating contradictory facts to the point of bullying and name calling. Dr. Rodney Stark documents this strategy as standard practice among dogmatic secularists (see Darwin I and Darwin II).

Is this objectivity? Obviously not. While it is normal for individuals and organizations to filter all information through belief systems (subjectivity), the Geographic does so while claiming to maintain scientific objectivity. Scientific fact is non-ideological. Science dictates that theories are only scientifically plausible if they are mathematically possible (if not probable). If zealous support of Darwin’s mathematically impossible theory is not a matter of faith, then what is?

By the way, if you wonder on a religious level what is wrong with Darwinism, consider Hugh Nibley’s statement that, “Darwin gave the blessing of science to men who had been hoping and praying for holy sanction to an otherwise immoral way of life.” Never mind contradictory evidence in the fossil record.

While National Geographic has its roots in natural conservation, it is hard to miss the scent of leftist environmental activism recently apparent in its pages. While many of you have noticed this, have you read Editor Bill Allen’s statements on the matter? In the September 2004 issue Mr. Allen boldly stated that the time for merely investigating environmental issues such as global warming is past, and that the magazine will henceforth be an activist tool. Not that this is anything new, admits Allen, as it has been working in this direction for the past 10 years.

Environmental activists hailed Allen’s announcement as courageous. In effect Mr. Allen is saying, “We have taken an article of faith. We are absolutely certain that we cannot be wrong. We will ignore, minimize, or impugn any contradictory evidence or viewpoint.” This is hardly a scientific approach. This is hubris.

As if to emphasize Allen’s point, the September 2004 issue includes Signs from Earth, a blatantly evangelical global warming screed that preaches about the evils of our modern lifestyles. Like its predecessor articles, the End of Cheap Oil (June 2004) and the Case of the Missing Carbon (Feb. 2004), it has been discredited in multiple journals and it employs the ignore-minimize-malign-bully-insult tactic with great aplomb. (See National Geographic Melting Down for a layman’s discussion of the article. Alan Caruba’s critique of the Geographic’s claims is also interesting. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has multiple objective scientific papers about global warming that contradict NG’s claims.)

Why does the Geographic insist on continually citing as fact computer models that cannot even backward forecast climate change trends over the past 30 years? Choose:
(a) They’re the best we currently have.
(b) They are well funded with government money.
(c) Editors believe them to be true anyway.
(d) Sensationalism sells.
(e) All of the above.

It is obvious that National Geographic now cares more about an agenda than science. While many have long suspected this, at least it is now out in the open.

So go ahead, read the National Geographic. It’s not all bad. I anticipate that it will continue to produce well written articles and breathtaking photos and images in a high quality layout. I will always love articles about some of the expeditions funded by the National Geographic Society. Just don’t put too much stock in any of its “scientific” claims.

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