Umberto Eco wrote a few years ago that “We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.” And as the recently, sadly deceased Michael Crichton noted just this past May, “The truth is, we live in an age of astonishing conformity“:
I grew up in the 1950s, supposedly the heyday of conformity, but there was much more freedom of opinion back then. And as a result, you knew that your neighbors might hold different views from you on politics or religion. Today, the notion that men of good will can disagree has disappeared. Can you imagine! Today, if I disagree with you, you conclude there is something wrong with me. This is a childish, parochial view. And of course stupefyingly intolerant. It’s truly anti-American. Much of it can be laid at the feet of the environmental movement, which has unfortunately frequently been led by ill-educated and intolerant spokespersons–often with no more than a high-school education, sometimes not even that. Or they are lawyers trained to win at any cost and to say anything about their opponents to win. But you find the same intolerant tone around considerations of defense, taxation, free markets, universal medical care, and so on. There’s plenty of zealotry to go around. And it’s hardly new in human history.
The media might stand as a corrective, cool and a bit detached, showing by example how to approach information and controversy. Instead, the media has clearly caught the fever of our intolerant times. Formerly, news people would never openly state their allegiance; young reporters understood it was poor form, and a senior person would carry the caution born of the experience that at least some of what one believes in the course of one’s life turns out to be wrong. But it’s a new era. Now, media reporters are proud to pound the table and declare their advocacy. Since so few of them have any training in science, they don’t really know what they are pounding about, when it comes to global warming. They couldn’t tell you even in general terms how the global mean temperature is calculated, for example. But it doesn’t matter anyway. They just want to declare they believe what “everyone” believes. Who values such a news source?
A rapidly dwindling number, hence the legacy media’s well known financial woes. Meanwhile, Andrew Ian Dodge notes that the outcome of the presidential election may help to thin the ranks of another media group whose lockstep conformity is only barely disguised by its veneer of individuality–the liberal comedian.