I’m just watching the whole brand morph into something contemptible — they held out the longest, but it seems to be a general rule that mass media that promotes science will eventually sell out to peddle popular pablum. That’s happening right now before our eyes. Two things leap out at me:
The rush to produce religious apologetics. They’re coming out with a new “documentary”, The Story of God, that from this excerpt is clearly total crap with a good budget (they hired Morgan Freeman) and some quality production values.
That’s terrible. Videos of people gazing wisely into space are not evidence for a deity. Subjective anecdotes from a guy who nearly died recalling the hallucinations his oxygen-starved brain generated are not convincing evidence of an afterlife.
There is potential for a fascinating analysis of comparative religion, but this does not seem to be that story. That story would be the story of humans grappling with their mortality, not the story of an imaginary being called “god”.
The lack of appreciation of good, solid content. I’ve just learned that NatGeo is going to discontinue Brian Switek’s Laelaps blog. That’s shocking, too: Switek puts out quality science regularly, every week or two, and he has an excellent reputation. The reason given for kicking him out is that he didn’t generate enough traffic to the site.
That’s appalling. That sends a message: NatGeo doesn’t care about the quality of your content, just how many eyeballs swivel in your direction. If that’s your metric, then you’re doomed to drive right down into the pit of popular garbage.
Maybe they can replace him with a Kardashian.
Watching something that was good and valuable slowly rot away is depressing.