Indeed, the only proper attitude for one reading various media -- including this blog -- may be "WTF?" TOF does make an effort to confine his comments to areas with which he has some familiarity or in which he has drawn from reputable sources, but even so.Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
-- Michael Crichton
Recently, the media wet its pants and announced that the pope had loosened up the prohibition on contraceptives. This is known as Wishful Thinking. As usual, they had missed the point completely. In Catholicism, inanimate objects are not considered haram or trayf after the fashion of pork. Sin (deficiency) does not reside in a piece of latex, but in the intentions of the person using it. Hence, the Pope's pronouncement that a condom can be used to prevent the spread of a disease is entirely a yawn-fest. Certainly, it may also prevent the spread of life, but if that is not one's intention, the deficiency must be less than if it is. Naturally, it would be better to abstain entirely, but as Aquinas noted, sometimes one must choose the lesser of two evils.
Hence, for example, it is better to rob a bank with an unloaded gun than with a loaded gun; although it is better not to rob the bank at all. But such complexities are lost in the Late Modern, morally-flat world, in which there are no gradations and every sin is either unforgivable (e.g., using the n-word) or not really a sin at all (e.g., fornication).
A second papal kerfuffle was the recent observation that Christianity was more into building bridges than building walls. Again, this is entirely unremarkable to anyone familiar with the admonition to love even our enemies, once given by a Dude who dined with publicans and sinners. (In the Late Modern world, this last would have been very much the lead "story" in the evening news.) But there are people who would much rather traduce the Son of Man than the Candidate for the Nomination.
Why does no one talk about Vera Coking? Or Kelo? It must be a kind of amnesia. (The latter link starts with a marvelous example of the mastery of the English language.)