Going down the same road gets boring

dull road

In a sort of continuation of my “All News is Doubtful” piece about why producing Doubtful News has lost interest for me, I was listening to a podcast interview with Brooke Gladstone of On The Media (one of my favorite shows) and what she said resonated with me. She was talking to Max Linsky of Longform Podcast about how she evolved and how her show evolved. She noted that to go down the same road for several years, covering the same stories over and over again, will wear you down and make you want to tear your face off. That’s how I felt about Bigfoot stories a while back because they were so stupid. And it’s how I feel now about news of strange sounds from the sky, the local paranormal group investigating a so-called haunted location, the “chupacabra” seen in the neighborhood, and the latest UFO flap. These stories are so alike that they are boring and feel like we’ve written them before. I would rather just link to what I said before. Same shit, different day. I admit I may have reached my limit for writing about weird news.

I guarantee there will be others that will come along and write the same stories, with the same information, from the same angle, over and over again. And they will be new to a new audience.

Is there a value in these weird news stories? Lots of people love them!

For many, they are seeing these topics for the first time and find it concerning or mysterious. Anyone with a knack for ripping off tabloids or monitoring conspiracy-themed forums can post a story that will get clicks and call it “weird news”. What’s the value in that for thinking people? I think many of us have seen enough to make up our minds about how to think about natural treatments that will “cure cancer”, alien abduction, haunted houses, psychics, astrology, etc. We considered it with an open mind, made our conclusions based on the evidence, and moved on to thinking about other things. If something that is not the same old crap comes along, call me. But it’s almost never really new news.

boring-or-sign-flickr-e1307567051228-300x267Have I become cynical? Well, no. I do realize that there will always be paranormal and strange beliefs in society and one person or even an organized effort will not get rid of those beliefs. Paranormal and supernatural thinking is part of the human condition. But we CAN and we DO reach some people who are curious about how to think about these weird things. So it’s certainly worth doing and I would encourage new and creative ways to reach new audiences.

One important consideration, though: I’m afraid skepticism has become boxed into a narrow definition (as Brooke said is also the potential for a “media news” outlet) with negativity at its core. Thus, even today, discussions and skeptic media too often devolve into ranting anti-religious sentiment, scientism, arrogance, and dismissiveness. If the goal is to be the voice in praise of reason and to promote science-based evidence and thinking, then the subjects discussed must relate to people’s everyday activities and values. We must think about why this matters to the average person in order to get them to listen. That was my thinking about Practical Skepticism.

In my own speciality areas, I see public interest in paranormal topics, UFOs, anomalies and cryptozoology fired by curiosity, concern about nature and human survival, and a need for mystery and excitement in life. I also see an opportunity to use these topics to shed light on science education and public appreciation, importance of folklore and legends to enrich culture but not overwhelm it, and to get kids interested in science careers.

My original goal of my three blogs was to provide some tools for people to use to see the world in a different way: not to be gullible about fantastic stories; not to brush them off as stupid and the storytellers as drunk, liars or idiots; to understand that things are a bit more complicated than they first appear but not in the way you expect.

I’ve obviously bit off more than I can chew. (Podcast? Yes, if someone wants to produce it, I’ll do it.) But, I really hate to be bored so I spin off all these new ideas for projects and stuff, then get mad I can’t do them. There is so much in my head. There is no excuse for lack of creative ideas in skeptical advocacy. But we have to think about the real value to people who are NOT currently paying attention to this way of thinking and try to reach those people to make outreach count.

 

About idoubtit

Fluent in science, animals, paranormal culture. Expert in weird news. Doubtfulnews.com SpookyGeology.com

0 thoughts on “Going down the same road gets boring

  1. Anyone would get worn down by it but you have been marvellously patient and achieved a great deal so I hope you continue

  2. I hope you continue and use those great ideas. But yes, I admit I click on every BIGFOOT FOUND story and I KNOW THEY ARE NOT REAL because it would be the lead story on CNN if it were. But I did watch a story on TV about the new space telescope and I was enthralled. My husband and I were so amazed. And after it was ALIENS IN SPACE and PROOF THEY ARE VISITING and something about a dangerous super weapon called THOR. It was horrifically boring and bad. Well done reason will always win out. Even Oak Island, that was into for the entertainment value, has become boring and dull because they don’t find ANYTHING and they keep throwing weird crazy theories (Atlantis, Knights Templar, Mayans) at us to fill the time. It’s men digging a few holes on an island that is full of holes already (over 222 they said). Good science, good content and yes the TRUE STORY is entertaining. And I did actually stop clicking the Bigfoot stories because, same old nothing.

  3. It’s sad to see how much traffic people can generate by spinning out the same kinds of thoroughly debunked narratives we’ve seen since time immemorial. Eventually, one tires of debunking them. I get tired of responding to friends and family who want me to look at this story about a ghost or a miraculous mummy, or whatnot. I know it’s closed-minded, but lately I find myself saying ‘no’, I don’t want to go into it. I don’t want to look into it. I’m done with this kind of crap.

  4. I’ve been following fairly religiously in the short time since I’ve signed on and I must agree with the others. You have produced a great concept and I can find nothing but praise when discussing your offerings with others.
    I do see your point and can sympathize whole-heartedly with your current trials and tribulations. Even Filet Mignon will become tiresome if that is all you get fed, as a steady diet, without any variation. There must be change or one will not approach any task with enthusiasm. Variety is the spice of life, it is part and parcel of human nature. Despite misgivings, we thrive and advance with change.
    Permit me to echo the sentiments previously expressed … I do hope you find whatever fulfillment required for us to continue enjoying all of your writes, rants, musings and lessons!
    We will certainly be educationally poorer should you decide to cease your productions.
    Whichever way you choose, may you find peace and enlightenment therein. I do speak for the others who enjoy your outpouring of intellectual stimulus but I am fairly confident you’ll find we will support your choice(s) completely!

  5. Like many I am grateful for your contributions. My own scepticism has evolved over time.
    I remember those early years for me, checking out skeptical blogs and sites of science, medicine and all manner of free-thought, historical and other locations. My mind was alive, not just with fascination of the weirder and more wonderful stories/claims, but with scepticism and how it was affecting me. The things I learned about evidence, humanity, resources, well designed and controlled scientific testing …. and so much more. It still appeals to me but not as hotly and excitingly as it did. Feeling sapped by the seemingly endless parade of very old and overdone claims/stories can have an effect in this as well.
    Your efforts are still so important. At any time people at all stages of their own scepticism evolution are reading, listening and discussing.
    I don’t like the idea that a young thinker will not experience as much beautiful and clear light as I did when I was at their stage. (That may be the musings of anyone about others younger than them).
    But then again, you’ve given us so much and others are just beginning their path along the same road and will also help the young thinkers. Their are major names, very vocal skeptics who I have learned so much from and often agreed with their methods of reaching conclusions. On blogs like this I have even been able to share and discuss information with them. It’s been great for me, thank you IDOUBTIT.
    The newer sceptical bloggers will need to work hard and write well to replace you wonderful influences.

    All the best,
    Woody

  6. Thank you for all the times you’ve shown me a something that people thought was a wacky something, but had a real explanation (or did not even need one).

  7. I myself have seen a point at when does one become completely and utterly disinterested in topics that are static and never change. For instance the topic of Bigfoot. It has not changed or advanced any in over 50 years of my life. I think it became a non topic many years ago as well as so many others. Disenchanted is hardly the word I would use.
    When does a discussion remain a discussion? For the most part so called discussions degenerates into biased opinions and we are left with individuals attempting to just literally ram their opinion down one another’s throats in an attempt to alter an unchangeable mind. Or as mentioned a polarized community that we know what they will voice. Nothing changes and it is static.
    I loved Doubtful News but perhaps the torch can be passed to an individual whose interest is in its infancy. Sharon keep pumping out blogs pertaining to that you wish to discuss. You have a faithful following. I myself know how gruesomely boring repetitiveness can be. Keep chugging along…

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