National Geographic has a special issue out featuring “Strange But True: Secrets of the Supernatural Revealed”:
Strange But True: Secrets of the Supernatural Revealed features the most wildly popular, incredibly weird, and totally true stories that only National Geographic could discover. Ripped from the headlines of National Geographic Daily News, these often weird, sometimes miraculous stories are presented with both engaging text and lively images.
Some highlights include:
-Incredible flying sharks
-Mind-controlling fungus that turn ants into zombies
-The potent “corpse flower” discovered in Madagascar
Hmm. None of those highlights are SUPERnatural. They are all natural. What are they trying to do with this issue?
Also on newsstands is a special edition of Newsweek featuring Bigfoot.
Why would Newsweek do a “Collector’s Edition” on Bigfoot? What is the news on Bigfoot? There isn’t any. There is, as usual, a lot of baseless speculation, wishful thinking, and failures to obtain decent evidence. Note the cover blurb says they include info on DNA techniques (yet, neither hyped DNA study of the past few years found evidence for Bigfoot), and migration and speech patterns. Since a Bigfoot has never been found, no one can actually say how they talk or migrate. To suggest so is absurd.
Newsweek’s blurb about this issue is just as silly:
Get in on the hunt with Newsweek as we uncover the truth behind one of the greatest and most controversial legends on earth—Bigfoot! Witness the sites and read the eyewitness accounts that include none other than our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt! Learn the difference between Bigfoot, a Sasquatch, a yeti and the Abominable Snowman. Find out when and where Sasquatch sightings have occurred and review the facts and fiction from a panel of experts, including Survivorman Les Stroud, who have been tracking Bigfoot for decades. This 100-page, illustrated, special collector’s edition might just have you start your own journey to find Bigfoot!
If it’s the “truth” then they should say that there is nothing new – that will disappoint readers. The Teddy Roosevelt bit? Oh my gosh, I can’t believe they conflated his telling of a legendary tall tale with an eyewitness account! That’s some very poor journalism.
Wait, since when is Les Stroud an “expert” on Bigfoot?! Someone needs to look up the word “expert”.
This publication sounds like something to line the bottom of the bird cage and I’m only on the cover page!
The online stock of this issue is sold out, maybe because most of us would be too embarrassed to buy this in real life, or, Bigfoot is really popular. Coverage by Newsweek elevates this topic in importance.
Both these publications have been seen in the “wild” on newsstands. They do exist!
With the NatGeo issue, it could be another case of a hyped cover that does not accurately reflect the content. Last September, Popular Science produced a similar “special” issue on paranormal topics called Mistakes and Hoaxes – 100 Things Science Got Wrong. I saw it on the newsstand and did buy it (for $13.99). It included topics like the moon landing hoax, pyramids on the moon, dowsing, chemtrails, crop circles, Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, and the Atacama alien – even though none of these subjects are given credence by science. While it did include some skeptical comments, it gave these topics recognition that they do not deserve.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself quoted in it.
The majority of the PopSci content was not related to the cover theme presented. It seemed like a way to sensationalize and sell a pile of copies to impulse-buyers fascinated by “mysteries”. It had little to do with what “science got wrong”. I doubt many of those who purchased it because of the promising cover would become regular subscribers to the publication.
Why did these reputable publications pander to that audience, and, at the same time, annoy their core readership with the lower fare? It’s similar to Discovery Channel and Animal Planet (and other “informational” channels) airing abysmally bad shows on exorcisms, mermaids, megalodon and Bigfoot. That didn’t work out well; these publications might want to note that such moves can cost them readership in the long run.
The Popular Science edition was not well done. Any competent writer could have looked up this basic info and presented it in the various pieces. It was not worth the money. The NatGeo special sells for $13.99 and the Bigfoot special issue for $9.99. I’ll not be buying either but will perhaps try to find it in the library to peruse.
Have you read either of these new sensationalistic issues? Let us know and what you thought. Meanwhile, I’ve knocked down these three publications a notch for pandering to ignorance and mystery-mongering, even if only on the cover.