Why We Love Doomster Stories

  • Date: 17/07/17
  • Fabius Maximus

Summary: A new chapter has begun in the climate wars, which reveals secret things about America. Things which we must know if we are to steer America to a safe and prosperous future.

“I want doomster news stories, and plenty of them!”

Editor bangs fist on table

This week a new phase in the climate wars began with publication of “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine — “Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.” It is commonplace alarmist propaganda — exaggerations, misrepresentations, without any context about the odds of these horrific things happening.

This has been the Left’s primary method of influencing Americans since the early 1970s — pollution, resources running out, global famine, etc. It has never succeeded in changing US public policy (see Focusing on worst case climate futures doesn’t work. It shouldn’t work). The Right too — crime, national bankruptcy, evil minority groups, and now terrorism. Why do they do it? This latest chapter of the climate wars shows the answer. NYMag published a follow-up article that opens with what is most important to journalists, and explains why they love doomster stories.

“We published ‘The Uninhabitable Earth” on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind.”

Science be damned. Fear sells. What counts in the real world are clicks, and the advertising dollars that flow from them. Today editors across America are banging on desks, demanding that their reports write stories about the very certain death to everybody coming very soon. Special interest groups from coast to coast are preparing press releases about the looming disasters requiring funds for them.

Today climate activists are popping Champaign corks, convinced that the public’s interest in climate doomsters means support for their political agenda. Are they right?

Janet Leigh in "Psycho"

Why we love doomster stories

In the March 1987 issue of Playboy, Peter Moore wrote about the Crisis Crisis.

“America today is suffering an epidemic of nation-sweeping events unseen since the Biblical plagues in Egypt. In the attack of the killer trends, we are terrified on Monday by a crisis we scarcely knew existed the previous Friday, and Monday’s dark portent, in turn, gives way to the next week’s hysteria.

“In horrific succession, herpes anxiety is overtaken by the plague of AIDS, which is followed by the shocking specter of Third World debt. After a brief but chilly nuclear winter, we are threatened by our own national-debt crisis and devastated by starvation in Ethiopia; then it’s back to our leaky ozone layer. Terrorists are suddenly in our midst, then the homeless — until all is swept away by crack mania.

“The problems appear, the alarms sound, the cover stories and the special reports proliferate. Then the media lose interest, and it’s on to the next disaster. The phenomenon is so pernicious, it’s worthy of a cover story all its own. Call it the Crisis Crisis.”

This shows the key to these outbreaks of fear: we don’t change our behavior in response to these crises because they are entertainment.

This explains American’s odd disinterest in experts’ past record of failed predictions and bad advice (e.g., Paul Ehrlich on the Left, Larry Kudlow on the Right). Why care if what we read about the world is accurate, since we have no intention of using this information. A collector of maps doesn’t ask if the maps are correct; they want pretty old maps — with colorful dragons on edges. Only those navigating to a destination demand accurate charts.

Most media firms target the outer party — the large body of Americans interested in current events and with the income to attract advertisers. They understand what we want, and so provide a mirror in which we can see ourselves. We want simple exciting stories that provide entertainment and catharsis.  Politically ineffectual, we want to believe ourselves engaged. So we consume information (becoming well-informed) and write posts or comments (21st C letters to the editor).

Horror stories do this well. Special interest groups manufacture them in hope of gaining attention. Journalists turn them into exciting stories for our entertainment. The 1% watch and laugh. See details about this process here. Look to the past to see how this works.

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