Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bloggers Fight the NY Times...

A war of words is spiraling today among bloggers who are ripping apart the New York Times.

The controversy started when Wired posted this table comparing how certain drugs stimulate the senses with their side effects. For the most part, legal drugs like nicotine are analyzed with statements such as "Spurs faster interaction between nerve cells in the brain, aiding memory formation and attention... [Side effects:] addiction, cancer, social isolation".

This seems straightforward enough, but for some mind-boggling reason, the NY Times ran a grossly over-reactive article charging Wired with actually promoting the use of those drugs.

Look at the chart and judge for yourself. Most rational people would probably conclude that Wired wasn't promoting any drug use whatsoever. After all, since when is "Parkinson's-like symptoms, addiction, stroke, psychosis, prison, death" considered propaganda FOR taking the drug?! As a result, bloggers have been ringing in all day with a wild assortment of condemnations of the NY Times for running the piece.

The Wired article's author, Mat Honan, responded on his own personal blog with several playground-worthy soundbites...

"I should probably just let it go, [but the piece] is just such a hand-wringing piece of bullshit that I have to weigh in."

"I would no more try either [cocaine or LSD] today than I would attempt to put a rattlesnake in my anus."

"In the end, the Times had simply led its readers through yet-another exercise in knee-jerk denunciations, and there was no discussion about drug policy whatsoever."


Childish antics aside, the NY Times was indeed misrepresenting the truth about the Wired article, as it clearly was not promoting drug use of any kind. Perhaps the bloggers are taking it a little too seriously though in framing the issue as one where the Times isn't letting people compare the facts and make decisions for themselves. Most likely, the Times was simply trying to flash an eye-popping headline to sell more copies, and to create a story where there was none.
  

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