I was reading a profile in the New York Times arts pages, about the novelist Zoe Heller:

The idea for the novel came from a news article about scientists who thought they had found a gene that might be responsible for people’s beliefs, Ms. Heller explained. Regardless of whether it exists, she saw “the belief gene as a metaphor” for those who unquestioningly accept authority, whether in religious, political or personal affairs. “All of us invest our identities in what we believe,” she said. “It’s hard to concede anything to the other side.”

Sometimes, one imagines that sections like Arts are rebuking other parts of the paper. Certainly, many of the problems we face in the world is the fault of mainstream journalism, which has almost continuously shown unjustified deference to authority figures in government, business, religion and academia. With the current crisis environment, we can all see the consequences of not aggressively enough questioning authority. Would love to see some conscious acknowledgment of the failings of journalism, but let’s not hold our breath.

Author

  • Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.