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Scientific American Editorial

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by JackRT, Mar 30, 2020.

  1. JackRT

    JackRT OOPS!!! Supporter

    Okay, We Give Up
    We feel so ashamed

    April 1, 2005

    There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

    In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

    Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.

    Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

    Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either-so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.

    This article was originally published with the title "Okay, We Give Up" in Scientific American 292, 4, (April 2005)
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  2. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

    United States
    Eventually history (within our lifetimes) will look back on Flat Earth, Global Warming Deniers, etc, and it will be only a minor footnote, and boring to children, who will get impatient to even hear about it.

    And then in a coming age, entirely forgotten. Because things far more sublime will gain our enthusiasm.
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  3. Tom 1

    Tom 1 Optimistic sceptic Supporter

    The sheer power of dumbness and ignorance should never be underestimated. I wonder if it is the reason why we haven’t heard from any alien race, maybe they ended up putting the idiots in charge too?
  4. JackRT

    JackRT OOPS!!! Supporter

    Or maybe they are out there and we are in quarantine until we grow up --- if we grow up.
  5. Speedwell

    Speedwell Well-Known Member

    United States
    Other Religion
    Or maybe they took one look and decided to give us a pass.
  6. JackRT

    JackRT OOPS!!! Supporter

    Their attitude might have been "Dang! One decent planet in the entire system and they trashed it."
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  7. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter


    Thanks Jack.

    I needed the lift. :)
  8. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

    United Kingdom
    I remember this. Frightening to note it was a full decade and a half ago.

    Encouraging to note just how much more we have learned, through science, in those fifteen years.

    Discouraging to note that creationists still create fatuous arguments for their belief, flat-Earthers still don't know they remain flat out wrong and climate change deniers require even lower attention spans to maintain their worldview.

    Nice to note that no matter how many fools ignore, or denigrate science their are millions of scientists on the planet and millions more with a scientific education and millions more who appreciate what science has done for them.
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