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Monday, March 21, 2005

SCIENTIFIC AMERICA from the Editors of The Scientific American

Check this out from the April 2005 issue of the Scientific American http://www.sciamdigital.com/. I wish this were mere satire or hyperbole. Indeed, check out the following proposed legislation
  • HB 2067
  • that calls for removing science and social studies from the K-3 curriculum in Texas. I'm not really sure what this is about, but it amazingly coincides with this Scientific American piece. -Angela


    SCIENTIFIC AMERICA
    April 2005

    Okay, We Give Up

    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
    com–ment 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.

    The Editors editors@sciam.com

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