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Scientific American: Now "Fair and Balanced"

argexpat

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From Scientific American magazine

April 2005; by Staff Editor

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 scienfically 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.

- THE EDITIORS
 

bellisaurius

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I feel a bit shamed as I thought about an underlying bias in SA. That was actually a good comeback on their part.

That being said, I prefer Discover for light science news (as opposed to ones that are full fledged peer reviewed journals).
 

gordontravels

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Just as I don't believe in the separation of Church and State I don't believe that there should be separation of Science/Church/Politics/Human Beings. I have the choice of what I read, write and think. So do you. I don't care whether you agree with me just as, and I speak less stringently on your behalf but; I don't have to agree with you to know what I think, write or read. Capella will blow up in approximately 50,000 years. Where you sit at your computer right this moment the sun will be in 5 billion years as a red giant and you and I (our remains) will be a part of it. Andromeda will be here in 7 billion years (moving toward us now at approx. 300,000 miles per hour) and that galaxie will mix with our own milky way. I'd like to see all these things but probably won't. However, if you tell me I won't, I will disagree with you just out of principle. There is a reason for everything but that doesn't mean we are always reasonable. Take politics for instance...... :duel :cool:
 
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