Friday, December 30, 2005

Scientific American = Science!

` And now, I bring you more uncreativity!

` I like
Scientific American. It's my favorite science magazine because it's more careful about its information than, say, Discover magazine.
` When I received the April 2005 edition, I saw an article that was really funny. I love it! In fact, I love it so much I'll risk a lawsuit by posting it in its entirety here on the web.
` So sue me!! But hopefully not.

` From the editors: 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 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 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 to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.
` Brilliant! ...Fair and balanced indeed!

` Well, I've got to get to bed. I have another busy day ahead of me. Oh yes, I have been rather busy lately: On Wed-nes-day, Dory and I hung out and she made us stuffing and home-grown tomato juice for lunch!!! And then I almost fell asleep from jet lag.
` I hate you, jet lag!!!
` Today, George was the only person to show up for lunch at the restaurant, and we went to my house and told one another freaky anecdotes, many of which are still fresh in my mind:
` For example, when he was young, the neighbor's cat habitually rubbed against his leg while he gazed through his telescope, whereupon he kicked it away. One night, he felt the familiar fur brushing against him, except for some reason he could not get the darn cat to go away! He kept kicking it until he looked up and discovered that it was a skunk, cocked and ready to fire!
` It didn't, though. Instead, it calmed down, proceeded to sniff him, and wandered away.
` Stupid skunk, or just rabid?
` And then there was the time some woman called him at about three in the morning, who said; "Hello, Bob," and proceeded to intricately describe several carnal acts she had planned in her mind. After all of that, George had said; "For that, I'll be Bob!" and hung up.

` Ha! He has the weirdest stories. Many of which require some backstory to tell, though. Anyway, I'd better go: Tomorrow I have lunch with my grandma, who will probably continue to bully me into getting back together with Phil.

` Grah.

2 comments:

Galtron said...

I like the editors' sense of humor!

And by the by, I personally know how lucky your friend was: I once had the unfortunate pleasure of being near a skunk when it sprayed the neighbor's dog!! I almost threw up!

S E E Quine said...

` Ha! You know, George told me that his neighbor's dog would occasionally get loose, and the first thing it would do is find a skunk to be sprayed by!
` They always knew when that happened, because the neighbors would come knocking for his mother's tomato juice.