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Scientific American Gives Up 523

Posted by Zonk
from the fair-and-balanced dept.
IvyMike writes "The April issue Scientific American opens with a Perspectives column titled Okay, We Give Up. It opens, '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.'"
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Scientific American Gives Up

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  • Nice. (Score:5, Funny)

    by windex (92715) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:44AM (#12110846) Homepage
    But they're still trying to make a buck charging for the article.

    How American.
    • Re:Nice. (Score:5, Informative)

      by caryw (131578) <`carywiedemann' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:48AM (#12110915) Homepage
      Screw paying for a joke. Here's the full article now with new and improved karma whoring goodness.

      Okay, We Give Up
      From the April 2005 Issue of Scientific American.
      Who said scientists had no sense' of humor?

      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 socalled 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.

      Okay, We Give Up

      MATT COLLINS
      THE EDITORS editors@sciam.com
      COPYRIGHT 2005 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC.
      --
      NoVa Underground: Where Northern Virginia comes out to play [novaunderground.com]
      • Re:Nice. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by argStyopa (232550)
        What I find deeply disingenuous and frankly manipulative about this whole article is that they build this mocking straw man about Creationists, and lump in with him anyone who's criticized them for politicizing the magazine.

        Convenient.

        And then throw in the editorializing in the last paragraph? No, they haven't politicized their stance at all, and anyone who'd suggest so must be one of those slope-browed Creationist religious crazies!

        Personally, I think that they could have a terrific series of articles
        • Re:Nice. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by d34thm0nk3y (653414)
          Dude, you don't HAVE to believe or agree with everything you read. These April fools articles should be an example of that. The fact that you are so offended from the articles you referenced makes me think you are insecure in your beliefs. Maybe you should stop and truly ask yourself why you believe what you believe.
    • Re:Nice. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anti Frozt (655515) <chris DOT buffett AT gmail DOT com> on Friday April 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#12111292)
      That's fine. With the money I'm getting from selling my son, I can easily afford the subscription.
  • Boy Howdy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iibbmm (723967)
    These NEVER get old. Really. Seriously. Okay, I give up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:44AM (#12110852)
    We don't even get a full joke!
  • by Kewjoe (307612) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:45AM (#12110864)
    wait for it. .. .. .. .. ..

    unfunny
  • Um, perhaps the submitter is a Scientific American "digital" subscriber, but the rest of us aren't. You think maybe Slashdot should link to full-text articles?
  • There's gotta be a Fox News Joke somewhere in there.
  • Paris (Score:5, Funny)

    by datadriven (699893) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:46AM (#12110887) Homepage
    THEY need to hire Paris Hilton
  • alternate link (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:47AM (#12110901) Homepage Journal
    Registration Required, but at least that's better than cash:

    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/ 11281408.htm [philly.com]
    • Not really an issue with this article since people have already posted the full text, but newspaper sites often let you in if you have a Google Referer: header. Get one by copying the link, pasting it into a Google search box thingy, and then the 'If the URL is valid...' link.

      Like this... [google.com]
  • Giggles. (Score:5, Funny)

    by mpathetiq (726625) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:47AM (#12110902) Homepage
    This one actually made me giggle like a little schoolgirl. Giggle with joy that they finally admit that creationism is a valid theory.*




    *Parts of this statement may be false.
  • Sponsorship (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This issue brought to you in part by the Bush Administration

    _
    free cursors [paware.com]
  • by Dorf on Perl (738169) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:47AM (#12110905)
    Me too.
  • Slashdot should stop screwing around with lame April Fools pranks and just swap the home page with a copy of Last Measure. Everything else is just screwing around...and the Last Measure thing would really get everyone ;)

  • by 72beetle (177347) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:48AM (#12110916) Homepage
    ...but look at our current political and social climate in regards to theology - this may be tongue in cheek, but it's not unthinkable. That should keep you up at night - it does for me, anyway.

    I have no truck with people believing there's some grey-haired grandfather in the sky that remembers everyone's birthday, but please, keep it out of our schools, and off of our laws.
  • Full text (Score:2, Informative)

    by sebFlyte (844277)

    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
  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by lildogie (54998) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:49AM (#12110934)
    They're changing their name to "Christian Scientific American."
    • They're changing their name to "Christian Scientific American.

      There's already the Christian Science Monitor [csmonitor.com], but it appears to take a more balanced, secular approach to journalism. How dare it! :-)

      As for Scientific American, it'll probably be July or August before I get round to reading this April edition as a UK subscriber. Okay, maybe not quite that long, but the issues do seem to take the slow boat across the Atlantic...
  • by wolfemi1 (765089) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:50AM (#12110944)
    Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles.

    I laughed out loud, even though I'm alone in the room. No joke.

    • "Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles"

      Damn FDR and his secret WPA project that had young men bury thousands of fake dino skeletons all over the country.

  • by spungo (729241) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:51AM (#12110951)
    intelligent design in these spoofs.
  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:52AM (#12110973) Journal
    I would fully expect to see an article just like this on the 2nd and not consider it a joka at all...
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:52AM (#12110978)
    You sure this one is a fake?

    With creationism snaking its way into science curriculums and environmental issues (e.g., global warming, ocean dead zones, etc.) being pretty much ignored in the good old USA, it's as good a time as any for scientists to say "aw, fuck it!"
    • Yup.. let's take everything we (the science guys) invented back from the religious nuts, ship ourselves out somewhere nice like Australia and let 'em just get on with it themselves.

      Cure for blindess.. well.. we got one.. but we needed to borrow a few stem cells.. so you wont be wanting that one huh ?

      CD players.. oops.. LASERS.. sorry.. based on theories (and remember.. they're only *theories*, right) which don't seem to involve God in the creation and maintenance of the universe.. so we'll have that back
      • Bingo. It amazes me how religious fanatics and Luddites (the former generally on the Right, the latter generally on the Left, but they're essentially the same species) will happily accept science and technology up to a point -- usually, roughly speaking, the point it had reached at the time their parents were born -- but decry anything else as evil and dangerous and against the will of the Lord. They're hypocrites, cowards, and fools. I used to argue with them; now I just don't bother.
        • Historically (up until relatively recently in fact) christians have been at the forefront of learning - a lot of the universities were founded by the belief that you could find out more about God by finding more about the universe.

          In fact a *real* faith doesn't need to reject anything... because if you truly believe something to be true you're not afraid of real world observations. A faith that can only hold up by rejecting most of modern science is no faith at all... it's just blind belief.

          This appears
          • Don't tar us all with the same brush... I watch the news reports from the US and have a good laugh just like you do.

            Oh, I'm not trying to, which is why I said "religious fanatics," not "religious believers." Most of the faithful I know are perfectly sane people; but as SmallOak pointed out, here in the US, it's the far-right fanatics who shout the loudest, and they've been frighteningly successful in co-opting "faith" as a code word for their brand of extremism. Given that we are and will almost certain
      • "LASERS.. sorry.. based on theories (and remember.. they're only *theories*, right) which don't seem to involve God"

        If you don't believe God uses lasers, you haven't seen "Xanadu". Oops, nevermind. Those were different gods.

        "You keep the chickens.. we'll go with the Alligators.. apparently they turn into chickens anyway if you leave them long enough."

        I hate to be technical, but shit, this is SlashDot. Current thought is that birds grew out of dinosaurs and the one thing they all had in common wa

  • NOOBS! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday April 01, 2005 @11:59AM (#12111040) Journal
    Will you people please get into the Slashdot-April-1st-mentality? All I see is "OMG NOW FUNNY!"

    It's not ment to be funny! It's a day where just random joke articles are posted, if you don't like it go read a book. It's a giggle once a year, the "it's not funny" feeling you get after 4 of them is all part of it.
  • It is interesting they harp on the most easily defensible position (evolution) to defend themselves against criticisms that are based additionally on things such as their coverage of global warming, abortion, etc. Yes it is an April fools joke. They are not calling us idiots for falling for it, they are calling us idiots for criticizing them for not sticking to science. Which involves more than just their take on evolution.
    • by R.Caley (126968) on Friday April 01, 2005 @12:18PM (#12111225)
      they are calling us idiots for criticizing them for not sticking to science.

      If you critisise them for `not sticking to science' then you deserve to be called an idiot, as they rightly say it's impossible to isolate science from the social context in which it happens. Eg. if you don't know what is being funded, you can't know whether it's significant that there are a lot of results in some area recently; if you don't see reports of scientists being pressured by the state top change their results, how will you know what weight to put on those results?

  • This morning I heard on the radio to beware of April fool's day.

    Which web site be the one to verify this right away?

    Slashdot!!

    I gues I should give Fark.com it's due too.
  • Political Bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Friday April 01, 2005 @12:10PM (#12111136) Homepage
    It may be an April's Fool joke, but Scientific American has exhibited some rather obvious biases in the past. They've never seen an arms control treaty that they didn't like, and they've consistently attacked all proposals for strategic defense. It's not that these are issues that shouldn't be debated, it's the one-sided approach that the magazine has pursued in this and other areas. They tend to lose their objectivity when covering issues that are dear to the editors and publisher.
    • by MoebiusStreet (709659) on Friday April 01, 2005 @01:04PM (#12111827)
      The sarcastic tone indicates that they'll keep reporting as they have been.

      I stopped subscribing when they started featuring stories on removing lanmines from southeast asia. The story was nothing but politics, I didn't learn a bit of science from it.

      When they get back on track reporting quantum physics, biology, even economics and sociology, maybe I'll read it again. But when they're choosing ENTIRE TOPICS based on their politics, count me out.
    • by katharsis83 (581371) on Friday April 01, 2005 @03:15PM (#12113348)
      The problem is that scientists almost unanimously agree that the ballisitic missile defense shield is unworkable in it's current state. The reason that they've "consistently attacked all proposals for strategic defense," is because they won't work, plain and simple. The ONLY test that has ever worked was under a heavily skewed test, where the target's coordinates were GIVEN to the defense missile. If you knew the government was wasting billons of your dollars every year instead of trying to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, would you do nothing?

      Ever since the 1980's, the Union of Concerned Scientists, which includes many many professors of physics, materials science, and who have done defense-related research, wrote an open letter to Reagan saying his ICBM Shield is unworkable and a waste of taxpayer money. Nothing has changed since; Bush is still funding billions every year into a project that's scientifically unfeasable. The reason there's been so much of a campaign again the current administration by scientists is plain and simple - the Bush administration is one of the most openly hostile to science administrations there are:

      1. Dismissing published/peer-reviewed AIDS studies and promoting people who then teach kids that AIDS might be transmittable through sweat and tears. REVERSING decades of improvements in the Uganda AIDS situation by promoting abstience only education - the UN has issued a strong protest against this as it threatens the lives of millions in the country.
      2. Promoting people to the EPA that have no scientific background and were working in the very industries they're supposed to regulate. Repeatedly ignoring global warming studies despite almost unanimous agreement among scientists; care to point to legimate sources that say there're other reasons?
  • by Illserve (56215) on Friday April 01, 2005 @12:11PM (#12111153)
    It's obvious they've become increasingly frustrated by the overwhelming atmosphere of stupidity that has descended over our politics and media lately.

    They wanted to lash out at the source of their frustration, but in a way that didn't imperil their status as a reputable (well that's debatable) publication. So they choose the one day of the year when people can go nuts and say what they really mean, and then throw up their hands and say April Fools!

    Our society is like a toned-down of Japan in this way, we have a built in release valve for venting our frustration at being bound by certain rules and regulations most of the time. *fwooot*

  • I read this when it came out in the Scientific American. This was way before April 1st and I was getting really worked up reading through the article. I decided to cancel my subscription because I was so mad.

    And then I got to the point where I realised that it was a joke. To my defense I did get it before the last line which did refer to April Fools day.

    It actually gave me a chuckle then.
  • There is no GOD. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by daperdan (446613) *
    Everybody knows that the earth was built using a cast of characters including: The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and 3 of the 4 Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. (Rafael, Donnatello, Leonardo)

    Intelligent design is the best April Fools joke placed on us by our culture.
  • by Doug Dante (22218) on Friday April 01, 2005 @12:19PM (#12111236)
    Caltech Michelin Lecture [crichton-official.com]

    "Worst of all was the behavior of the Scientific American, which seemed intent on proving the post-modernist point that it was all about power, not facts. The Scientific American attacked Lomborg for eleven pages, yet only came up with nine factual errors despite their assertion that the book was "rife with careless mistakes." It was a poor display featuring vicious ad hominem attacks, including comparing him to a Holocust denier. The issue was captioned: "Science defends itself against the Skeptical Environmentalist." Really. Science has to defend itself? Is this what we have come to?"

  • Today's April fools Jokes:

    - Funny
    - Unfunny
    - April what?
    - What do you mean Paris Hilton really isn't going to advertise for Linux!?!
  • Event Name: Do not surf Slashdot on 4/1

    Event Schedule: Annually

    Repeat: Indefinitely

    Reminder: 1 Day Prior to Event

    Purpose: To avoid weak-assed attempts at humor
  • Takeover notice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CyBlue (701644) on Friday April 01, 2005 @12:50PM (#12111635)
    I think the funniest thing would have been to replace Slashdot's homepage with a RIAA domain takeover notice. Of course, with a link to the real page that you can spot after reading it a second.

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