Monday, July 29, 2002

Scientific Un-American

The most recent Scientific American cover story is on the possibility that there is no need for “Dark Matter”. (Dark Matter, thought to comprise up to 95% of the mass of the universe, is “invisible” mass needed to explain large-scale gravitational anomalies.) Yet inside the magazine, there is a small blurb in a different section about new evidence for its existence! This dissonance is good fodder for our critics (speaking as a scientist). Actually, the “no Dark Matter” article is a highly speculative suggestion that the anomalies are due not to undetectable mass but to an alteration in Newton’s venerable second law: F = m•a.

There is also a story about Ted Turner and his conservation efforts. That, in and of itself, is not bad. Still, it fits with a disturbing trend in Scientific American: A deemphasis on hard science in favor of the soft variety, including the social sciences. Furthermore, Sci Am doesn’t even try to disguise its political leanings: the social science articles will invariable reach left-leaning conclusions. Any article on missile defense will purport to demonstrate its futility. A story on global warming will likely confirm the worst case scenario, blame the U.S., and ridicule any naysayer such as Bjorn Lomborg. An article on evolution will contain requisite slogans on how evolution is “well beyond the theory stage and on firm evidentiary ground” and will also include mean spirited swipes at creationists. And to think the magazine's founder was a Christian! My current subscription will be my last—in fact, maybe I’ll cancel today.

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