“They Might As Well Put Bones Through Their Noses”— the Corruption of Scientific American

Source: The Unz Review.

The writer reports — unfavorably — that “For the first time ever in the magazine’s 175-year history the editors [of Scientific American] have endorsed a Presidential candidate.”

I’m not surprised. I let my subscription to SciAm lapse not long after Martin Gardner, author of the “Mathematical Games” column, retired in 1979. Gardner’s departure should not have been much of a loss to me (I was never good at math), except that his columns were always fascinating. From Gardner I learned why time cannot flow backwards and how it is almost — but not entirely — impossible for communication to occur given the structural ambiguities of human language. Such things, to name only two, seemed to me to be the real stuff of science. When they were gone, I sensed that science itself had somehow left the magazine.

And so it seems at last, with politics entering the void, as everywhere else in the cosmos. The direction of things is inescapable.

I could be wrong, of course, since I haven’t paid a lick of attention to the magazine in 40 years. It occurs to me to ask, however, Who actually “pays a lick” for anything?

20 thoughts on ““They Might As Well Put Bones Through Their Noses”— the Corruption of Scientific American

  1. While SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN seems to be leading the charge, politics has corrupted science in general.

    You can pretty much assume that any time someone says “the science says” what follows will be dogma.

    What passes for science as reported confuses correlation and causation routinely and misses entirely the bias of self selecting samples. It is a sad time for anyone who actually understands the process which is science.


    1. “It is a sad time for anyone who actually understands the process which is science.”

      Are YOU sad?

      Maybe you, like your hero, are a stable genius who knows so much more than all those “experts?” THEY don’t understand science, but you do?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. RE: “It is a sad time for anyone who actually understands the process which is science.”

      It’s not just science, it is forensics in general — meaning logic and rhetoric. To make the point, just look at Mr. Murphy’s comment, above.

      Illogically, it compares you to President Trump and rhetorically it is unnecessarily snide. Worse, Mr. Murphy doesn’t even address the substance of your comment that he is responding to. He could have argued that it is not really a sad time as you report, or that the mistakes you cite are not common. But instead his comment attacks you personally.

      A sad time, indeed.


      1. Questioning a post is not ad hominem

        Snideness (is that a word?) might be in the eyes of some, but hardly all. But it does require interjection by the reader of his own prejudices.

        There seems to be a war on science. Historically, this has happened whenever science challenges the status quo and the folks who defend it.

        Are scientists always correct? No, but he truth will out over time, repeatability of experiments, peer review and real life results.

        Today, conservative movements are at war with science. Not because they are necessarily right (pun intended) but because it may cost them money or is attack on faith based dogma.

        Plus, and this is the sad part, when you have an education level like ours, science is just another point of attack by opportunistic politicians.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “Questioning a post is not ad hominem”

          Depends on how you question a post. When you don’t address the substance of a post, but accuse the poster of bias, that is ad hominem.


          1. There is ad hominem and there is AD HOMINEM..

            I suggest we concentrate on the obvious, personal attacks particularly when there are little or no substance, links or references.


      2. My “snide” response was entirely appropriate to the nonsensical statement made. I did not compare Tabor to Trump, I “snidely” noted that he was exhibiting the same attitude of self-satisfied superiority to the experts that Trump exhibits. Tabor understands the process of science but those who ARE actual scientists subject to peer review do not? Give me a break.

        And speaking of logic and rhetoric what evidence did Tabor offer in support of his sweeping assertions? That would be none. So, what is the correct “logical” retort to no evidence and a self-satisfied claim of intellectual superiority – again without evidence. You tell me.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “And speaking of logic and rhetoric what evidence did Tabor offer in support of his sweeping assertions?”

          You didn’t notice. As I wrote, you “could have argued that it is not really a sad time as [Dr. Tabor reported], or that the mistakes [Dr. Tabor] cite[d] are not common.” As a simple matter of forensics/debate, your response to Dr. Tabor’s comments was incompetent.


          1. You are entitled to your opinion. But frankly, I put just about zero weight on it given my long familiarity with what you seem to consider to be competent debate.

            And, by the way, you have not answered the question you quoted. The answer is still “None.”

            Liked by 1 person

    3. “You can pretty much assume that any time someone says “the science says” what follows will be dogma.”

      Sounds like a dangerous generalization to discount certain sciences that YOU don’t believe in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok, tell me where “the science” is stored.

        Science is not a thing, or a book, or even a belief. it is a process for finding truth.

        “The Science” told us for a generation that we should eat a high carbohydrate/low fat diet to protect us from heart disease. Real science eventually revealed that was not true, but only after a generation suffered high rates of diabetes and obesity following that advice.

        And some government authorities persist with that advice today.

        But a real scientist, a physiology professor and contrarian, told me the low cholesterol diet was worthless 50 years ago.

        He was right, and “the science” was wrong the whole time.

        You should watch this video every day until it sinks in


        1. BTW, here is a somewhat longer Feynman statement on Cargo Cult Science that is worth the time and will help you spot the real science amidst the huge volume of garbage we are fed every day.


          1. “It is not a matter of one party…”

            True, neither party is a paragon of virtue. However, one thing you are overlooking is the private food industry’s influence, specifically Big Agra.

            We have known for decades that hydrogenated oils are terrible for health. Yet the corn farmers had a lot of influence. The same with all the other agricultural products that were recommended by the government.

            Americans eat a lot of terrible foods. Snacks, high fat, high salt, sugars, sodas, hamburgers, etc. But they are incredibly profitable items. And they are advertised and marketed like crazy. And despite the calls for individual responsibility, advertising works very, very well.

            In addition, the snack foods folks have perfected the product after decades of incredible research to get just the right amounts of salt, fats and sugars to make them very addicting. Shades of Big Tobacco making cigarettes blended with just the right amounts of nicotine and other chemicals to make them extra addicting.

            And all this with subsidies for corn, wheat, sugar cane, etc. And, of course, tariffs to protect those crops.

            Bottom line to me is the failure to reign in out of control Big Agra and its pals more so than science evolving with missteps on nutrition advice.

            So they will stay on lists of acceptable items in “refined ways”. Just in the last decade, a study was put forth that Coke is good for you. Scientific analysis by a Coke paid nutritionist.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. The hallmark of “real science” is the role of evidence. I am not sure what point you are making that there are instances of “contrarians” who saw or understood evidence better or sooner than others. If the evidence is there, those contrarians will become the mainstream. If it is not, they will fade away. Being a contrarian is no assurance of being correct.

          A contrarian eventually turning over the truth is part of the process of science, not evidence that it is broken. I vividly remember in my freshman year geology class when the theory of plate tectonics was ridiculed by the professor. Within just a few years the contrarians who had pushed it were vindicated by the evidence. And so it goes.

          Science has not changed. Politics has. It is now acceptable in one party to ignore or twist science. Thankfully, that party is on its way out.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It is not a matter of one party.

            The high carb/low fat diet error persisted for 50 years in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary. But the bureaucracy was invested in the food triangle and while elected officials and party dominance comes and goes. the bureaucracy endures.

            My professor was not a physician in private practice, but had he bucked the conventional wisdom as a practicing physician he would have been labeled a quack.

            Much as you do with supporters of the widespread availability of HCQ


        3. Sorry. hanks for the offer. But taking advice about science …,based on 50 year old stories is not going to benefit me in any way.

          Science evolves. Or did you forget that as more facts are found, the answers change,

          Your apparent lack of evolution to stay in the 50’s is fine for you. But I am sure some of your patients over the years became grateful as better ways to treat dental issues came along because of scientific breakthroughs.,


          1. I’m not sure what you objection is.

            Is it to a professor who was right for 50 years but was ignored or to Richard Feynman’s guidance on how science advances.


          2. RE: “Science evolves.”

            The scientific method never evolves. It is always the same, it has always been the same; it will always be the same. That’s a good place to start in understanding the concept of science..


          3. The METHOD may be constant. But the way the method is used, or in some cases abused, is ever changing, based on individuals and other advanced.

            And you can take your lecturing tone and shove where Graham’s head is…


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