Dennis Hackethal’s Blog

My blog about coding, philosophy, and anything else that interests me.

Scientific American?

The first time I wondered how scientific Scientific American could be was when I noticed their cover story titled “The New Science of Sex and Gender.” The editors published this article in September of 2017. I didn’t read it then, but I made a mental note with the following prediction: there’s not going to be any science whatsoever in that article, and they’re going to be pandering to social-justice warriors.

After finishing the article just moments ago, I was right on both accounts. There is no science to be found in it—no problem to be solved, and no conjectured explanations to solve it.

And yet, the magazine managed to hit a new low with the editors' official endorsement of a presidential candidate on October 1st, 2020. To be clear, it’s not so much about their choice. It’s that they endorse a—any—presidential candidate at all.

It seems that until recently, they would have agreed with that. After all, the article’s subtitle reads:

We’ve never backed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history—until now.

And the first paragraph reads:

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

Why did Scientific American go 175 years without backing a presidential candidate? Because it would be (or should be) unprofessional and unethical for a scientific magazine to display a political bias.

They portray our times as so bad that the magazine had to drop its long-loved practice of remaining impartial. As if their awareness of how unusual it is for a scientific magazine to endorse a candidate made it okay. As if they had no choice. But of course, they do have a choice. What they don’t have is a spine in the face of social-justice warriors spreading doomsday scenarios—the ability to resist the urge to jump on the political bandwagon.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science.

As has been pointed out by Popperians over and over, the same evidence can be used to support an infinite number of conflicting theories. So evidence by itself cannot show anything. It can only be used as a transient factor to adjudicate between theories. Science is not “evidence-based.” We don’t gather evidence and then build theories on top of them. Theories decide what evidence to look for, which to ignore, and which to use to adjudicate between theories. The above quote is ironic because by displaying bad epistemology, Scientific American itself rejects science.

After listing some of Trump’s alleged mistakes, the article continues:

That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment.

There is the same epistemological mistake again—fact-based plans! They also haven’t argued why it should be any government’s responsibility to protect anyone’s health, the economy, or “the environment.” That’s simply assumed. How scientific is it to make unargued claims?

These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.

Calls for “equity” are dangerous. They are part of the latest fad of social-justice warriors. Saying the word “equitable” is no doubt a Chamberlainesque attempt to appease them. “Equity” is a codeword for equal outcomes, which can only be achieved through government-mandated regulation, theft, and violence. “Equity” is a deeply un-American idea because it goes against the pursuit of happiness and individual freedom. In a free society, people are different, and those differences are either celebrated as different achievements and skills or considered challenges that can be overcome through hard work. “Equity” can only be achieved through tyranny.

The article goes on to claim that European and Asian countries were able to recover and reopen businesses sooner through testing and tracing of infected people and that the “rebound” that happened in June in America could have been prevented by adopting those other countries’ measures. If that is so, why is Europe going through another rebound right now, with cases rising in several countries, including Belgium, Italy, and Austria? The problem with lockdown policies, apart from their disgusting castration of people’s freedom, is that they are unscientific because they are impossible to prove ineffective. When lockdowns are implemented and lifted again, only for another rebound to occur, lockdown advocates can always claim that the previous lockdown was not strict or long enough. On the other hand, should cases fall during or after a lockdown, advocates can claim that it was thanks to it. Whatever happens, advocates can always rescue their theory in support of lockdowns, and nobody learns anything. When a theory has this property, it fails Popper’s test for being scientific, applying his criterion of demarcation. Isn’t that something that a magazine that calls itself scientific should take seriously?

Bad epistemology of “fact-based” and “evidence-based” “science” makes Scientific American unscientific. The purpose of science isn’t to gather evidence and build theories on top of them, let alone political theories or endorsements—it’s to explain the world: impartially, no matter where the consequences of your theories take you (cf. Deutsch, “The Beginning of Infinity,” chapter 1). And their support for the concept of equity makes them deeply un-American, too. By pandering to social-justice warriors and contributing to the moral panic they have been perpetrating, both words in Scientific American’s name have, sadly, become lies.


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