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What Happens When Science Mags Go Woke?

When fashion mags go woke, no one cares. Some girls want to wear rags on their heads, well… But science mags?

Let’s look at some of the things that are happening:

Darwinian evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne puts the matter concisely when he says,

The old saying goes that “all science is political”, a saying that is true only if you stretch the meaning of either “science” or “political”. I’m baffled, for instance, to understand how my work on the genetics of hybrid sterility in Drosophila is political. But don’t worry: the ideologues will find a way to make it so. “You’re doing your work in the milieu of a culture,” they’ll babble, “and decisions about what to fund and publish are explicitly political.” Blah blah blah.

Jerry Coyne, “Scientific American goes defensive; tries to pretend that every social justice screed is a “science story”” at Why Evolution Is True (November 10, 2022)

Okay. Here’s another one, one of many:

Consider this recent front-page New York Times Story: “He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show.” The exposé targeted Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an air-quality specialist at the University of California, Davis. Never mind his position at a respected research institution and stellar publication record; the Times wants you to know that Mitloehner’s work is funded by “farming interests” trying to deflect blame for climate change:

“According to internal University of California documents reviewed by The New York Times, Dr. Mitloehner’s academic group, the Clear Center at UC Davis, receives almost all its funding from industry donations and coordinates with a major livestock lobby group on messaging campaigns.”

There’s no need to refute the story’s allegations; that’s already been done. The Clear Center has always disclosed its industry funding. Mitloehner has also responded to the story, explaining that his research team uses the grant money to devise solutions that help “reduce the environmental footprint of animal agriculture.” We’ve discussed some of this impressive work in recent articles. Other scientists have pointed out that none of the Clear Center’s work deviates from the scientific consensus on climate change.

Cameron English, “NYT Attacks Great Scientist, Further Tanks Its Credibility ” at American Council on Science and Health (November 7, 2022)

Industry funds most science research, as English goes on to point out. The alternative would be that government funds all science research and you pay for it via your taxes. Some political issues there?

While we are here, emerging out of the COVID years, premier science mag Nature is now telling us that “Health policymakers need to cultivate social trust and plan effective communication strategies well before the next infectious disease goes global.”

Wait. What? More propaganda? Why not make correct information the next big priority instead? One that is not marred by professionals getting kicked off social media merely for a dissenting opinion?

How about an honest discussion among health care professionals about what worked and what didn’t?

Much that we were told was not true. Children were never at extreme risk but daycares and schools were closed for months or years, with (we fear) serious problems for the children at most risk.

Virtue was signalled everywhere. Virtue seemed to be all that mattered. There is never any penalty for the damage done in the name of “science.”

At what point is science going to suffer from its suffocation by all that sheer, insufferable Virtue?

You may also wish to read: In Big Tech World: the journalist as censor, hit man, and snitch. Glenn Greenwald looks at a disturbing trend in media toward misrepresentation as well as censorship.

Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul; and with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor of the forthcoming The Human Soul: What Neuroscience Shows Us about the Brain, the Mind, and the Difference Between the Two (Worthy, 2025). She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

What Happens When Science Mags Go Woke?