My friend Forrest Mims, called by Discover Magazine one of the 50 best brains in science, has – predictably – been attacked by mediocrities at the mag’s blog, due to his interest in intelligent design, and he has responded:
Returning to Mike’s concern that I advocate Intelligent Design, it is rather ironic that my first visit to Hawaii when the satellite drift was independently confirmed by I83 was to give a keynote talk at a scientific meeting about how I lost “The Amateur Scientist” column at Scientific American when the editor learned I rejected Darwinian macroevolution and abortion. That talk resulted in an annual teaching assignment in Hawaii that has allowed me to continue annual calibrations at the Mauna Loa Observatory since 1992 and to write a 270,000-word book on the amazing history of this world famous atmospheric research station. (The book will be published late in 2009 or in 2010.)Mike and others who are troubled by Intelligent Design advocates who do serious science and publish in leading scholarly journals (please see my web sites for a list of my publications) need not be so worried, for part of the foundation of modern science was laid by men and women who believed in a designer God.
In our feature, we recognized Mims specifically for his contributions as an amateur scientist, and we stand by that assessment. His work on the Altair 8800 computer, on RadioShack’s home electronics kit, and on The Citizen Scientist newsletter has been undeniably influential. DISCOVER does not in any way endorse the Discovery Institute’s views on “intelligent design.” At the same time, Mims’s association with that group does not invalidate his role as a leading figure in the American amateur science community, any more than James Watson’s dubious speculations about race take away from his groundbreaking research on DNA.
As a scholar pointed out to me years, ago, political correctness is typically the refuge of third- and fourth-rate academics. It can reduce a discipline that was once a source of knowledge and understanding of our world to dense, frightened babble. The further the mag stays away from it, the better.
Mims, probably best known for his electronics work, is also a keen environmentalist and supporter of amateur science as a support to professional science. Forrest also offered a link to this video account of the “Scientific American” affair (in which he was refused a column years ago – though that seems to have been patched up, as he has written for them since).
Note: On the subject of racism, Forrest asked me a while back, how come the Out of Africa ape people are always portrayed as black? Interesting question because, in general, in my childhood, the “cave man” of “educational” art was a beefy Caucasian. He was the sort of fellow who thought that he might gain courage by eating his enemy’s heart. Simple, sure, but definitely not an ape. Some cultural history there, I guess …
Podcasts: Listening to the intelligent design controversy
Darwin blah blah blah in Toronto?
6 Replies to “Discover Magazine standing by Forrest Mims as one of 50 best brains in science”
Thumbs up to Discover Magazine for at least having the guts to keep a scientist who doesn’t hold to their own views!
Mims always personally complimented my writing about analogous systems and processes between living things and human engineered things. He was something of an inspiration to me when I was younger. My first computer was a homebuilt Altair 8800 and I was building Radio Shack electronic projects since age 12 or so. Mims is about 10 years older than me.
The million dollar quote:
The phrase political correctness used to be a way of describing mindless conformance to received views on moral and other issues. Now it has itself become a cliche and a substitute for an argument. Apply it to any vaguely left-wing widely accepted view and you appear to have said something without actually doing so.
Mark Frank, not quite sure what you’re getting at here, but …
Political correctness is real – it destroyed the career of Harvard’s Larry Summers, for example.
The identifying mark of PC is that no one cares about the facts of a case, only about whether what is uttered is correct thought.
Political correctness benefits mediocrities because they are rarely at risk of challenging a consensus.
Here’s a thought: Suppose the editors of Discover knocked ten scientists out of their 50 Best Brains for PC reasons. They would then replace them with people of lesser achievement and greater PC.
Multiply this through a whole society and you have a powerful force for mediocrity.
The phrase political correctness used to be a way of describing mindless conformance to received views on moral and other issues.
It stands for something much worse now — the requirement to not express certain views, regardless of their truth or the sincerity in which one holds them, with severe economic or legal consequences for those who violate this requirement.
Political correctness is something thinking people should oppose.