From Darwin Day in America (with Afterword):
The very issue Holdren was testifying about—climate change—provides a disturbing example of the growing effort to treat scientific dissent as heresy. One of America’s leading daily newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, announced in 2013 it would no longer publish letters to the editor that expressed skepticism about the human role in climate change. Since one of the original purposes of printing letters to the editor was to air community viewpoints that might differ from a newspaper’s official position, the Times’s decision represented a dramatic departure from historic journalistic standards.
Others go much further, calling for the criminal prosecution of global warming skeptics. In 2014 Professor Lawrence Torcello at the Rochester Institute of Technology published an essay urging that global warming skeptics who receive funding for their work be charged with criminal negligence. Torcello labeled any criticisms of his proposal on grounds of free speech as “misguided.” Journalist Adam Weinstein published a follow-up essay in which he declared that “denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.”
Such lawsuits are already occurring. As I write this chapter, the conservative journal National Review faces potentially ruinous litigation from Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, one of the leading global warming activists in academia, because National Review writers vigorously criticized his research. (P. 393)
Actually, this trend has also resulted in a popular science mag not accepting comments any more, as we’ve noted here:
Note that the publication is not called Academic Science, it is called Popular Science. … As we know, science is not in the business of “scientific certainty,” but of replicable evidence. The reader input the editors are complaining of would not be happening if the subject areas were not in a state of contention and flux, commonly called “news.”
Incidentally, speaking of states of flux, Earth’s climate usually is in just such a state, which is why dogmatism on the subject is so easy to challenge, if not ridicule. Evolution is always hostage to the next fossil dug up or the latest counter-theory genomic finding.
Popular media – once they decay to the point of seeing themselves as zealots for a righteous cause instead of idle sensation-seekers (a position in which they are vastly less harmful) – can become major advocates for suppression of evidence and even of civil liberties.
See also: New Scientist author supports Popular Science shutting down comments.
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