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Professional skeptic Michael Shermer gets it about what’s going wrong at the new Woke Scientific American


It turns out, Michael Shermer has his own sad story about how he got dumped by Scientific American after a long career as a columnist there (since April 2001) — as he tells us in “A case study in how identity politics poisons science.”

In one of his columns, he had cited the research provided by a well-known social psychologist Carol Tavris, to the effect that “most sexually abused children do not grow up to abuse their own children, and that most abusive parents were not abused as children.” The editor made him rewrite it, admonishing,

… we’re unwilling to publish a piece that suggests—even in a quote attributed to someone else [Carol Tavris]—that sexual harassment and the phenomenon of abused children growing up to be abusers are less of a problem than most people imagine. Heuristics are all very well, but unlike with spooky deaths related to horror movies, these involve real harm to real people.

Michael Shermer, “Scientific American Goes Woke” at Substack (November 17, 2021)

The editor’s demands, of course, amounted to misrepresenting the research evidence but he had to rewrite the column.

Then he made the mistake of suggesting that there had been progress over the decades in addressing violence against minority groups, women, etc. The editor responded:

I’m afraid I’m going to have to reject your December column. It’s not really well argued, and leaves a couple of enormous holes that any critic could drive a large truck through.

Michael Shermer, “Scientific American Goes Woke” at Substack (November 17, 2021)

Apparently, history is a hole one can drive a large truck through. Anyway, Shermer was let go as a columnist shortly afterward, with his last column appearing in January 2019.

Read the whole thing. There was a time when this sort of thing only happened to people like Forrest Mims, who doubts Darwinism.

Interesting to note that Shermer is writing for Substack, a rapidly growing non-legacy media subscription-based outlet.

Substack? Newsletter group creates alarm plus demands for censorship Substack is getting a lot of ink these days — raising both hope from readers and hand wringing from old media. The surprising thing about “controversial” Substack is that it is a restoration of the very old idea that we should pay a small amount for the content we want.

Also: At Scientific American: “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy” Wow. Has the Darwin lobby hired itself a PR firm that recommended getting someone on board to accuse everyone who doubts Darwin of being a “white supremacist”? Quite simply, Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man is surely by far the most racist iconic document ever to be lauded by all the Right People! And getting someone to holler about “white supremacy” among Darwin doubters is, ahem, just a cheap shot, not a response to the stark raving racism in print of the actual document. Guys, try another one.

Hat tip: Jerry Coyne (who thinks the same way)

It’s hard for me to take Michael Shermer seriously given the fact that his profession is to go “I don’t believe you” Unfortunately he’s pretty biased because he only direct his crap at things he doesn’t like AaronS1978
Substack is a mixture of people who are being censored or are threatened with censorship. A lot are from the left. I know of some conservatives but do not know the distribution of authors. They all seem victims of Twitter and YouTube censorship. I went to substack and could not find who is writing there. It’s very vague. They seem to just want money. Another platform called “locals” is also being used by some. Scott Adams uses it. Then there is Rumble which posts videos. I’m not very familiar with any since I don’t go to any of them much. They all seem to want money without telling one what it will cost and what one will get. jerry
At first I was hesitant about Substack. Other efforts in this direction like Gab and Parler are clearly 'bait traps' to gather up and excite dissidents so they can be exterminated more easily. Substack has the same reputation, but on a broader look it's pretty much the same as an ancient newspaper from the days before total Deepstate tyranny. 70% of the writing is on uncontroversial topics like food. In the controversial topics, 70% of the writers are strictly orthodox 'progressives'. Only 10% of all content is 'problematic'. If there's a trap, it's not working very well, and anyone who actually reads the material can see it's mostly orthodox. polistra

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