New editor H. Holden Thorp told Wired in an interview on why he has “had it” with Donald Trump:
[Wired:] But one of the arguments those Fox News people, as you say, will make is that when scientists voice political opinions, they call into question the motivations behind the research they’re touting. Do you worry that becoming so outspoken makes you even more vulnerable to that criticism? Now you’re just in the political fray, right?
[Thorp:] No. I believe we’ve been overly deferential to the idea that we should stay out of it. Look at what that’s gotten us. It’s gotten us climate denial. It’s gotten us creationism. It’s gotten us prohibited from doing stem cell research. These are all costs of scientists saying, “Oh, we’re just going to sit over here in our white coats and let people conclude what they want to.” You know, there is no apolitical science. Science is done by human beings in political environments funded by the federal government. The notion of apolitical science has never been real to begin with.Adam Rogers, “America’s Top Science Journal Has Had It With Trump” at Wired
Okay, he said it: “there is no apolitical science.” We are not now dealing in the world of accusations but of admissions. He is admitting that opposition to “creationism,” however they define it is political. Fine. We all knew that but we did not have it in writing before. Getting things put in writing is a genuine help.
He makes clear in the rest of the interview that he hopes to find Big Media partners to spread his message: “Ben Shapiro’s getting 50 million people to look at his Facebook posts. We don’t have the kind of reach into the public consciousness on our own. So we’re going to have to partner.”
Hmmm. A bigger foghorn comes at a price. Ben Shapiro isn’t a scientist. Pretty soon many of these people won’t sound like scientists either. It’s easier to lose a reputation than gain one.
See also: Scientific American breaks with 175-year tradition, endorses Joe Biden for US President. They can break with tradition in this way if they want, of course. But then they will no longer be able to say that their science is not tainted with (drenched in?) politics. Which is why, no matter what the crisis, no one did it in the past. The outcome, no matter who wins the U.S. election, will be reduced public trust in science. Scientific American could well find itself down there with “media” generally, in terms of public trust.