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Scientific American may be owned by Nature but it is now run by Twitter

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Or so it seems. Paul Farhi, media reporter at the Washington Post, spoke with Ashutosh Jogalekar, the science writer who was fired, ostensibly over a post. He’d said stuff like this:

Also importantly, while some of Feynman’s utterances and actions appear sexist to modern sensibilities, it’s worth noting that they were probably no different than the attitudes of a male-dominated American society in the giddy postwar years, a society in which women were supposed to take care of the house and children and men were seen as the bread winners. Thus, any side of Feynman that raises our eyebrows is really an aspect of a biased American society.

And much more in the same vein. Another boring PC exercise. So, where’s the fire*? Well, some background from Farhi: Commenters were upset by a defense of the view that got Larry Summers fired (that women avoid hard sciences due to high time commitments). That piece was written by someone other than Jogalekar (but it doesn’t matter, once the blood’s in the water, does it?):

The second land mine was a post in May by Ashutosh Jogalekar, which favorably reviewed a controversial book by Nicholas Wade, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.” Jogalekar praised the book, saying it confirms the need to “recognize a strong genetic component to [social and cognitive] differences” among racial groups.

Many of us would disagree sharply with the premise; we need a vastly improved understanding of epigenetics. Before that, any such conclusions are reckless as well as controversial. Still, such praise is not exactly a bandwagon in Parade Floats of the Year, is it? Well, as Farhi tells the tale, it turns out,

After his review of the Wade book, Jogalekar said Brainard had asked him to run posts about “controversial” topics by the editor before posting them. Until then, Jogalekar had written almost 200 blog items, none of which were edited or had prompted widespread complaints.

But Brainard never specified what topics were “controversial,” and Jogalekar said he didn’t believe his Feynman post fell into that category. He posted it without consulting his editor.

“It’s perfectly fine for an organization to decide what kind of content it wants, but they should let their bloggers know what the policy is,” Jogalekar said. In this case, “it’s apparently controversial if a lot of people say it’s controversial. That’s dangerous territory. You’re leaving yourself open if 10 people complain on Twitter.”

Maybe 10 did, so he was fired. So now we know who runs Scientific American.

Also, earlier, I’d commented

Given the overall strangeness of science writer Nicholas Wade’s largely unopposed efforts to revive Darwinian racism in Troublesome Inheritance, it is tempting to speculate that Jogalekar’s cautious praise in Scientific American for at least discussing his ideas was a catalyst. The bosses might not want to draw more attention to that biohazard. So they pretend to fire Jogalekar over some transparently stupid kerfuffle instead, preventing him from using the occasion of his dismissal to attract more attention to the smouldering stinkpot.

That explanation makes even more sense now, with more inside information: The requirement that he show only unspecified “controversial” items to the editor first was (seen from afar) an obvious setup. Enough squawking can make almost anything controversial, and that was what happened. Then the editors swooped.

The comments are worth a read too. Many resent the downward drift of Scientific American to pop sci mag status. If their boss is Twitter, can the hair salon and the checkout counter be far behind?

Note: Owned by Nature

* Jogalekar is mistaken. Jerks were jerks back then too, but there was no organized grievance industry. So such matters were addressed informally (i.e., the guy perceived to be a jerk was escorted out of the bar or dance hall, and knew better than to assert his “constitutional rights.” Feynman probably got a pass for the same reasons as, at a lower intellectual level, movie hunks did (and maybe still do). Remember, when it comes to being a jerk, perception matters. Among thoughtful people, it is a topic for a coffee break, not a witch hunt.

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15 Replies to “Scientific American may be owned by Nature but it is now run by Twitter

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    Actually it was a more Protestant, if i may say so, Christian society.
    This science guy was a Jew. People were more respectful to women back then in everyway. they were seen as wife objects and not sex objects.
    It was a liberal movement to end this.
    No excuses for males attacking women back then. Once again the old ones have no defenders now that they are gone.

    By the way this stuff about women and science is just showing again a presumption women can compete and achieve like men in smart stuff.
    i say all people can but identity interferes and so women have no such ambition to be accomplished and so fail to be interested in the most complicated things.
    Women will never compete with men intellectually because of male motivation to be accomplished given by God.
    Women are only to help their husbands. its a fraud to push them to be doctors and scientists. Its unnatural.
    Serious sciences just show womens real lack of interest.
    Identity is everything.

  2. 2
    AveryM says:

    ^ why would you even troll an ID blog… a lot of effort for very little reward

  3. 3
    Upright BiPed says:

    Byers you are truly a warped disgusting POS. If you want to know one of the real reasons the Christian voice of love and meaning is so often trampled underfoot, you might start by looking under your foot. It starts with stupid men like you, as it always has.

    If you keep this up, one of the two of us will not be posting at UD much longer.

  4. 4
    Starbuck says:

    The sad thing is, he’s totally sincere.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    Uprightbiped.
    if you stay or go its your choice. It won’t silence me or prove I’m wrong.
    Everything I said is true, or I think it is, and your complaints are unjust and just without credibility unless you articulate why a poster is wrong. One is not wrong because you say so.
    One can disagree without abusing the other. I never abuse people or think they deserve it. i accept sincere honest disagreement and in a spirit of freedom.
    Why comment on my character but not on what you disagree with???
    Your not being UPRIGHT in integrity eh!

  6. 6
    Upright BiPed says:

    Let me get this straight Byers … you want me to articulate a reason why we shouldn’t raise our sons and daughters to believe our daughters are “only here to help their husbands” because they have “no such ambition to be accomplished” and can never “achieve like men in smart stuff.”

    Just exactly how many lives would you like to destroy Byers? And to what end?

  7. 7
    rich says:

    I charitably assume that UD’s tolerance of Byers’ persistent and horrific misogyny is due to its commitment to freedom of speech.

  8. 8
    Upright BiPed says:

    rich,

    Do you know why the translation of genetic information requires the physicochemical discontinuity between the arrangement of the informational medium and its resulting functional effect? Do you know why the system must preserve this physical discontinuity?

  9. 9
    rich says:

    Hi UB!
    I’m not sure how this is linked to Byers’ opinions.

    Thanks.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Robert Byers:

    Identity is everything.

    Seems like Upright BiPed has your identity pegged to a tee.

    And I also agree with him that arguing with you about anything would be a waste of breath.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Upright, I for one would hate to see you go because of Byers.

    I’ve seen you stand your ground faithfully, with expertise, against the incoherent arguments of Darwinists. And I admire that in you. It would be a shame if you let the inanity of Byers get to you after weathering all that.,,,

    If it is any help, I pretty much just ignore him anymore.

  12. 12
    Upright BiPed says:

    BA, that was a very nice thing to say. I will heed your advice and try to ignore him. His words are hard to ignore.

  13. 13
    Upright BiPed says:

    #9

    punt

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    Robert Byers will no longer be posting on UD.

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    @14 Like.

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