For around 15 years, I have joked 'that's why they got sold for a dollar' when nonsense got published in Scientific American and my statement was both funny and factually correct.

They've been in decline for a while, their only hope for survival lay in what The Atlantic and Washington Post also got - a rich progressive (well, 'progressive' when it comes to other people paying taxes while they hide money offshore) who wants to say they own it as a vanity project. They have had that, thanks to the Holtzbrinck family of Germany, since 1986.

They did fine work and can still narrowly claim to be "the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States." In 1950, the Democratic Party burned 3,000 copies of their magazine and they got a cease-and-desist from the Atomic Energy Commission because they had uncovered too much information about the Truman administration's hydrogen bomb. That's journalism that deserves subscribers.

As academia and journalism shifted far to the left in the 1990s, science magazines followed. I saw it in Scientific American following the departure of John Rennie, who was hardly a centrist but understood the job. With the success of Science 2.0 and Scienceblogs, they even started their own blogging network (again) but the second time it had so little science it was...bizarre.(1)

Want to know if your child is blessed by being "prehomosexual"? SciAm was there to help you see the signs. Prefer your claims about science and health to be wrapped in the progressive halo of Anti-Semitism? Scientific American again.(2) Scaremongering vegetables (unless they used toxic organic pesticides, of course) and promoting useless supplements? Naturally. Cell phones cause cancer? I know, I know, you get it.

Famed skeptic Michael Shermer(3) likely saw the decline in Scientific American's 'science' also, but when the checks clear you may pretend not to notice. It's when they stop that good manners is no longer an issue. James Meigs at City-Journal may be new to the Scientific American cause but he is right when he notes that corporate media has been terrible at covering science. Chemicals Are Killing Us and Miracle Vegetables Save Us and that business are great for eyeballs, and corporate media is an advertising delivery system so ads are needed, but terrible for science.

He rightly blames postmodernism that infected academic though and ironic 'anti-corporate' posturing - the greatest status symbol a progressive journalist gets is being paid by a giant corporation like New York Times - and their circular gift-giving (Pulitzer Prize nonsense, which will then lead to an NYU Journalism Fellowship where they all undermine science because that's what got them the Pulitzer) that leads to exclusion.(4)

COVID-19 hit while Scientific American got a new editorial boss. I have no issue with Dr. Laura Helmuth, she has a degree in science and all the right credentials but City-Journal notes she also was a safe choice from inside the tribe. The content soon followed, with claims that math was inherently sexist, fighting obesity was racist, and arguing that the legendary Ed Wilson was racist. Who isn't racist if social justice warriors use their prism?(5) 

I was wrong in my optimism a new voice would set the ship right. In 2020, it was so important to Scientific American that Trump not be re-elected they endorsed a political candidate. Science had clearly left the building.

They're just trying to survive, I get that, and rewriting press releases is not getting advertising eyeballs while actual journalism takes too long and costs money - the political proclivities of SciAm leadership is all about unions and income equality but they can't actually afford to pay it. But they went above and beyond when they compared anyone who wondered if SARS-CoV-2 may have leaked from the nearby lab to the USSR's KGB. They tried to allege that asking about how COVID-19 came to be was keeping scientists from discovering how it came to be, which even postmodernist crank Paul Feyerabend would have reason to dispute.

The plain truth is that science journalism suffered the same plight as political journalists - they began to seek affirmation by doing progressive good works instead of doing the job. A critical thinking science journalist would at least wonder if gender dysphoria was the new ADD - over-diagnosed, over-prescribed and lacking a clinical foundation. Anyone at a large media corporation who did that was vilified; only 22-year-olds could be victims of a predatory culture, and only then about their student loans. 


(1) Naturally, social justice warriors are going to eat their own and after a lot of moral posturing and calls to action, they wiped out their own community and called that a victory.

(2) Especially toxic given that the family that owns them were Nazis that got their wealth thanks to a personal endorsement by Hitler.

(3) I know a lot of people but that doesn't mean I take pictures with them. When I was working on the "Big Fears Little Risks" documentary while running the American Council on Science and Health, I got to know Gerry Ohrstrom and he donated to that project. He invited me to a book launch party for Shermer he was hosting at his home.

For additional entertainment, Gerry had one of the best close-up magic artists I have ever seen. Dr. Shermer and I were watching him closely and agreed we might have to rethink our stance on the existence of supernatural stuff. He was that convincing. Then we both laughed and took this photo.

(4) Unfortunately, even science journals now are running science into the ground and it is another thing we can blame Trump for causing. He caused progressives to lose their minds. People so divorced from reality that in 2012 they declared polling 'science' because their guy won, and were certain stagnant economics was the new normal, were outraged when he caused the economy to boom and put taxes on the wealthiest states - which conveniently happened to be states that vote Democrat.

A former executive editor at the New York Times even weirdly proclaimed she carried an Obama doll with her and fondled it when she was upset thinking about Trump. 

(5) Oddly, few progressives consider their own racist. The founder of Planned Parenthood was a proud eugenicist until progressive darling Adolf Hitler took it too far and then she and the founder of Sierra Club and others had to pivot to new ways to accomplish the same goal. Here and a few other places will mention that Oliver Wendell Holmes was racist, the famed economist Keynes that socialists love so much was racist, and don't even get started on every President of the 20th century except Teddy Roosevelt, Carter, and Reagan.