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A telling open letter to the new editor of AAAS’s Science magazine

This open letter from a climate change skeptic to Marcia McNuttoffers some home truths that can certainly apply to other areas of science as well:

Unfortunately, during the intervening 35 years of your remarkable scientific career since you were a graduate student, a once-stellar magazine has fallen on hard times. Starting with Donald Kennedy, and continuing under Bruce Alberts, it has become a shabby vehicle for strident climate activism … and that experiment has proven once again that Science can’t be both an activist journal and a scientific journal. Science magazine has thrown its considerable (but rapidly decreasing) weight behind a number of causes. And yes, some of those causes are indeed important.

The problem is that you are convinced the causes are hugely important, and you want to convince us of the same. But once you convince people that your causes are more important to you than your science, that’s it for your authority regarding the science. You either get to have activism, or you get scientific authority. You don’t get both. And the past actions of your magazine have clearly demonstrated that these days your activist causes are much more important to you than the science.

Usually, when people acknowledge science as the only source of truth, their pet causes govern what science is allowed to be true.

And regarding you personally taking a position? Well, that’s interesting. The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wickedly-smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. One downside of that particular melange is that as a result, it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years. So some of what I have to say may be a surprise to you.

The rest of Dr. Eschenbach’s letter makes interesting reading if you follow the climate change controversy, but the reality is that editor McNutt’s many assets in life mean that she doesn’t need to make decisions based on facts, only on perceptions. It’s only the little people who need facts.

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9 Responses to A telling open letter to the new editor of AAAS’s Science magazine

  1. The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wickedly-smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. One downside of that particular melange is that as a result, it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years. So some of what I have to say may be a surprise to you.

    So, Marcia McNutt is wickedly smart but not smart enough to realise people have been lying to her (according to Dr Eschenbach). Oh and men lie to attractive, intelligent women. Really?

    Seems like Dr Eschenbach has some sexist issues he needs to deal with. “It’s not your fault pretty lady, you’ve been lied to by men who find you alluring.” There’s a real good argument eh? She couldn’t have figured out what the truth was on her own, I guess. Even though she’s smart.

    . . . but the reality is that editor McNutt’s many assets in life mean that she doesn’t need to make decisions based on facts, only on perceptions. It’s only the little people who need facts.

    Seems like maybe Dr Eschenbach isn’t the only one who has trouble with educated, intelligent and accomplished women.

  2. Jerad, it’s true. A woman can rise so high that her humble copy editor or nerd can’t tell her anything, and … Tina Brown comes to mind, as do many others. Maybe it doesn’t happen so often in science as elsewhere.

  3. News @ 2: Only women, of course, have this problem. Never men. Ever.

  4. Oh, they DO, LarTanner. There just aren’t nearly as many guys who are knockouts. Or at least that’s what the guys say. ;)

  5. Dr. Eschenbach is a sexist idiot.

  6. Yeah, he probably should have stopped at his main point which is that a contest of strong feelings is not a contest of science.

  7. Oh and men lie to attractive, intelligent women. Really?

    You’re married, right Jerad?

  8. Mung, why would I lie to anyone? I like being with smart people who can think for themselves and who appreciate honestly.

    Denyse, make up your mind: is Marcia McNutt too stupid to double check anything her underlings tell her or just too blinded by ideology to detect the truth? Both are insulting. How would you like someone making either assumption about you?

    You disagree with her. That happens. But why do you feel the need to explain that in terms of her on her being too educated and attractive or being brainwashed? Why can’t an intelligent woman make up her own mind based on the evidence? Is that not an option?

  9. Jerard
    See Mr. Willis Eschenbach’s bio It’s Not About Me (no degree.) He is a math whiz with an IQ of 180, and is a self taught amateur scientist with probing insights into unsupporable hypotheses. You would do well to study his logic, evaluations, and discoveries.

    Barb
    Do you need to be one to accuse another of it? Try addressing Eschenbach’s facts and arguments, rather than breaching the protocols of civil discourse and descending to an ad hominem attack. Study how to present a scientific case and not fall for the rhetorical falaciesidentified by Aristotle.

    I happen to agree with Eschenbach’s arguments which have nothing to do with sexism.

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