A note on Popular Science’s editorial tantrum = new “no comments” policy, …
|September 25, 2013||Posted by News under Media, News, Science|
… as noted here by Nullasalus:
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.
One way of understanding this editorial tantrum is to relate it to the transition from old to new media.
Note that the publication is not called Academic Science, it is called Popular Science. That, presumably, means dealing with the public (republic?) of regular readers with an interest in science. There will be challenges one might not have expected from within an established old boys’/girls’ club.
It used to be that commenting on stories could only be done privately. That was old media. Today, a popular medium can gain a large population of new readers with new voices, with the only cost being the staff time expense created by the need to boot trolls.
As we know, science is not in the business of “scientific certainty,” but of replicable evidence. The reader input the editors are complaining of would not be happening if the subject areas were not in a state of contention and flux, commonly called “news.”
Incidentally, speaking of states of flux, Earth’s climate usually is in just such a state, which is why dogmatism on the subject is so easy to challenge, if not ridicule. Evolution is always hostage to the next fossil dug up or the latest counter-theory genomic finding.
People who really need certainty should investigate a line of work other than science media. But maybe that decision will be made for them by the course of events.