Scientific American Gets Unscientific About Homeschools

AP Photo/Wade Payne, File

Scientific American has become a trash magazine. 

It has not always been this way; in fact, I grew up in a household where the magazine was regularly read. Not to give TMI, but when many of my friends had Reader's Digest as the default bathroom reading, Scientific American was the preferred choice in my household, and we always had several issues stacked on top of the "throne."


Of course, both my parents were physicists specializing in astronomy, so we weren't typical. But the magazine was the scientific equivalent of The New Yorker--highbrow intellectuals and aspiring scientists were the subscribers. 

Sometime over the past few years, the magazine went crazy woke, as I have written before. City Journal had a wonderful piece on its decline recently, as I discussed in a VIP post in May. 

The magazine is now another Establishment mouthpiece pushing every bit of nonsense in The Narrative™ and even devoted an issue on alphabet ideology that included the remarkable claim that until the 18th century, there was no category "female" because patriarchal Westerners invented it. 

I discussed this with a family member, and they thought it was fascinating. I knew it was junk and not science at all. I was told I was mean and closed-minded. 

Scientific American said it, so it must be true. 


Uh, no. That is not even remotely close to true. I don't generally refer to the Bible in my writing, but go read Genesis. People have known the difference between men and women forever. It is how we breed. Human beings were not randomly sticking their genitals against each other, hoping to put Tab A into Slot B but having no idea whether it could happen with any particular person. 

We can tell the difference without a "scientist" telling us. 

Not that leftists think we SHOULD breed. Hence, alphabet ideology, eugenics, euthanasia, and abortion ideology. But you get the idea. It's all about deconstructing reality, not understanding it. 

Now, the magazine has turned its guns on homeschooling. While they come up with some highbrow reasons for why it is scary bad and must be regulated by the government, all those arguments are a smokescreen and, as even they admit, are based on no actual scientific studies. It's all feels and anecdotes--in some isolated cases, horrible things have happened to homeschooled kids! 


Yeah, well, let's run the numbers. How many horrible things happen to public school kids? Happy to do a study and compare the numbers--not that "Scientific American" did. Homeschool kids as a class are far better educated, have better mental health, and aren't exposed to the insanity that now reigns in public schools. 

That's science for you. Feels. 

Of course, the real problem that SciAm has with homeschooled kids is that they are NOT being fed The Narrative. There is no alphabet ideology, no teacher unions, no Randi Weingarten or drag queens or Anthony Fauci to run things, and that must not be allowed. 

As I wrote last month, a former longtime contributor to the magazine described what happened to destroy the magazine. 

Michael Shermer got his first clue that things were changing at Scientific American in late 2018. The author had been writing his “Skeptic” column for the magazine since 2001. His monthly essays, aimed at an audience of both scientists and laymen, championed the scientific method, defended the need for evidence-based debate, and explored how cognitive and ideological biases can derail the search for truth. Shermer’s role models included two twentieth-century thinkers who, like him, relished explaining science to the public: Carl Sagan, the ebullient astronomer and TV commentator; and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote a popular monthly column in Natural Historymagazine for 25 years. Shermer hoped someday to match Gould’s record of producing 300 consecutive columns. That goal would elude him.

. . .

“I started to see the writing on the wall toward the end of my run there,” Shermer told me. “I saw I was being slowly nudged away from certain topics.” One month, he submitted a column about the “fallacy of excluded exceptions,” a common logical error in which people perceive a pattern of causal links between factors but ignore counterexamples that don’t fit the pattern. In the story, Shermer debunked the myth of the “horror-film curse,” which asserts that bad luck tends to haunt actors who appear in scary movies. (The actors in most horror films survive unscathed, he noted, while bad luck sometimes strikes the casts of non-scary movies as well.) Shermer also wanted to include a serious example: the common belief that sexually abused children grow up to become abusers in turn. He cited evidence that “most sexually abused children do not grow up to abuse their own children” and that “most abusive parents were not abused as children.” And he observed how damaging this stereotype could be to abuse survivors; statistical clarity is all the more vital in such delicate cases, he argued. But Shermer’s editor at the magazine wasn’t having it. To the editor, Shermer’s effort to correct a common misconception might be read as downplaying the seriousness of abuse. Even raising the topic might be too traumatic for victims.

The following month, Shermer submitted a column discussing ways that discrimination against racial minorities, gays, and other groups has diminished (while acknowledging the need for continued progress). Here, Shermer ran into the same wall that Better Angels of Our Nature author Steven Pinker and other scientific optimists have faced. For progressives, admitting that any problem—racism, pollution, poverty—has improved means surrendering the rhetorical high ground. “They are committed to the idea that there is no cumulative progress,” Shermer says, and they angrily resist efforts to track the true prevalence, or the “base rate,” of a problem. Saying that “everything is wonderful and everyone should stop whining doesn’t really work,” his editor objected.

Shermer dug his grave deeper by quoting Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald and The Coddling of the American Mind authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, who argue that the rise of identity-group politics undermines the goal of equal rights for all. Shermer wrote that intersectional theory, which lumps individuals into aggregate identity groups based on race, sex, and other immutable characteristics, “is a perverse inversion” of Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind society. For Shermer’s editors, apparently, this was the last straw. The column was killed and Shermer’s contract terminated. Apparently, SciAm no longer had the ideological bandwidth to publish such a heterodox thinker.


Unfortunately, SciAm still has respectability among the people who don't yet realize that it is no longer a scientific magazine but rather a propaganda outlet. It's influential with the "deciders"--people who are living their lives trusting that the once-great institutions are what they used to be. They have yet to grasp that destroying civilization is actually a goal of the intellectual class. 

David Burge--Iowahawk to the Twitterati--captured the left's strategy:

This is exactly right, and it has worked so far. 

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