Every story is a science story
Critics sometimes tell us that American scientist has moved away from what might be called “classical scientific content” and is going into areas to which we do not belong.
This statement comes out most often when we publish articles related to social justice or human rights – about research supporting health care for transgender people, for example, or abortion as medical care for base. One Twitter user responded to an opinion piece against forcing trans girls to play on men’s sports teams by writing, “You should probably boil it all down to science, facts and stats and leave the wokness » [SIC], narrative bias and agenda setting behind. It’s not good for your credibility.
And in response to a recent job posting that outlined our commitment to diversity and inclusion, someone else tweeted: “Advancing DEI and social justice is not something institution or organization seeking truth should prioritize.
These critics tell us to “stay our own lane,” that scientific research is a pure, clean, and completely objective enterprise, and that what we publish should be devoid of politics or the perspectives of people who are affected by the culture of Scientific Research. . But the truth is that science is relevant to all elements of society, including politics and politics.
As a publication committed to explaining the world around us, that means every way is our way.
Using data-driven reasoning and analysis, science has solved problems and given us answers to major societal questions. For example, after sequencing the human genome in 2001, researchers who analyzed our strings of genetic code showed that there were no significant differences between humans matching racial categories. This helped change the narrative around the inherent meaning of race – that it is a social construct, not a biological one.
The landmark Turnaway study from the University of California, San Francisco revealed the long-term effects of abortion. Anti-abortion activists say people who undergo the procedure suffer subsequent emotional and physical damage. The researchers found the opposite. By following around 1,000 pregnant women who either had an abortion or were denied one, scientists found that women who could not access abortion services suffered many negative sequelae. This included financial problems, low education, and more physical and mental health problems compared to women who were able to have abortions. This medical procedure, politicized by people who believe women shouldn’t control their bodies, is not only safe and effective, but has positive, long-lasting results.
A recent feature article we published challenged some of the popular perception of Viking culture as male first, always powerful. Michèle Hayeur Smith, an anthropological archaeologist at Brown University, found that Viking women controlled the production of tradable textiles, making them economic leaders in this society romanticized by white supremacists and incels (meaning “involuntary celibates”) and is an identity claimed by misogynist groups).
Science should illuminate controversial topics, and it’s part of our mission to share evidence relevant to important social issues.
In 2020, publishers of American scientist endorsed Joe Biden for president. One Twitter user said: “Doing politics means becoming biased and a magazine that has ‘Scientist’ in its name shouldn’t be biased. In truth, we have a long history of speaking out on divisive political issues. In April 1950, the magazine was to publish an article written by physicist Hans Bethe (who had worked on the Manhattan Project) which criticized the development of the hydrogen bomb. When the Federal Atomic Energy Commission got wind of the manuscript, agents burned all 3,000 copies of the issue containing the article. More than 30 years later, we have published technical reviews, also by Bethe and other physicists, of a space-based missile defense system known as Star Wars.
Science offers voters, policy makers and political leaders much-needed insight into the best course of action. Conversely, governing also involves political decisions concerning science. The executive and legislative branches determine budgetary allocations of billions of dollars for medical research and technological innovation for the energy sector, military tools, health care, food security, national infrastructure and the education. Perhaps as a reflection of this close relationship, a record number of STEM candidates are running for office this year, according to political action committee 314 Action Fund. They are meteorologists, doctors and many others, aiming to apply their expertise in scientific thinking to policy-making.
Telling us or scientists or other science writers to “stay in our lane” is a tactic to keep people with relevant expertise from weighing in on divisive issues. In some cases, criticism attempts to maintain the power of wealthy, white, male members of society. This criticism most often arises when we report on science relevant to the health and well-being of disempowered groups, suggesting that it is not a pure rejection that there is is the science behind social problems. Science is everywhere, and we at American scientist will continue to cover science relevant to social justice and the most vital issues facing human society.