Scientific American has recently been criticized for two posts that appeared on our blog network. The first was a guest post in April about Larry Summers’ statement regarding women in science. The second was a post in May, which favorably reviewed a controversial book by Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.
The posts provoked accusations on social media that Scientific American was promoting sexism, racism and genetic determinism. While we believe that such charges are excessive, we share readers’ concerns. Although we expect our bloggers to cover controversial topics from time to time, we also recognize that sensitive issues require extra care, and that did not happen here. The author and I have discussed the shortcomings of the two posts in detail, including the lack of attention given to countervailing arguments and evidence, and he understood the deficiencies.
As stated at the top of every post, Scientific American does not always share the views and opinions expressed by our bloggers, just as our writers do not always share our editorial positions. At the same time, we realize our network’s bloggers carry the Scientific American imprimatur and that we have a responsibility to ensure that—differences of opinion notwithstanding—their work meets our standards for accuracy, integrity, transparency, sensitivity and other attributes.
We are currently revising guidelines with our blogging community with the aim of preventing missteps. We will not un-publish the posts, however, because they are now part of a digital record of this incident that others may learn from. Toward that end, we have added an editor’s note to each with a link to this post. As always, we rely on the community for feedback and support for guidance.