If science is supposed to be apolitical, reporters and journal editors are not remembering their duty to stay neutral.
Gaffe watch: Live Science used the occasion of Todd Akin’s remark about rape, universally condemned by other Republicans and apologized for by Akin soon after he uttered it, to count other alleged scientific gaffes by politicians. Suspiciously, 4 out of the 5 in the list were gaffes by conservative Republicans: Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Christine O’Donnell and Tom Coburn. As if doing penance, reporter Stephanie Pappas added one by President Obama, but portrayed it as a waffle, not a gaffe; she quoted him saying “The science is not conclusive,” giving him a way out. Some of the Republican gaffes could be argued to be positions on legitimate scientific controversies, such as global warming. Pappas snuck in an added swipe by characterizing Santorum’s alleged gaffe as “one of his more memorable comments”. One would think she wouldn’t have to look far through Democrat VP Joe Biden’s numerous gaffes to find something to help balance the scales, and what about Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who thought the Mars Pathfinder Rover would be able to see the flag left by Apollo astronauts? Notably, bloopers by scientists, including those of Darwinians who frequently exaggerate claims far beyond the evidence, escape her notice: like this dandy printed uncritically on Nature News, “In-law infighting boosted evolution of menopause.”
Hark! The Republicans Are Coming: For Nature News, reporter Amy Maxmen headlined, “Republican Spending Plan Casts Shadow on Science.” Her focus was on Paul Ryan, Romney’s VP pick, as someone who wants to “limit the reach of government.” She wrote, “As chairman of the House of Representatives budget committee in the current Congress, Ryan has crafted a federal spending plan that contrasts sharply with that of President Barack Obama, whose budget requests have largely maintained science and technology funding as an economic investment.” Maxmen failed to mention that President Obama and Senate Democrats have brought the USA to the edge of a fiscal cliff that risks economic disaster for everyone, including scientists.
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