In a few months, when my review for Bernoulli’s Fallacy goes live, we’ll have a lot more to talk about when it comes to uncertainty, probability, and statistics. In the meantime, I wanted to share an article with you from the journal Science Advances, entitled “Earning the Public’s Trust.”

First, though, some context, and why this article stood out to me as worth sharing. In the fall of 2020, Scientific American, a publication to which I was a long-time subscriber, and which played no small part in my decision to study astronautical engineering and go into the technical fields in general, made the unprecedented decision of endorsing a US presidential candidate, something they had not done in their entire history, which stretches over more than a century. That was the impetus for my post on exceptionalism, and also for a letter I sent to the editors of Scientific American, in which I explained that I considered their decision a breach of scientific integrity, and that as a result I would be withdrawing my subscription.

I did not expect a reply, and I did not receive one. I do not even think that they read the letter, because I had to re-cancel my subscription before they stopped attempting to charge my credit card. Even still, it irks me, which is probably irrational. Regardless, it had the additional effect of sending me off on a protracted search for a new source of up-to-date scientific information, in which process I found that not only do very few scientific journals publish the breadth of topics in which I am interested, but also that there are very few scientific journals that still embrace a breadth of viewpoints.

These days, I most read Science and its various subsidiary, related, and partner journals, but I largely ignore the editorials. The editorials, for the most part, push a clear agenda, and that agenda is not one that leaves much room for science as a discipline of skepticism. In response to critics, and people drawing conclusions from data with which the editors do not agree, these editorials encourage scientists to shout louder, and have a few times expressly suggested that scientists should not study or publish topics that might produce findings contrary to the moment’s zeitgeist (as perceived by the editors, of course – after all, they’re experts). It has the distinct feeling of an echo chamber, and I only read the editorials because I think their contents can inform how skeptical I ought to be about the papers that are chosen for publication.

How refreshing, therefore, when I found that in this week’s edition of Science Advances there is an editorial saying many of the same things I said in Don’t Trust the Science. It also expresses an implied faith in the ability of the public to grasp complex ideas, which is something too frequently missing from condescending exhortations by so-called experts.

The key to so much of this conversation is the idea of science as a discipline of skepticism, which hinges on uncertainty and probability. Which, as it happens, will be discussed in great depth in my review for Bernoulli’s Fallacy, which is now live on Goodreads, and which will be live on the site at the end of July (I’m a little ahead in my weekly book reviews…). Here’s me pushing my own agenda, which is to convince you that we have valuable things to discuss here at IGC Publishing, and that you should follow the site for regular updates.

I will not subject you to a whole replay of my rant about trusting science being antithetical to the very essence of scientific inquiry, but I do encourage you to check out the editorial. You’ll also find that most of the papers in Science Advances are open-access, in case you want to read what “science” has to say for yourself.

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