Scientific American has lots of good articles, and I have read through
just about every edition for the last 20-some years (not every article, of course).
Most of the columnists I enjoy reading, especially Steve Mirsky, writer of the "Antigravity"
column. His humor is always sure to make me chuckle.
On the other hand, Michael
Shermer, writer of the "Skeptic" column, is always pretentious and insulting with his
writings. Somehow, he manages to assail Creationists in almost every article, regardless
of what the topic happens to be. Regardless of your opinion on Creationism vs. Evolution,
having to read the vile hatred begin spewed each month gets tiresome. The columns could
be very interesting otherwise. He always sets himself up as above reproach on every
issue. Well, I might have found a chink in his armor in the November 2006 issue.
In the article, he addresses the record of some scientists being "wronger than wrong"
throughout history, and correctly points out that as time goes on, the wrongness of
those people become more and more apparent. He quotes Asimov as writing, "When people
thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people though the earth was spherical,
they were wrong. But if you that thinking the earth is round is just as wrong as thinking
the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than wrong." In fact, the earth is an oblate
spheroid, which is much closer to a sphere than it is to a plane.
Where Mr. Shermer
errs, in my observation, is when he writes, "Scientists' wrongness attenuates with time."
I believe that in the context of the article he intends exactly the opposite of attenuation:
amplification. Indeed, wrongness is amplified with time as more knowledge is gained.
Here's a link to the article in case you're interested.
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster