Widespread scientific illiteracy has left
Americans defenseless against pseudoscientific babble.
"Something that is overlooked these days is the
influx of large amounts of money, bureaucratic power and influence and prestige
that has flowed into science over the last 75 years has turned large parts of
it into a careerist profession rather than the vocation it supposedly was. This
is important because there are a number of
scientific beliefs maintained in the face of contrary evidence which is
politically repressed and editorially swept under the carpet because those who
have built their careers on those reigning beliefs are
loathe to have them removed from
under their hard won elevated positions and from
the textbooks they have written." -
THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS SENT TO
CNN BY FED EX (FOR DELIVERY,
12/22/08), BY FAX AND BY EMAIL December 19, 2008
Jim Walton, President
One CNN Center, 6 South Tower Atlanta, GA 30303
Jon Klein, President
Center New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Walton and Mr. Klein,
writing on behalf of several national and international science journalism
organizations to express our strong concern about CNN's shortsighted decision
to cut its science, technology and environment unit in one fell swoop.
In wielding this
ax, your network has lost an experienced and highly regarded group of
science journalists at a time when science coverage could not be more important
in our national and international discourse.
and biotech are crucial ongoing stories that will have growing prominence as a
new American president takes office and nations confront a wide range of
science-based global issues.
As the impacts of climate change
intensify, shows like "Planet in Peril" cannot make up for
informed daily coverage
of this important issue and
other science topics in
the public eye.
As with political and policy reporting, it is
important that the underlying science be covered by journalists with the skills
and knowledge to sort out competing claims.
Concerned as we are about
the dismissal of our colleagues-including the award-winning science reporter
Miles O'Brien in New York; Peter Dykstra, head of
CNN's science unit in
Atlanta; and five other science producers there-this letter is not about
Rather, the wholesale dismantling of the
science unit calls into question CNN's commitment to bringing the most
informative science news to the general public, including the science-minded
wants to be truly international, it will be at odds with the trend toward
increased science coverage in many parts of the world.
It is difficult
for us to imagine why CNN, which has earned a justifiably strong reputation for
its science journalism in the past, has opted to widen the gap in science
coverage rather than strive to fill it.
We would hope that you would
reconsider your decision and reassemble a cadre of well-trained science
journalists that would enable you to expand unfolding science news and in-depth
coverage, not shrink it.
Your action is an unfortunate symbol of recent
widespread cutbacks in specialty science journalism.
Our groups will
continue to push for more science coverage by the major media and to do our
part to promote the highest possible professional standards for communicating
complex science-based issues across the spectrum.
We plan to publicize
this letter as widely as possible to encourage further discussion of
the future of science
Thanks for your attention.
Russell, President, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW)
President, National Association of the Science Writers (NASW)
Christy George, President,
Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) CGeorge@opb.org
Pallab Ghosh, President, World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ)
"I am increasingly dismayed by the devaluation of
scientific fact by its inclusion, by
commentators, in opinions about purely
Zev Chafets* derides "secular
liberals" for "profoundly"
believing in global warming.
Zev Chafets* writes about
Armageddon as though
the latter is more likely to occur.
There is no such thing as "liberal" science .
Peer-reviewed scientific method has
no political party, race or relgious
creed and no objective but truth.
There is no disagreement among peer-reviewed scientific journals about
the fact of global warming and its
cause being human activity." - Sue Simmons
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