The populist undermining of scientific consensus

I’m in awe of the decision by Popular Science to shut off the comments on its online articles. Suzanne LaBarre words their reasoning[1] so eloquently:

Suzanne LaBarre, Popular Science, “Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments”

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

I think it’s time to declare an end to popular journalism. At the intersection of journalism and social media is a desire on the part of many to share their opinions; but anonymous commentary on subjects, like science, that dwell in the province of evidence really doesn’t work.


  1. http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments