New Editorial Against Editorializing In Science Journals

The editorial is mine, Willie Soon’s, David Legates’s, and Bob Carter’s, and it appears in the latest edition of Water, Air, & Soil Pollution. It’s entitled “A Vaccine Against Arrogance” and can be read, nearly in full, here (the copyright belongs to Springer, the journal’s publisher).

The impetus for the editorial was when Willie Soon noticed that the journal had become a regularly testing ground for progressive political and educational theories and other matters scarcely related to pollution. Willie sent me examples, and I wrote about one of them here: “Education: A Vaccine Against Ignorance? Or, There Are Too Many People!

The editor of WASP is Jack Trevors, the author or co-author of many of the curious editorials. After I wrote my piece criticizing one WASP editorial on the Enlightenment idea of education as panacea, and as is my regular practice, I wrote Trevors offering him space for rebuttal.1

Trevors declined, but suggested I write my own editorial which could then undergo review. I did so, inviting comments from Willie, David, and Bob.

To my very great surprise, Trevors accepted the editorial, which is linked above. I honor him for this, as it shows that not only can he dish it out, but he can also and take it. He is a rare specimen these days. While other, lesser men conspire to keep all opposing views from seeing print (examples will readily suggest themselves), Trevors followed the old-fashioned and gentlemanly path of letting the other side have its say.

So Jack, thanks, and may your reign as Editor long continue.


1Nobody has yet taken me up on my offers; nor has anybody responded, except for the head of the California Teacher’s Union, Joshua Pechthalt, who evidently thought my spoof of one of their annual meetings was praise, and who wrote to say thanks. At their last meeting, Pechthalt led the call to “Free Mumia!” and to condemn Tunisia for some reason.


  1. StephenPickering

    The term ‘pollution’ in the journal title already announces a political agenda. Pollution is always bad, right? Water, Air and Soil Quality would have been a more neutral title.

  2. StephenPickering

    – also: no need for the Oxford comma in Water, Air, and Soil Pollution.

  3. Wade Michaels

    I can only view the first page, not what I’d call “nearly in full”. Attempts to view or download are met with a demand of $35.

  4. Ray

    The article is indeed being held for ransom. They want more than Amazon charges for Dr. Brigg’s book.

    I’m not surprised the California teachers took your spoof as praise. Teachers aren’t the brightest bulbs in che chandiler. Have you seen the latest mandate from California? They now have to teach about the contributions of gays and lesbians (is that redundant?) to society. I was chuckling and thinking of the contribution of Wayne Gacy.

  5. Bruce Foutch

    Next, the California teachers will want to teach about the contributions of Statisticians to society. If that happens, there would be no hope left… 😉

    Kudos to Jack Trevors for his magnanimity.

  6. JH

    Great! I look forward to reading the editorial and its rebuttal… waiting for them to be delivered electronically. It’s good to hear you praise an academic.

  7. max

    [i]The term ‘pollution’ in the journal title already announces a political agenda. Pollution is always bad, right? Water, Air and Soil Quality would have been a more neutral title.[/i]

    Yes pollution is always bad, but it is a neutral title. Take pure mountain spring water, quintuple distill it to remove all impurities YET in an 18 year old single malt bottle aged for 30 years that oh so pure water is pollution. The barley extract of the previous example is a wondrous thing YET in a babe’s milk it might very well be a pollutant. Pollution quite simply is something you don’t want where it is no matter how desirable it is in the appropriate place, it is a statement of location of the pollutant not the nature of it.

  8. StephenPickering

    Max said: ‘Pollution quite simply is something you don’t want ‘

    That is my point exactly: it is a judgement on the desireability of something. Such judgments are perfectly OK, but not in a science journal, please. It should rather concern itself (in this particular case) with the distribution of substances, man-made and of natural origin, in the environment. Later comes the question of whether the substances pose a risk. Finally, if there is a risk, comes the question of what to do about it. Only then is it acceptable to talk about pollution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *