science journals

Last week, a funny and clever hoax was perpetrated against a social sciences journal. The hoaxers wrote an absurd paper on how the penis is merely a social construct. And for good measure, they claimed it made climate change worse. Somehow, the paper passed peer review, and the predictable result was widespread mockery of the social sciences -- and gender studies, in particular -- across the Internet.

Not everybody was amused. A couple of critics raised legitimate objections. One of them noted that Cogent Social...

NYU physicist Alan Sokal thought very little of the research performed by his colleagues in the social sciences. To prove his point, he wrote a paper that used plenty of trendy buzz words but made absolutely no sense. As he later explained, Dr. Sokal wanted to find out if a humanities journal would "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions."

It would. His paper, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," was published in the journal Social Text in 1996, and his hoax has earned him a place in scientific history.

Dr....

Science is one of the few institutions in America that has largely remained above the hyperpartisanship gripping our nation. However, there is a small but growing perception among Americans that scientists are becoming politically biased. Indeed, surveys have confirmed that Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in academia. And, over the last few months, the behavior of high-profile scientific journals has only served to reconfirm these perceptions of bias. 

Consider an editorial in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, a journal...

Some quirk of human psychology compels us to categorize and rank things. Top Ten lists are always among the most popular features on a website, stimulating much discussion and controversy. In science, the overwhelming obsession to classify is what pushed Carl Linnaeus to become the father of modern taxonomy and prompted Dmitri Mendeleev to decipher the patterns that led to the current periodic table.

The scientific community carries on these legacies to this day, but not always in constructive ways. Perhaps the most problematic classification system is that of the impact factor, which attempts to rank the...

The consequences of Brexit will include the collapse of science, the destruction of the environment, and uncontrollable pillow consumption. (Credit: Shutterstock) The consequences of Brexit will include the collapse of science, the destruction of the environment, and uncontrollable pillow consumption. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Other than the refusal to compromise, the most obnoxious trend in politics today is the belief that if any particular candidate loses, the world/country/economy/culture is...