When New Scientist published its “Darwin was WRONG” cover a few months ago, several of us wrote in to complain about the distortion of Darwin’s work. (The cover referred to how gene transfer might blur the branches of phylogenetic trees, something that Darwin had no inkling of.) The editor, Roger Highfield, appeared to be chastened. Since then, the cover has been waved about by creationists in the US to show that evolution really is on the skids.
Well, apparently Roger Highfield is not repentant: he has used that cover AGAIN in advertising his rag (see below). The man has no shame; this is obviously a deliberate decision, and one he approved. Letter writing doesn’t seem to have sufficed — perhaps it’s time to boycott New Scientist (n.b., by “boycott,” I mean to refuse, as scientists, to write for them or have anything to do with them).
(Thanks to Richard Dawkins for forwarding this.)
Note that Graham Lawton, who writes for New Scientist, admitted in a post on Pharyngula that this was deliberate sensationalism:
. . . .
As for public understanding. Well, the cover is designed to sell the magazine. If we run very straight, sober covers, we sell fewer mags, we get fewer clicks and nobody blogs about us, so fewer people read what we produce. Now, I’d argue that this week’s cover has got us a lot of attention, and as a result lots of people will read my story. Many will learn something about evolution. Public understanding will increase. So which way do you want it?
Or look at it this way. Nature is a very educational read. Many people could learn a lot from it. It’s widely available and really quite entertaining and accessible. But very few members of the public read it. Why? They don’t sell themselves.
And yes, the ToL [Tree of Life] is still quite useful in places. I say as much in the article.