Miles Mathis on the decline of public participation in Scientific Debate in North America

Is the Golden Age of Scientific Debate already over?

In a paper first published on 13th December 2018, artist-critic Miles Mathis draws attention to early journals of the Scientific American, which featured a significantly higher level of quality when it came to discourse, and lively and genuine public participation in Scientific Debates of that time, in the form of letters to the editor (and replies to the same). What is ironic is that the Internet was supposed to contribute to the same by breaking down communication barriers. But instead we seem to have regressed. Our attention spans are now fairly limited, and our time is strictly budgeted.

Before World War II and especially before World War I, the public had maintained some education in science. Consult old issues of Scientific American to get a taste of this. Back then, the magazines had to treat their audiences with some respect, since those audiences had been partially educated. Those same magazines can now treat their audiences as ninnies, since in almost all cases they are. They know nothing but the current propaganda. Read back to back the first issue of Scientific American from 1845 and the latest issue, and you will have a capsule of the precipitous drop in intelligence of the average American science reader—a drop planned and abetted over the past century and a half.Miles Mathis, 13th December 2018

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