I never in my life thought I’d see this article, never. I witnessed the corruption of National Geographic and Scientific American into political cesspools, but I never thought this would happen. Nature has sunk to the depths of blatant political advocacy. They don’t even seem to read their own writing, because the first line says:
In March 2011, this publication suggested that the US Congress seemed lost in the “intellectual wilderness”.
The Republicans had taken over the House of Representatives, and one of the early acts of the chamber’s science committee was to approve legislation that denied the threat of climate change. As it turns out, this was just one tiny piece of a broader populist movement that was poised to transform the US political scene. Judging by the current presidential campaign, when it comes to reason, decency and use of evidence, much of the country’s political system seems to have lost its way.
It seems Nature has lost its way in the “intellectual wilderness” too, because your mission is (or was) science, not political advocacy.
Nature’s original mission statement was published for the first time on 11 November 1869. The journal’s original mission statement was revised in 2000. The original mission statement is reproduced below:
“To the solid ground
Of Nature trusts the mind that builds for aye.” – WORDSWORTH
THE object which it is proposed to attain by this periodical may be broadly stated as follows. It is intended
FIRST, to place before the general public the grand results of Scientific Work and Scientific Discovery ; and to urge the claims of Science to a more general recognition in Education and in Daily Life ;
And, SECONDLY, to aid Scientific men themselves, by giving early information of all advances made in any branch of Natural knowledge throughout the world, and by affording them an opportunity of discussing the various Scientific questions which arise from time to time.
To accomplish this twofold object, the following plan will be followed as closely as possible :
Those portions of the Paper more especially devoted to the discussion of matters interesting to the public at large will contain:
I. Articles written by men eminent in Science on subjects connected with the various points of contact of Natural knowledge with practical affairs, the public health, and material progress ; and on the advancement of Science, and its educational and civilizing functions.
II. Full accounts, illustrated when necessary, of Scientific Discoveries of general interest.
III. Records of all efforts made for the encouragement of Natural knowledge in our Colleges and Schools, and notices of aids to Science-teaching.
IV. Full Reviews of Scientific Works, especially directed to the exact Scientific ground gone over, and the contributions to knowledge, whether in the shape of new facts, maps, illustrations, tables, and the like, which they may contain.
In those portions of “NATURE” more especially interesting to Scientific men will be given :
V. Abstracts of important Papers communicated to the British, American, and Continental Scientific societies and periodicals/
VI.Reports of the Meetings of Scientific bodies at home and abroad.
In addition to the above, there will be columns devoted to Correspondence.
Here is the revised mission statement from 2000:
Citations and Impact Factor
Nature is the world’s most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal, according to the 2013 Journal Citation Reports Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2014). Its Impact Factor is 42.351. The impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the number of citations in a calendar year to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years. It is an independent measure calculated by Thomson Reuters, Philadelphia, USA.
Aims and scope
Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.
Nature‘s mission statement
First, to serve scientists through prompt publication of significant advances in any branch of science, and to provide a forum for the reporting and discussion of news and issues concerning science. Second, to ensure that the results of science are rapidly disseminated to the public throughout the world, in a fashion that conveys their significance for knowledge, culture and daily life.
Notice that POLITICS or POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT isn’t part of either.
And they close the Clinton endorsement with this paragraph:
Although both parties have become more extreme over the past two decades, conservatives have turned their backs on mainstream science to an unprecedented degree. If there is any good news, it’s that everybody now recognizes that the Republican Party has a problem. A new generation of conservative leaders will need to set a fresh course. In the meantime, Clinton must take the reins.
The irony is thick, and they don’t get what they’ve just done. They are no longer about science, and are little better than a political rag now. It doesn’t matter that they supported Hillary, it would have been equally bad if they supported Trump. Science and politics just don’t mix, and they’ve started themselves on the slippery slope to Perdition. But, surely they’ll say they had “good intentions”.