Adventures in Ethics and Science

In response to my open letter to the ACS, Rudy Baum, the Editor in Chief of Chemical & Engineering News, emailed me some information which I am posting here with his kind permission:

The editorial independence of editors of ACS publications, including C&EN, is guaranteed by the ACS Constitution, Bylaws & Regulations. There are no topics of interest to the general community of chemists that are off limits at C&EN. No one in ACS governance or on the ACS staff has ever suggested that we should or should not cover a topic for any reason.

ACS has a clear and consistent policy on open access. The anonymous emails that have been circulated have made much of three editorials I have written that were critical of open access. I happen to think that the extreme open access model advocated by its most rabid proponents is very bad idea that will do substantial harm to the scientific enterprise, and I have written to that effect. I know you and some members of ACS disagree. However, I never asked anyone at ACS what they thought of my opinion on open access and I certainly did not coordinate my editorials with any activities of the society.

That you would single out coverage of climate change in ACS publications as a “sore spot” shows me that you have not read C&EN on a regular basis. Very few magazines anywhere have covered climate change more extensively and more accurately than C&EN. The “viewpoint” you refer to by Dennis Malpass was a letter to the editor objecting to an editorial I wrote criticizing the Bush Administration’s position on global warming. It was preceded in that issue by a letter from a reader who agreed with my point of view. I have been beaten up by global warming doubters for my editorials on this subject for a decade.

Two other points: As to C&EN’s coverage of global warming, please see my Science Insights “Wintertime Reflections on Global Warming” in the January 25, 1999, issue (p. 45, available in the C&EN Online archives).

As to ACS policies, as on open access, please remember that these policies were not developed by ACS staff members, as implied in the anonymous e-mails, but by ACS governance bodies ultimately responsible to the Board of Directors, a body elected by the membership of ACS.

Rudy M. Baum


Chemical & Engineering News


  1. #1 Thom
    November 1, 2007

    Rudy Baum: “The editorial independence of editors of ACS publications, including C&EN, is guaranteed by the ACS Constitution, Bylaws & Regulations.”

    Translation: “We have laws against murder. Murder does not happen.”

  2. #2 Eric
    December 17, 2008

    I think that this article in Vanity Fair has all there is to say about Rudy Baum.

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