At ScienceBlogs we value our independence. Just consider the recent posts over the laughable PepsiCo nutrition blog to see how seriously people take this. But one thing that would never happen is for anything we write to be edited without our consent.
As I wrote yesterday, I am disappointed in the Huffington Post’s decision to grant a public stage to David Klinghoffer, Senior Fellow at the intelligent design “think tank” known as the Discovery Institute. DI is a self-avowed propaganda vehicle seeking to “wedge” religion into public schools. Once HuffPo handed him the megaphone Klinghoffer proceeded to assert blatant falsehoods about how Charles Darwin was responsible for inspiring Nazi eugenic policies towards a goal of racial purity, claims that have been refuted again and again.
But worse than being factually incorrect is how morally repugnant this is. Abusing the memory of the Holocaust to win cheap political points against science is disgraceful. It’s also a bizarrely hypocritical stance for the Huffington Post. Last year HuffPo’s editors deleted a video from journalist and author Max Blumenthal because they thought it was disrespectful towards Israel. And yet, they now allow the leader of a political organization to exploit the murder and sterilization of millions in their cynical campaign against Darwin. Where is the logic (not to mention the journalistic integrity) in these decisions?
The vast majority of my response yesterday was devoted to critiquing Klinghoffer, but I offered a few choice words at the end to the editor(s) who made the decision to offer him a forum in the first place:
David Klinghoffer and his fellow creationists should be ashamed of themselves, and the decision by Huffington Post to give a platform to an organization pushing a tactic rejected by a US federal court judge as “breathtaking inanity” should be strongly criticized. (screen capture)
But you didn’t read that part. It was edited out.
Needless to say, the Huffington Post has had a very poor record as far as science is concerned. A simple search will bring hundreds of posts in the last few years from this network alone (and I guarantee you most will be critical). However, in contrast, some of their political writing has been quite good (see here and here for two recent examples). Since I am a political writer, as well as a science writer, I was conflicted about the opportunity to write for them. However, the positive response I received from my critique of US policy in Haiti and the abuses of Coca-Cola suggested I made the right choice.
But what should be done now? Reject Huffington Post as a hopeless loony bin? Focus only on political writing and let the pseudoscientific ramblings fester in their stew of illogic? Or is it useful to have a few contrarians in the mix?