Henry Gee is a powerful man in science: he’s an editor of Nature. And that means that every young or ambitious scientist is afraid of him, for Gee is one of those people who decides whether your paper gets published in one of the world’s two most influential scientific journals—something that can make or break the career of a researcher.
But I’m at the tail end of my career, and while I might not have criticized Gee’s ideas when I was younger (I was a bit cowardly!), I have nothing to fear from doing so now. Let me first add, before I take apart his claims, that Gee appears to be a cat-lover, so there’s at least one good point on his scorecard.
That, however, is more than offset by his piece at the latest “Occam’s Corner” section of the Guardian, “Science, the religion that must not be questioned.“ Actually, I’m quite surprised at Gee’s long-ish essay, because it’s bascially anti-science—and by that I don’t mean that it’s an attack on scientism. Rather, it’s an attack on science itself and the people who practice it. Nevertheless, Gee makes many of the points that accommodationists and religious people make against science. Finally, he levels the ultimate insult at science, comparing it to a religion in its authoritative priesthood of researchers who, claims Gee, can’t brook criticism. It is absolutely unbelievable that an editor of a major scientific journal can say things like this.
Written By: Jerry Coyne
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