Anti-Science Science Magazines


I am annoyed at Discover Magazine and Scientific American. I am sure that you are aware of these magazines. Discover is a science magazine for average readers; good science presented in a pleasing, relatively easy way to understand. Scientific American is a little more in-depth and at a higher reading level, but still for the general public interested in the latest in science.

Both are excellent magazines and I have been reading them for decades now. I will continue to read them even if I have to hold my nose to flip certain pages because both have committed major transgressions in my estimation.

Astonishingly both magazines have advertisements that no magazine involved in science should have—advertisements for untested miracle products. These ads claim their products will benefit you immensely, even though teensy disclaimers at the bottom say they aren’t claiming anything at all. The disclaimer lettering is so small I needed a magnifying glass to read them. These products have never been studied by the FDA; their ingredients have no validity at all in any way about anything.

One product advertised in Discover was so ridiculous that it didn’t even bother having a disclaimer! This was for a pheromone that would make women—or men, as the case may be—swoon into sexual fever about you. Just a little here and a little there and despite your looks, personality flaws and possibly a lifetime of poor decisions, “they” would fall hopelessly in sex with you. There was a picture, large enough to force you to see it, of a plain woman looking quite contented. Obviously if she could attract men in her life, well, you guessed it—so would you despite being plain.

Scientific American had a supplement advertisement that made me sad for the people who would swallow its advice. It showed a picture of a pleasant looking older woman and a caption telling us that women might often experience urine in their underwear, or pee in their pants, or a flood on the floor or dribble down the dress, if they didn’t get to a bathroom in time. I have, of course, made my retelling of the actual urinary activity less sublime than the advertisement did—but urine in the underwear and pee in the pants tells you plainly what the ad was about.

Of course, the woman pictured in the ad is not identified as the person who wrote the caption; she’s just a pleasant face in the advertisement. The P. R. department wrote the ad. Of course, there is no scientific proof that the formula, whatever the heck it is, works on anything, be it human or non-human or inanimate.

I realize why magazines take ads such as these—there’s money to be made. Still, advertisements selling crap, which is what these ads sell, should be avoided by magazines that pride themselves on communicating real science to the general public. Such ads are as far from science as the anti-vaccine movement and the creationist view that the universe is less than 10,000 years old. These ads don’t belong in any self-respecting scientific publication and their presence reeks of ill-gotten gains. Thus, I hold my nose.

Frank Scoblete’s books are available on, Kindle, e-books, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

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