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Scientific American Embraces Junk Science

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 8:49
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By Jeff Knox: Opinion

Scientific AmericanScientific American Jeff KnoxJeff Knox

Buckeye, AZ –-( The periodical Scientific American, touts itself as “the most trusted source of science news,” but that claim of trustworthiness should generate skepticism in light of recent articles by Melinda Wenner Moyer.

From titles to conclusions, these articles represent nothing like reputable science worthy of trust.

Instead, they are agenda-driven, emotionally based arguments that depend on the “expert opinions” and “research” of radical gun control extremists, and glaringly omit any semblance of balance or healthy skepticism.

In October Moyer penned a piece which was originally published under the title, Journey to Gunland. I guess that was too ambiguous, so it was re-titled; More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows, and subtitle; More firearms do not keep people safe, hard numbers show. Why do so many Americans believe the opposite?

Melinda Wenner Moyer’s convoluted and presumptuous title fits the biased nonsense that follows it

The long and repetitive article primarily dwells on three key points:

  • A 1993 survey which concluded that guns are used about five times more frequently to stop or prevent crimes than they are to commit crimes – which she dismisses out of hand.
  • That a law passed in Kennesaw, Georgia in 1982, requiring every household to possess a firearm, did not result in the significant reductions in violent crime that some claim.
  • That Congress, at the urging of the NRA, has blocked all research into firearm injury prevention – apparently to shield gun owners from the truth. [an unfounded claim that has repeatedly been reported as being false.]

The problem is that, while she makes a pretense of offering a fair and balanced examination of the facts, she treats her preferred “experts” as being unquestionable and above reproach, and provides only token mention of any conflicting opinions, dismissing them as being unreliable or biased. She also relies heavily on setting up and knocking down straw man arguments, making unsubstantiated claims about what gun owners believe, and then debunking those supposed beliefs with statistics from her preferred, anti-gun researchers.

Moyer’s first target, the 1993 survey by Dr. Gary Kleck and Dr. Marc Gertz, both professors of criminology at Florida State University, asked some 5000 Americans about crime and defensive gun use. Kleck and Gertz made all of their data and methods available to other researchers, and their findings were reviewed by their peers and had been replicated several times. Even many highly respected criminologists and researchers who support gun control grudgingly admitted that Kleck and Gertz were very thorough in controlling variables, were sound in their methodology, and that their results were valid.

Arthur KellermannDr. Arthur Kellerman’s “research” was so deeply and obviously flawed that even many of his fellow gun control supporting academic colleagues felt compelled to disavow it.

Several years later, Dr. David Hemenway, a Ralph Nader acolyte and outspoken advocate of gun control who has produced some controversial reports of his own, published an examination of the Kleck/Gertz study, pointing out supposed flaws, which he said invalidated their conclusions. Dr. Kleck responded to Hemenway’s criticisms point by point, answering all of his questions, and demonstrating that they had indeed considered and accounted for all of the factors raised by Dr. Hemenway.

But Ms. Moyer ignored this and other research that supports the Kleck/Gertz study, as well as ignoring a large body of criticism of Dr. Hemenway’s own “research.”

The Kennesaw issue appears to be included merely as a way for the author to insert cultural and regional bias into the article. She traveled to Georgia and Alabama talking with gun owners and law enforcement officers. Originally from Georgia herself, Moyer presents the folks she left behind as backward science-deniers. The only evidence she presents regarding the impact of Kennesaw’s law mandating gun ownership is mostly symbolic. As it exempts anyone with a personal objection to owning a gun – was to point out that claimed reductions in violent crime in Kennesaw appear to have been primarily a result of an unusually high violent crime rate in the year before the law went into effect. She neglects to note that even if violent crime didn’t go down as much as it might have appeared, it most certainly didn’t go up as a result of the law and its likely increase in gun ownership.

As to the Congressional restrictions on the CDC, Moyer gets some credit for making clear that Congress did NOT outright ban gun research by the CDC, but rather prohibited the agency from spending funds to support gun control laws. But she then suggests that the effect was the same since CDC officials are now too scared to get anywhere close to gun research. What she fails to mention is the clear, undeniable fact that CDC bosses were actively engaged in a taxpayer-funded campaign to reduce gun ownership. They were spending millions of dollars on “research” and “researchers” that supported their agenda. In fact, one of Moyer’s other “reliable experts” for this article was Dr. Arthur Kellerman whose blatantly biased and seriously flawed “research” played a significant role in the debate over CDC funding. Kellerman received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for “research” which was so deeply and obviously flawed that even many of his fellow gun control supporting academic colleagues felt compelled to disavow it.

In a follow-up November 2017 article in Scientific American which relied on the same “gun violence experts,” Moyer touted 4 Laws That Could Stem the Rising Threat of Mass Shootings like the recent ones in Las Vegas and Texas. Though she quietly admitted deep in the body of the article that none of the four laws would have prevented those two heinous crimes, she and her “experts” offered “research” to “prove” that they would work in other cases and “could reduce the terrible death toll from mass shootings.”

Neal Knox - The Gun Rights WarNeal Knox – The Gun Rights War

Again, her research failed to include any experts with differing opinions or research that has come to different conclusions, and there was no critical analysis of any of the study she blindly embraced.

It looks like Scientific American is following the old CDC model of picking a desired outcome and selectively promoting views and data which support the objective.

That doesn’t sound very scientific to us.

About Jeff Knox: Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War. The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit:

This post Scientific American Embraces Junk Science appeared first on Shooting Sports News .


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