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From: Stephen Matheson To: All Msg #87, Oct-05-93 11:05PM Subject: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 0 of Organization: University of Arizona UNIX Users Group Subject: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 0 of 1) From: sfm@manduca.neurobio.arizona.edu (Stephen Matheson) Message-ID: <28tqnf$s61@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu> Newsgroups: sci.skeptic,talk.origins After the most recent discussions on the subject of Forrest Mims's dismissal from Scientific American and his subsequent charge of religious discrimination, I sent Mr. Mims some fairly complete transcripts of our doings (as I had announced at the outset). About a week ago, he sent me an article addressing some issues of concern to him, and I've agreed to post it for him. It appears in the following article (Part 1 of 1). As before, I will collect any responses and forward them to Mr. Mims. References describing the incident are available on request. Please note that my defense of Mr. Mims and my cooperation with him in posting to Usenet should not be interpreted as agreement with -- or approval of -- his specific beliefs on the subject of evolution. -- Steve Matheson Program in Neuroscience University of Arizona sfm@neurobio.arizona.edu From: Stephen Matheson To: All Msg #88, Oct-05-93 11:10PM Subject: Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 Organization: University of Arizona UNIX Users Group Subject: Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 of 1) From: sfm@manduca.neurobio.arizona.edu (Stephen Matheson) Message-ID: <28tr10$sca@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu> Newsgroups: sci.skeptic,talk.origins Setting the Record Straight about Scientific American DATE: September 24, 1993 FROM: Forrest M. Mims, III SUBJECT: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT I have received a disk with various Internet messages and exchanges about the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN-Mims affair. This response is to correct several important errors and to clarify various matters. 1. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN published three, not one, of my columns. 2. Of the three senior editors, only Jonathan Piel wanted to dismiss me. The other two supported me and made public statements to the press on my behalf. 3. In spite of various postings to the contrary, I fully intended to cover ALL areas of science in "The Amateur Scientist." SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN considered my proposal to write 32 specific columns for more than a year. I was specifically told that ALL of the proposals, which covered everything from computers and biology to aerial experiments and ozone, were acceptable topics. 4. Jonathan Piel offered to buy and publish three of my columns during a telephone call he placed to me on October 4, 1989: "There's no question that on their own merits the columns are fabulous! If you don't do them for us you ought to do them for somebody because they're great...Give me three of them and I'll run them and give Jearl [Walker] a vacation...I'll buy them from you...Forrest, I trust you implicitly. You're a man of honor and integrity...In its own right what you've written is first rate. That's just not an issue. It's the public relations nightmare that is keeping me awake." (Published in part in HARPER'S, March 1991.) 5. In a letter to me dated October 27, 1989, Piel denied he offered to buy and publish the three columns: "First, let me set the record straight. Neither I nor anyone else on behalf of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN agreed to 'buy and publish' any of the installments that you prepared for 'The Amateur Scientist'...we undertook no obligation to publish those articles...." This letter's denial of Piel's own words made it obvious that it was pointless to continue discussions with Piel. Therefore, I wrote Claus Firchow, then president of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Firchow's lawyer called a few days later to ask what it would take to make me happy. I told him all I wanted was for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN to abide by its agreement to publish and pay for my three columns. He quickly agreed. The lawyer specifically told me I would be free to submit proposals in the future. I have sent many such proposals, all of which have been rejected or ignored. 6. At least one Internet message suggested that SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN would have been justified in firing me because of scientific incompetence. Yet prior to the barrage of publicity that arose after they fired me, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN never questioned my qualifications. Instead, the editors sent letters and made statements praising my work. When I visited SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN at Piel's request, he said several times in the presence of some of his staff, "We should have hired you 10 years ago!" When I said I had applied when C.L. Strong died, he said if he had known, "I would have snapped you up!" Members of the editorial staff congratulated me for getting the assignment. Piel and the other editors played with the various instruments I brought along, including a solar ultraviolet radiometer, a radio- controlled camera for kites and balloons, various surface-mount circuits, etc. Even after he asked if I believed in Darwinian evolution, he took me to lunch with the editorial staff and gave me a book which he signed, "Best regards to a Great Amateur Scientist. Jonathan Piel." Although Piel was clearly concerned about my failure to accept Darwinian evolution, he did not fire me until AFTER a female editor asked me about abortion and then met with Piel and asked him to call me. 7. At least one message questioned my ability to do science. My fourth installment of "The Amateur Scientist" was to have described TOPS (Total Ozone Portable Spectrometer), a miniature ozonometer designed and assembled exclusively for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Although the TOPS column was rejected solely because of my personal beliefs, the instrument was used to detect waves in the ozone layer during the 1991 solar eclipse (F. Mims and E. Mims, "Fluctuations in Column Ozone during the Total Solar Eclipse of 1991," GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 20, 5, 367-370, 1993). Last summer TOPS was the first ozone instrument to find an extrapolated calibration error in NASA's primary ozone satellite, Nimbus-7/TOMS (F. Mims, "Satellite Ozone Monitoring Error," NATURE, 361, 505, 1993). On June 23, TOPS detected the lowest summer ozone (230 Dobson units) over Texas since satellite observations began in 1978 (manuscript in preparation). Another instrument I built exclusively for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, but which was refused publication, was a miniature sun photometer that uses an array of six light-emitting diodes as detectors (F. Mims, "Sun Photometer with Light-Emitting Diodes as Spectrally Selective Detectors," APPLIED OPTICS, 31, 33, 6965-6967, 1992). This instrument, which slips in a shirt pocket, measures total column water vapor and the optical thickness of the atmosphere. The instrument, for which a patent is now pending, can be easily modified for simple transmission and reflectance spectroscopy in the field. Papers about two other instruments I built for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, but which were refused publication, are now in preparation. 8. There have been several messages about the Rolex Award I received in May which was advertised in the June issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. The award was for an international network (Sun Photometer Atmospheric Network) that will use an advanced version of the TOPS instrument developed for but rejected by SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. The upper half of the instrument can be seen in the photo in the ad and the entire instrument is shown in a 2- page ad that was published in various international magazines. 9. I had absolutely no hidden agenda with respect to writing "The Amateur Scientist," and I had no intention of ever attempting to embarrass the magazine. In a letter to me, Jonathan Piel specifically stated he had no concern about my motives. (I will be glad to post this letter verbatim.) My beliefs about abortion and Darwinian evolution were strictly personal. Prior to SCIENTIIC AMERICAN, none of the editors at the more than 70 publications for which I have written ever asked me about my personal beliefs. 10. In May I spoke with John Hanley, the new president of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Hanley was quite friendly and agreed to review my request to again write for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. He said no one else at the magazine would see the proposal and gave me his private fax number. Several weeks later he rejected my proposal, citing a letter from the magazine's lawyer's of 1990 which, in effect, supported Piel's denial that he had previously agreed to buy and publish my columns. Hanley told me I should submit future proposals to Piel, but Piel does not respond to them. He has also declined to correct four specific errors in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN about which I have informed him, even though I have assured him it is unnecessary to cite my name. Why do I want to write for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN in view of all that's happened? "The Amateur Scientist" shaped my career. C. L. Stong once told me I would some day write the column. And I want very much to see "The Amateur Scientist" provide the same kind of constructive, hands-on science that Stong and, to some extent, Jearl Walker did. This message corrects the principle errors on the disk I received. I'll be happy to answer questions relayed to me and to post verbatim copies of correspondence to and from SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN if anyone is interested. I have informed Jonathan Piel and John Hanley at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN about your discussions and offered to post their response verbatim, but they have not responded. Forrest M. Mims, III _________________________________________________________ --------------------------------------------------------- End of article posted for Forrest Mims by: -- Steve Matheson Program in Neuroscience University of Arizona sfm@neurobio.arizona.edu

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