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From: Usenet To: All Msg #89, Oct-07-93 05:27PM Subject: Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 Organization: MSU Dept. of Physics & Astronomy Subject: Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 of 1) From: hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu Message-ID: <292fm0$gnf@msuinfo.cl.msu.edu> Reply-To: hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu Newsgroups: sci.skeptic,talk.origins In article <19931007.142239.259@almaden.ibm.com>, creichley@vnet.IBM.COM (Charles Reichley) writes: [snip] >I believe that Mims was writing a single letter to address all the >different posts which had been made (I guess in the past spring) here >about the incident. He does deal with events from his point of view, >but I still maintain that his purpose in writing this post was NOT to >argue that SA was required to hire him, but was instead trying to tell >his side of the story in response to the internet postings. >I am not trying to say that he did or did not do a good job of doing so, >just that his post wasn't intended to argue that SA was required to hire >him. I'd probably be willing to go whole hog and grant you that I mistooke Mims' intentions...so be it. But then I'm compelled to turn around and state that Mims did a piss-poor job at responding to the internet postings if it lead to all that confusion...too much context is missing (ie. what is he responding TO) to see if most of the points are salient or relevant. >In <28vuqk$j2q@msuinfo.cl.msu.edu> hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu writes: >> In article <19931006.130912.577@almaden.ibm.com>, creichley@vnet.IBM.COM >> (Charles Reichley) writes: >> >In <28urgm$rpf@msuinfo.cl.msu.edu> hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu writes: >> [snip] >> >> In article <28tr10$sca@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu>, >> >> sfm@manduca.neurobio.arizona.edu (Stephen Matheson) writes: [big snip as I'm willing to go along with Charles for most of this ... the rest isn't worth beating to death] >> >> >5. In a letter to me dated October 27, 1989, Piel denied he >> >> >offered to buy and publish the three columns: >> >> >> >> Note carefully the date -- 23 days after the phone call. >> >> MUCH earlier than the re-telling to some HARPER'S journalist >> >> (a full 1.25 years later or so ... depending on time lag). >> >> >> >> > "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...." >I'm adding something new here. Robert has stated later in this article >(and I might have deleted it when I get there) that he thinks SA had >paid for the original 3 articles, had published 1, and merely didn't >publish the other 2. This could be true, but if it is true, then why in >1989 did Piel write a letter saying that they weren't going to purchase >the 3 articles? And if there was no agreement to buy the 3 articles, >why did they eventually pay for the 3 articles? I think the key point is the "and" in `buy and publish'. Stephen didn't correct me on this so I think it is factually true that SA did indeed -pay- for all three article...they just neglected to print the 2nd and 3rd. This is collaborated by the last line of the quote about no obligation to -publish- those articles. Mims has severly edited the letter so we don't see the part (which I suspect was there) where they argue that they've filled their part of the bargain by simply -paying- for the articles. Stephen, am I correct in this? If they failed to pay for any of them I'm sure we would have hear it more clearly stated...and I'd think it is indeed SA's obligation to -pay- for any articles they contracted for (even verbally). [vicious snip] >But it does get somewhat confusing as to what we are discussing. It >looks to me like there were two issues: >1) 3 articles already submitted by Mims, which HE believed he had an >agreement that SA would buy and pay for, and Piel in this letter >indicated that no agreement existed -- but possibly SA eventually paid >for these 3 articles, published 1 of them, but didn't publish the other >2; I'm not sure about the chronology but I *think* by this time they had in fact actually paid him...it wasn't exactly as if they only later reluctantly agreed to cough up the dough...only that they resisted -publishing- them. >2) Mims believes he was offered the job as Amateur Scientist columnist, >but has not asserted that there was a formal agreement. This would >cover future articles, but not the first 3 articles. I've not seen Mims >ever assert that SA had an obligation to pay for or buy any of these >other articles. And that's what I read the "response" as: some argument that he had indeed been "offered" the job. A judgement call on my part. I don't think I'm very confused about the first three article as I think it was as I stated, paid for but not published. >> No, in the last go round it was asserted by Mims supporter that >> SA had indeed promised to publish each and every one of the >> three articles written. And if that wasn't what Mims was asserting >> in whatever communications prompted this reply, then I find the >> wording most puzzling... >My paragraph was dealing NOT with the 1st 3 articles, but with 'future' But this section was, thus the "those" in the lawyer letter. >> >> > Amateur Scientist'...we undertook no obligation to publish >> >> > those articles...." >articles as specified by the lawyer. Mims definitely thinks he had an >agreement with SA for the 3 articles, but never claims an agreement for >other articles. >> >> > ...we undertook no obligation to publish those articles...." >> If this is supposed to be a running "chronology" then there are >> holes all about waiting for an 18-wheeler to drive through. >> SOMETHING occured between Mims's purported grand praise and his >> receipt of this letter. And if the view weren't so one sided >> then we would be privy to went on; as it is it looks very biased. >> So biased that my skeptism alarm went off. >I agree his post was biased, it was after all his side of the story. I >rarely meet people who defend themselves by telling both sides of a >story; and mostly when they do, they get the other side wrong. And I was "skeptical"...maybe a even a little harsh. But then again I was up against the apparently uncritical Mr. Matheson, who simply accepted it all at face value. And just as I'm not likely to accept the word of a small child that comes in crying "Sandra hit me first", I see no point in giving Mims ALL the benfit of the doubt...I'll reserve some for SA. [snip] >> Okay... I'll accept that interpretation of what he wrote. Maybe >> in my devils' advocate mode I was a little hasty. >This is the basis for my claim at the front that Robert and I have some >areas of agreement. I'll repeat, to make ammends: I may have been a little strident in my tone, and for that I apologise. But in my defense I'll add that I recoginized that SA was unlikely to make any statement and Stephen was unlikely to accept any viewpoint other than his own, so I started out trying to make a strong statement about _possibilities_ and alternative theories about what transpired. >> >There may have been other points. None of these points appears to be >> >presented to argue about his 'firing'. >> >> Then they shouldn't have all been intermixed between topics >> CONCERNING his non-hiring. That just confuses the readers. >> Two posts would have been appropriate: one arguing against >> about his non-hire, and one about his incompetence. But that >> wasn't the way they were presented and thus (with me) left a >> different impression on what Mims was attempting to show. >I can agree with you that parts of Mims' post could be interpreted as a >defence against his 'firing', although I think all the post was just >answers to internet posters. Good, so even (some of) those that disagree with me can at least recognise that mine was legitimate mis-interpretation. >I even agree that separating the post into >2 parts would have been helpful. I don't think though that Mims meant >anything by putting the whole thing in one post -- after all, he doesn't >read the internet, he was given the discussion from the internet and >wrote a note to Steve with all his responses. He doesn't know how they >were presented here -- Steve could have split them up if Steve had >chosen to do so. I had assumed that Stephen simply "uploaded" whatever Mims wrote intact and unchanged...posted it verbatim. Thus I was a little confused at the disarray and disjointedness that I saw from someone who is supposed to be a good writer. Stephen, want to elaborate one how much editing you preformed, if any? >> >They are all specifically aimed >> >at proving that he is NOT INCOMPETENT. >> >> Incompetent at what? Building gadgets and whirlygigs? There was never >> any question. Doing or writing about science? Then there IS a big >> issue to discuss -- I *have* to question anyone who outright rejects >> a huge chunk of science (and it has a domino effect ... in rejecting >> evolution he must reject parts of physics, biology,...) >I would argue that if what I have read is true, Mims has done REAL >SCIENCE in the area of atmospheric chemistry. But since I only know >what I read on the net, I can't point to any published works of his. I >don't believe that all Mims does is build gadgets, but I do realise that >my previous post may have overemphasized the gadgets since I am NOT >directly aware of what Mims actually does. Mims' post overephasized the gadgets...he gushed on and on about them. And since it was supposed to be in response to the criticism here on the internet, then again I'm confused because I don't recall anyone denegrating his ability in *that* area. And I might even be willing to accept that he can "do science" in certain selected sub-areas (until they run up against some boundary...say perhaps radioactive dating). But the job called for a generalist, no an atmospheric chemist. >> >I did not see Mims mention once >> >in this section that his arguments prove that SA had an obligation to >> >buy his articles, although they DO make an indirect argument that SA, >> >and its readers, missed out on a lot of good articles about things that >> >definitely were of interest to the scientific community. >> >> Fine. Publish elsewhere and show up those snotnosed assholes over >> at SA. Instead it sounds like whining. Just because someone >> writes a "good" article doesn't mean SA must publish it. They >> chose not to...time to move on. >I think he only is answering posts made this spring -- I don't know why >there were posts this spring on this subject, since the incident occured >in 1989. It may be that somebody picked up an article and commented on >it, but I don't think Mims had anything to do with this topic starting >up on this newsfeed this spring. If I remember right this spring's flurry was a result of Stephen himself bringing it up...with the bogus "religous bias" argument. And since you remember it as in the spring as well, then I'm justified in my assertion that this "response" is hardly timely. It's Stephen's fixation, not Mims' that keeps the topic here and I hope I haven't indicated otherwise. That Mims choses to cooperate with Stephen on this hints that he too is unwilling to let it drop. >> >He only claimed that they hadn't questioned his qualifications before >> >the 'firing'. He in fact implies that AFTER he pointed out he believed >> >in creation and that he was opposed to abortion, they DID publicly >> >"question his qualifications". >> >> Well (ignoring the abortion issue, since I feel it shouldn't have >> been raised) it seems pretty straighforward. >> >> t0: looks like a good "qualified" applicant: can write; has >> apparent grasp of scientific concepts. >> t1: Wait, wait, new information! He arbitrarily rejects a major >> scientific concept for UNscientific reasons. >> t2: Hmmmm. Maybe we should think about this and consider his >> qualifications more carefully. >> >> I see no "conspiracy". I couldn't care less about his views on >> abortion, but his views on evolution IMMEDIATELY calls into question >> his scientific judgement. I fail to see what the deep issue that >> Mims, Stephen, or you see here. They learned something new, it made >> them change their minds, or at least further question his >> "qualifications". Or is there some certification that one can >> aquire that prevents further skeptism at a later date? From: Usenet To: All Msg #90, Oct-07-93 05:28PM Subject: 02/Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 >I can't speak for SA. However, it appears that Mims is arguing that SA >never had any question about his qualifications to do the writing he was >being hired to do, and that they only had two reasons for not hiring him ****************** But if they didn't know about his lack of acceptance of a huge portion of science (and to reject evolution you must reject lots of collaborating evidence in numerous fields), then they could re-think this acceptance of his "qualifications". A possibility...not to be ruled out simply because Mims says it "isn't so". >(I may be reading too much into his post): >1) SA (maybe driven by Piel) was afraid of their reputation if >creationists used Mims association with SA to support creationism; Okay, and a legitimate concern on the part of SA. Mims does little to molify this concern. Simply saying that he would not willfully embarrass the magazine DOESN'T cover all the bases. [snip...irrelevant item 2] >Robert argues that item '1' is sufficient for not hiring him, and I will >at least agree that SA has a right not to hire someone for that reason. Thank you. Now if you could only get Stephen to agree. >But Robert also argues that SA might not have hired him because they >questioned his ability to provide good science in his writings, even if >he is a good writer. Now, this may or may not be true, but if I read >things correctly NOBODY from SA has ever said that they had a problem >with Mims ability to be scientifically accurate in the columns he was >going to write. And I think that is Mims point here -- he is answering >the argument that Robert makes that SA didn't hire Mims because he isn't >a good scientist. But even if SA didn't reject him on this criteria...I would. And I've given what I think is supporting rational for this. Maybe they didn't, maybe it was all due to (1). Since you've agreed that (1) was sufficient reason not to hire him, then my whole _speculation_ about doubts raised in Piel's mind are moot. >Let me repeat: I am not arguing with Robert about whether Mims >creationism makes him a bad scientist. I am only saying that it doesn't >appear that SA has used that argument as justification for not buying >and publishing his articles. Since I know that people on the internet >argued that SA probably didn't hire him because he was a bad scientist, >I think he is justified in trying to argue that SA didn't believe he was >a bad scientist. Okay. I'll accept the distinction. Doesn't change my views on whether I think Mims is indeed a bad scientist. [snip] >> You say "religious beliefs" and I assert it was UNscientific beliefs. >> The first would be irrelevant to the job, but the second IS >> important. And I don't think that SA (later) rejected the writing >> he submited as "bad" because they found out his religious beliefs. >> Only that they didn't want their name associated with a believer >> in a wacko ANTIscientific cult story. The judgement wasn't against >> the articles (which I understand are still considered "excellent" >> even by SA) but about Mims's own judgement. All the articles >> prove is that he's a good writer and I don't think anyone questions >> that. What they do question is how his nutso beliefs with subtly >> influence his writing and/or how the association of SA with such >> an individual would embarrass the magazine. >I will give you your interpretation, I didn't use 'religious beliefs' as >an attempt to elevate his argument. But Stephen does....he contents the "point" is religious bias. I obviously disagree. I apologise for lumping you in with him. >I don't know if Mims rejection of >evolution is based on his religious beliefs, or on what he thinks are >scientific merits. >You last sentence uses the pronoun 'they' which I think is SA, and I >disagree that they questioned how his 'nutso beliefs' would influence >his writing. To reject evolution you must reject the supporting evidence. Over in talk.origins you should _see_ the "nutso beliefs" in a desperate attempt to justify their opinion. Take for instance radioactive dating...a possible column topic by no stretch of the imagination. I'm sure you can fill in the rest. I can't read minds os I don't know for a fact that they (yes, SA) did use this line of reasoning. I'm only pointing out that it would be a _legitimate_ argument. >I have seen no indication that SA thought that Mims would >submit for publication ANY article which wouldn't be acceptable. The >second part I agree with, at least they were worried about what others >might write, and I do think I remember seeing that they were concerned >with what other publications he would write for. [big snip] >Personally, I think SA should have hired him -- from what I see, >the creation publications got a LOT more mileage out of the flap then >they EVER would have using a Mims/SA connection. I don't see how they got ANY mileage out of it. They were rejected as being unscientific and embarrassing to a science magazine. IF they(the creationists) want to claim -that- as victory, they're welcome to it. >[And now, I'm going to take the next section and delete most of it, just > to prove a point of honor -- but I don't blame Robert for not seeing > this, because the section was pretty quoted out -- I just want to prove > that I didn't delete the original statement from Mims. BTW, I also took > a couple of Robert's quotes out of here and moved them below -- I don't > think I put them out of context, they are the quotes from Robert which > show that he thinks SA bought the 3 articles] What I see appears to have been done fairly...in contrast... [sorry, cheap shot at Stephen] >> >> >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. >> >[some quoting deleted] >> >> I never said men don't take women serious...boy, talk about reading >> into things... what I said was that I doubted that Piel acted >> solely on her say-so. It would seem reasonable that he had his >> own doubts. You've removed the orginal context so I can't point >> how why I saw this as implied in Mims' message. >As I said, I didn't remove the original context. But in truth there was >so much quoting and discussion between the original context and this >point that I don't blame Robert for thinking I had removed it. I try >hard not to delete relevant portions of quoting. I'll accept that it wasn't YOU that did the deleting then ... maybe it was a little touchy after I'd felt Stephen treat me unfairly. I apologize for excess flamage on my part. >I also agree that I may have overreacted to things Robert said, and >retract any statement that implied that Robert was 'sexist'. >> >> >Forrest M. Mims, III >> >> >End of article posted for Forrest Mims by: >> >> >Steve Matheson Program in Neuroscience University of Arizona >> >> -robert >> >Charles W. Reichley, IBM FSC, Manassas, Va. >> -robert >Charles W. Reichley, IBM FSC, Manassas, Va.

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