Bronze-level articleNew Scientist

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New Scientist is a British popular science magazine based in London and published weekly (on a Wednesday or Thursday, depending on timezones). It features new developments in pure and applied science as well as technology. The magazine covers a wide range of scientific work ranging from speculative material to hard science. Both scientists and lay readers value New Scientist, as do news reporters who frequently base newspaper articles on material originally published in the magazine. There are also editions in Australia and the United States.

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Professor Lenski

The New Scientist article on Professor Richard Lenski's E. coli experiment[1] launched the "Lenski affair", accelerating him to 15 minutes of internet fame and an email exchange described as "All time classic creationist pwnage".[2]

"Darwin Was Wrong"

New Scientist is not a scientific journal. Although its articles are usually well-written and report quite respectable science, it does have a bad habit of sensationalizing things a little. Often trivial things will be quote mined to produce a fancy cover and headline. The most controversial being the "Darwin Was Wrong" cover.[3] This was criticised by many evolutionary scientists in the blogosphere as being potentially misrepresenting scientific discovery.[4]

In fact the article revealed nothing of the kind,[5] and the supposed breakthrough on the cover was actually a fairly minor point in regards to changing the theories of natural selection - specifically the "tree of life", used by Darwin in developing his theory but now mostly rejected.

Why would any self-respecting magazine do this sort of thing? Firstly, sensationalism sells and most of the media openly admits it.[6] Like any other magazine, New Scientist relies on selling copies in order to remain a profitable business. Secondly, writers never get the chance to write their own headlines; there are specialist staff writers and sub editors for that. Any evolutionary biologist writing for New Scientist would have known that the headline was misleading, and would provoke a backlash from those on the front line of the origins debate, but the headline writers may not have cared.

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