The Liberal War on Scientific American

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Scientific American, like many older publications, wanted to get into the blogging game. Unfortunately Scientific America was not too picky about whom it let through the door. And it made the mistake of having Danielle Lee write a blog called The Urban Scientist.

Urban is liberal code for Black. Obviously Scientific American was looking to push some minority friendly stories. But its focus was on science. It didn’t realize that identity politics and science go together about as well as phrenology and science or as well as Scientology and science.

Danielle Lee blogged the usual empty nonsense. Bugs she saw. Food she ate. Various conventions she went to or wanted to promote. There was nothing interesting here or anything that anyone would care about. The post before her big drama post had one tweet. The post before that had one like.

The obvious problem for Lee was that she wasn’t going to stay employed for very long without traffic. And the drama had to come from somewhere. So she put up a post accusing an editor from another site that solicited work from her of being a racist.

It was the usual, “Want to do some work for free” that freelance writers often have to put up with. The editor allegedly insulted her after she refused.

There were plenty of places for Danielle Lee to call him out. She had a Twitter account and a YouTube channel, on which she put up a video attacking him.

The improper place to put up a post full of trash talk about a personal issue was at Scientific American, which isn’t Gawker or Slate or Buzzfeed. Despite all the blogging, it was trying to talk about science. Not people that Danielle Lee was angry at. So Scientific American did the right thing and took down Danielle Lee’s post.

It’s not as if Danielle Lee’s post was some sort of rational response. It was an illiterate rant that read like this…

“I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!

But the fact is I told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.

Not exactly Scientific American quality. Not exactly quality of any kind.

But Scientific American had made the mistake of allowing identity politics through the door by giving someone like Danielle Lee a blog. Now it was going to be made to pay for that mistake.

Liberal activists denounced Scientific American for “silencing” Danielle Lee. And then there were angry posts on liberal blogs, hashtags targeting Scientific American and claims of sexual harassment.

Before long, Scientific American was forced to apologize for pulling an inappropriate and illiterate post by Danielle Lee. And it was forced to put the post back up.

Liberal activists were furious when Scientific American editor  Mariette DiChristina wrote, “Scientific American is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.”

Before long however she was forced to apologize for her common sense response to Danielle Lee’s Twitter hate mob.

Juggling holiday-weekend commitments with family, lack of signal and a dying phone, alongside the challenges of reaching colleagues over a holiday weekend, I attempted to at least address initial social-media queries about the matter with a tweet yesterday: “Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.” I acknowledge that microblogs are not the ideal medium for such an important explanation to our audiences and regret the delay in providing a fuller response. My brief attempt to clarify, posted with the belief that “saying something is better than saying nothing,” clearly had the opposite effect. With 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had simply promised a fuller reply when I was able to be better connected and more thorough.

We take very seriously the issues that are faced by women in science and women of color in science. As a woman who has worked in science publishing for more than 20 years, I can add that we intend to discuss how we can better investigate and publicize such problems in general and search for solutions with Dr. Lee and with the wider scientific community. With the help of Dr. Lee as an author, Scientific American plans to provide a thoroughly reported feature article about the current issues facing women in science and the related research in the coming weeks. I am personally grateful to Dr. Lee for her support in these endeavors and am looking forward to working with her on these issues.

So Danielle Lee, whose previous contributions to Scientific American involved taking photos of herself next to her truck and press releases of conventions, is now going to be participating in SA’s surrender to identity politics.

Once again liberal blackmail and shakedowns worked. And science lost.

Danielle Lee’s personal drama has made her famous, not for science, but for whining about turning down a freelance writing gig and for having her inappropriate illiterate name-calling  post deleted by Scientific American. Now the whiner has triumphed. And that just means she’ll have to go on doing more of the same.

Danielle Lee can’t contribute to science, but she can go on contributing to identity politics by finding more villains to denounce. And now that Scientific American was forced to knuckle under and run her rant, it will have to go on surrendering the banner of science to leftist agit-prop.

The moral of the story is that you don’t hire a Danielle Lee to write a blog with even a hint of identity politics or you’ll pay the price for it sooner or later. Anyone who has to trade on their identity is already bound to be a failure at doing anything else. And their only way out is to find a way to shake you down.

No matter how nice you are to them, sooner or later they’ll turn on you for the same reason that the scorpion turned on the frog. They have no other choice. They can’t succeed. They can only complain. And eventually they’ll have to blame you for their failure and begin feeding on you.

  • nh neocon

    ms. lee proves the ” if you put enough baboons behind enough typewriters….”, except in her case you get drivel.

  • herb benty

    Why did Scientific American give in? Dr. Ben Carson are the black readers, not the Sharpton’s for pete’s sake!

    • Daniel Greenfield

      They’re more worried about white liberals than black readers

      • herb benty

        Ya, forgot about them for a sec. Those cloistered, myopic, intellectually arrogant, etc.,etc.,white liberals that are pulling the strings. Thanks, DG.

      • Joel Raupe

        Precisely. There’s a famous picture from the 2000 presidential campaign, of George W. Bush kissing a little African-American school girl. It was not propagated to win the votes of Black voters.

  • Ed

    Four reasons I quit reading Scientific American.
    1. It is on the AGW kick.
    2. Shermer tells us over and over how much better atheism is then religion.
    3. It was late to the party when it came to reporting on human trafficking. It was 2 years behind Soldier of Fortune.
    4. There are many other scientific magazines out there now.

    • Gary Dickson

      Ed, concerning “many other scientific magazines out there now,” I gather that the publisher and editor of Scientific American aren’t idiots. With such fierce competition, they know full well that they have to differentiate themselves from all the other scientific magazines.

      Additionally, they’re having to deal with an enormous tidal wave of science information on the ‘Net that is overwhelming them in the same way as print newspapers.

      They’re smart enough to realize that they won’t be able to survive on the basis of scientific credibility and smarts alone. On top of that, Scientific American has alienated readers like you and me.

      As a result, I can just visualize its publisher and editor thinking about how to stir up the pot, so to speak, and put their magazine into the public eye just a wee a bit more by hiring someone like Lee.

      And so they have.

    • Smoking Hamster

      I got the magazine free for a number of years. I thought it was amazing that they let Shermer have a dedicated column. I got a kick out of it as I am a evangelical Christian. Good to read outside the box once in a while. Whatever his objections to religion were, they were NOT scientific but more philosophical.

      I also loved his Skeptic column where he acknowledged that Al Gore’s emotional powerpoint presentation converted him to AGW alarmism.

    • ggalileoG

      The Skeptical Inquiry has also been forced to support AGW….Basically it committed suicide in front of it’s readership.

      • William Hofmeister

        So have they renamed it the Unskeptical Inquiry now? I dropped this magazine and Unscientific American a long time ago. Mostly for their adherence to global warming without any science basis.

    • Keith Robertson

      Reason no. 1 is why I dumped National Geographic some 7 years ago. It had degenerated into Global Warming Monthly, which is what I wrote to the editors on my cancellation notice. I told them theirs is to inform, not indoctrinate, to instruct, not to preach. It seemed as if all of the articles and features were framed through the prism of Global WarmingTM, no matter how much contortion it took to do so. I recently picked up one in a Dr’s office, and it hasn’t changed. Sad. I fear that Smithsonian Magazine is following suit.

    • CowboyUp

      One can read a lot of things first, and often only, in SoF. A friend’s Korean War Infantry Vet father subscribed to it when I was a kid, and we’d read them. I picked them up again when I was in the Army, because they had contributors practically everywhere, sometimes on both sides of a conflict, and they catch the things that go right over civilian reporters’ heads. Few msm reporters can tell an APC from a tank, for instance, and I find that very annoying because it shows they fail to do even basic background research when reporting on the military.

    • Frustrating

      Of course these scientific magazines are on the AGW “kick,” it is the overwhelming consensus of modern science. You’ll also find they are on the “medicine” “evolution” and “atomic theory” kicks. You aren’t used to science reporting; good science reporting reports good science. You guys clearly don’t want good science – you want conservative politics.

      Sorry, in science you don’t get to choose what you would prefer to be true.

  • Clare Spark

    If you haven’t read this yet, it is not too late: “The offing of MLK Jr. and Ralph Bunche.” By the end of the 1960s, the hate whitey agenda was well in place.

  • Smoking Hamster

    Whenever I read articles like these with pictures like that at the top it makes me furious at the Democratic party and what they have done to the inner city schools.

    Speaking of parasitism, it seems to me that the Democratic party thrives by dumbing down populations and making them dependent on government.

    • Asharptonn

      Yea, but the DEMS get 99% of the Black vote, so it’s very successful.

    • Keith Robertson


    • websearcher

      Furious at the Dem party for a private organization paying for a column? Tinfoils alert.

  • allsharptonn

    This is all quite predictable and amusing….the real problem is the Left’s attack on real science and math in our schools….AGW is the most dramatic example of many others.

  • Charlotta Jones

    I won’t renew my subscription now.

  • Mark Fergerson

    One question Mr. Greenfield; do you provide the content in your column for free, or are you an “uptown whore”?

    I mean, we know FPM’s position what with the prominent “Donate Today” link at the top of the webpage.

    Did that hurt? Shouldn’t have, unless you and the FPM staff are hypocrites.

    Yeah, I’ve noticed the decline in the actual science content in SciAm over the decades and its increasingly Liberal editorial slant on which subjects to cover (what, AGW *again*?). I am annoyed no end at its promotion of tax-supported “Consensus Science” and dropping of the Amateur Scientist column which inspired no end of independent thinkers like me to see what science we could do on our own.

    There’s some hope for them though- recently they’ve run a series of articles downplaying fears over genetically modified foods.

    What annoys me most is both Lib and Con insistence that Everything Is About Politics. A close second is marginalizing someone by failing to mention that have a doctorate.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      The point of the post wasn’t that she should have worked for free. There are various views on that and it’s a controversial issue among freelancers.

      The point was that Scientific American wasn’t the right place to launch an attack on someone over it.

      • websearcher

        Why wasn’t it a right place? Obviously, SA knows the kind of content she produces and is willing to pay for it. This wasn’t a guest column where it was a onesy but a frequent paid column.
        I still don’t get why the right is up in arms about a private organization and their affairs. Is it because she is black?

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Actually it was a one off. Her previous columns were loosely about science. This was a ranting personal attack on someone inappropriate for SA.

          SA took down the content. Activists demanded they put it back.

          • websearcher

            “Inappropriate for SA”? What makes you guys the expert on what should or should not go on SA? Isn’t that something best left to SA?

            First you said this –
            “Unfortunately Scientific America was not too picky about whom it let through the door. ….
            Danielle Lee blogged the usual empty nonsense. Bugs she saw. Food she ate. ….”

            But now you agree that her previous blogs were “loosely about science”? Which is it? Empty nonsense or loosely about science?

            And again – why is it a concern of people on the right who or what another magazine chooses to publish?

          • Daniel Greenfield

            SA did decide it was inappropriate.

            Read the article

          • websearcher

            I did. And no they didn’t deem it inappropriate. They could not confirm and when they did, they put it back up.

            Read the article.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Liberal activists were furious when Scientific American editor Mariette
            DiChristina wrote, “Scientific American is a publication for
            discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area &
            was therefore removed.”


      • Mark Fergerson

        “Launch an attack”? Seriously? I would consider calling someone a “whore” as a first shot (incidentally, kudos for your restraint).

        It is indeed controversial, especially when we call a spade a spade, in other words “blogger”, not “freelancer”. Bloggers still don’t get the respect “real writers” (full-time or freelance) get regardless of their credentials (or lack of them) and Dr. Lee’s case is a prime example. Bloggers started working for free (the obvious implication is that free content has no value) but that’s changing as so-called mainstream publications try to catch up with the 21st century and host bloggers on their sites.

        Since the point was indeed whether she should have chosen to “work for free” (submit unpaid content to a blog on another mainstream publication’s site due to her already having a blog on SciAm) or accept being called an “urban whore” because she thought her content had value, where would you suggest as an appropriate place to air it?

        • Daniel Greenfield

          If someone calls you names, you can call them names back on your own blog.

          You don’t use your employer’s science blog to do it… or act entitled to abuse that forum even though your employer tells you not to with a pressure campaign.

          Speaking as a blogger and freelancer, if I had the same experience, I wouldn’t complain about it here on Frontpage. If I really felt the need to talk about it, I would do it on my own blog.

    • websearcher

      Well put, Sir. Also have to add – SA is a private organization that knowingly allowed her to write a column. Not sure why right-wingers are up in arms.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Because the private org took it down and was forced to put it back up.

        • websearcher

          Tsk…tsk. Does not look like you did enough research when you wrote your article. If you had, you would have seen this –

          “Editor’s note (10/14/13): This post was originally published on Friday, October 11, 2013, at 16:58, and taken down within the hour. As fully detailed here, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove it. Email to the editor referenced in this post to elicit his comments has gone unanswered. Biology Online would not disclose his identity or give out additional contact information and other efforts to identify him to solicit a response have been unsuccessful. Biology Online has confirmed the exchange. This post is therefore being republished as of October 14th at 4:46pm.”

          So – once they confirmed that what she said was true, they put it back up. Next time, before writing an article, try doing some research. You will be more credible that way.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Liberal activists were furious when Scientific American editor Mariette
            DiChristina wrote, “Scientific American is a publication for
            discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area &
            was therefore removed.”

          • websearcher

            A Twitter response is what you based your article on? You did know that she subsequently reversed herself and published an apology along with the article, correct?

            RTA, back at ya.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            She reversed herself after outside pressure from liberal activists.

            That’s the topic of the article


          • websearcher

            And you pulled that out from where? It is certainly not in her apology. Try again, bud.

            You should take your own advice. RTA, buddy. And after you are done, do it again.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            You just told me where I got it from. Now you’re pretending you don’t know.

            Troll better

          • websearcher

            Nice. Pretending not to get what I said. I guess that’s how you troll.

            So, lets redo the question, shall we?
            You said – “She reversed herself after outside pressure from liberal activists”

            And to that I say – “Where do you get that she reversed herself from outside pressure?” Certainly not from her apology.

            So – one more time – Where are you pulling that out from?

            Get it now? Good.

          • Daniel Greenfield





          • websearcher

            I know what RTA stands for. But it does not look like you do.

            Here, let me help you out. The editor first says this:

            “My brief attempt to clarify, posted with the belief that “saying something is better than saying nothing,” clearly had the opposite effect. With 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had simply promised a fuller reply when I was able to be better connected and more thorough.”

            So, clearly she had to rethink her knee jerk response. When she did, she also posted this:

            “… I can add that we intend to discuss how we can better investigate and publicize such problems in general and search for solutions with Dr. Lee and with the wider scientific community. With the help of Dr. Lee as an author, Scientific American plans to provide a thoroughly reported feature article about the current issues facing women in science and the related research in the coming weeks. I am personally grateful to Dr. Lee for her support in these endeavors and am looking forward to working with her on these issues.”

            Not only did she apologize to Dr. Lee (and yeah, she has a phd) she is looking forward to working with her on future issues. Does not look like like the editor was browbeaten. It simply looks like an initial rush to judgement and then in hindsight not only re-posted the original article, she apologized profusely.

            Too bad people on the right do not have the same ethics. Next time – try not doing what the SA editor did, rush to judgement and put out a knee-jerk response.

            Get it now? Good.

  • TruckinMack

    If you have no backbone, Liberals will eventually get you to commit suicide. Science is an exclusively Conservative concern, or it should be. 1+1 = 2. H + O2 = water. E = MC2. These are facts, truths if you will, that we can easily accept.

    Liberals don’t care about truth or accuracy. They care about Liberal politics. Liberalism poisons everything it touches. Scientific American should be a warning to all other journals.

    • Joe Edwards

      Science is an exploration of reality; both conservatives and liberals are out for their own agendas. Liberals exaggerate everything and conservatives spread religious propaganda as science.

  • Diversity Fatigue

    Somehow I can’t imagine the supporters of Lee to have any interest in science. Lee herself seems like anything but an intellectual. Notice how the ghetto talk comes out in a fit of rage.

    Like Sharpton, Jackson, et al, Lee sees everything through the prism of race. Her daily interactions with others, no matter how trivial, are filtered for the slightest possible racial content.

    Sadly, those in charge cave in again reinforcing the complain/reward cycle for those making accusations of raaaaacism!

    • Keith Robertson

      She, and millions like her, are the products of an agenda to promote racial hate. Want to see how it works up close? Go to Hawaii. It’s clear that’s where Dear Leader honed the racial chip on his shoulder.

  • Keith Robertson

    The key is to never hire one of her to begin with. Never. Ever. At all. You really are asking for it.

    • websearcher

      “One of her”? What “her” would that be? Blacks?

      The racism runs wide and deep with this one.

  • rogerinflorida

    Doctor of Zoology at Oklahoma State;
    Almost certainly an AA “Dr.”
    Certainly an illiterate. With the same self centered truculence that Michelle Obama exudes.

    • frodo

      This is exactly why Dr Lee was right to call the “Biology Online” editor out in *Scientific American.*

  • iluvisrael

    Another affirmative action casualty.

  • CowboyUp

    “Don’t let me catch you on these streets.” That sounds like a threat to me.
    She’s now an affirmative action employee, she keeps her job only because of the color of her skin and her gender.
    I used to get my bosses SAs after he was done with them, but I told him a quite a few years back not to bother, because it had become a political magazine first, and science has become a distant second.

  • JonFraudCarry

    As a kid, I loved getting SciAm magazine. I devoured every issue. But I cancelled my subscription years ago because of their constant gullible warming refrain. I haven’t read it in years. This sure validates my decision.

  • cacslewisfan

    Yo. Science an’ sh!t. This reminds me of the “Living Color” skit where David Alan Grier says Africans made the first rocket ship “out of popcorn and boogers.” Good bye Scientific American, hello Oprah’s Scientology American.

  • Honeyko

    please…. Scientific American hasn’t had any credibility since it
    touted the Nuclear Winter rubbish in 1984 almost thirty years ago. They’ve been a propaganda spigot ever since.

    And now, oh the horrors, they’re being “forced” to do exactly what they’ve been doing for a long time already: politicize science.

  • 3rdjerseyman

    Aee Tom Wolfe “Mau-Mauing the Flack Catchers.” Nothing new here.

  • websearcher

    What do you guys care what she writes about? SA obviously likes her work and pays her. If they didn’t like her work, they wouldn’t have hired her, right?
    Or, is your problem that she is black and so should shut up and accept what is dished out?

    • Dr. Skeptic

      A most humorous exchange between “webresearcher” and the article’s author, in which neither side will trump the other. This makes complete sense for in today’s politically polarized world politics becomes the mediator. But here is from Lee’s bio at Scientific American: “In addition to pursuing career opportunities in academia, she also consults and gives public presentations about science outreach, social media and science, outreach to urban audiences, STEM diversity, and informal experiental [ sic ] education in ecology.” It seems she is seeking employment in the moment, even after her PhD in Biology, and the Urban Scientist blog is but one of many, mostly not worth the read.
      Reading through some of it, this is my take. Opinion to be sure, but hard science? Not at all. For my view as a consumer who once was a decades-long subscriber, I no longer purchase even the occasional newsstand issue. Thinned out in both depth and size and far more political than science reporting should be, I suggest that Scientific American will wither further. Hard science readers and researchers have many more avenues now than ever before in which good research and verifiable data is available, well sourced and much of it gratis. As to all those blogs listed at the SA website, I wager most are poorly paid, if paid at all. As to issue of race, Lee’s own biography speaks of her advocacy for racial perspectives. If “webresearcher” actually researched on the web perhaps he/she would be more aware that in the fields of anthropology and beyond, the whole concept of race is radically undecided, in flux and changing as research indicates the socio-political bases for “race” fail to meet scientific standards. Either science falls to the self-appointed definers of “race,” or more likely as decades pass, “race” becomes ever less a scientific taxonomy and ever more simple political code, as it was in the history of the Dixie-crats and such proven KKK members as ex-Senator Byrd (D). Web research is itself stealing the “choke point” away from the current editors of SA, and this ex-reader and still avid science reader through many other sources (and PhD) predicts the demise of SA, morphing into just another social network. Best wishes from a Web Researcher who is not “webresearcher.”

  • 3billy123

    They should have just fired her ass, issue a brief statement and let the chips fall where they may.
    By caving they just encourage others to do the same.
    If you get in a pissing contest with a skunk you’re gonna lose.

  • Snarflerator

    Now if only James Delingpole had his blog removed it’d do the world a REAL favour.