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Letters

As editor of a popular science magazine, I read Bruce Lewenstein’s article on the “arrogance” of popular science magazines (July 13, 1987, p. 12) and Isaac Asimov’s dissenting letter (September 7, 1987, p. 10) with great interest. They’re both right. Lewenstein points out that the demise of Science ‘86, Science Digest, and SciQuest holds an important lesson: relevance is in the eye of the reader. Scientists may be excited by decaying protons, but most peopl

David Robson

As editor of a popular science magazine, I read Bruce Lewenstein’s article on the “arrogance” of popular science magazines (July 13, 1987, p. 12) and Isaac Asimov’s dissenting letter (September 7, 1987, p. 10) with great interest. They’re both right.

Lewenstein points out that the demise of Science ‘86, Science Digest, and SciQuest holds an important lesson: relevance is in the eye of the reader. Scientists may be excited by decaying protons, but most people are more interested in what’s decaying in the back of their refrigerator. Indeed, it is arrogant to believe that people should be interested in scientists’ latest work. Should scientists be interested in developments in other esoteric fields such as international law?

Asimov rightly objected to Lewenstein’s suggestion that we “present science without demanding that non-scientists accept the scientific world view.” This world view is the lifeblood of science. But this is not the central...

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