By Jeff Knox


(November 23, 2017) The periodical Scientific American touts itself as “the most trusted source of science news,” but that claim of trustworthiness should generate skepticism in light of recent articles by Melinda Wenner Moyer. From titles to conclusions, these articles represent nothing like reputable science worthy of trust. Instead, they are agenda-driven, emotionally based arguments that depend on the “expert opinions” and “research” of radical gun control extremists, and glaringly omit any semblance of balance or healthy skepticism.

In October Moyer penned a piece which was originally published under the title, Journey to Gunland. I guess that was too ambiguous, so it was retitled, More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows, and subtitle; More firearms do not keep people safe, hard numbers show. Why do so many Americans believe the opposite?

We believe the opposite because the “hard numbers” are demonstrably bogus. Besides, personal security choices are not about the public at large, they are about “Me.” If one gun owner out of a thousand is an idiot or a criminal, that doesn’t impact my personal risk factors.

The author makes a pretense of offering a fair and balanced examination of the facts, but she treats her preferred “experts” as being unquestionable and above reproach, and offers only token mention of any conflicting opinions, dismissing them out of hand as being unreliable or biased. She also relies heavily on setting up and knocking down straw man arguments, making false claims about what “gun owners” believe, and then debunking those supposed beliefs with statistics from her preferred, anti-gun researchers.

Moyer’s main target is a 1993 survey by Dr. Gary Kleck and Dr. Marc Gertz, both professors of criminology at Florida State University. They asked some 5000 Americans about crime and defensive gun use. Their data and methods were peer reviewed and replicated with similar results, and even many highly respected criminologists and researchers who support gun control grudgingly admitted that the conclusions were valid.

Several years later, Dr. David Hemenway, a Ralph Nader acolyte and outspoken advocate of gun control who has produced a number of controversial reports of his own, published an examination of the Kleck/Gertz study, pointing out supposed flaws, which he said invalidated their conclusions. Dr. Kleck responded to Hemenway’s criticisms point by point, answering all of his questions and challenges, and offering logical explanations for conflicts with other data. Neither Hemenway nor anyone else has been able to find any serious flaws in the Kleck/Gertz study, yet Ms. Moyer ignores this fact along with a large body of criticism of Dr. Hemenway’s “research.”

Moyer goes on to highlight Kennesaw, Georgia, the city that passed a law making gun ownership mandatory in 1982. Rights advocates have long pointed to a dramatic drop in certain crimes immediately after passage of that law, but Moyer claims that the crime reductions were actually due to unusually high crime rates in the previous year, which skewed the data. Her assertion could be true—it’s debatable—but what is not debatable is the fact that “gun crime” and “gun accidents” absolutely didn’t go up, in spite of the law requiring a gun in every home.

Moyer’s final point of attack was the decision by Congress to restrict the CDC from spending funds for the purpose of supporting gun control laws. To her credit, she admitted that this was not a ban on research, but she suggests that the effect was the same since CDC officials are now too scared to get anywhere close to gun research. What she fails to mention is the clear, undeniable fact that CDC bosses were engaged in a taxpayer-funded campaign to reduce gun ownership. They were spending millions of dollars on “research” and “researchers” that supported their agenda. In fact, one of Moyer’s other “reliable experts” for this article was Dr. Arthur Kellerman, whose blatantly biased and seriously flawed “research” played a significant role in the debate over CDC funding. Kellerman received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for “research” which was so deeply and obviously flawed that even many of his fellow gun control supporting academic colleagues felt compelled to disavow it.

Moyer took another shot at promoting gun control in a November 2017 article in Scientific American, which relies on the same “gun violence experts” as her October article. In this one she touted 4 Laws That Could Stem the Rising Threat of Mass Shootings like the recent ones in Las Vegas and Texas. Though she quietly admitted deep in the body of the article that none of the four laws would have actually prevented those two heinous crimes. She and her “experts” offered “research” to “prove” that they would work in other cases and “could reduce the terrible death toll from mass shooting,” but again, that “research” is presented without any sort or critical analysis or healthy skepticism, and she failed to include any experts with differing opinions or research that has come to different conclusions.

It looks like Scientific American is following the old CDC model of picking a desired outcome and selectively promoting views and data which support that objective.

That doesn’t sound very scientific to us.

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