Reader Bryan called my attention to Science magazine’s contest in which readers can vote for the scientific breakthroughs of the year. As the site says (click on screenshot below):
It’s that time of the year again: Science’s reporters and editors are homing in on the Breakthrough of the Year, our choice of the most significant scientific discovery, development, or trend in 2018. That selection, along with nine runners-up, will be announced when the last issue of the year goes online on 20 December.
It’s pretty clear that the contest is about scientific breakthroughs. But one of them is not like the others:
Why is #MeToo in there? Science explains:
The #MeToo movement made significant gains in science. Several institutions upheld long-standing allegations against prominent scientists accused of sexual harassment, discrimination, or bullying, and a U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report called for systemic changes to prevent such abuse.
This is a social breakthrough, not a scientific one, even if #MeToo had the effect described. Of course I applaud the recent trend to call out and weed out sexual harassment and abuse in science, as well as statements by scientific societies and universities that this behavior won’t be tolerated. But finding something out that’s true about the universe is not in the same class as purging bigotry and sexism from science. The first includes matters of fact, the second matters of morality. Once more (Nature did it recently), a scientific journal conflates ideology—though it’s one I agree with—with factuality.
At any rate, you can vote at the site for whatever breakthroughs you consider the most important, though I think people will tend to vote for things in their favorite area.