What Happens When a Popular Science Writer Says She’s a Creationist?
Virginia Heffernan is a well-respected science, technology and culture writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Slate and, most recently, Yahoo News. But this week, Heffernan has found herself in the middle of a controversy that has resulted in scathing take-down pieces on Gawker and her former employer Slate, and a vicious Twitter battle with fellow science writer Carl Zimmer. What was her “shameful confession” (in the words of Slate) that led to the backlash? She published a piece called “Why I’m a creationist”. In the first-person article that ran on Yahoo News six days ago, Heffernan said,
Also, at heart, I am a creationist. There, I said it. At least you, dear readers, won’t now storm out of a restaurant like the last person I admitted that to. In New York City saying you’re a creationist is like confessing you think Ahmadinejad has a couple of good points. Maybe I’m the only creationist I know.
The article led to Gawker calling her “a science-phobic angel-believing climate change skeptic,” Slate warning that the “essay can’t be a good career move” and Zimmer saying her writing is “what's wrong with journalism” …