Dear Ronald Bailey, “Science” Correspondent for “Reason” Magazine

Dear Mr. Bailey:

By way of introduction, I’m an American who was living in the south of France in 1991, subscribed to Reason Magazine, had it delivered in print over there. Have continued for the last 22 years.

For years, a subscription to ReasonMag was all anyone ever got for Christmas from me.

I’ve never had occasion to write you or the mag before. Have gotten stuck in comment threads at Hit & Run, though. Suffice to say, Reason has always been there for me and has provided, via its eventual digitization, endless sources of links in comments and posts going back years.

I send hundreds of thousands to and more recently, Reason.TV, annually. I surely don’t expect to be enthralled by everything—though I must say that Kennedy has that certain menche, needs to be on Saturday Night Live as well…and eventually, a co-host spot with Bill Maher so that she can help him to get just a few more things right. I digress.

…How surreal it was this morning; to get up, check email, and see that Reason.TV actually has on an insect biologist to tell human beings that because evolution happens rapidly (for her, it certainly does— generations pass before her laboratory eyes in days and weeks), the “paleo Diet” is just a silly fad that doesn’t properly contemplate continuing evolution—because, I guess…bugs.

There are now millions of people in America and worldwide—millions of those still even creationists—doing exactly what the pragmatism over principle folks of Reason ought to celebrate most: Damn, screw the principles; this evolutionary shit fuckin’ works!

Reason did nothing for me this morning, so I’m not doing the homework you as science guy, and Reason should have done. But Marlene Zuk has been roundly lambasted from sea to shining sea about that book (the real fantasy is hers, that which well call a strawman), and not only from bloggers with thousands and hundreds of thousands of fans (millions in the case of Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf)—fat and prescription drug losing fans—but from scientists in her field (well, to be fair, in the field of human evolution). And in spite of the typical run-up pre-release for the book (NYT and elsewhere), it’s a month since release and it has a dismal 21 reviews (I had more for my lowly ebook in a week—100% 5-star). Of those 21 reviews, 3 are 5-star, 7 are 1-star; the rest, in-between in a rather normal distribution.

What in holy hell was Tracy Oppenheimer thinking? Not much.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Weedon on April 22, 2013 at 15:55

    From one of those crazy creationists, well said! Thanks.

  2. Joshua on April 22, 2013 at 18:04

    I have to say I think Reason has been fairly friendly to the paleo concept over the past year at least. Maybe they wanted to give some air time to the other side?

    If that’s the case, I do wish that they had gotten somebody better than Zuk. I don’t eat anywhere near Paleo, but the whole concept of her book is an argument against a strawman. And not even a very good one. All you’d need is a steel and flint and that thing’d go up real quick. Shame Oppenheimer didn’t provide that spark.

    FWIW, Oppenheimer is working at Reason under some sort of grant. She’s still learning the ropes, and I hope this will be a learning experience for her.

  3. Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2013 at 19:11

    Yea, the post could have gotten a whole lot rantier, but I regned myself in.

  4. Bernardo on April 23, 2013 at 05:08

    I got to know Reason tv through the Paleo community but I have the impression they “endorse” anyone who claims to be libertarian. There is some cool stuff here and there, but I’ve seen many invitees that were simply silly. I remember one that said people that were against scientific authorities were “anti-science”, a guy who claimed libertarians didn’t give a damn about other people (less empathy), but didn’t account for the relative proximity of those people, and a guy who was for sex “equality”, including regulation from government, but called himself a libertarian. In all those cases the reporter never asked a difficult question, they just put their “Reason” stamp on things even when they are quite unreasonable or at least very weak, foundation wise.

  5. Sean on April 23, 2013 at 06:36

    Yeah I came across that too late to comment on it at H&R.

    Didn’t actually watch the video. I can understand why Slate and their ilk did fawning uncritical reviews, since paleo tends to have a lot of common ground with libertarianism, against the established dogma, anti-vegan, etc. But disappointing that Reason didn’t do more due diligence.

    Here’s the H&R link titled “Debunking the Caveman Craze: Paleofantasy’s Marlene Zuk on Evolutionary and Dietary Myths.

    Yeah right. I didn’t watch the vid, did she bring up lactose intolerance for the billionth time as proof humans are universally adapted to grains?

  6. Contemplationist on April 23, 2013 at 08:49

    I think he fell victim to lazy (fake) myth-busting pr0n.

  7. A.B. Dada on April 23, 2013 at 13:02

    I didn’t read Reason because I was a fan of (what I consider the better) Liberty Magazine when R.W. Bradford was still alive. It was printed on regular matte paper, blue and black inks. Great articles. Fantastic arguments and debates between the very contributing authors within the pages. What a loss that was.

    I remember getting a Reason subscription when Bradford passed away and Liberty Magazine stopped printing. Borders used to carry both.

    Reason was soft libertarianism, beltway Kochtopus style. No surprise about this recent hubbub.

  8. Sean on April 23, 2013 at 13:51

    Reason was soft libertarianism, beltway Kochtopus style. No surprise about this recent hubbub.

    Cosmotarian is the word you are groping for you fatuous cunt.

  9. Joshua on April 24, 2013 at 05:54

    Reason was soft libertarianism, beltway Kochtopus style.

    I always thought that the primary criticism of reason was that they came at liberty from a utilitarian perspective instead of a philosophical perspective. I’m amused by how reason & libertarians in general are vilified from the left, the right, and from other libertarians.

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