Like a lot of these magazines, Scientific American has a mix of content - some good, some not so interesting. When I subscribed, I found that several issues would go by without an interesting article. However, when it had an interesting article, it was good, often written by an expert in the field. That's the best part of this magazine - it really lets you keep up with current research in a variety of fields. Recommended.
Ohh when I was a wee youngster (two/three years ago) in eighth grade my grandmother started sending me Scientific American when I won the science fair. I thought it was the dorkiest thing imaginable but I picked it up a few times on the way to the bathroom. It actually had some really interesting articles in it, like on the new discoveries supporting the big bang theory and what really happens inside black holes. It is also neat because I'm taking biology and there are a lot of things in it that I'm learning about so I bring it to my teacher to score some extra points. Although I wouldn't recommend it to teenagers (because it gets a little complicated to read sometimes when it gets all technical) it does keep you amused in the bathroom.
I enjoy the brief glimpses of relatively new scientific discoveries, but I've noticed when I research more on a topic the articles are not always accurate. The opinions are always slanted liberal, which is diappointing since I'd like both sides of issues. Sachs, in particular, has glaring inaccuracies in the last 3 issues. If the magazine is liberal biased, fine, I just wish they would be accurate. There has not been a good essay writer since James Burke. I try to skip over those now. Their essayists are not only inaccurate, but lousy writers and boring as well. I realize Burke is impossible to replace, but they could try a little harder! Scientific American is worth getting for overviews of science today, but keep in mind that the fact check level is about the same as tv news. Think of Scientific American as a stretched out tv news science section!
I whole heartedly agree with many of the previous posters in that Scientific American has slid from a paragon of scientific review, when I began reading it in the 1960's, to a mediocre populist science rag. I still read it, I am unsure of what is better, affordable and easily accessible to those without an academic affiliation. I do not possess and academic PhD. I am just a medical provider with additional training in Public Health, so I do not claim to be a scientist let alone a researcher. However, I want in depth articles on the latest thinking in quantum mechanics, cosmology, virology, etc., I long for the day when SciAm returns to the serious magazine it once was and leaves the fluff scientific articles to Popular Science and the like. If anyone can recommend a replacement magazine whose subscription is not hundreds of dollars a year, I am listening.
SciAm has become a `must read' agony for me. I used to highlight it for personal back reference and tear out articles to pass around but not so much anymore. The thrill is gone and worse, it's been overtaken by obnoxious nouveau-science that fails ever so many prima facie challenges. How many 3-4 page articles will posit advancement but conclude with undetectable, unobservable or un-testable hypothesis per issue? You need more faith in magic then SciAm's resident atheist's column. Why does SciAm's management think that `green' and `climate' science achieves enough breakthroughs in 30 days to deserve a monthly article or 2 or 3.
What makes SciAm's management think that the technical community needs another steady feed of political correctness? Why is an obvious liberal political bias being foisted into a domain where a conservative or liberal bias can have no distinction to remain objective and remain science? Can you imagine the original Transistor article being socially balanced with the positives of 'solid state' versus the social tragedy of discarded electronic waste?
I'm like a 40-50 year subscriber and I'm not happy. I must admit that I read it only after I have read other more cogent tech mags. I can't rule out that I've grown to hard headed to get it. Perhaps the physical, mathematical and life sciences have diverged so dramatically in the past 10 years that we can no longer expect to cross pollinate. That's what runs through my mind when I put down SciAm after reading it. SciAm's is not horrible yet. Time will tell if it plumbs those depths.
Ownership and management make a big difference. I recommend the publisher sell it to someone who will carry on the scientific traditions that made SciAm great. I was plesently suprised at the step function improvement in Bloomberg's Business Week when it was bought from McGraw. NewsCorp's take over the WSJ was an improvement in the fundamentals so much so that it's the only newspaper I subscribe to now. There is hope.
I hate that this SCIENCE mag is often political and it's not really written for human interest, I prefer DISCOVER.
In their attempt to gain a larger audience, they seem to be turning this once great publication into another mass-media, no real content glossy mag.
Some articles appear to have mistakes and factual omissions, and we wonder if some of the authors understood the subject themselves. Too many pages of flashy artwork.
SciAm was once the prime science magazine for Americans. I read every issue for decades. The writing style was high level and having a good background in science certainly helped the reader. They'd include a mix of hard and soft science in every issue.
The columns were wonderful, Martin Gardner would educate you in math and the Amateur Scientist would teach you how to build your own seismograph or telescope.
But very sadly indeed, the editors have become converts to Al Gore's religion of warmism. The hard science section of the magazine is infested with pseudoscience fantasy articles by die-hard warmists. The columns once a joy to read, are now even worse. As is the current events section. Martin Gardner must be up to 100 rpm in his grave as are the lamented lost columnists of the Amateur Scientist.
So I have let my subscription lapse. I'll check the issues as the hit the news stand at the grocery and see if there are a few good articles and whether it is worth buying this month's. Right now I guess I get 4 or 5 issue a year.
And I hope that someone will stage a coupe in the editorial offices and throw the bums out. And return SciAm to its days of glory. But it hasn't happened yet.
I read SciAm for many years but had to end my subscription because I could no longer stomach the political slant.
If you can get past the politics, or perhaps agree with it, then this is a pretty good magazine for the casual scientist.
I used to love Scientific American in the 70s and 80s and saved all the issues. But I started noticing a fundamental dilemma: each issue had an article that was superficially science but mainly political, and always of a left-wing nature. If they labeled these articles as editorials, there would be no problem, but they always tried to pass them off as scientific truth. I dropped out. Then I started a subscription recently in order to not lose my airline miles. The January 2010 issue was a big disappointment. About half the articles had political messages, much worse than in the 80s. How sad to see a great magazine taken over by political ideologues.