Editor’s Note

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Dear Reader —

As a journal focused on the intersection of science and public life, The New Atlantis has found itself in a unique position to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

In our very first year, Steven Menashi wrote that the leading global health body had failed during the SARS outbreak, and lost sight of its original mission of fighting infectious disease (“The Politics of the WHO,” Fall 2003). Years later, I penned an in-depth report on how too many Western leaders during the Ebola outbreak prioritized stopping public panic over stopping the disease. Leaders condescended to the public, squelched disagreement about the virus’s infectivity, and mistakenly insisted that even health care workers did not need respiratory masks to protect against infection (“The Ebola Gamble,” Spring 2015). These articles have found a sad new relevance this year.

More broadly, the purpose of this journal has always been to strengthen the relationship between the scientific enterprise and American democracy. We aim to foster innovation, to improve our institutional readiness to meet complex technical challenges, to encourage richer moral reflection on new technologies, to move our national discourse about science beyond the tired dialectic of “science says” versus “the experts are out to get you,” and simply to provide sensible analysis of the pressing questions of our day.

As the pandemic exploded in March, The New Atlantis took an unprecedented step: We temporarily suspended our print journal to function as a digital publication, focusing exclusively on timely reporting and analysis of a rapidly unfolding national crisis.

I am immensely proud of the work we have published over the last several months. (The articles are available here.) Many of these pieces were investigated and written directly by our editorial staff: Brendan Foht, Samuel Matlack, and myself.

Throughout the pandemic, we have sought to bring moral seriousness, political prudence, and technical clarity to a crisis about which there are few straightforward answers. I believe that The New Atlantis’s coronavirus coverage has played an important role in the national conversation. This role has been reflected in an elevated level of public engagement: Our work has been repeatedly cited in the New York Times, it has been noted by MSNBC and Fox News hosts alike, and our website has seen the greatest level of traffic in our history.

We welcome the significant number of new subscribers and readers who have followed us during this time, and look forward to bringing you into our project.

We are pleased to resume publication of our print journal with this Fall 2020 issue, which features a stellar lineup of essays and reviews about the challenges facing American democracy, and the many opportunities for renewal.

We are also excited to announce that a project on which we have been hard at work is soon coming to fruition. In September, we will unveil a new website, which will feature a new digital subscription option; early online access to new issues; and curated pages, structured around the distinctive questions The New Atlantis asks, to guide readers through our nearly two decades of work.

Subscribers will find included with this issue a letter with details about their subscription status, and about the login features and subscription options we will offer with our new website. We also invite you to visit our website now to learn more about how to support our work, and to receive updates via email or social media.

We intend to continue our Covid-19 coverage, both in print and online, for as long as the crisis lasts — and beyond, as our country begins the long task of learning from our failures and successes.

As always, thank you for your readership and support.


Ari Schulman

Ari Schulman, “Editor’s Note,” The New Atlantis, Number 62, Fall 2020, pp. 3-4.

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