Originally Posted by Jayhawk
It is for scientists. It is just too general to be of much use to us, and even less use to lay-people. Real scientists read journals in their own sphere of expertise--I read behavioral science journals for the most part. The problem w/ SA is that it gives novices a false sense of "expertise." And when they try to explain real science to other novices they often over-state the data or mis-state it completely. At least w/ Popular Mechanics, there is real, useful, information designed to inform the layman. No pretense there--just the facts mame, just the facts. And those data are not only understandable, but can safely be disseminated by other novices.
SciAm is useful in that most articles are written by peer-reviewed, published research scientists. SciAm pubs are more akin to review articles than research monographs. Most active researchers don't have time to read SciAm (unless a particular article appears taht is within their research interest) but they'd all love to be invited to write an article for it as there is definitely prestige associated with it. They have had many, many Nobel Laureates publish articles over the years. it is a big deal to have one's name associated with that crowd.
In contrast, most scientists wouldn't get all wet and blushing to be invited to write for Popular Science.
Perhaps the crowning publication glory for scientists, in terms of widely read journals, would be to publish in "Nature" or "Science." Those are both big deals. Of those two I prefer "Nature" as I like the style they demand which I find more readable in field that I (frankly) do not understand. The next prestige level for me is "American Scientist." To me, the articles are far more easily read but still require a significant amount of peer and editorial review.
Within the fields that I particularly follow, I read PE&RS, Ecology and SWS Journal. I haven't published anything in over 25 years and when I did it was in the obscure field of systematic botany.