According to surveys and statistics, most Nature readers place themselves on the liberal left of the political spectrum. So two items published in The New York Times in the past few weeks will have provoked both consternation and debate. Many of our readers, for example, must have shaken their heads in despair while reading the transcript of an interview with US president-elect Donald Trump last week. The other item, an opinion piece entitled ‘The end of identity liberalism’ probably had many academics simply shaking.