Letters To The Editor
In "Where Have All The Scientists Gone?" (Commentary, Aug. 25, 1982), Stephen Robinson asks the scientists to enter the arena of battle and debate the creationists. At the same time, he asks the scientists and science teachers to "discuss in depth" the differences between scientific laws and religious convictions. Herein lies the problem.
Debating is an art and the average person is not a skilled debator. A debate misleads people into believing that creationism and evolution are somehow equal in standing. Debating an issue lends an air of credibility and respect to that issue. A debate suggests a win-lose situation, which can easily be decided by the public within a few hours. For these reasons and many more, the scientific community has been reluctant to debate the proponents of creationism. To be sure, debates have taken place between the scientific community and the creationists. However, the words have been lost in the eloquence of the phrases.
The thrust should not be debating; it should be educating. A debate convinces no one. Hopefully, educating people will clarify the issues. It is toward this end that the scientific community has been heard in a variety of ways and many times over. Stephen Jay Gould, Niles Eldredge, and David Raup have written numerous articles and lectured on numerous occasions. They have cited the scientific evidences for evolution and have shown how creationism is a pseudoscience. Dr. Wayne Moyer, the executive director of the National Association of Biology Teachers (nabt) has lectured and written articles focusing on the very issues that Mr. Robinson mentions. The American Biology Teacher (the nabt journal) has devoted numerous issues toward educating the public as well as the average science teacher.
Although the "pop" magazines have been reluctant to publish many of the articles prepared by the scientific community, articles on the subject are available. Dr. Garrett Hardin has written for Dial magazine, and Stephen Jay Gould has been interviewed for Discover magazine and has written for Natural History magazine. There is an excellent journal, Creation/Evolution, devoted to the issues. The nabt has published a compendium of articles devoted to this issue and Compendium II will appear in the early part of 1983. The scientific community has been represented by Dr. William Mayer, Dr. Russell Doolittle, Dr. John A. Moore, and Dr. Sidney Fox. The New York Academy of Science and the Iowa Academy of Science have openly discussed this issue and have provided position papers that can be read by all.
The problem is not where have the scientists gone but rather where will the media allow them to be seen and heard. It is apparent that science is not as exciting as creationism. When a supporter of creationism tells the public that the teaching of evolution has led to the evils of modern society, this is news, this is exciting! The finding of a fossil will usually appear on page 98 of the local newspaper, if it appears at all!
I must now ask, where have you been, Mr. Robinson? The scientific community has joined the battle. I have a full filing cabinet of materials to prove this. As the president of nabt and other science associations, I have responded to numerous laypeople and science educators. They wanted to be educated and found ways to achieve this.
I will be delighted to provide the information for Mr. Robinson and have him placed on the mailing list of the Iowa Committee of Correspondence. There are over 44 committees of correspondence in this country devoted to the task of educating the people about the differences between science and pseudoscience.
Jerry Resnick President National Association of Biology Teachers Brooklyn, N.Y.
As any journalism student knows, the purpose of a headline is to briefly state the gist of the headlined item. However, on page 2 of your Sept. 8 issue, the headline "Mass. High Court Upholds Limited Aid to Private Schools" could not have been more misleading. As the lead paragraph stated, the "aid" in question was a pupil-transportation program for young citizens of Massachusetts enrolled in private schools.
Pupil-transportation programs are primarily safety measures. They provide aid and protection to children on the highways, and some degree of reassurance to the tax-paying parents of those children. Such programs cannot be construed by any stretch of the imagination as "Aid to Private Schools."
Methinks your prejudice is showing.
D.K. Dumeyer Sr. Associate Superintendent Office of Catholic Schools Archdiocese of Louisville Louisville, Ky.
Editor's Note: The article stated that the court, in ruling on a transportation issue, was upholding previous decisions. "Massachusetts case law," said the judges, "has established that it is constitutionally acceptable to provide certain 'special needs' programs in private schools. ..."