- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

Creationism and Darwinism

Thursday’s editorial “Debating Darwinism” was presented as a thoughtful observation of the debate over state science standards and the teaching of Darwinism in Kansas public schools. However, as a critical thinker, observer and modest theoretical as well as practicing participant in American and international science, I perceive the editorial’s inherent skew toward creationism.

Frankly, your writer in his or her analysis does not understand — or chooses to ignore — the nature of scientific debate. Scientists are some of the most skeptical and self-critical practitioners in any discipline. We routinely scour our paradigms, practice and consciences for subjectivity. Thus, our system of cross-reference, peer-review and reproducible results structures the often cautious nature of inquiry. By contrast, for substantiation of the oppositional viewpoint, your author quotes a “leading Darwinian skeptic” who works for a distinctly subjective creationist organization, the Discovery Institute.

These guys and your author have committed the logical fallacy of comparing empirical study with an ideology, the latter being a social construct. There is thus no real “debate” about evolution, only one regarding the finer points of the mechanism of natural selection. To be fair, your author did address this latter point. The real debate is what will be presented in the public schools. Several logical inconsistencies are involved, thus the boycott of the current “show” by legitimate practitioners.

You do a disservice to your readership in condoning this misrepresentation of science and its protocol. Of course, it’s your business if you choose to endorse tacitly or otherwise a belief system (or mythology, if you will; all cultures have origin myths) with a clear political and economic agenda. Access to economic resources and resultant anticipated reproductive fitness are, after all, the bases for much group membership in ideological systems. (I do include my own.)

Analyzing the news with a degree of personal and artistic license is to be expected in this editorial venue. However, pandering and misrepresentation do not become your publication, and supporting the current silliness nationally and in Kansas does not serve your readership or its capabilities. I urge your author to try a college freshman course in philosophy of science, logic and critical thinking, or even basic anthropology to better prepare for future reportage and commentary.

BONNIE BAGLEY

Archaeologist

Corrales, N.M.

Why should schools teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution when even its defenders can’t make a strong scientific case for it.

Paul Nelson, a Discovery Institute fellow and one of intelligent design’s leading proponents, described the concept this way in the July/August 2004 issue of Touchstone magazine: “Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’ — but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.”

On the other hand, the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s most prestigious scientific organization, does not dither in declaring evolution “one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have” and saying it is supported by an overwhelming scientific consensus.

It’s hard to know why so many dismiss evolutionary theory in the face of the overwhelming evidence, from bipod fossils millions of years old to the fact that we share 98 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees.

Maybe it’s just too hard for some to accept that humans don’t hold a special place in the universe or that we’re frail and ephemeral. Whatever the reason, it’s time we stopped indulging those who devalue the wonders of human intelligence in favor of an intuition-based belief in some alien intelligent design.

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville

Political cartoon is insensitive

Your political cartoon on the editorial page Friday was uncharacteristically insensitive, unfortunate and culturally offensive to the 150 million people of Pakistan; it also was totally inexplicable.

Pakistan, under the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf, and all Pakistanis are committed to fighting terrorism in all its manifestation because it is in Pakistan’s national interest. We are, to say the least, nobody’s puppet.

The apprehension of Abu Farraj al?Libbi, a top gun in the al Qaeda hierarchy, is an example of Pakistan’s total commitment in the war on terror. Instead of appreciation, your paper tried to belittle the whole incident.

TALAT WASEEM

Minister

Press and Information Division

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington

In my opinion, your editorial cartoon on the al-Libbi capture, depicting Pakistan as a dog, did a disservice to our most important South Asian ally in the “ground” war on terrorism.

Your editor’s intentions were good, but, unfortunately, the cartoon was an insulting depiction of a friendly nation whose people have given lives and treasure to help us find and kill terrorists.

RICHARD J. DOUGLAS

Kensington

Tort reform needed

Regarding the idea that increased insurance rates aggravate the health-care problem (“Committees to scrutinize tort reform,” Metropolitan, Friday): D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson gets it when he says, “I think there’s definitely a problem,” but Wayne R. Cohen, president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., apparently doesn’t: “Placing a cap on damages does not promote good health care.”

No one — patients, hospitals, clinics or physicians — is well-served by those who propose only maintaining the status quo. Absent a fix, the problems will only continue to worsen, leading to a health-care meltdown.

I encourage all who care about medical care in the District to come forward in a constructive way to find a solution, rather than attacking the mayor for his leadership and sincere efforts to protect patients. If someone has a better proposal, we’d all like to see it.

Finally, as the personal-injury lawyers know all too well, medical-malpractice verdicts are more about good lawyering than they are about bad doctoring.

K. EDWARD SHANBACKER

Executive vice president

Medical Society of the

District of Columbia

It’s astonishing that Turkish Ambassador O. Faruk Logoglu calls for a study of the Armenian genocide (“To reconcile Turks and Armenians,” Commentary, May 3), given that the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, composed of five Turks (including former diplomats) and four Armenians, authorized a study of that period by the International Center for Transitional Justice.

That study, completed in 2003, concluded that Turkey did indeed commit genocide, as defined by the 1948 U.N. genocide treaty, against Armenians in 1915.

Apparently, Turkey did not like that conclusion and so is asking for more studies until it gets the result it wants.

As for the ambassador’s call for “open dialogue,” recently passed Article 306 of the Turkish Penal Code makes it a crime for a citizen to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. If that law is an indication of Turkey’s readiness to talk, his call for dialogue is dead on arrival.

BERGE JOLOLIAN

Cambridge, Mass.

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