Upset over Herald news story regarding Darwinism

(02/17/2007)

Editor's note: The article Mr. Payne refers to is a news story about a suit filed, it does not reflect nor require the opinion of the Hur Herald editor.

WV Man Sues School Board Over Missing Link

Dear Editor,

I don't expect a lot of scientific sophistication from your website - after all, you routinely disseminate Mr Engelke's naive polemics* -- but I do think your audience is entitled to some journalistic integrity.

When you publish a "news" item like "WV Man Sues School Board Over 'Missing Link'" without acknowledging the many arguments against his claims, you imply a tacit approval of his actions. I don't know, and I don't care, whether or not you agree with Mr Smith, but if you have any pretensions to real journalism, then you have a responsibility to include more background.

A school district's rights and duties to teach evolution have been repeatedly upheld by American courts (see Scopes v. State of Tennessee, 1925; Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968; Hendren v. Campbell, 1977; Maclean v. Arkansas, 1981; Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987; Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 2005; see also http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/13/tech/main2472481.shtml) and Mr Smith's legal action has absolutely no chance of reversing those decisions.

Why omit such a salient fact from your "news" story? Are you trying to give some hope to people who want to impose their religious will on our education policies? I'm afraid that that sort of cheerleading doesn't rise to the journalistic standard.

I've spent my entire life in science and science education -- I studied evolutionary biology at an Ivy League university and worked for years in cutting-edge research laboratories. I know real science when I see it and Mr Smith is no scientist; he's a charlatan.

Central Reference Lab in Anaheim California (a hard organization to track down as they don't seem to have a website or a public relations department) is decidedly not a research institution. It appears to be a corporate facility that carries out routine tests on blood, urine, &c. -- the sort of place you might send samples for HIV or syphilis testing. You can call them yourself at 714.634.2347 -- the woman I talked to was pretty sure that no one on the staff was doing active research, and she couldn't tell me the number of Ph.D.s on staff (the answer might well be zero).

She also had no memory of Mr Smith and didn't think that anyone else would, either. What's more, can you really take a "scientist" seriously when he's quoted with this sort of nonsense? (From The West Virginia Record, 16 February 2007): "...there is a human genetic 'normal' and no singular significant genetic discovers [sic] will arrive, until the air is cleared of this blinding clouded dense foggy mist, which prevents out [sic] minds-eye [sic] from seeing the truth clearly that most every form of man walks in ethically during his lifetime." I'm sorry, but those are not the words of a trained scientist -- they're the words of a crazy man. Can anyone even tell me what he's talking about here?

I encourage any readers who harbor misgivings about Darwinism to dump them as soon as possible.

Mr Darwin's insights into how populations change over time are absolutely solid -- "descent with modification" is as much a fact as the nearly-spherical shape of the earth or the positions of the planets relative to the sun. There is, I'd venture, more evidence for evolution than for the existence of atoms. Please don't continue to give hope to people who think otherwise -- they'll always lose the battle against scientific truth, whether it's in a courtroom or in the judgment of history.

Respectfully,

Mr. Ansel Payne

*For a solid refutation of Mr Engelke's ideas vis-a-vis climate change, please read the IPCC's report at http://www.ipcc.ch/ or any of the many scholarly articles which decidedly and conclusively reveal a human-created global warming effect (use search.ebscohost.com, username: west, password: virginia).

- Mr. Payne teaches science at Calhoun Middle-High School.


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