Monday, December 15, 2008

Responding to Newspaper Editorials

I have cut back on posts to blogs, or BB sites in favor of replying directly in newspaper sites. It seems to me that there is a wider range of readers. Here is a comment I wrote this AM in response to former state Rep. Ken Mercer, now a member of the Texas State Board of Education. Mercer wrote an editorial in the San Antonio Express-News posted on-line 12/14/2008 8:48 CST. So far, the newspaper has not posted my comment.

“It is very interesting to read Mr. Mercer’s presentation of the Texas State Board of Education’s thinking about evolution. He immediately casts this as “ultra-liberals” versus “people of faith.” And I agree. He is clearly uninformed, even “willfully ignorant” as Apostle Paul might say, about the scientific and education issues. The only possible substance of his position is that of raw Rovian wedge issue politics. Mercer makes false and misleading claims about evolutionary theory. His use of “micro-“ and “macro-“ evolution are absurd, but typical of creationist polemics. If any freaks or monsters of Mercer’s imagination like a “dog-cat” existed, it would utterly DISPROVE evolutionary theory. We have direct evidence of new species emerging from old. This has been observed in nature, and in the laboratory. Only the willfully ignorant, or the politically motivated would say otherwise. Mercer then shifted to Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel was profoundly wrong in his theory of embryology. But, the actual historical record is that “Haeckel’s” drawings were largely the work of others- even by scientists who most loudly protested them. These are not “weaknesses in evolutionary theory.” I recommend to any honest person the recent biography of Haeckel by Robert J. Richards (2008 University of Chicago Press). Further, I have reviewed many recent high school biology textbooks, and when the contested illustrations were used it was as examples of a failed theory. As it happens, photographs are available that make the same case for common descent. The Piltdown hoax was not peer reviewed for “forty years,” as the actual “fossils” were kept away from critical examination. And, I must point out that it was scientists who uncovered the hoax- not politicians nor preachers. Since Mercer is so in favor of academic freedom, he will naturally halt his opposition to birth control, and medically accurate sex education for high school students. Unless that is he is a hypocrite. But at the end, I once again agree with Mercer, “An agenda that opposes both freedom of speech and academic freedom is unpatriotic, un-American, and unscientific.” And, I hope he changes his agenda soon. "

The lack of paragraphs is the defalt format of SA the site.

Up date: The comment was blocked due to an undocumented character limit. I posted it in three parts. This is the downside of newspaper comment sections- they are vary locally and are generally inconsistant.


RBH said...

I have cut back on posts to blogs, or BB sites in favor of replying directly in newspaper sites. It seems to me that there is a wider range of readers.

That's an interesting notion that I hadn't thought of. I've done so once in a while, but not on any sustained basis. Maybe we should all do more of it.

Gary S. Hurd said...

Howdy Dick,

There have been about 45 editorials or news items I have replied to in the last few months. There are pluses and minuses.

RBH said...

The pluses I can see. What do you see as the minuses?

Gary S. Hurd said...

There is little consistance in the interfaces- so you spend a fair bit of time guessing how you can format. There will be an incredible amount of repetition of arguments, every PRATT every time. Very few newspaper sites allow posting any URLs, and forget JPEGs. And no edit function.