SCIENCE DENIALISM In each controversial case mentioned in “Science Denied,” by Phil Primack, A70 (Summer 2012), what is bemoaned is a lack of complete genuflection to a proposed public policy, not science. Scientists are welcome to believe that global warming will result from combustion of carbon-based fuels. What the public is dubious about is the practicality of stopping said practice and whether it would make a difference, were it even possible.
Regarding fluoridated water and vaccines, individuals are perfectly free to receive both for themselves and their families. And regarding evolution, you have much more to fear from your neighbors if, through public indoctrination, you convince them that they are soulless omnivores in an amoral world than you would if they spent their lives seeking to conform to the Ten Commandments. Stick to data, ye scientist.
Primack suggests that the Sierra Club’s opposition to fluoridation is based on “eco-activist” ideology rather than facts. But when I checked the Sierra Club’s website, I found that its position is backed up by a 2006 report by the National Research Council. With science denialism, it’s simply not true that we lefties are the problem. For example, consider the right wing’s organized and well-financed effort to discredit climate science, which is detailed by the historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway in Merchants of Doubt.
Of the issues mentioned in the article on science denialism, global warming is the one most worthy of rational skepticism. Granted, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and it is increasing in the atmosphere. Still, a thorough reading of the leaked “climategate” emails should give pause to anyone who respects science. In addition, predictions based on climate computer models have been consistently wrong. Our models will no doubt improve, but climate is an incredibly complex system, and we must remind ourselves that computer models should not be mistaken for reality.
A PROFESSOR TO CHERISH
It was with great sadness that I read of the death of Professor George Marcopoulos in the “In Memoriam” section (Summer 2012). Professor Marcopoulos taught European history with such enthusiasm and animation that I declared myself a history major as a sophomore. He showed his students how to enter a dynamic world of people and events that connected the past to our present world. Over the course of six semesters, I took courses in European and Byzantine history with him and always found him engaging. I was especially engrossed by his explanations of how the history of each nation is reflected in the genealogy of its monarchical dynasty. Although I went on to pursue a career in my second major, psychology, history has remained my recreational passion. I will always cherish the love of history that Professor Marcopoulos inspired in me.
A STITCH IN TIME
Kudos to Patty Elwin Davis, J51, for “Fabric of Time” (Summer 2012). I myself have long been fascinated by the history of women in textiles. In fact, I have published a book on it: The Threads of Time, the Fabric of History: Profiles of African American Dressmakers and Designers from 1850 to the Present (now available on Kindle from Amazon). In it, I profile women in millinery, quilts, and clothing design. I was so excited to see that Davis has joined me in touting women’s textile skills.
I understand the sentiment expressed in the editorial “Spare Me My Illusions” (Summer 2012), but I profoundly disagree. I would have nothing against people cherishing their delusions if the effects of this were limited to themselves. However, delusions can influence people’s votes, and votes have an effect on public policy. In our troubled times, we need a clear view of the challenges that we are facing.