Sunday, May 22, 2005

An emailer asks if my response to him about the evolution column was boilerplate. No, but I do reuse some material from one letter to the next if the questions are similar. I do read every letter carefully, and respond to it in particular.

One thing I've said to more than one correspondent: "Science is concerned with the what and the how, not the why and the Who."

7:08:12 PM   permalink   comment []

Another email:

I guess my take, unlike your column's, is that the folks in Kansas are NOT presumptuous. In fact, the weight of history is on their side. Yeah, we didn't pillory Einstein, but none of us understand relativity and the unified theory of the universe anyway, his theories didn't attack our governmental and religious institutions, and he always looked like the prototypical grandfather. I guess I'm surprised that the scientific view of the development of the species has held its dominant position in the classroom for so long. I think that's the real story: how has the science-laden view on this topic  held sway for so long. It's almost unprecedented.

We live in a world where people daily obliterate themselves to kill a  few of their religious enemies. That's a kind of passion I find hard  to fathom. And it's the passion that feeds the "other" side in this struggle between religion and science. We humans aren't logical. That's why a victory by science over religion is never clear-cut and always short-lived, and that's why these battles will never be  settled. Or maybe almost never: I think we all pretty much accept  that the world's not flat now.

6:39:07 PM   permalink   comment []

Not all the email has been anti-science. One guy sent along a link to this site, which argues "Irreducible complexity even can more reasonably be construed as an argument against intelligent design."

6:34:19 PM   permalink   comment []

More on evolution, a subject I've been discussing with emailers for much of the day after the publication of this morning's N&R column: If "Darwinism," better identified as "evolution," and even better defined as "modern biology" (and geology and cosmology) were somehow overturned -- the default option for explaining life on Earth WOULD NOT BE biblical creation. Science is about finding natural explanations for natural phenomena. Absent specific evidence for supernatural causes, science would just keep looking...

6:29:46 PM   permalink   comment []

Kevin Drum explains how we got to this point in the filibuster argument: it's true that the filibuster is an unusual tool for judicial nominations...but it's being used because the traditional rules for blocking judicial appointments were changed by the GOP majority.

Drum: "My broader point is that the real issue in the filibuster fight isn't the filibuster itself -- or blue slips or Rule IV or any other specific rule -- it's the general principle that rules shouldn't be cynically changed en masse just because your guy is in power and you've decided they're no longer convenient."

9:49:06 AM   permalink   comment []

The N&R runs a piece by local blogger David Wharton on the front of its opinion section, and says it's looking for more bloggers to contribute to the print edition. That's great, although not every blogger -- not even every good blogger -- is going to translate into longer-form newspaper writing the way Wharton does.

9:37:12 AM   permalink   comment []

Frank Rich is pretty damn good this morning. "This steady drip of subterfuge and news manipulation increasingly tells a more compelling story than the old news that Newsweek so egregiously botched."

9:32:09 AM   permalink   comment []

Okrent's last column as NYT public editor is excellent, although Krugman may not agree. Lot's of pithy stuff about big issues, plus a solid shot at travel coverage: "This is a weird form of crypto-journalism; if the theater critics were so chronically uncritical, they'd be hooted off the stage."

Read the whole thing.

9:29:45 AM   permalink   comment []

JR: News & Record to drop NYT content in to save money. "But given our direction in focusing on local news, we could certainly devote the $34,000 a year we spend on the Times reports better elsewhere...Many of us will miss the breadth and depth of its report, and the elegance and insight of its writing."

On one level I won't miss it, because I read the Times every day. But it could lower the value of the paper, and that's a risky move. Often I see an NYT article in the N&R and think, I'm glad people in Greensboro are getting this story.

I hope the $34K they save is well-spent.

8:45:17 AM   permalink   comment []

Rocketboom: video news on the web. Pretty cool.

8:32:38 AM   permalink   comment []

My newspaper column is called Darwin deserves better. It's about rendering unto science that which is science.

Charles Darwin should be so lucky. His contribution to science rivals that of Newton or Einstein, but his legacy is under constant attack...

...(N)ow the anti-evolutionists have a new strategy: They would rewrite the very definition of the word "science" itself...

...When people hear that science does not support their religious view of the world, they may hear their religion being challenged, even threatened. That is something for scientists and educators -- many of whom are themselves religious -- to bear in mind, and something for religious leaders to reconcile in ways that answer to their own faith. But the answer cannot be to teach religion as science. Darwin deserves better, and so do the scientists of tomorrow.

Read the whole thing.

8:28:11 AM   permalink   comment []