Letters to the Editor

Fighting an unreasonable voice

Re Dan Abel column, "Environmental failures rife," Dec. 18:

Abel's needlessly inflammatory article expresses contempt for everyone in the whole country other than the most dedicated environmentalists like himself. As a member of Abel's "ignorati" I wish to dispute one of his key contentions. That we "ignorati " intend to "Put science and scientists (like Abel) on trial for their objective pursuit of the truth." Key word, objective.

Why does Abel think that scientists are the sole arbiters of the truth? Per Abel, scientists are endowed with a moral compass immune to any and all interests that would taint their findings. By co-opting the Greek word for knowledge from which is derived the scientific method, scientists enjoy an undeserved mantle of authority. This is peculiar since for almost every scientist there seems to be an equal and opposite scientist. Until they use the scientific method as a proof, they are simply putting forth a theory. They should be more accurately known as theorists.

In elementary school I read books about dinosaurs, cool stuff even in the '50s and '60s. I've continued to read and have learned that much of what I read early on has been discarded. Why? Two reasons. The vast increase of knowledge and researchers who advanced new theories.

I wonder if Abel ever read "In Search of Eve." It is an interesting story of the use of mitochondrial DNA in search of the first human female. It has a parallel story of disputed proofs and scientific egos vying for pre-eminence and the fame and prosperity that follows. While on evolution, what about Ernst Haeckel's deliberately faked drawings to support his scientific theory that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny - taught for years and portrayed in textbooks and now understood to be a crock. Piltdown man was a star in the famous Scopes trial. Mr. Piltdown was a piece of human skull and orangutan jaw, a deliberate fraud who fooled the scientific experts for 50 years. Archaeoraptor was a blending of two fossilized critters designed and proclaimed by scientists to support a dinosaur/bird connection. Lucy, the original "Eve," was a composite of bones found by scientists along a small canyon over a distance of several miles and throughout 100,000 years of strata.

How many scientific theories have been proclaimed the final authority on where the dinosaurs went? Asteroids, volcanoes, tilting of the poles, take your pick. All theories deduced from facts but not provable by the scientific method. Scientific proof requires controlled experimentation producing repeatable outcomes to prove a theory. Until then it is just a theory with benefits. What benefits you ask? We "ignorati" with a bachelor of science in business know there are grants and stature within the theorist community, book deals, the speaking circuit and more grants. For those of you who are not "ignorati," grants are your tax dollars at work. As a business scientist, I am in an objective pursuit of the truth too.

We "ignorati" agree that there is climate change. It would be ignorant not to. Stand under Rainbow Bridge in Arizona and the ranger tells there used to be 5,000 feet of strata above the bridge. There are tropical plant and animal fossils in Siberia and Antarctica. Ice ages have left ample evidence of their advance and retreat, some within recorded history. Smithsonian mentioned the mile thick layer of ice that used to overlay Bosnia and other portions of Eastern Europe just 10,000 years ago. There are human ruins in uninhabitable portions of the Sahara. These all speak to vast climate change far beyond man's influence.

Abel's obvious contempt and ad hominem attacks have produced an unprofessional editorial that belies his stated, "objective pursuit of the truth." They render him a worthless witness for his cause, a better witness for his opponents. I'm reminded of the quip about the preacher's notes, "argument weak, yell real loud here."

I do appreciate Abel pointing out that as an "ignorati" I should be a member of the tea party. I'll take care of that right away.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.