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Letters to the Editor

June 15, 2010

Those without evidence must twist facts



To the editor:

I am writing in response to the letter by Richard Giovanoni published in the Herald-Mail on June 3. As far as I can tell, Giovanoni failed to present a single evolutionary or biological concept accurately.

He implies that Darwin's conclusion that human origin in Africa was a forgone conclusion - wrong. In Darwin's day, Europeans believed that humans originated in Europe.

Next, Giovanoni ridicules the use of certain terms in a scientific document he references. He says, "Let's see, how do the words 'suggest' and 'could have' prove anything?" This reminds me of an analogous argument by Bill Clinton: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

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Giovanoni fails to recognize that fossil evidence is forensic, so is presented like criminal evidence in court. It is not like a mathematical proof that has only one interpretation. Consequently, anthropologists must build a case beyond a reasonable doubt - not present dogma.

He refers to an article by A. P. Hendry, claiming that Hendry "admits" the evolution does not work as expected - wrong. Hendry actually says that current studies are inadequate to predict how fast evolution occurs (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v433/n7027/full/433694a.html).

He then claims that C. Woese and N. Goldenfield argue that Darwin's explanation of evolution cannot explain how the genetic code could arise, and that the form of the code points to a process very different from today's Darwinian evolution - wrong.

Woes and Goldenfield wrote about the effect of horizontal gene transfer (the sharing of genes between different species) on the evolution of microorganisms. They suggest that this mechanism and the actions of virus are primarily responsible for evolution in single-celled organisms. These researchers fully accept Darwinian evolution of multi-celled organisms like us, saying that horizontal sharing of genes would eventually lead to the present era of vertical evolution. (http://guava.physics.uiuc.edu/pubs/preprints/Goldenfeld-Woese-Nature-2007.pdf).

Finally, Giovanoni attempts to use "junk DNA" (a term applied to noncoding DNA) and the subsequent discovery of several important functions of "junk DNA" as evidence that evolution is wrong. He also states that (intelligent) design advocates somehow knew that it was not just junk.

No one I know actually thought all junk DNA had no function; it just didn't code for protein. But reading Giovanoni, you get the impression that intelligent design advocates alone saw this possibility, which led to discovering the function of junk DNA - wrong. It was those pesky evolutionists who doggedly teased out the secrets.

When people have no evidence for their own views, they attack the evidence of others. That's OK if the attacks are factual. But if you use semantic arguments, quotations out of context, distortions, and misdirection to make your case, that too is wrong.

Larry Zaleski
Hagerstown




Now that you mention it, thanks are indeed in order



To the editor:

In the Sunday, April 24 edition of The Herald Mail, I found one letter particularly interesting. The writer wished to "thank" Obama for all the president has done for the country so far.

He began by "thanking" Obama for adding trillions to the national debt. We're all concerned about this, but where was this guy when George Bush was doing the same thing?

After all, Bush got us into an unnecessary war (which will end up costing us well over $1 trillion), and passed irresponsible tax cuts (which in the end will mean nearly $1 trillion less in revenue for the government), and spent more freely than any other previous administration.

In fact, of the current $12 trillion owed by the U.S., two-thirds of that amount was accrued by Republican administrations. So are you "thanking" those Republican presidents, too, sir?

The writer also wished to "thank" Obama for buying private companies, such as General Motors. He should. Because the government was willing to bail them out, some 40,000 GM employees still have their jobs (not to mention the many thousands of others whose livelihoods depend on the car companies), and GM was able to make its first repayment on the loan - to the U.S. and Canada - five years early. So, yes, thank you, Mr. President.

According to the writer, President Obama has insulted our allies and coddled our enemies. Funny, because all the Europeans I talk to - and I travel to Europe almost every year - love our president (and they couldn't stand George Bush). And coddling our enemies? You mean, for example, by trying to impose the toughest sanctions ever on Iran? The Obama administration has certainly stumbled, but it has by no means been "coddling" anyone. That's right-wing babble.

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