Sunday letters: Sen. Fair needs to understand theories

February 23, 2014 

— State Sen. Mike Fair is under the mistaken impression that natural selection is in doubt, and his ignorance threatens to send the children of our already-struggling state back, at best, to the 18th century.

Natural selection enjoys virtually unanimous consensus in the scientific community. Since the idea’s formulation more than 150 years ago, it has thrived under a century of intense scientific scrutiny and has emerged as the foundation of biology.

Sen. Fair betrays his ignorance by saying: “I don’t have a problem with teaching theories. I don’t think it (evolution) should be taught as fact.” When scientists use the word “theory,” they mean something different than we do in everyday conversation. Other famous scientific “theories” include the theory of gravitation, atomic theory and the germ theory of disease. In other words, gravity, atoms, bacteria and viruses are all “just theories.”

If Sen. Fair wishes, we can “teach the (manufactured) controversy” over germ theory; perhaps diseases are caused, as the Old Testament reports, by evil spirits or wickedness. If we choose to teach our children to believe this, an elderly Sen. Fair might find himself being treated for a simple infection with bronze snakes.

Richard Crandall

York

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