Letter to the editor

Letter missing strong argument

Dear editor:

Jeremy Neal’s April 3 letter regarding Matthew White’s column on anthropogenic climate change (man-made global warming) is remarkable. Mr. Neal, a student of science (chemical physics), failed to use a single scientific argument in his attempt to discredit points made by Mr. White, a student of journalism (magazine journalism). Rather, Mr. Neal’s arguments rely on asserting the superiority of the U.N.’s IPCC report and questioning the character and motives of those who disagree with that report. Such appeals to authority and ad hominem attacks have no place in reasoned debate.

Interestingly, by invoking a “broad consensus” of scientists, Mr. Neal actually confirms Mr. White’s point that some scientists disagree with the majority opinion. By definition, consensus admits that there is disagreement. Welcome to science! Honest scientists encourage reasoned disagreement. It prompts them to reconsider their assumptions, their data, their analysis and, ultimately, their conclusions. It makes science better.

Yes, there could be only one scientist who disagrees, and that one could be a crackpot or a shill. Then again, that one could be Galileo, Newton or Einstein. The point is to stick to the science. By doing so, fact can be separated from assumption and errors can be found and corrected.

So, how can one begin to understand climate change? With questions. Lots and lots of questions. And keep asking questions until the answers make sense. How was the temperature and CO2 data collected? How accurate is it? What statistical methods were used to analyze it? How does variable solar output affect the climate? How does CO2 heat the atmosphere? What assumptions are included in the computer models? What assumptions are excluded? Do these models faithfully reproduce past climate behavior? What are the intended consequences of a given course of so-called corrective action? Might there be unintended consequences?

Lastly, keep in mind that science, being a profoundly human pursuit, tends to be messy. It only looks tidy when written up in journals and textbooks or when edited for the big screen.

Jon Ruth

Manager, FlexMatters Accelerator

Geraghty, Rankin and Griffiths wrong

Dear editor:

This is in response to R. Geraghty’s and B. Rankin’s columns in the Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Stater.

While I, again, support the Stater’s efforts to break the taboo of racism at Kent State, I do not think that the methods of radical introspection, as proposed by Geraghty, or reverse victimization, as advocated by Rankin and Griffiths, will do much good.

Challenging your own views on race in isolation is like rubbing your face in a beehive: distortion guaranteed. How we deal with difference seems rather reflexive and not, as Geraghty believes, reflective. Prejudice is part of our natural reaction toward the unusual, unexpected and different. Trying to override this reaction by introspection and political correction is not going to get us to the roots of our having it in the first place. Only if we can accept the natural reflex toward difference as a universal of the human condition, can we take others’ prejudice against us as seriously as our own.

I don’t think that Rankin and Griffiths’ “let it all hang out victims” approach is very useful. As the responses to Rankin’s “I am not a white bitch” piece show, the reasons for racism are complex. To ask “victims of prejudice” to tell their stories truthfully presupposes that they know for sure what motivated the alleged perpetrators. Since this is impossible, there is plenty of room for the victim to trickle his/her own prejudice into the “story.”

There is no way for Rankin and Griffiths (or other editors at the Stater) to predict where this kind of public prejudice bashing will lead. Since both the alleged perpetrators’ and the victims’ motives might or might not be linked to prejudice, there is too much room for pure mudslinging, something that, I think, is detrimental to what the Stater wants to achieve.

(Whenever I am asked how I’ve been dealing with all the difference, prejudice and racism in the U.S. since I moved here, I answer that my curiosity has remained stronger than my fear.)

Frank Rosen

Doctoral candidate in English