Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Tue Sep 30 17:25:33 CDT 1997

James Lyons-Weiler wrote:

>I'll agree that is a real concern that the zealots on the other side (!)
>have organized to the extent that they have.  My message was not aimed at
>the discussion of how to deal with them, but rather at the "let's have it
>out on Taxacom" thread that was developing.

Okay. I'll second that, too.

>My estimate is that any biologist worthy of the name would not need to be
>coached on the principles of argumentation, anyway- not a slam on those
>that find the discussion worthwhile, or those who have shared tactics;
>just a testimony of my faith in the strength of logic over fallacy.

Mmmmmmm. Do the letters "OJ" ring any bells? Logic only works on logical
audiences. Debating skills *are* important, perhaps essential, since the
folks on the "creationist lecture tour" ARE generally experienced in

>To answer your question, should I lose my job over teaching evolution, I
>would win a lifetime position teaching whatever I wanted and researching
>whatever I desired, (paid in full by the offending party) in court on 1st
>amendment issues and in the civil suit for all sorts of things.  I'd
>love it.

This, of course, is why I said "privately decided". If they don't go *on
record* as having fired you, or disbanded your department, in order to
stifle evolutionary research, then you have no case, even if they come to
personally gloat while you're packing. Were such a scenario to occur, I
have little doubt that there would be an "official" excuse given. I
suspect, in fact, that such things have likely happened *already* in places
like Alabama - a few concerned parents complain to the principal about a
new grade school science teacher's "radical ideas," and *poof* they're
giving their walking papers. What principal would be fool enough to put in
writing, or admit in public, the real reason?  There are few things tougher
to substantiate than discrimination/harrassment type lawsuits, few people
with the courage to initiate one when they know they'll lose. Would you
really want to bet on this never having happened?
        The shaping of public opinion is very important, accordingly - if
we don't do our best to educate the public, then we cannot be surprised
when the public does not reject anti-science, but instead embraces it. Carl
Sagan's last book was a good example of the kind of thing we need more of;
sincere scientists with the courage to present the voice of reason. A
lesson to us all, literally.


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-448-1223, fax: 031-44-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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