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In Support Of Rudy Baum

February 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 8

I 've been a member of ACS for more than 30 years, and clearly, Rudy Baum is taking more flak than any of his predecessors. The reason, I believe, is that he takes on scientific topics that the public considers controversial, such as evolution, climate change, pollution, and stem cells. As a scientist, I pride myself on hearing all sides of a scientific issue and then deciding for myself, based upon the facts. The value of such open-mindedness becomes apparent when one considers the Newton-Huygens debate over whether light is a particle or a wave.

Many of those who call for Baum to step down or to focus his editorials solely on chemistry simply disagree with his point of view and want to shut him up. In various letters in the past few months, Baum has been called: a "left-wing mouthpiece," "a liberal," "a leftist," and a "treasonous tightwad"! These are not the thoughtful arguments of scientists; these are attempts to shout down scientific discussion. What's going on?

I suspect that many of these commentators see the world only in black and white; in such a "world" global warming is a myth created by scientists to acquire tax dollars for research; addressing "pollution" will destroy our country's economy; if you believe in God, you cannot believe in evolution; and every stem cell is a baby. This group doesn't want a debate, they are head-hunting nonbelievers. If you are not with them , you are against them...and then they label you a Commie-pinko liberal! Baum's name is at the top of their list.

Frankly, I'm tired of reading insults instead of reasoned scientific arguments. I know that Baum wants to present all sides of a discussion, but let's make sure that our discussion is scientific. ACS is under no obligation to print letters from nonmembers. Perhaps that is a good starting place for returning civility to our magazine's Letters Department.

David A. Marsh
Abilene, Texas



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