Letters to the Editor

Columnist fashions his own reality

To the Editor:

Your guest columnist Steven Crider has a unique way of twisting and re-labeling reality that leaves clear-thinking readers scratching their heads — or should.

A while back (SMN, Feb. 21), he tried to convince us that the flawed Electoral College system, which periodically hands the highest office in the land to the loser of our national popular vote for president, is actually a big plus for American democracy. (Visit nationalpopularvote.com.)

More recently (SMN, April 3, “Are the ‘deniers’ practicing better science?”), Mr. Crider introduced us to the 19th century European physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who demonstrated conclusively that disinfecting hands and instruments in a medical setting prevented the transmission of disease. I agree Semmelweis is a genuine if largely forgotten hero. Lacking the theoretical underpinnings that would come only decades later, he nonetheless did the hard work of science: a grasp of the problem — people were dying unnecessarily — keen observation, statistical analysis and experimentation. Yet Crider, for his own purposes, casts Ignaz Semmelweis as a “denier.” In reality, the man’s life more closely fits the profile of an “alarmist” and an “activist,” types that Crider clearly has little use for! Are you scratching your head yet?

Look, the “scientific skepticism” that Mr. Crider touts, if practiced for its own sake and unsupported by solid data, is pointless, distracting and potentially dangerous. Be a denier if you must, according to your political and philosophical lights, but please don’t call such knee-jerk rejectionism “science.” True and correct science, competing in the marketplace of ideas, will (like Semmelweis) be vindicated in the end.

Tom Powers

Haywood County

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