ImprecisionGeorge Weigel's Sept. 7 article, "False...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 14, 1994

Imprecision

George Weigel's Sept. 7 article, "False Precision and Population Science," was disingenuous in attempting to relate numerical precision to scientific validation.

In so doing, he demeaned a number of scientific disciplines while delivering an egregious and oversimplified view of this planet's population problems.

In point of fact, not all sciences are created equally in either their predictive power or in their practitioners' ability to pin down the .. numbers.

Examples of these abound and include: climatology, meteorology and ecology -- all of which must accommodate a diverse array of (sometimes conflicting) variables.

One would be foolish to dismiss the meteorologist because he is "wrong" in predicting temperatures in the high 70s, when they actually get to the 90s.

Likewise it would be foolish to dismiss population scientists because some of their indicators are a bit off in a particular region or for a particular interval.

Mr. Weigel seems content to put population science in the same pseudo-scientific camp as alchemy and astrology.

However, what would he have us do with the hundreds of climatologists, meteorologists, environmental scientists and others who are in the same boat of "imprecision?"

Do we dismiss the cumulative store of qualitative evidence these disciplines provide because their numbers are off by some percentage points?

The stark truth is that the Earth is a finite world, with finite resources -- and a global population growing at the rate of nearly 2 million a week. Humans do not live outside the same physical laws which govern other animals, irrespective of the precision with which the laws can be accessed.

This means that our species is just as susceptible to extinction as any other, especially if our choices compromise the degree to which we can adapted to a changing environment.

In this context, it is surely preferable to err on the side of caution and implement as effective a family planning infrastructure as possible. We do not have the luxury to await "precision."

hilip A. Stahl

Columbia

Black and White

In a Sept. 7 letter, Patricia Spaulding Taylor wrote that Dominique Dawes, a black female gymnast, who won five gold medals was mentioned in a short article on the third page of the sports section because of her color.

Funny. In that same newspaper on the front page of the sports section was a large color picture of Muggsy Bogues, a black Charlotte Hornets basketball player. Below him was a picture of Morgan running back Rickey Dangerfield.

On page 6 were two small black and white photos and articles about Pete Sampras and Gabriela Sabatini. So you see it's not the color of the athlete, it's the sport in which they play.

Basketball, baseball and football are much more popular than tennis and gymnastics. Everything does not have to be racial.

Christopher Prugh

Glen Burnie

School Choice

Anne Haddad's Perspective article Sept. 4 regarding Christian groups' opposition to outcome based education begs the question of whether accommodating all interest group needs in schools is realistic.

Public school policies must reflect the views on education of a large number of interests, some of which are stronger politically than others.

Predictably, the product of this situation must be policies which fail to meet the needs of some families and their children.

In this regard, outcome based education, in attempting to set goals and expectations, isn't a bad idea but is nevertheless likely to do a poor job of reflecting the diverse views that exist among parents regarding values and, as importantly, the relative roles of educators and families in teaching children.

The answer is not to simply require parents to endure practices for their children with which they disagree, or to create so-called compromises which satisfy neither side of an issue. It is rather to grant parents the freedom to find an educational environment which suits their particular beliefs and aspirations.

We need to abandon the folly that public support for education can only occur if children are educated in public schools. Monopoly in education, whether public or private, is bad public policy. Conditions which create tension between teachers and families is bad public policy. Both conditions exist today.

In Maryland, we are being "educated" to support an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars for new and expanded public schools.

Rather than simply build more public schools, let's support a greater role for parents by allowing them to decide where and how to educate their children.

The benefits would be reduced tension between teachers and parents because of shared values and standards, savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in public spending, and a strong probability that we will produce better educated, more responsible citizens.

Most importantly, we will give parents a right they should never have been denied in the first place.

Herm Schmidt

Bradshaw

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