birding-aus Ravings (Yank)

Subject: birding-aus Ravings (Yank)
From: Richard Wood <>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 08:24:25 -0700
I have read with interest most of the "ravings" posts.  Enclosed is a
"raving" (my words, not his) from Kansas, US.  It sounded to me to be the
same theme as here, except the last paragraph, which has some good thoughts.

I apologize to those who don't think it is appropriate and to those who
have already read it from BirdChat.  Please let me know if it is

Cheers from sunny and beautiful Tucson, AZ, US.

Date:    Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:38:55 -0500
From:    Dave Rintoul <>
Subject: clarification (I hope)
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I have received a couple of private messages, for which I am grateful,
taking me to task for my use of the terms "cave-dwelling" and "bozos" in my
recent post about the Kansas Board of Education. These
correspondents took offense because they thought my message was
"intolerant" and disrespectful of religious views. Those are pretty serious
accusations, and I will take them seriously.

In a university environment, I have to interact productively with people
who represent all of the world's great religions. And I suspect that all of
these religions are represented on this list. So if anyone
thought I was bashing his or her faith specifically, I apologize.  I
re-read my message and religion wasn't mentioned anywhere, but I do
understand that this is a sensitive area. In my mind, at least, I did not
intend to denigrate anyone's faith. 

But as a scientist and an educator, I take my job pretty seriously. And I
admit that I am very intolerant of willful ignorance. So I when I used the
term "cave-dwelling", I used it specifically to describe an ignorance so
vast that it believes that reality can be abolished by a refusal to teach
about it or learn it. The Romans tried to do this with the Christian faith;
it didn't work very well. Stalin tried to do this with Mendelian genetics,
and the resulting failure of Soviet agriculture indirectly led to the fall
of the Soviet empire. So history has taught us that willful ignorance is a
dead end. "Cave-dwelling" seemed to be an appropriate description for it,
and that would be true no matter what the person's religion might be. So I
will admit to intolerance. I am very tolerant when it comes to religious
beliefs, but very intolerant when it comes to
willful ignorance. My apologies, I don't  seem to be able to change that.

But what does this have to do with birds? I know that this is also a
sensitive subject, since in my capacity as listowner I have chided some of
you for off-topic messages in the past! And I admit that this has nothing
to do with birds directly. However, if we continue to produce students who
are ignorant of biology and science in general, we will continue to elect
legislators and school board members who reflect that ignorance. We will
continue to lose habitat, and birds, and the natural world we all love, if
scientific facts cannot be understood by policy makers. So the long-term
ramifications of this topic have a lot to do with birds. Ignorance will not
help us save the ones we have now, nor will it allow our children the
opportunity to thrill at the sight of a scarlet tanager, or gaze in awe at
a family of whooping cranes.


Dave Rintoul, Ph.D.                           
Biology Division - KSU                           ICBM: 39.18N, 96.34W
Manhattan KS 66506-4901                             VOX: 785-532-6663              FAX: 785-532-6653

"Scientists are treacherous allies on committees, for they are apt to
change their minds in response to arguments." - C.M
Dick Wood
Tucson, AZ

N32-16'-53.5"   W111-04'-22.5"

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so 
long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened 
for us. -Helen Keller

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