Rebuttal to Columbus Dispatch Editorial on 1/29/03 titled "An idea takes flight"

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The latest journalistic attempt by the Columbus Dispatch to manufacture support in Ohio for Darwinian dogma has unwittingly provided valuable insight to the layman about the pseudoscientific premise evolutionary theories are based on. While the purpose of their article was a feeble attempt to demonstrate that evolution has some scientific depth, it actually illustrates the complete opposite.

The article begins by proclaiming that a researcher from the University of Montana has a viable theory about the evolution of flight in dinosaurs. The foundation of this man’s theory is based on the factual observation that before young birds can fly, they rely on their wings to help them run uphill and escape predators. He then took this observation, extrapolated it to the nth degree, and hypothesized that this must have been how wings evolved because it gives them a purpose before they are actually capable of generating flight.

The Dispatch editorial then proudly uses this researcher’s hypothesis as new evidence for how flight must have evolved in dinosaurs (e.g. dinosaurs to birds). They then chastise any doubters of evolution and the proponents of intelligent design as supporting nonscientific dogma, and appear to be genuinely dumbfounded that in the face of evidence such as this, there are scientifically trained people who would dare to question the "perceived fact" of their theory.

While the Columbus Dispatch has a right to their opinion, they do not have the right to mangle the truth to prove their point. Science is based on actual observation and experimental reproducibility, so observing a young bird flapping his wings on the ground does not necessarily mean this is how flight evolved.

Even their own article admits the problem by saying, "His (the U. Montana researcher) speculation provides an example of the way that evolutionary theory itself changes and grows, an issue misunderstood by many who took part in the recent flap about the teaching of evolution in Ohio’s public schools." (my emphasis)

This statement perfectly illustrates what the doubters of evolution and proponents of intelligent design have been complaining about for years. If this theory is the best evidence that the Columbus Dispatch has to explain how evolutionary theory changes and grows, it should not come as any surprise that many people trained in the field do not understand it. This researcher has provided no experimental evidence, no actual observation, no data and no fossil to prove that a dinosaur ever evolved into anything but a dinosaur. All we have is his "speculation", and the Columbus Dispatch expects us to accept this as definitive evidence for the evolution of flight!

However, the Columbus Dispatch is correct on one important point. I do not understand this bizarre line of thinking and it is beyond me to comprehend how anyone can support it without laughing up their sleeve.

It is this type of irresponsible behavior by the intellectual elites and biased newspapers that perpetrated the debate about science standards in Ohio’s schools. Furthermore, the pseudoscientific reasoning presented in this Dispatch editorial does nothing but bolster the claim that evolution is not required to follow the same rules of inquiry as other scientific disciplines.

Finally, contrary to the strange conclusions drawn by this Dispatch editorial, intelligent design / creation gained significant victories as a result of the debate about evolution in Ohio. In the end, The Ohio State School board eventually recognized there was a valid controversy and chose to allow evidence both for and against evolution to be taught in the new science standards.

Patrick Young, Ph.D.
Canal Winchester, Ohio 

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