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Topic: Professional Standards

June 2010

Dear Editor,

After reading Richard P. Palmer’s “Letter” in the March issue of GSA Today*, I had to check the cover to make sure I was reading GSA Today and not USA Today. Mr. Palmer is certainly entitled to his opinion, but his polemic tone, word choice (“Saint Gore,” “data rigging,” “prostitution”) and obvious political bias renders his letter inappropriate for any scientific society’s publication. There are more than enough outlets for the shrill opinion, such as blogs, newspapers, talk radio, or street demonstrations.

Perhaps worst of all, GSA Today’s publication of a “lifetime” geoscientist’s diatribe lends a bit more credibility to the ideology-based criticisms of climate science. Those of us who work in the noisy classroom of science and public policy have enough trouble getting the students to pay attention. There is plenty of room for thoughtful opinion and discourse, but disruptive shouting serves neither the science nor the students.

So please, GSA Today: Give scientific debate and opinion its rightful place, but do not follow the commercial media in giving “equal voice” to fake scientific challenges that are, in reality, angry and emotional yells.

Rob McDowell, Ph.D., P.G.
Director, Environmental Policy Program, University of Georgia
Member, GSA Geology and Society Division

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