A Clinical Case of  Interlinear Hyperlexia ?

Walter R. Hearn
762 Arlington Ave.
Berkeley, CA 9470

From: PSCF 42 (September 1990): 199-200.

Arthur Strahler's letter (June 1990, p. 135) calling on the Perspectives editor and peer reviewers to "bow their heads in shame" sent me to the December 1989 issue to see what "unconscionable display of Christian bigotry" I had missed. Strahler was protesting "Christian chauvinism" in Armand Nicholi's "How Does the World View of the Scientist and the Clinician Influence Their Work?" (Dec. 1989, pp. 214-220). 

Nicholi's article (a lecture addressing Christian scientists and clinicians) exhorted Christians to follow some explicit "marching orders" for doing clinical work, but did not categorize the treatment of patients by others. It called the agape standard "a unique kind of love," yet I found no argument that agape love is given exclusively to, exercised exclusively by, or expected exclusively from, Christian believers. Strahler must have read into the lecture his own inference about the behavior of "non-Christian (secular, humanistic)" therapists, to which no reference was actually made. Athough Sigmund Freud's self-definition as an "infidel Jew" was cited, Nicholi offered not the slightest hint that in treating patients Freud was "at best indifferent and at worst cruel, inhumane, and uncaring" (Strahler's words).  Strahler read between the lines an implication that "Christianity is unique in generating compassionand sympathy." 

The general tone of the letter and the name of the writer suggest that he may be the same Arthur Strahler who reviewed ASA's first Search issue (in Creation/Evolution Newsletter, May/June 1988, pp. 9-11). Strahler began that review by criticizing what he didn't like about the ASA Statement of Faith, ASA's name, and a book coauthored by engineer Walter Bradley, who was the focus of that first Search. Then he turned to the way Bradley's story was told, pointing out in detail what the Search author had intended, his "wary" strategies, deplorable debating tactics, and "that nasty fallacy of homogenization" of science and religion. Noting that the author of Search, Walter R. Hearn, was also on the committee that produced ASA's "controversial propaganda piece, Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy," Strahler was not surprised that Search had turned out to be an "exercise in creationist pseudoscience." After all, he wrote, "Special creationists have only one tape and they play it over and over again." 

The unblinking reviewer then demonstrated his ability to read between lines as yet unwritten. He anticipated "subsequent issues of Search, each dealing with a different topic from Teaching Science." Foreseeing Hearn's intentions, Strahler felt safe in concluding that, "like this first issue, none of them should be allowed to gain admission to our public school science classrooms." He may have missed subsequent Search issues on an audio engineer, a psychologist, two chemists, and a geneticist, but he should have seen issue No. 7. Bound into the December 1989 Perspectives containing the Nicholi article, that Search focused on geologist Davis Young and his criticisms of the young-earth "creation science" movement.

Of course, between the lines, it may have said something entirely different to Arthur Strahler.