Letter to the editor


NSTA Censorship


From: PSCF 46 (December 1994): 288.

Thank you for the enlightening article by John Wiester, "Distorting for Darwinism" in the June 1994 issue. It details a sad chronicle of editorial politics in the distorted review of Teaching Science by Russell Aiuto in the Oct/Nov 1993 issue of NSTA Reports! and the suppression of appropriate responses to that review.

Perhaps it is time for editor Wild of NSTA Reports! to review the fundamentals of liberty in the Western critical tradition. John Stuart Mill's comment on the matter, for example, would be an excellent start:

First: the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by authority may possibly be true. Those who dare to suppress it, of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility (On Liberty, New York: W.W. Norton Critical Edition, 1975. p. 18) [Emphasis his]

Mill goes on to point out that, while such authorities will always acknowledge they are fallible, they rarely "think it necessary to take any precautions against their own fallibility..." (pp. 18-19).

Jon Buell
Foundation for Thought and Ethics
P.O. Box 830721
Richardson, TX 75083-0721