Re: news release policy

Robert L. Miller (
Fri, 5 Sep 1997 21:20:43 -0700

Paul Arveson wrote:

>I have to agree with many on this list who oppose use of official news
>releases. I agree with the understanding of these others that the main
>missions of ASA are to offer a broad forum for discussion of ideas, and to
>educate both the Christian and scientific communities about the issues.

But how are we going to educate the Christian and scientific communities if
we don't communicate with them? PSCF and the newsletter are basically
inhouse publications read by a very small, interested group. In my memory,
the only educational project we have done successfully has been Teaching
Science in a Climate of Controversy, and it was very successful. But that
was a long involved process, akin to writing a book. What Dennis is
suggesting is reacting to a present situation. You can't do that in a peer
review process. What is the time gap between submission and publication in
PSCF now? 1 year? 2 years? If we have enough confidence, as an organization,
to ask someone to edit our newsletter can't we have confidence that he could
editorialize on a current situation without doing harm to the mission of the
organization, especially if he has a small group he can run his editorial by
for comment before publication?

>Because some subjects such as Darwinism have been historically fraught with
>confusion and controversy, I think that any official statements about such
>matters should be developed carefully by a group of ASA members who
>represent the best thought and spectrum of views in ASA. This is generally
>done by means of our peer-reviewed publications such as Perspectives and
>Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy.

I agree. Is there a difference between an official statement and an editorial?

>I believe that this list has helped to meet ASA's mission by providing a
>forum for a wide range of viewpoints. It is evident from the opinions I
>read here that there is a lot of good thought, but little unanimity.
>Nevertheless, we assume that the process is worthwhile: that people will
>have flexibility and agree with someone else's argument once in a while, or
>at least refine and prune their own ideas.

There is unanimity about who created.

>I think it may be the process, as much as the ideas themselves, that
>provides educational value. That is why we must be careful to be civil
>here. Content is wide open. Criticism should be restrained. In this way
>we can set an example.

You have described an academic process, but how are we to educate the
non-academic Christian community for whom we are, in many cases, the only
organization that can give them reasonable answers.

> Paul Arveson, Code 724, Signatures Directorate, NSWC
> (301) 227-3831 (301) 227-4511 (FAX)