Two letters in March 31, 1993 Chronicle of Higher Education

The following two letters appeared in this week's (March 31, 1993) Chronicle of Higher Education (page B6):

To the Editior:

As faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Missouri at Columbia, we are writing to express our view that evolution is no more subject to conjecture than say, gravity, magnetic attraction, or the atomic nature of matter. Each of these concepts explains such an immense number of observations, that they have been accepted as fact by the scientific community.

Evolutionary "theory" refers to hypotheses on the mechanisms contributing to evolution (e.g., genetic drift, natural selection, mutation), not to the hypothetical nature of evolution, itself. This view shapes our undergraduate and graduate curricula in biologica sciences and anthropology and underlies much of our research. The opinion of Richard P. Dowdy ("Evolution: theory or fact?" Letters to the Editor, February 24) that "evolution has not yet been proven" is a personal opinion that does not represent the views of the university, its researchers, or graduate faculty.

Dr. Dowdy surely is entitled to express his personal point of view. We value diversity of perspectives at MU - this makes for a stimulating intellectual environment. However, we wish to make it clear that Dr. Dowdy does not speak for "Graduate Research and Education" at our institution. His title of "Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education" is applicable only within his home College of Human Environmental Sciences. As we understand it, the Chronicle abbreviated Dr. Dowdy's title, ommitting his college affiliation. We consider this inappropriate editorial practice. We feel that, given the content of Dowdy's letter, the Chronicle should not have used a title implying any policy of the University of Missouri without an inquiry, and as such owes the university an apology.

Candace Galen
Associate Professor of Biological Science

Mark Flinn
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
And 27 other faculty members
College of Arts and Science
University of Missouri at Columbia
Columbia, MO

To the Editor:

Considerable misunderstanding has developed as a result of my letter to you which was published in the Chronicle. Please let me clarify. The letter represented my own thoughts and was not intended to represent either university or college opinion or position.

It was wrong for me to use my administrative title and I want to apologize for that error.

Concerning the particular issue, evolutionary changes do occur; that is factual. To me, the theory of evolution relates to attempts to explain these phenomena. Thus, in my attempt to be brief, I fell prey to the very point I was trying to clarify - differentiating fact from theory.

Richard P. Dowdy
Associate Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition
University of Missouri at Columbia
Columbia, MO

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