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CREATION SCIENCE

I want to thank the Weekly and Margaret Wertheim for the article “Creation Science” [Quark Soup, November 1–7]. She presents the latest thinking of the evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker in such a way that this reader feels brought to the table, instead of feeling skipped over and ignored in the rarefied air of academia.

The subtitle says it all: “The gospel according to Steven Pinker.” The way he stretches the truths about Darwin’s theories in The Blank Slate, Pinker sounds like all the other scientists who’ve wrapped themselves in the same cloak of infallibility that the old priesthood foolishly did back when they wanted to make the Earth stand still.

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I like the value that Wertheim places on our powers of interpretation. Humanity is still a work in progress, and I think we should stay humble about the limits of our understanding — and open to possibilities only temporarily beyond our reach.

—Eric Vollmer
Los Angeles

 

I learned a lot more about Margaret Wertheim’s world-view in her review of Stephen Pinker’s book than I did about the book itself. Instead of reasoned, critical review, Wertheim dismisses Pinker’s book on the basis of a glib analogy between Pinker’s naturalism and Christian fundamentalism. Wertheim supports her crucial analogy with only the flimsiest of arguments: Biologists of Pinker’s ilk worship their own “sacred text” (the human genome), examining its “every word” with “literal precision.” This, she says, is just like religious fundamentalists and their holy books; ergo, both alike are “fundamentalists.” QED.

In other words, Wertheim would have us believe that there is no relevant distinction between, on the one hand, believing that a set of mechanisms encoded in DNA “literally” creates an organism, and, on the other, believing that an invisible man living in the sky “literally” made the cosmos in six days, on the other.

I myself have trouble seeing any relevant similarity.

—Michael Drake
Hollywood

 

Three cheers for Margaret Wertheim’s Quark Soup column on “scientific fundamentalists” who hold on to answers instead of participating in the creative search for ever more interesting questions.

—Martin Levine
Los Angeles

DERRIDA, DERRINYET

This Saturday morning, thanks to the Weekly, my breakfast consisted mainly of savoring, word by word, the wonderful article by Kristine McKenna titled “The Three Ages of Jacques Derrida” [November 8–14]. This type of article is an absolute delight to the higher echelons of self. It responds, with elegance, to the eternal and, at times, silent desire to discover the real treasures that exist right here in our city, and our state. Please continue bringing us those treasures!

—Luis Rafael Galvez
Panorama City

 

As much as I’m enamored of Kristine McKenna’s work, her statement that “Deconstructionism is a flexible methodology . . . the impact it’s had on literary criticism is equal to, if not greater than, the mark it’s left on philosophical discourse” is just not credible. Deconstructionism’s very problem is the flexibility she notes: It bends to whatever agenda it’s applied, and with shocking ease. It’s actually a very old mechanism, predating Derrida by centuries, and it doesn’t matter whether the wielder is McLuhan, Paglia, Foucault or Joe Shmoe — as an instrument, it’s perpetually, indeed idiosyncratically, chameleonic. The whole process, each time it’s applied, is a matter of the watcher watching the watcher watching the watcher . . . ad infinitum. The perception of the artist’s “intent” is subject to the deconstructionist’s subjectivity to his or her own perceptions and covert bugaboos. Derrida, as a wrinkle in philosophy, may or may not withstand the test of time, but at least one of his progeny, deconstructionism, has already passed into senescence and is only feebly resurrected from time to time, usually when an ersatz polemicist’s rope’s end is reached.

—Marc S. Tucker
Manhattan Beach

IRV RUBIN, R.I.P.

Re: Howard Blume’s “A Man Out of Time” [November 8–14]. I have known Irv Rubin for over 20 years and was a fellow Jewish activist, at his side at many a demonstration and press conference. Irv Rubin is a passionate, zealous leader whose commitment to the survival of the Jewish people is unsurpassed. His whole life has been dedicated to protecting Jewish lives, courageously standing up to Jew haters of all stripes, and having the bravery and temerity to challenge and confront issues that the Jewish establishment wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I’m proud of my friendship and association with Irv Rubin. May it be G-d’s will that he live and be well. And please pass out the crying towels to his detractors who already had him dead and buried.

—Fern Sidman
Brooklyn, New York

 

Howard Blume implies that United Jewish Communities and its local member body, the Jewish ä Federation of Greater Los Angeles, are supporting people whose opinions parallel those espoused by the Jewish Defense League. The UJC and the L.A. Jewish Federation are non-political bodies. Our efforts include assisting victims of terror who live in Israel. This assistance is offered strictly in the humanitarian realm, helping those who have been physically or psychologically injured during the tragic events of the last two years.

We help individuals whose lives have been ruined wherever they reside. The Israeli citizens who live outside of the pre-1967 borders of Israel represent a cross section of Israeli society. They include new immigrants as well as longtime residents, people with varied political ideologies from left to right. Most just want to live peaceful, productive lives. It is not fair to imply that the JDL position is the predominant view of the majority of those living beyond the Green Line.

—John R. Fishel
President, the Jewish Federation
Los Angeles

 

MUSIC ISSUES

I’m writing in response to Alec Hanley Bemis’ review of Spoon at the Troubadour [November 1–7]. I found it a little odd that Bemis felt the need to start his review by mentioning he was in the “skyboxlike VIP room.” What kind of music critic watches a band perform from the VIP room? A real music fan would have been on the floor enjoying the show the way God intended. It’s just not natural to be looking down on a stage while a band plays, or to be watching from behind a sheet of glass. Bemis may as well have sent a friend to the show with a video camera; then he could have stayed home and watched it. No wonder he felt the show was lacking — he didn’t fully experience it. I was down on the floor, elbow-to-elbow with the other Spoon fans, and from down there I watched a group of guys who were having a blast just being onstage playing their instruments. The only posing I witnessed was when I looked over my shoulder toward the VIP room.

—Dave Connaughton
Venice

 

Do you not have a music editor? I’ve seen sloppy music coverage, but I’ve never seen anything like Andrew Lentz’s Black Dice blurb [Scoring the Clubs, November 1–7], which manages to make three mistakes in three words: “The Providence threesome’s debut”: 1) The boys are from Brooklyn; 2) there are four guys in Black Dice; and 3) this is not their first release.

—Jack Bolt
Brooklyn

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: You forgot to mention we got the venue wrong, too.

CORRECTIONS

RE For “The Misfits,” last week’s cover story by Paul Cullum: ICM agent David Unger was misidentified as Steve Unger; Steve Golin was a producer on The Portrait of a Lady, not associate producer; Bill Mechanic was only involved with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in his capacity as head of Fox Studios; Meltdown Comics is on Sunset Boulevard, not Melrose Avenue; and it was producer Marty Brest, not Barry Levinson, who accompanied Stuart Cornfeld and Herve Villechaize on their ill-fated late-night deep-sea expedition. Re Max Gerber’s cover story “Microbats, Broken Skulls, Rocket Girls & Prehistoric Beach Bears” (November 1–7): Development of the Microbat was credited to Caltech, when it actually grew out of a three-way collaboration by Caltech, UCLA and AeroVironment.

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