Every once in a while an article appears that is simply amazing in its stupidity. Gospel of False Prophets (April 24) by Mr. Bil Gilbert is such a masterpiece.
Most students of junior high school biology know that there will always be an ecology of some kind. What some of us are trying to avoid is the ecology that would be associated with a world of 50 billion people, concrete and cockroaches.
Man's frantic efforts had better matter more than a whit. Personally, I prefer this world to that of Mr. Gilbert.
H. R. HATHAWAY, M.D.
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Bil Gilbert's trite exercise in semantics is unfortunate insofar as it casts doubt upon the validity of the "ecology" movement. Granted, the original meaning of ecology has been severely bastardized with usage. It has been exploited by many groups and has become somewhat ambiguous as a result. What Mr. Gilbert fails to understand is that words, like ecosystems, also undergo evolutionary change. Ecology has come to symbolize man's concern for his world.
According to Gilbert, the ecology movement consists of nothing more than a bunch of pop ecologists who believe whooping cranes arc good and people vile. Whooping cranes, polluted waters and disappearing open space have indeed become rallying points of environmental concern. These are symptoms of man's effect on his world. It is absurd to say that anyone (excepting the most naive) believes that the extinction of the whooping crane "will leave an irreparable rent in the ecological web of life." The survival of the human species is the real issue. Let us hope that not everyone is as fatalistic as Mr. Gilbert.
DONALD BRENT WOOD
I hope you can find this letter among the avalanche of boos you are bound to get from members of the Sierra Club and others who call themselves conservationists. They'll take a dim view of Gilbert's gospel.
Having spent 35 years in an industry vitally interested in our forests' yield, I was dazed when the word ecology came into vogue. Dictionaries failed to clarify what most were talking about. Thanks for an amusing, enlightening explanation.
Chairman of the Board
Corley Manufacturing Company
My eternal gratitude to Bil Gilbert for his truly outstanding piece on ecology. It is high time the pestiferous preachings of the "ecologists" have been identified as precisely what they are: the mouthing of personal esthetic preferences and prejudices.
This article should be made required reading for Senator Proxmire, his admirers and the various organizations which are energetically striving to bring about the economic destruction of Alaska (not to mention the rest of the world) in the name of ecology.
My congratulations also to SI for having the integrity to print an article stating a position which is not in accord with popular feeling.
Bil Gilbert rightly debunks much of the current nonsense about "ecology," but I think he has gone too far. If man is a natural phenomenon, then not only the consequences of his acts arc natural, but his brain, thoughts and understanding of the world around him are also natural. If man chooses not to live in his own sewage, not to breed to a point of diminishing life quality, and not to wantonly destroy other life forms unceasingly, these choices are also natural. Since most objective observers would consider these products of thought to be beneficial, why are they wrong?
The answer is they are not. A microbe in a test tube has no power to stop its rampant multiplication. Man's mind shows him a better way, one which will enable him to survive where lesser species failed. We've heard the Malthusian argument before and are trying to avoid its consequences.
MICHAEL GELB, D.D.S.
Bil Gilbert's attempt to purify the concept of ecology has a permeating stench of laissez-faire philosophy that leads to a glorified status quo. It is a common American malady that results in an abrogation of responsibility. Leave well enough alone. Things will work out in the end. Forces of life and extinction will interact until a new equilibrium is reached.
The notion that "a kind of ultimate check. a biological Catch-22, built into the system" will preserve the biosphere is sheer folly. For what Mr. Gilbert refuses to consider is that man's activities affect every other species in a unique manner never displayed in prior evolutionary history. While dominant species in the past have defeated themselves, man, the new dominator, does not appear to be content with merely destroying himself. If he loses, everything else must lose.
Man controls not only the play-by-play, he also makes the rules. And that makes all the difference.
JOHN ADAM KARACZYNSKI
Bil Gilbert states: "Nature is what is. Man is: the combustion engine is: nuclear fission is; and all are as natural as the next phenomena." Ecology is only the dynamic system of interrelations of all these things. "Questions of ecological good and bad arc irrelevant.... Whatever the outcome, 50 or 0 billions, we can rest assured that there will still be ecology."
The above happens to be true. But just for an instant think of the difference between a world with 50 billion people and a world with less than a billion people. Think of the difference between a world with one-tenth as many animal species as now live, and a world with 10 times as many animal species as now live. The real danger which man faces is not extinction but mutation into a new species of carp. The ecological nihilism (I wonder how Bil feels about that word pair) proposed by Gilbert is an excellent first step toward such a mutation.
The "gene pool" would be in far better condition without the miasma created by the species Semantic Nitpicker (more commonly called Bil Gilbert). Since his writing is as dull as his reasoning is specious, main people will just skim his article and come away feeling it's O.K. to keep garbaging up the environment. Admittedly, ecology will survive. When the planet spins through space empty, desolate of human and animal life, bereft of flowering plants, covered over with a thick film of beer cans, gum wrappers and industrial waste, there will still be ecology and the Semantic Nitpicker may be the sole surviving species, but I doubt it.
New York City
HEROES AND HEROINES
The picture of Jim Jamieson at the Masters (Poa Jack Beats Himself, April 17) was great, as most of your pictures are. Apparently many thousands of golf buffs were introduced to Jamieson for the first time at Augusta, as I was. It is always a thrill to watch the pros—in person or on TV—and most of us fans find ourselves identifying with some of these men. Jim is easy to identify with. Those of us who try hard at mastering this game don't have the fancy equipment to work with that the top pros have: clubs, bags, clothes or even the body, as it were. Watching a guy like Jamieson with his mixed set of clubs, clothes that he insists he buys at shopping centers and a husky or chubby build like me and a few others I know suggests that maybe we, too, can hit the ball a little straighter and farther. At least we'd like to think so.
The big thing about Jim is his outward display of emotion when he makes a good or bad shot (he made few of the latter). Such demonstrations seem to be taboo among many of the established pros. Your photo of Big Jim captures much of his personality and character.
GEORGE B. MITCHELL
I want to nominate as Picture of the Year the one of Palmer and Nicklaus (Dancing Masters) in your April 10 issue. I squealed with delight when I first saw it and got the same reaction from friends when I showed it to them. Congratulations to Photographer Ben Winnert for showing the lighter sides of our heroes.
Altus AFB, Okla.
Your article on the Dinah Shore-Colgate Winners Circle golf tournament (Bracing for a Rich Breakthrough, April 24) was excellent. And congratulations to Colgate for backing the event. It is about time a big company caught on to a good thing. It is really a shame that more people do not go to see these gals play. There are a lot of good golf shots to be seen.
MRS. ROBERT BISCIOTTI
THE SISLERS' RATINGS
How informative to learn that Tom Seaver is a 1951, Ferguson Jenkins a 1671, etc. according to the George Sislers' pitching efficiency rating system (Masters of the Mound—and the Game, April 10). If you are going to publish such ratings, the least you can do is to mention how they were derived. All we learn from William Leggett is that "A Sisler rating is a number reflecting several ingredients, but the hallowed earned run average is not one of them...while factors such as strikeouts and denying batters walks receive heavy emphasis." All right, what are the other ingredients? Why were they chosen and how are the various components weighted? Why are they superior to the earned run average, the standard measure of pitching efficiency? Answers to these and other questions would have produced an interesting and informative article, not just a list of mystery numbers.
ALLAN F. WILLIAMS
•O.K., you asked for it. The Sislers' formula is designed to measure four pitching qualities: "durability, stuff, control and intellect." To determine a particular pitcher's durability and stuff, subtract the number of hits he has allowed for the season from double the number of innings pitched. As for control, subtract four-thirds of his walks (excluding intentional walks) from his total number of strikeouts. Add this total to the first, then subtract 25% of the earned runs he has allowed, as an index of what the Sislers call pitching intellect, and you get his total performance points. Finally, divide that total by the number of innings pitched for the pitcher's efficiency rating per inning. The decimal point is dropped from the final result.—ED.
I noted with amusement that George Allen of the Redskins has been talking with Darrell Royal in order to formulate a defense for the Wishbone T ("Wishful Thinking," SCORECARD, April 17). I don't know it the Wishbone offense has a future in pro football, but it seems to me that if Allen is really interested in stopping it, the man he ought to consult is Joe Paterno. He had some pretty good ideas last New Year's Day in the Cotton Bowl.
THE WITTMAN SAGA
Re SCORECARD'S April 17 reference to "Jonah" Mickey Wittman, those of us who have known and worked with The Witter find it more than coincidental that teams he has been associated with have abandoned the sport and that franchises have been shifted. Mickey has a penchant for making things happen. As a point of reference, his former high school coaches, Charles Walsh (basketball), Chet Stopyra (baseball) and I (football), have also given up our games, although Wittman's alma mater, Nanuet (N.Y.) High School is still holding on.
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