Open Letter to Michael Shermer, Columnist for Scientific American:
Sept. 4, 2009
Michael Shermer
Scientific American
Scientific American, Inc.
75 Varick Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10013-1917
Dear Michael Shermer:

It troubles me that as the voice of Scientific American you are so easy on people who will not confront evidence.  For one thing, you do not support your statements with references, which gives your column the air of a chat over a cup of tea.  More seriously you do not charge them with intellectual dishonesty, nine syllables meaning lying to yourself or others about why you believe as you do.  In the case of conspiracy paranoia that means letting distaste for authorities or possible financial reward trump evidence.  Of course as you rightly point out, sometimes it is the authorities who should be suspect.

Imagine in a different time and place somebody comes to you, some reasonably responsible person like a craftsman, banker or broken down old doctor, and says the SS is shooting Jews and Gypsies.  To make it easy, assume you are at no personal risk.  Being evidence responsive, you demand evidence.  And you are none too polite about it.  To make it a bit more difficult, they are not shooting them.  Instead there is a general policy subscribed to by government, science and medicine that kills their babies.  The question of intent does not arise; he has no relevant evidence.  All he can claim to prove is that the policy is there, and it is killing those babies and a lot of others besides.

A moment while he defines babies.  Life begins when egg meets sperm.  Usually this results in no pregnancy, maybe five or six to one.  But once that hurdle is passed, this odious policy takes effect and raises the odds by a factor of three or more.  That is how the babies are being killed.

He has no gruesome pictures, only graphs and charts.  A graph is like a picture in that it is no better than its source.  But it is evidence if the source is valid.

Furious at having this nightmare laid upon you, you demand the accusation in writing, and you say you will give him ten minutes to present his evidence.  If in that time no evidence is forthcoming, you are going to ruin him, drag his name through the mud and hold him up to the world as a crackpot so misguided and possibly evil as to be dangerous and you will consider legal action against him. 

If the evidence is sound, if it raises even a mild suspicion that this terrible thing is true, then you will have to take action.  That is the other reason for your fury.

Well the time is now and the place is here.  I so accuse.  So challenged, do turn your skepticism against every other authority?  Do you look at the evidence?  Or do you shrug it off and become a willing part of what the world may one day call a conspiracy? 

I have proof in hand.  Ten minutes worth.  I can mail it to you.  I await your answer.

M. Linton Herbert MD 

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