Letters to the Editor

Re: Brazen Word Jan. 31, “The Misinfornation Age”
In the article “The Misinformation Age,” Stephen Pasqualina argues that “with the rise of the Internet, informed opinions are hard to come by.” He is right to acknowledge that not every source of information available on the Internet can be taken as fact; no one can argue that. But I do feel that he makes an unsound conclusion by suggesting that because so many contradictory opinions exist in cyberspace, “it is nearly impossible for your average American citizen to maintain educated opinions.” Is this true?

Pasqualina believes that “global warming is as much a result of a natural earth cycle as it is a result of man-made pollution.” Of course, if someone were to type “causes of global warming” in Google or Yahoo the results will vary enormously. But would it be logical to conclude from these findings that it is nearly impossible for the public to know the truth? What about the opinions of scientists, the real experts in the field regarding global warming causes?

According to a recently published article in the International Tribune on Jan. 30 (“Climate-change report expected to project rising temperatures and sea levels”), scientists from all over the world are currently finishing the last details of an authoritative report that nearly concludes that all of global warming is human-caused: “According to scientists involved in writing and reviewing the report, the fourth since 1990 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body overseen by the United Nations, the paper is nearly certain to conclude that there is at least a 90 percent chance that human-caused emissions are the main cause of warming since 1950.”

I don’t know about you, but I trust the judgment of a collective body of scientists from all over the world, rather than anyone else, when it comes to causes of global warming. That’s just common sense.
And yes, I do believe I am making an educated opinion.

Salvatore Marino
St. John’s College

Re: Brazen Jan. 17, “A Case for Ideals”
In his column, Editor-in-Chief Stephen Pasqualina suggests that teaching the virtues of the proper use of contraception is too “realistic.” Instead, he says, students should be taught the “ideal” of an abstinence-only curriculum. This begs the question, when it comes to the health of America’s teens, can we really afford to ignore the science of reality in order to focus on simple ideals?

Rep. Henry Waxman of California asked this question in 2004 and had an official report of the 13 most commonly used abstinence-only sex education programs compiled. 11 of the 13 were said to contain “major errors and distortions of public health information.”

Some of these errors are plain wrong; one curriculum suggests that condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission 31 percent of the time when actually the use of condoms is much more successful. And some of the errors are just inane: another lesson plan suggests that tears and sweat can transmit HIV, a claim that the Centers for Disease Control have flatly refuted.

This information is not only incorrect, it’s unsafe. In fact, a Columbia University study found those who participated in virginity pledge programs merely delayed premarital sex and were less likely to use protection when they did have intercourse.

Teens deserve more than to have the facts kept from them. We all want to contribute to the pursuit of ideals, but reality does not necessarily have to conflict with these ideals. As outlined in Waxman’s report and its numerous case studies, abstinence-only education removes the focus from this goal of keeping teens safe to keeping intraception out of their hands.

When discussing matters this serious, we can either make outrageous analogies with no backing, such as comparing lessons on the benefits of proper condom use to teaching a student how to snort cocaine, as Pasqualina has done, or we can be serious about them and back them up with facts. I’m going to go out on a limb and be “realistic.”

Stephen Holland
Class of 2010