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From: FMims <FMims@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 01:25:19 EST
To: frice@skeptictank.org
Subject: Mims and Martin Gardner

Fredric:

Thanks very much for your reply to my e-mail. Reading your letter reminds me of the many skeptics and believers who have asked for additional information about the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN matter.

It might be appropriate to place the key documents on the web so they can be reviewed and considered without any interference or censorship from me. In fact, I plan to do just that after I publish a book that covers the topic -- but that is some time away.

In fairness, I would also like to place my SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN articles on the web also. Or at least links to them if they are already on the web. And it is especially important to keep in mind that the magazine no longer practices discrimination against me.

This is really quite crucial, as several prominent skeptics defended the magazine for its cancellation of my column assignment. The magazine has since published some of my letters -- two of which were subjected to peer review.

"The Amateur Scientist" column for May 1997 describes a Sun photometer I developed for TERC and Concord Consortium under an NSF grant. And the current (December) issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has a news article that discusses some of my findings for the University of Sao Paulo and NASA during my recent research in Brazil during burning season.

In short, I am delighted that my work is considered worthy by the magazine's new editor. And I very much look forward to some day publishing a feature article in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, perhaps on my work regarding survivability of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in regions so severely polluted that solar UV-B is reduced to negligible levels.

Meanwhile, I'll be glad to send you copies of some key correspondence and news items. Of special interest might be the article in HARPER'S which includes a lightly edited (by HARPER'S, not me) transcript of the conversation in which Piel discusses the embarrassment potential of my rejection of darwinism.

Another key item is the AAAS letter about the matter. This was covered in THE WASHINGTON POST and many other papers at the time.

It might also interest you that the Rolex Award I received in 1993 was a direct result of the loss of my SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN column. My fourth column was to have been the hand-held ozone instrument that received the award.

This instrument, which is now in commercial production found an error in ozone retrievals from NASA's Nimbus-7 ozone satellite, and I published a short paper on this in NATURE. This and other miniature instruments I developed for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN -- but which they refused to publish -- led to the consulting I now do for NASA (measurement of atmospheric and biological effects from severe smoke in Brazil and forest fires in the Western U.S.).

Had I kept the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN column, there simply would have been too little time for me to do serious science, much less write all the papers I've since written.

I would love to send you correspondence with Martin Gardner. It's quite fascinating. But it might be necessary for me to first seek his permission.

Not sure about that. (Gardner asked the tree ring question. But I had much more fun with his question--his obsession--about whether I believed Adam had a navel. I agreed to answer only if he answered my question: Does God have the ability to create life on some other planet should He desire to do so. Gardner answered in the affirmative but with the caveat that he didn't believe that's how God worked in the case of Earth. I answered the navel question with yes, God gave Adam a navel so he wouldn't be embarrassed when his sons saw him without his shirt on. I'll let you decide who gained the most from this as-yet unpublished exchange.)

In closing, while we may have very significant disagreements, I am delighted that we can establish a dialogue. I well remember the fate of some prominent skeptics who defended me during the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN controversy.

They were unmercifully savaged by some very outspoken, even cruel colleagues. Believers are not immune to this problem, as you well know.

So thanks for the reply. And as time permits, I'll be glad to provide some material to document what happens to be a very well documented controversy. My time is much too limited to engage in discussions about my religious faith. I'll cover that in the forthcoming book. For now, while I have deep respect and admiration for the observational science conducted by Darwin, I still reject darwinian evolution. I just don't have that much faith in the success of random phenomena, especially when the fossil evidence is so weak.

I am as comfortable with the belief that life is the product of intentional design as I am with the sure knowledge that the hardware and code that processes these key strokes also had a designer (actually, quite a few, some of whom I know).

Thanks again for the letter.

Forrest M. Mims III
Phone: 830-372-0548
Fax: 830-372-2284
E-mail: fmims@aol.com

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