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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 10. July 19, 1957

Short Circuited?

Short Circuited?

Would you kindly inform your readers whether the article headed "Other Worlds Like Ours" on p.5 of vol. 20. No. 9 (27-6-57) was intended as a book review of Rendle Short's "Modem Discovery and the Bible", or an informative article?

If it was the former (and the subheading very definitely gives that impression), it is hard to imagine one less competently done. "Skylar" refers to only one small portion of a book which treats a wide variety of topics, and by his remarks shows that he has not troubled to read even the few paragraphs of his choice with any attention to what the author has to say. He then proceeds to enlarge on a recent theory which in his opinion is superior to the one mentioned by Short. Finally, after a hasty reassurance about the tentative nature of his own choice, he lapses (or progresses?) into incoherence.

If, on the other hand. "Skylar merely set out to describe Alfven's hypothesis, the general logic of his approach is better, but sub-heading, is utterly misleading, and one wonders why he should pick on Rendle Short rather than one of the astronomical experts. Short's section on astronomy (or rather, cosmogony—of, p. 29) is all borrowed from men more expert in this field than himself, as his footnotes and bibliography indicate. If "Skylar" felt himself incapable of attacking the opinion of an acknowledged astronomer, he might at least have chosen a man who was still alive to answer his criticisms.

"Skylar's" remarks give the impression that Short's arguments are supported by abstruse mathematical calculations. In fact his book quotes only a few results of other scientists' calculations, with the warning. "We quote these figures with all reserve. They depend on assumptions which may prove to be inadequate."Similar warnings about all such hypothetical argument abound in this section of "Modern Discovery and the Bible". The truth of the matter, of course, is that Professor Rendle Short was a competent scientist, and was aware of the limitations, as well as the potentialities, of science. He never expected his readers to swallow, hook, line and sinker, the theories prevalent at the time he wrote, and had he been writing today he might well have felt the need to refer to a different, more modern, set of hypotheses; and no doubt if he were to be writing fifty years from now he would be able to refer to an advance of the hypothesis of Alfven, even as potted by so dogmatic a critic as "Skylar".Mudlar

[We understand from "Skylar" that his article was in fact not intended to be a review of the book, but a discussion using the book as a handy diving-board.—Ed.]