Backtalk

Unintelligent Design
The cover showing a chimp in a business suit is cute but is problematic from an evolutionary point of view. Implicit is the message that chimps are somehow a less evolved version of humans. In fact, humans did not evolve from chimps. They share a common ancestor but are two branches on the evolutionary tree. And because chimps are on the boundary of the evolutionary tree, they are just as well-evolved as humans.

I realize my point may seem trifling, but Mother Jones takes pride in being scientifically correct. Moreover, if left-wing intellectuals don't understand evolution correctly, what hope is there for the rest of society? Also, the implicit message that chimps are less evolved is human-centric. This belief, that humans are the sole end-products of evolution, justifies the view that the world exists primarily to further human aims, which in turn leads to a disregard of the environment. Human-centrism is the pseudoscientific analogue of religious dogma in which deities bestow upon humans a unique favored status among all species.
arthur robb
Waldwick, New Jersey

Impeaching Negativity
In his review of several impeachment books ("So You Think You Want to Impeach?"), Tim Dickinson tells Americans not to bother with impeachment, effectively saying, "It won't happen, so shut up." Of all the rationalizations for inaction, this is perhaps the most insidious. The things worth fighting for will never happen if nobody takes up the fight. Fortunately for the nation, the congressional oath to uphold the Constitution is not an oath to win, it is an oath to fight: to "support and defend."

Americans must choose faith and courage over pessimism disguised as realism. Not that many more Americans are required—a recent Newsweek poll shows that 51 percent want impeachment to be a priority in the new Congress.
patty keeshan
Westfield, New Jersey

Doe Run Run Run
"Lead Astray" points out many apt comparisons between Herculaneum, Missouri, and La Oroya, Peru. However, despite the plan approved by the Peruvian government requiring Doe Run to invest in pollution controls, the company's own projections show that significant differences will remain.

The proposed lead emissions for La Oroya are 11 times the reported emissions from Herculaneum. The levels for arsenic are 1,245 times greater and for cadmium, 19 times greater.
perry gottesfeld
Executive Director
Occupational Knowledge Intl.
San Francisco, California

No Good Publicity
Ann Friedman's "Mail-Order Abortions," about the use of Cytotec as an underground abortion pill, was dangerous and poorly researched. As a strongly pro-choice ob-gyn, I would warn your readers that self-administration of this drug is probably more hazardous than a back-alley abortion. Rupture of the uterus leading to maternal death could be quite common if dosed inappropriately in the second half of pregnancy. In the first trimester, Cytotec alone is fairly ineffective.
g. sealy massingill
Fort Worth, Texas

Ann Friedman states, "Despite the legal and health risks, Cytotec will likely remain an attractive choice for many women—so long as it stays out of the spotlight." Then why is Mother Jones dragging it into the spotlight? Publicizing its use may lessen its availability for those women who have the fewest other choices.
liz kenton
Willimantic, Connecticut

Gaga for Google
As Adam Penenberg points out, search engines keep unprecedented amounts of data, and what that means to the public is still being figured out. But his article "Is Google Evil?" is vague and irresponsible. Why is he so dismissive of the fact that Google denied the U.S. government's request for personal data, particularly when Microsoft and Yahoo handed this information over? Online privacy is a bigger issue than just Google, and thus far Google has done more than its peers to safeguard users' data. Why should we think that it will not continue to do so?
chris schreiber
San Francisco, California

I am flummoxed by Adam Penenberg's advice that, to avoid Google's data-collection tracking, we "use a European search engine, such as Kartoo, which must adhere to EU privacy rules that prohibit search engines from stashing your data." Penenberg's advice would be useful except that his example is such a sorry excuse for a search engine.

Kartoo should put an "n" at the end of its name; it is both fun and utterly futile. When you "Kartoo" a subject, a cerulean blue screen with little floating yellow web pages comes up. When you click on a yellow page, it becomes red and throbs. (Love the visual acuity of the French.) Whenever you click on the arrow for the next entries, you are interrupted by a three-tiered birthday cake with lit candles, apparently celebrating Kartoo's fifth birthday. When I Kartooed "The Coca-Cola Company," almost all the yellow pages I clicked on were official Coca-Cola sites.

I am, by the way, a bilingual French teacher—a definite Francophile, but I'm sticking with the evil Google, faute de mieux.
elizabeth lancaster
Springfield, Massachusetts

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