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In defense of science.

I feel compelled to express my sincere gratitude for Peter Tyson's timely and inspirational essay "This Is, and No Mistake" (S&T: May 2017, p. 4). As a long-time reader, I understand and appreciate that Sky & Telescope is an educational and scientific publication that is and always has been apolitical. Its occasional forays into the world of politics are never to promote any one political agenda. The only goal is to inform the readership as to policies that affect the future of astronomy and all its allied scientific disciplines. Your detailed explanation of the tenets and processes behind the scientific method--and how adhering to these disciplines has allowed us to discover not only a useful body of knowledge but also certain "incontrovertible truths"--touched just the right nerve at just the right time.

Michael Swanson

Houston, Texas

Given your readership, I was kind of expecting an editorial like yours. Thanks for that. It means a lot to me.

Marcello Rasparini

Mol, Belgium

I thought I detected a whiff of politics, a mention of "fake news," in the editorial of May's issue. If Sky & Telescope goes political, this 30-year subscriber will drop you like a hot potato. It is that simple. I used to subscribe to both S&T and Astronomy magazines. But when Astronomy got snarky and political back in the '90s, I canceled my subscription and haven't looked back. Mr. Tyson should keep his opinions to himself. Stay focused on astronomy, okay?

Darrell Mason

Colorado Springs, Colorado

While I always enjoy reading Peter Tyson's monthly editorials, the one about fake news and the scientific method was spot on. I was mesmerized by it. You expressed thoughts that Wendee and I have been thinking for well over a year now. And you even managed to include an appropriate comment by Thoreau, one of my favorite writers. So keep it going. S&T has made great leaps forward with you as its editor.

David H. Levy

Vail, Arizona

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is a noble aspiration. But your publication is far from living up to it, and you could start improving by looking in the mirror. Your pages repeatedly assert that astronomers have "deduced" what goes on inside peculiar stars, black holes, Martian history, and so on, whereas in fact they have come up with explanations that are consistent with most of the observed facts and appear superior to competing explanations. But who's to say that a better explanation might not come along, or that further observations might support conflicting theories?

Astronomers rarely deduce or produce anything incontrovertible. Dark matter and dark energy are not incontrovertible truths. They are ad hoc explanations designed to cover up holes in modern cosmology big enough to drive a galaxy through. Yet for some reason your pages have never pointed that out. You can do better.

Jesse Hobbs

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

"Monica Young replies: Multiple, independent lines of evidence point to the existence of dark matter, and these have led scientists to take it very seriously since the 1970s--seriously enough to spend millions (if not billions) of funding dollars on researching its nature. That said, science doesn't prove ideas true--it can only prove ideas false. And any cosmologist worth his or her salt would agree that dark matter might yet be proven false. In these pages, we attempt to present research in such terms, noting when particular searches have failed and therefore to what extent they have narrowed the parameter space for dark matter's existence.
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Title Annotation:FROM OUR READERS
Author:Swanson, Michael; Rasparini, Marcello; Mason, Darrell; Levy, David H.; Hobbs, Jesse
Publication:Sky & Telescope
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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