University of Rochester

Rochester Review
March-April 2009
Vol. 71, No. 4

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Letters to the Editor

Selling Evolution?

Professor H. Allen Orr muses about why evolution has been so hard to sell to the public (“Why Darwin Matters,” January-February 2009) and blames creationists. The real problem is that evolutionists continue to tell whoppers around their scientific campfires that stretch credibility to the limit.

For example, Orr states that “(v)ision has evolved over and over again so that’s clearly a good thing to have,” in his cavalier attitude about the specified complexity involved with a visual system. Perhaps he could take a walk over to the Institute of Optics and sit in on a freshman geometrical optics lecture, where an image is shown to be completely specified as to its spatial content.

Then, after learning this first-order property of an image, Orr can ask himself how a sampled image on the retina (rods and cones acting just like pixels in a digital camera) gets reassembled correctly at the brain, for the 120 million receptors involved in the case of human eyes?

Connecting even a handful of pixels by random processes is impossible statistically, and then there is the added complexity of stereovision, where two completely unique visual systems have to obtain an astounding level of precise correlation.

Creationists point such problems out. Evolutionists tell stories.

David Stoltzmann ’72
Bayport, Minn.

I read the excellent interview with Allen Orr, and it’s nice to know that the University feels no compunction to cater to the know-nothings who deny the truth of evolution. Professor Orr is quite right that the topic is neglected in the high schools by science teachers who don’t want to rouse the public’s ire by teaching basic science in a straightforward manner.

Patricia R. Sweeney ’60
Boise, Idaho

‘Flour’ vs. ‘Flower’

I chuckled as I read the letter from Thomas Tiffany ’62 (Letters, January-February 2009) regarding Rochester’s nickname. Some things never change. He, his grandpa, and the editor are all correct.

I, too, was born and raised in Rochester and remember one of my history teachers at West High mentioning that Rochester was originally named the “Flour City” due to the flour mills. As the mills disappeared and the lovely flowers flourished throughout the city, people—primarily newcomers—often got the name mixed up, and it was changed, though I don’t believe officially, to the “Flower City” to alleviate the frustration of trying to correct them.

Judie Oberheuser
San Angelo, Texas
The writer is the widow of Joseph Oberheuser ’68 (MS).

Although Rochester may have started out as the “Flour City,” it definitely became known as the “Flower City” as well (Letters, January-February). My grandfather, Teunis (Americanized as “Thomas”) Van Hall, came to Rochester on Labor Day in 1923 after graduating from the Netherlands Institute for Horticulture and Plant Science. He “had heard about the city of flowers and music,” according to an article in the Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester’s fame for flowers had reached to Holland, a country also known for its beautiful flowers.

He also referred to it as the “Flower City” when applying to the Monroe County Civil Service Commission to be the superintendent of horticulture for the county (I have the original copy of the letter in his memoirs). He later took classes at both the University and at Cornell, seeded the Highland Park Bowl by hand, and worked on the landscape planning of the River Campus, determining where all of the trees would be located.

I’m sure he would be proud that his great-grandson, Matthew Dinan, is a member of Rochester’s Class of 2010. Matthew lives in de Kiewiet Tower, named in honor of former president Cornelis de Kiewiet. Dr. de Kiewiet translated Mr. Van Hall’s transcript from Holland, as my grandfather did not yet speak English well enough for the translation.

Julet Dinan
Geneva, N.Y.

Review welcomes letters and will print them as space permits. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Send letters to Rochester Review, 22 Wallis Hall, P.O. Box 270044, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0044;