Dowling on Research

I find it incongruous and more than a little frightening that a "family" physician would equate funding health and education programs for the disadvantaged with frivolity ("There's No Future Without Research" by Katherine Dowling, Commentary, Feb. 16). While I do not deny the potential future value of "pure" scientific research, given a choice of supporting lasers and nuclear fusion for tomorrow or child welfare and care for the elderly today, for me there can be no other choice but to vote in favor of humanity. Each of us must stand up for what we believe.

Sadly, however, Dowling uses specious logic to defend her preference for the Lawrence Livermore lab and scoffs at those who "have less than a full grasp of the implications for basic physics promised by the ignition project . . . " By so doing, Dowling indicates that she herself is unable to grasp the implications for society when the fortunate few turn their backs on the needy. By implying that older Americans regularly finance recreation vehicles with taxpayer dollars, by stating flat out that the disabled are simply lazy, and by arguing that job training for teen mothers and Medicare payments to the elderly will rob her own grandchildren of the opportunity to "reach the stars," she reveals herself to be elitist and misanthropic as well.

Science and technology certainly have their place in promoting modern civilization. We surely cannot afford to disregard the future. At the same time, I have to believe, along with virtually all of the world's great religions, that society is best served by human beings respecting and caring for one another in the here and now.

JEAN ROGERS RYAN

Van Nuys

* As a retired science teacher, I am aware of the importance of research. Dowling's article points out that although research is costly, it benefits us in surprising and unforeseen ways. We need people to keep us informed and aware of the benefits and rewards of government-funded research. She is a fine spokesperson for the value of research, and I hope others will continue to bring it to our attention. Our survival as a strong nation certainly depends on our investment in the future.

CATHERINE PALLAD

Chatsworth

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