Island Map


An irregular exploration of the ongoing struggle between the power of rational discourse and the scientific method on one hand, and the forces of superstition and dogma on the other.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
by Carl Sagan
(A review)

The Doubter's Companion:
by John Ralston Saul (Excerpts)

Skeptic Magazine:

Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal:

A poem by Yehuda Amichai:
The Place Where We Are Right

The Meaning of
  the Island of

More Doubtful Blogs
Carl Zimmer
Chris C. Mooney
Chet Raymo
SciAm Perspectives
Other Worthy Blogs
Rob Cottingham
John Gushue
Derek Raymaker
Author's site:


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2005 Archives

May 3:
  Climate of Bias

May 10:
  Repent or Resign

May 17:

May 24:
  Vector of a Weird
May 31:
  Museum Piece

June 7:
  History Will
  Teach Us Nothing

June 16:
  Castration of
  Public B'casting

June 21:
  Alarum of the Deep
June 28:
  Up Against the Wall
July 5:
  Fusion Confusion

July 12:
  Confidence vs. Faith

July 19:
  Because I Said So

July 26:
  Cool to the Truth

Aug. 1
  The X Factor

Aug. 3
  What Miracle?

Random Douglas Adams quote

By doubting we come to inquiry; and through inquiry we perceive truth.
--- Peter Abelard

Undisguised clarity is easily mistaken for arrogance.
-- Richard Dawkins

August 3, 2005

I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the designers, Engineers, and mechanics at Airbus SAS, the flight crew of Flight 358, and the emergency personnel at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

The fact that not one of the 309 people aboard died Tuesday when an A340 skidded off the end of runway 2-4, despite the subsequent disintegration and conflagration of the aircraft, can be traced to the professionalism and high-quality training of everyone involved.

I make this point because it seems to have been have lost on a great many editors, television news anchors and radio hosts. Instead, what we heard and saw came down to one word: "miracle."

"It's incredible, it's a miracle," Canada's Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said. (Reuters)

The wreckage of the jetliner smoldered Wednesday near a busy highway in what a Paris newspaper called "The miracle of the Air France Airbus." (The Guardian)

"It felt like a miracle, there's no doubt about it," said Joe Pantalone, Toronto's deputy mayor.... (The Toronto Star)

Miracle on Runway 2-4 (Carlow Nationalist, Ireland); Miracle in Toronto (Brandon Sun)

Plus innumerable references on CNN, NPR, etc.

Curious how the supreme being gets the credit for billions of dollars of investment, reams of government regulations, and thousands of hours of drills and emergency preparedness training, but if everyone aboard had died, fingers would instead be pointing every which way in search of a negligent, lazy or profit-hungry mortal down here on the Earth.

Curious, and pathetic.

I did find one notable exception to the trend, a report carried by a several publications, including the Globe and Mail, quoting Air France chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta:

I want to pay homage to the crew, Mr. Spinetta said at a news conference at Air France headquarters. I don't know if we should speak of a miracle ... but above all the professionalism of the crew.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I draw you attention to an unrelated column of mine, Of Guns and Gods, now available through the CBC Online Viewpoint site. --

James Hrynyshyn

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