Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the bill setting aside Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park. Roosevelt was a large figure in the movement to establish the national park system, so it only seems appropriate to take up an issue about how the National Park Service is operating now.
The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) issued a press release on December 28th, 2006, that brought up the fact that the National Park Service (NPS) was then three years delinquent in delivering a promised review of its sale of a creationist book, Tom Vail’s “Grand Canyon: A Different View”. The release, unfortunately, included ambiguous phrasing whose most likely reading yielded a false claim that NPS had issued a “gag order” to its rangers and docents in the Grand Canyon national park to stay silent on the geological age of features in the park.
I’ve been doing some more digging concerning the situation with the national park interpretative exhibits, curricula, and bookstore merchandise. While there has not been an explicit, “Don’t talk about the age of the earth or park geology” directive given to rangers and docents, there is entirely too much credulous stuff that offers to take anti-science sources seriously. Rangers and docents are officially encouraged to tell park visitors about the “tenets and explanations of Creationism”. In evidence of a state of neglect when it comes to the accuracy of merchandise in the parks, it turns out that Tom Vail’s “Grand Canyon: A Different View” is not the only anti-science tome available for sale in park gift shops; Vine Deloria, Jr.’s “Red Earth, White Lies” may also be picked up at various stores.
Various people have accurately criticized the overblown claim of the original PEER press release concerning a gag order on interpretative staff telling visitors about deep time, essentially exonerating NPS of committing arson in its approach to science. But I feel that many have overlooked other data that does indicate a general administration strategy of encouraging dry rot instead, de-emphasizing the science content associated with park interpretative programs and credulously treating creationism and other anti-science stances.
Read on for the details.
The NPS Policy Muddle
There is a clear statement in the NPS policy guidelines about the relationship between sensitivity to multiple points of view and scientific validity (section 7.5.3 “Resource Issue Interpretation and Education”):
In instances in which programming affects resources managed by other agencies, such agencies should be consulted during program planning. For interpretation of resource issues to be effective, frontline interpretive staff must be informed about the reasoning that guided the decision-making process, and interpreters must present balanced views. Acknowledging multiple points of view does not require interpretive and educational programs to provide equal time or disregard the weight of scientific or historical evidence. Resource issue interpretation should be integrated into both on- and off-site programs, as well as into printed and electronic media whenever deemed appropriate by the park manager.
This policy, if it had been followed, would have short-circuited everything that I will discuss: the Vail and Deloria books would have been rejected for sale in park bookstores, and no mention of creationism would have gone into a document on accuracy in knowledge of the resource. It will become obvious that this particular component of policy has been roundly ignored. This process may have been initiated under a previous administration; I’m not particularly interested in assigning blame, I just want the NPS administration in charge to start acting like it has an interest in fixing the problem instead of making excuses for ignoring their own experts.
Creationism as an Officially Sanctioned Talking Point
In order to find the evidence of dry rot in the NPS administration’s approach to science, one must peel back the right bit of drywall. The relevant place to look is in the NPS “Interpretive Development Program”, Module 340, “Advanced Knowledge of the Resource”.
There are two chunks that appear to have been written with antievolution-speak in mind:
III. Accuracy and current information - Why?
Interpretation that is accurate provides a verifiable and comprehensive description, is errorless, and conforms to facts. An interpreter must always be accurate. All resource meanings, with enough knowledge and understanding, can and must be interpreted accurately. For example: an interpreter can accurately describe and explain the theory of Evolution as well as the tenets and explanations of Creationism. Likewise an interpreter can accurately describe and explain theories, perceptions, and understandings from the past that effect, conflict with, and/or contribute to theories, perceptions, and understandings in the present.
Interpretation that is current incorporates recent and ongoing discussion of the resource and its subject matter. This includes questions being asked by scholars, specialists, and the general public as well as what they are thinking and saying about the work that is being done. There can be multiple current explanations, theories, and interpretations that complement and/or conflict with each other. Currency also includes understanding of the general acceptance and use of a position by the professional community as well as popular culture and specific groups of people. An interpreter uses current information to provoke or provide additional opportunities for the audience to make their own intellectual and emotional connections to the resource.
[Emphasis added – WRE]
B. Effective interpretation requires comprehensive knowledge, understanding, and explanation of multiple resource meanings and audience perspectives - not just popular and current ones, in order to:
- be relevant;
- demonstrate familiarity with diverse sources of knowledge and opinion, which engenders trust in the open-mindedness of the interpreter;
- demonstrate respect for audience points of view;
- encourage dialogue;
- provoke or provide diverse audiences with opportunities for personal intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings of the resource;
- allow audiences to make decisions for themselves. (See: Appropriate Techniques: Connecting Multiple Resource Meanings to Multiple Audience Interests and Perspectives component.)
- provide context for NPS perspectives.
[Emphasis added – WRE]
As the saying goes, keep an open mind – but not so open that your brains fall out. Elsewhere on the NPS site, treatment of “creationism” is discussed in terms of the relationship between ranger and park visitor, as NPS reiterates that rangers must be able to make the park features relevant to all visitors. We know demographically from repeated Gallup polls that about 40% of the US population, and thus about the same proportion of park visitors to the Grand Canyon, are likely to directly reject ages that contradict a young earth.
It is one thing to counsel park rangers and docents to be respectful of visitors and their beliefs, as pointed out on the NPS site, but quite another to encourage them to explain creationism to park visitors in contravention of policy section 7.5.3 (quoted above). The presence of “creationism” within a discussion of “knowledge of the resource” and tied to an example of “accuracy” is not credibly or even arguably about visitor relations; this is an assault upon the ability of science to distinguish explanations that come with evidence from those that are contradicted by evidence, and privileging the unevidenced claims. It is contrary even to the plain meaning of the lead sentence of the paragraph within which it is embedded. That’s not knowledge, and it sure isn’t accurate.
There’s more in that document, too, that looks like it has been touched by the culture warriors of the religious right or the radical left, especially the sorts who go for part of the post-modernist rhetoric:
(5) Scientific theories are conceptual, not susceptible to direct experimental verification, and cannot be described as absolute truth as there is no external objective truth by which to measure them.
They fail to mention that scientific theories are often susceptible to direct experimental disproof. Ask someone where “ether” went as an explanation of the propagation of light waves in space. While “absolute truth” should be quibbled about, the bland claim that there is “no external objective truth” available goes well into metaphysics. Yes, with stuff like this, the “war on science” is certainly being fought within the bounds of the NPS.
To examine this and other questions, I called the Public Affairs office at Grand Canyon National Park and was directed to Leah McGinnis. I identified the source and read the passage containing the example of using creationism to establish accuracy in knowledge of the resource. She said that she was not familiar with the document and could not comment on it. I asked what role the document played in determining interpretative programs. She said that she did not know about the specific document, but that interpretative staff were delivering “science-based information” to the public.
The date of last modification of the section is given as September, 2001. I think that this is odd, to have an official policy encouraging the use of creationism that has not yet directly affected the work of the interpretative staff in the national parks. Then again, Ms. McGinnis’s perspective from the Public Affairs office may not have the complete picture of what is being brought to bear upon interpretative staff. The document’s presence and content are ominous in any event, and call into direct question the NPS administration stance on providing accurate science to park visitors, as well as violating section 7.5.3 of the policy guidelines.
Malign Neglect: Anti-Science Sections in Bookstores
In addition to the disputed book by Tom Vail, “Grand Canyon: A Different View”, that we already know about and have been anticipating high-level review of policy on sale in official park bookstores, there is another notorious anti-science tome gracing official park service bookstore shelves. That book is Vine Deloria, Jr.’s “Red Earth, White Lies”. A commenter on the “Bad Astronomy” weblog testified that this book is a legacy of approval during the Clinton administration, though I have been unable to confirm a date of approval for it. I was incredulous that NPS anytime, anywhere would approve such a polemic for sale by park bookstores, so I called one of the stores, the Walnut Canyon National Monument bookstore, and asked for stock and price information. (Yes, it is in stock, and it is priced at $18.95.)
NPS contracts out its bookstores to concessionaires and cooperating associations. So, is it just the concessionaire or cooperating association making the decision? For the Grand Canyon in particular, the bookstores are run by a cooperating association, the Grand Canyon Association. The Grand Canyon is handled like the Glacier Bay park, where the contract plainly says that NPS reserves the right to reject any merchandise offered by the concessionaire or cooperating association. (I wasn’t able to find the GCA contract online.)
(1) The Director reserves the right to determine and control the nature, type and quality of the visitor services described in this CONTRACT, including, but not limited to, the nature, type, and quality of merchandise, if any, to be sold or provided by the Concessioner within the Area.
The cooperating association relationship to NPS is even closer than a contract with a concessionaire. The space NPS provides for the GCA is, for example, within the Visitor Center on the North Rim, and a separate building within the Visitor Center Complex on the South Rim.
I asked Grand Canyon National Park Public Affairs spokesperson Leah McGinnis about the book approval process. She told me that a book submission involves NPS park review, and that for the Grand Canyon National Park, that is a five person endeavor. Each person has a set of criteria they apply to their review of the book. One of those includes the “fit with other materials and merchandise”, a clear strike against the anti-science titles noted. The “Park Service Review” person, though, has the clearest criterion relevant in this case, that the book must be accurate.
Recall some of the information from the PEER press release about the highly selective review process for materials to be sold in park bookstores:
Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist book.
This is an interesting bit of data, but it is tough to independently confirm. Ms. McGinnis said that she did not have data on hand concerning the number of approved or rejected book titles in previous years, and would have to go through the review records to enumerate that. If PEER got this information via their FOIA request, that would be useful to know. If PEER is right on this, for every YEC or straight anti-science book the concessionaires and NPS approves, many other books are rejected as inappropriate for sale within the official park bookstores. But whether or not the park service review rejects a lot of other books, a few other books, or simply rubber-stamps every submission, it still is the case that their own policies state that they will reject inaccurate books. Approving an inaccurate book is an error no matter what else might have been submitted.
The book approval process that NPS requires combined with the Park Service Review criterion of accuracy in materials offered for sale in park bookstores means that every anti-science title stocked and sold in park bookstores sends the clear message that NPS approves of the content as an accurate account of its subject matter. This is not a matter of “book-banning” or censorship; this is a matter of a dereliction of responsibility to conform to established policies by a government entity. Placement of a book in a NPS park bookstore means much more than a commercial vendor like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders stocking a title. Those firms do not vouch for the accuracy of what they sell to the public; the National Park Service does.
If you don’t agree with me about the significance of the fact of NPS review criteria for approved merchandise, you will definitely not like the rest of this post. You might as well move on to something else now. I’ll note that various legal decisions have come down to the degree of review of content that is conducted by an entity: “common carriers”, for instance, are generally not liable for defamatory content transmitted via their services, while services that do perform content review may be held liable for what they do choose to transmit. By analogy, an NPS bookstore is more like a newspaper than it is like a phone company; they have established rules and criteria for content, and (allegedly) are highly selective in what they choose to pass with approval. The fact that they do have a defined review process makes them more responsible for errors made in that process, not less.
Like dry rot, the erosion of good science within our National Parks is hastened by an attitude of neglect. When it comes to books on sale in national park venues, it seems like the books in question are being treated as if they were civil servants: it is very tough to fire a civil servant once they are lodged in position. Books, though, do not deserve that sort of consideration. Once it becomes clear that a mistake was made in the selection process for a book being sold on park premises, review and action should follow with at least competent bureaucratic speed. Three to four years of neglect for the Vail title is not competence in action. Nor should the Deloria book be privileged by its possible seniority. NPS needs to live up to its role as having given these tomes their imprimatur of accuracy, and rescind that as soon as possible.
Criticism of the PEER Press Release
A post at Without a Park to Range takes issue with the PEER press release that reawakened interest in this topic. As I did, “Ranger X” notes that the claim that interpretative staff are barred from telling visitors the real ages of Grand Canyon features is unsupported and apparently false. Another glitch is the identification of the non-profit organization that runs the bookstores in the Grand Canyon parks as “GRCA”. The actual group is the Grand Canyon Association (GCA). However, “Ranger X” also makes this statement in a thread at Evolving Thoughts:
Most of PEER’s claims are wildly unsubstantiated.
Since the primary emphasis of the PEER press release concerned the continued presence of the Vail book, “Grand Canyon: A Different View” in the Grand Canyon park bookstores, one can tote up the things PEER claimed:
* The book is sold in park bookstores. * Book selection is conducted under NPS auspices. * Books submitted for sale can be rejected as inappropriate. * 22 books were rejected when the Vail book was accepted. * NPS promised a review of the policy to allow the Vail book to be sold. * That promise is over three years old. * Park interpretative staff are not allowed to tell visitors the real ages of features.
As far as I can tell, only that last one is plainly wrong. All the rest of those, save the numeric claim about rejected books, I have independently confirmed as accurate. As I said in my previous post, the inaccurate final claim has generated a lot of attention and distracted from what PEER did get right, and from the general issue that there actually is a problem with the treatment of science in the NPS administration.
That a review was promised can be verified in the country’s newspaper of record, the New York Times on October 26, 2004:
Last December, a few months after the book appeared in Grand Canyon shops, the presidents of seven geological and paleontological organizations wrote to Joseph Alston, superintendent of the canyon, to urge that the book be removed from stores there, lest visitors get the impression that the park endorsed its contents.
Now the issue rests with the solicitor’s office of the Interior Department, which has been reviewing the issue for almost a year, said Elaine Sevy, a spokeswoman for the Park Service.
Asked what the review consists of and why it is taking so long, she said, “It’s resting with the solicitor’s office.”
Until its ruling, the book remains on sale.
PEER was being conservative. This issue has been dragging on for almost four years now.
Kurt Repanshek posted an extensively researched criticism of the PEER press release, finding, as I had speculated in my initial post, that the gag order claim was erroneous. Repanshek also went some way toward minimizing the significance of years-long inaction concerning the promise of a review of policy on the Vail book.
Now, if you are of the opinion that bookstores in the parks are providing educational services, then I suppose an argument could be made that only texts that adhere to accepted science could be sold.
That gets part of the way there. The problem is not in that the book(s) in question don’t conform to “accepted science”; the issue is that they do not conform to NPS’s own guidelines in the review process that the materials be accurate. Historical and literary works don’t need to intersect with “accepted science”, but they would still need to establish their accuracy within their field, like rejecting Holocaust denial or bizarre claims about who actually authored the works of Shakespeare. Likewise, if the book(s) in question could be determined to be providing accurate information about their subject matter, then the review should clear them for sale.
But I think that it is clear that these book(s) can’t withstand review on the accuracy criterion. In the case of the Vail book, a substantial amount of that review will involve comparing its claims and assertions to “accepted science”. There is a reason that “accepted science” is accepted: it has withstood the scrutiny of the scientific community. I find that I am really coming to dislike the term “accepted science”; it looks more and more like a disparagement.
The claim reported through Repanshek from “David Barna, chief of communications for the Park Service” that national park bookstores are like public libraries is also an irrelevancy. Public libraries do apply some selection criterion to accessioning decisions, but they don’t generally have the criteria for accuracy that NPS has in place. You don’t expect everything in a public library to come with that library’s implicit approval of the accuracy of its content, yet that is exactly what comes with a book sold under NPS approval.
Barna tells me that while some geologists within the Park Service think the book shouldn’t be sold, others on the agency’s interpretive staff believe park bookstores should carry material that addresses a wide range of topics and views.
Again, this is irrelevant. Unless the unnamed “others” can successfully defend the accuracy of the book(s) in question, it is clear that their placement and sale under NPS approval is wrong.
With hopes of ending this story’s short, but vivid, life, Barna this morning put out a news release that stated, in part, that Vail’s book “is sold in the inspirational section of the bookstore. In this section there are photographic texts, poetry books, and Native American books (that also give an alternate view of the canyon’s origin).”
What was interesting to me is that trying to find Barna’s press release via Google comes up empty. Search for the sentence fragment, “section there are photographic texts, poetry books, and Native American”, returns commentary on Barna’s statement, but not a source document. Google News has nothing with that text. I thought a “news release” implied that the material was made available to the public. Otherwise, I’d call it an “interview”.
But Barna is once again indulging in irrelevancies. This blather about sections does not change the fact that Vail’s book makes definite fact claims that are inaccurate, no matter what label you want to hang over the physical space that the stock is kept (in those few spaces that can even have separate “sections” to divide up stock). To correct this, NPS needs to fulfill their promise on the review, or take the step that they apparently have made de facto policy already and remove any pretense that their own procedures in any way touch upon the accuracy of content for merchandise sold in national park bookstores.
Besides which, what exactly is so “inspirational” about anti-science?
One issue that I have not seen addressed so far is why the review process, which is conducted within the auspices of a specific national park, was “kicked upstairs” in this particular case to Washington, DC. Why is Mr. Barna involved in this at all? Shouldn’t the experts on staff at the Grand Canyon have the best “knowledge of the resource” to say whether the book is accurate when it comes to claims made about the Grand Canyon?
Repanshek notes in comments that information about the age of the Grand Canyon’s formation and geological strata is available online. He was responding to a commenter who was having trouble finding that information:
One has to search the NPS website like a hawk to find ANY mention of Geologic time.
Kurt Repanshek wrote:
Well, Scholar, I’m certainly no hawk, but right on the park’s home page, in the lefthand column, is a link slugged “Nature and Science.” Click on that and it takes you directly to a page that discusses the park’s geology, including a boxed item that reads:
Did You Know? The more recent Kaibab limestone caprock, on the rims of the Grand Canyon, formed 270 million years ago. In contrast, the oldest rocks within the Inner Gorge at the bottom of Grand Canyon date to 1.84 billion years ago. Geologists currently set the age of Earth at 4.5 billion years.
The problem here is that the “Did You Know?” box noted by Repanshek is not a fixed feature, but rather a dynamic one that rotates its content among several alternative possibilities, and once your browser has established a session, you only get the initially randomly selected text snippet. “Scholar” could well have not seen that particular resource because you essentially have to win a weak lottery to do so.
Now, let’s look at the geology-talk on the “Nature and Science” page mentioned:
Well known for its geologic significance, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological resources. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Canyon, incised by the Colorado River, is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 15 miles at its widest. However, the significance of Grand Canyon is not limited to its geology.
Three dimensions of space all get numbers and almost a set of descriptive statistics. Age? That’s just “four eras of geological time”. Nothing to disturb a YEC at all there; geological eras could just be hydrological sorting to them. You have to click through to “Natural Features and Ecosystems” to find an explicit statement of time in a static page:
Geologic formations such as gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon date back 1,800 million years.
One number to discuss time. Pardon me if I am not overwhelmed.
Cornelia Dean at the New York Times ran a story, “Parks Agency Leaves Controversial Book on Shelf”, on the damage control being put in place by Barna following the PEER press release.
In the end, no formal action was taken, and the book remains on sale because, Mr. Barna said in a written statement, “It is not our role to tell people what to believe.”
Well, Mr. Barna, NPS is not in the business of telling people what they should believe, but NPS review policies mean that the placement of books in park bookstores tells them that the expert staff at NPS believes that those materials are accurate. And that is the crux of the problem.
The group received a letter saying a review of records “did not locate any documents responsive to your request,” which Mr. Barna confirmed, saying “there’s no real record.”
So PEER’s claim of nonfeasance on the part of NPS concerning the lack of followup on the promise of a review (as also reported by the New York Times; see above) is completely accurate and stipulated officially. Thank you, Mr. Barna, for confirming that.
But there was no formal review, in part because of differences of opinion among the Park Service’s own specialists, said David Barna, a spokesman for the agency, in an interview yesterday.
When officials got together to discuss the book, the geologists and natural resource specialists would say, “Get this book out of here,” Mr. Barna said. “But the education and interpretation people would say: ‘Wait a minute. If your science is so sound, the fact that there are differences of opinion should not scare you away.’ “
Somehow, I think that the geologists and natural resource specialists were somewhat more specific in their criticisms. Barna glosses over the issue of materials meeting the criteria that are already established for materials on sale in the national park bookstores. The implied vilification of the domain experts as cowardly ideologues by Mr. Barna is at least impolite, or, worse yet, giving another manifestation of the dry rot encouraged by NPS administration concerning science in our national parks.
Here is what one of the NPS domain experts had to say, quoted with part of the PEER letter to NPS head Bomar:
On January 25, 2004 David Shaver, the Chief of the Park Service’s Geologic Resources Division sent a memo (enclosed) to NPS Headquarters calling for removal of the book, concluding –
“Our review of …NPS policies and Grand Canyon: A Different View, lead us to conclude that this book: does not use accurate, professional and scholarly knowledge; is not based on science but a specific religious doctrine; does not further the public’s understanding of the Grand Canyon’s existence; does not further the mission of the National Park Service…and finally, that this book should not have been approved for sale in NPS affiliated book sales.”
It sure looks like Shaver was directly addressing the NPS policies and criteria for merchandise.
The US Geological Service provides a handy website about the strata of the Grand Canyon. Their dates are not bowdlerized, but then they aren’t under NPS administration either.
The Grand Canyon Association provides accurate information online, as the Winter 2005 “Nature Notes” newsletter demonstrates.
NPS itself provides some good information. There’s a set of lesson plans based on Grand Canyon geology available through NPS:
Background Information The earth is very old – about 4Â½ billion years – according to recent estimates. This vast span of time, called geologic time by earth scientists, is difficult to comprehend in the familiar time units of months and years, or even centuries. How then do scientists reckon geologic time, and why do they believe the Earth is so old? The evidence for an ancient Earth is concealed in the rocks that form the Earth’s crust and surface. The rocks are not all the same age – or even nearly so – but, like the pages in a long and complicated history, they record the Earth-shaping events and life of the past. The record, however, is incomplete. Many pages, especially in the early parts, are missing and many others are tattered, torn, and difficult to decipher. But enough of the pages are preserved to reward the reader with accounts of astounding episodes which certify that the Earth is billions of years old. The oldest known rocks on Earth are close to four billion years old. They are found on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territory and in remote areas of Greenland. The rock layers of Grand Canyon range in age from 1800 million years old at the bottom of the canyon to 270 million years old at the top. The canyon landscape we see today, however, is relatively young, having been sculpted in just the last 5-6 million years. The metamorphic rocks, found at the bottom of the canyon formed when sedimentary rocks were subjected to igneous intrusions followed by deep burial. Subsequent flooding by inland seas and windy desert conditions deposited and then reworked the sedimentary rock layers above them. The canyon seen today is relatively young, having been sculpted in just the last 5-6 million years. The Colorado River carved through many rock layers to create Grand Canyon. Lateral erosion widened the canyon.
This, though, is not exactly an easy resource to locate. Why doesn’t NPS GRCA have a resource like the USGS one prominently posted, or at least linked from the “Nature and Science” page?
I know that many people have decided that because PEER implied something that turned out to be false (though PEER has asserted it never intended that reading of its press release), that there is no problem and everyone can relapse into a complacent haze now. In looking for confirmation or denial of PEER’s claims, I found what I feel are significant indications of a problem within NPS administration and its attitude toward science. This is not happening in isolation. There was an earlier PEER press release about the attempt by Paul Hoffman to revise all NPS management policy documents, essentially striking references to evolution and ecology.
I was able to directly confirm most of the claims that I was able to enumerate from the 2006/12/28 PEER press release; in one case I could not get confirmation of a numeric claim, and in another I was able to determine that there was no edict given to interpretative staff to fail to say what geological ages go with various Grand Canyon features. The issue concerning the sale of inaccurate books with the implicit NPS guarantee of accuracy is still a live one.
As I said before, NPS should adopt as a resolution the completion of a review of the suitability for NPS bookstore sale of the Vail book, and other legacy anti-science titles, using the Park Service Review criteria already in place. The domain experts at the Grand Canyon should be relied upon to determine the accuracy of fact claims made in the books. Their opinion should be heeded, not dismissed with post-modernist posturing. The dry rot in attitudes toward science needs to be examined, investigated, and excised from the National Park Service. The bluff plain-talking president, Teddy Roosevelt, would surely be disappointed in the manner in which this aspect of his legacy has been treated.