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The impetus for the overwhelming majority of Western science has been to prove the veracity of some iteration of the Old Testament creation stories. Most scientists were followers, in some affiliation or other, of The Book. They pursued their work in the hope that by understanding the creation they could get to know better the nature and intent of the creator. Some percentage of scientists today still pursue that goal.

At the core of all scientific pursuit is the often irritating human tendency to ask "Why" and to keep asking it. Never mind that a seemingly plausible answer has already been offered. Occasionally the questions result in leaps of understanding, but mostly, science is a slow, incremental process of building upon and refining or discarding previous work. Uncertainty and arguments are the occupational givens that drive the process. But once everything is known and universally agreed upon, scientists, at least, can stop asking why.

The process unsettles those people who believe that they have already been told why. — John Gaffey, Ashland

Southern Oregon's beautiful views and public lands provide a playground for recreation and help generate tourism in the region. Along with my family, I have spent 25 years welcoming visitors to Southern Oregon through my family business, the Buckhorn Springs Retreat Center.

Many people are drawn to this area for the area's natural beauty as well as its clean water, nearby trails and breathtaking views. Many visit again and again, or decide to move here, strengthening our economy. Recent legislative proposals to ramp up timber harvest on public lands and eliminate public input are short-sighted. Widespread clearcutting on private industrial timberlands in the county hasn't brought prosperity and sustainability to our communities and neither will a return to clearcutting on public lands.

All increased logging on public lands will do is threaten the growing recreation and tourism industry of Southern Oregon that supports me and my family. We need to continue to put conservation on equal ground with energy development and resource extraction. In Southern Oregon, protecting the environment is also good for the economy. — Bruce Sargent, Buckhorn Springs

I've read different letters on this subject. I wouldn't mind sharing the road if the cyclists were willing to share and didn't want the complete road. I've almost been hit by cars having to move over for the bikes. They really do not want to stop at the stop signs. They are rude and believe they own the road.

I believe the money the auto owners pay for registration goes to roads, building them and maintaining. I could be wrong on this. But I don't see cyclists paying anything for our roads through registering their bikes.

In response to P. Stone, maybe Ellie McKeon has good reasons for wanting to get home and not have to wait a few more minutes because cyclists want more of the road. There are already bike lanes to ride in, but that's not enough room, Stone wants the whole road and seems to feel more important than Ellie. I would say shame on Stone.

I'm willing to share, but would like my part of the road. — Judy Westcott, Talent

I read with sadness and horror the article in the Tribune regarding gangs in Jackson County.

Four years ago, my husband and I moved to Jackson County not only to improve our quality of life, but also to escape from the gang situation in the Salinas Valley. It was really awful. If you Google "Salinas gangs," there's a plethora of websites and statistics about it.

In 2010, on the series "Gangland," they called Salinas the "highway to hell" because of gang crime and daily shootings. The kids in public schools were not allowed to wear red and black because those are the colors of the Norteños gang.

Believe me when I say Jackson County does not want this problem to get that far! It will turn this county into a serious hotbed of crime and fear. I hope the Sheriff's Department makes this a priority or we'll all be sorry. — Christine Allwardt, Shady Cove

Sorry Mr. Editor, your logical suggestion comes too late to be considered. The plan for the mountain bike system is already adopted. Period. You are right, a park for all users is the right way to go on Roxy Ann. This adopted plan, written by the mountain bike lobby, was accepted by the council. No modifications. No conditions like the one you suggest.

Adopted: first 10-plus miles, cost $200,000, path, "2-feet wide, with brushing on the sides" (Quote: Sjothun, parks director, Jan.16 council meeting). Does that sound like a "design for multiple use?" It sounds more like "a design for a two-lane highway over Siskiyou Pass, for all its traffic."

As to the six-foot-wide specifications for the "Bike and horse" path: That's asking for a circus I'd pay to see. An $800 mountain bike versus a 1,500-pound horse. My money is on the horse.

Sorry, these multiple-use issues should have been addressed at the beginning of the process. They'll never be addressed now. The most we can expect are a few piddling, cosmetic additions trying to make the plan look good. But the basic ugliness of the plan is only glossed over. — Otis D. Swisher, Medford

Some readers have questioned whether it is possible that certain dogs can have inherently aggressive tendencies by virtue of genetic makeup. It certainly is.

The genetics of canine aggression are well established. Aggressive behavior in dogs appears to be primarily a result of reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, suppressed serotonin production and an overproduction of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. All of these physiological responses are conditioned by alleles in the canine genome that can be manipulated through selective breeding.

Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyaev demonstrated in the 1950s that it is possible to breed strains of silver fox that are genetically tame or genetically wild through selective breeding alone, irrespective of how the subjects are handled by humans.

Since aggressive behavior confers an advantage in competition for territory, it is evolutionarily adaptive. Therefore, either natural selection or selective breeding can greatly diminish or greatly magnify its genetic potency. — Steve Bismark, Medford

Where freedom is valued, "free trade" seems a no-brainer. However, in a world where resources are limited and the ability of the planet to absorb our burgeoning waste is already compromised, free trade may be more of a toxin than benefit.

The 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement incorporated a side agreement designed to protect the environment. Unfortunately, the story on this is mixed. In Mexico, for example, the increased environmental costs have exceeded the increased economic benefits. Without appropriate environmental protections, increased trade and growth may have negative environmental consequences.

In the case of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) linking 12 Pacific Rim nations, this lesson should be learned. Regrettably, many political leaders and corporations plan to muscle approval of TPP through Congress on a fast track — meaning without public discussion about whether provisions protecting our global environment are sufficient.

A leaked copy of the environment chapter suggests that current environmental regulatory provisions will lack teeth and be totally inadequate for the job. In a world where greenhouse gas emissions must be curtailed if we wish a livable planet for future generations, fast track must be opposed. We need complete public debate about this proposal. — Alan Journet, Jacksonville