Naive religious view
Rudolphus Teeuwen criticized my opinion piece, on various points, so I think I should make a few remarks (“Missionary positions in Taiwan,” May 30, Page 8; “Religious provocation,” June 8, page 8).
First, he thinks I am considerably underestimating local students’ academic abilities and learning practices, mentioning his own, quite different experiences as a Dutch professor in Taiwan.
Well, my experience is my experience is my experience. What else do I have? Teeuwen mgiht have a different experience — I have never denied that possibility.
It is evident that teaching at one of the few universities here in Taiwan with a considerably good academic reputation gets you different students.
However, is Teeuwen aware of what is going in “so many classrooms” in “so many minds” at other, non-elite institutions of education in Taiwan? I am talking about them, that is, at a guess, about 90 percent of those institutions (including high schools).
It is this point that Teeuwen is missing.
Besides, most (nearly all) of my students agree with the description of prevailing educational practices as portrayed in that article. Are my Taiwanese students more critical, more realistic than a European professor?
Second, Teeuwen accuses me of criticizing just a naive, literal view of the Bible without taking into account more subtle forms of Christianity.
Such a naive view of the Bible is exactly what most missionaries are teaching (and what more than 40 percent of all US Americans hold to be true) here in Taiwan; they are my target.
One can easily expose their naivete at their own — well, naive — level when simply presenting Biblical counter examples before even considering serious arguments. An opinion piece is not the place to discuss sophisticated religious theories — which I did elsewhere.
I doubt Teeuwen’s statement that the Bible is “a revelation of a sublime God we can never really know” would fall under that category of “sophisticated religious theories.” It reads just like another empty phrase, a personal statement of a hypersensitive soul with no relevance for any truth beyond wishful thinking.
I find it as problematic as I find Teeuwen’s uncorroborated judgement that I do not “think for [my]self” unfair.
Deceptive pollution measures
It is sad to see regulators presenting data that is not directly relevant to an issue as support for new measures (“Scooter owners decry plan to tighten emission limits,” June 12, page 2).
It is sadder still to let the practice go unchallenged.
The percentage or parts per million in the emissions of vehicles is not the most relevant measure of their contribution to pollution. A much more relevant measure would be the amount of emissions per vehicle-kilometer, per vehicle-passenger-kilometer, or per vehicle-ton-kilometer.
Even measures per minute of operation would be preferable, even though these do not take into account differences in fuel consumption due to engine efficiency and vehicle weight.
Further, any difference in the pollution resulting from the construction of the vehicle should also be taken into consideration.
It might well be that any of these alternative measures might still justify the proposed regulation, but if regulators or advocates are allowed to choose less relevant measures without being called upon to defend them we are not likely to improve the situation appreciably.
New Taipei City
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