To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Professor Urey's Chicago outburst re. the Rosenberg trial points up the deplorable effect produced by reporting the opinions of "celebrities" as news. the false expertise of the celebrity testimonial has a powerful influence on the public. For example, a current dustcloth advertisement offers recommendations, in part, from two playwrights wives, two female television personalities, and the wife of a Vermont senator. Such testimonials entice buyers: admen don't spend funds for nothing. Just why praise from this clump of wives should be the gospel of the casual dustcloth-needing shopper I do not know. Nor do I know why the testimonial of a physicist, even a Nobel Prize physicist, on juridical subjects deserves news column space. The comparison may seem ludicrous, but accepting one is as sensible as accepting the other. Really, the housewives are better qualified to make a pragmatic judgement on household paraphernalia than the physicist a judgement on a legal matter, seeing that the US District Court, the Circuit Court of Appeals, and the US Supreme Court disagree with him.
Professor Urey, of course, has the right and the duty to speak out on political issues. But it is highly unfortunate that his speech rates wide publicity. The lava of Urey's wrath, filled though it may be with extra neutrons, is worth no more than that of any number of intelligent citizens. These citizens can only express themselves in the Letters to the Editor column; the press does not present them with the opportunity to be news hence authoritative, though their ideas may be worth far more than Urey's. The majority of renders tend to think of the celebrity--sadly enough, the scientist especially--as an "expert." The scientist has the stereotype of being mind incarnate, wandering through a mental ionosphere. A Urey testimonial, considering this stereotype, is worth even more in selling power than the dustcloth blurb. This become much truer when such charges as Urey made are headlined or front paged. It would seem to me that the views of intelligent amateurs, of all intelligent amateurs, belong in the Letters to the Editor column, where the authority of news, with its implications of fact, does not garnish the non-expert offerings of scientists and other such celebrities. Eric Rothstein '57