Why do newspapers still publish anti-evolution crank mail?

Bigfoot is not real, yet there are many believers.  And some of these believers write letters to the editors of local newspapers.

No one has ever been abducted by aliens.  Alien abductees certainly write letters to newspapers.   I knew a guy who could see and hear scenes from ancient times on the surfaces of some round rocks he found, and as his disease progressed, on the tiles in his bathroom.  I know he wrote letters to the editors because he cc’ed them to me!

Yet, we do not see these emails published in the newspapers. The newspapers weed them out.

Evolution is real.  Creationism is not.  Why are emails from creationists often published in respectable newspapers? There is a reason, and I’ll tell you what it is below. (Preview: It is your fault.)

Yes, yes, I get that creationism is part of certain religions, and therefore newspaper editors may feel obliged to print this material. But there are many other things that are part of various mainstream religions that we do not see in letters to the editors of modern newspapers.  Newspapers are not printing any rants about food taboos not being followed; or about people failing to take their hats off or put them on in the correct setting, or forgetting to cross themselves at the altar or eating fish on Thursday instead of Friday.  Few letters say anything overt about being saved by Jesus, and none that I know of say what I hear the street-corner soap-box preachers telling me as I walk by them.  These are all things that are part of religion but being part of religion does not get them on the editorial pages of modern newspapers.

OK, a quick caveat.  Yes, you do see crazy stuff in the letters to the editor section of newspapers, and perhaps you know of (and can point to) examples. But major cities have “local” newspapers that are supposed to be above all this. Minneapolis’ Star Tribune (“The Strib”) is one of those.  

Yet we saw this just the other day:

EVOLUTION
What is unobservable is a theory — no more

Within the species, evolution can be observed and scrutinized in the development of new life forms such as variants of corn and cattle. … However, evolutionists and creationists diverge where observation ends and ideology takes over.

… One does not actually see a life form generating the next level from conception to birth outside of its boundary that serves as an invisible wall.

But where it is unobservable, it may still be considered a construction of the mind — a theory. Political candidates who refer to creationism in less than a negative manner need not be demeaned.

JAMES SCHACHER, Blaine

In this case, the Strib ran this rant side by side with an “evolution is for real” letter written by Arnold Erickson of Mesa, Arizona. Nice. The two letters were debating the validity of a point made by Richard Dawkins concerning the lack of understanding of science by Michel Bachmann, Ron Paul and other political candidates running for the Republican nomination this election cycle.

The Strib has demonstrated that it subscribes to the policy of there being “two sides” to every story (even though this is not true) and they’ve demonstrated that they can’t find anyone in Minnesota who thinks evolution is real. Thanks for that, Star Tribune.

But enough complaining. It seems to me that it is quite possible to do something about this, and here’s where we see how this is all your fault, and that only you can fix it.

The logic is simple: Major, credible newspapers do not publish letters to the editor from those with delusions, poorly informed individuals, or plain old cranks who think they’ve seen bigfoot, were abducted by aliens, have proof that Jimmy Carter was seen in Fukushima’s nuclear power plant just before the meltdown or insist that rocks speak to them. Why, then, would they publish letters from people who deny basic science, including well established aspects of Evolutionary Biology as well as the firmly established findings of Climate Science?

They avoid the former because it would be embarrassing, they practice the latter because it brings in readership and so far has not brought sufficient ire to bear on the editorial staff. Because you haven’t told them that they are doing it wrong.

As a person with fingers and an internet connection (or equivalents) you can tell them how you feel about this. If you happen to subscribe to a newspaper that has published this sort of drek, you can tell them that their credibility is at risk and this causes you view renewal of your subscription as unlikely. This might be especially effective if you currently subscribe to your local newspaper via one of these new, experimental iPad or Smart Phone apps.

In this case, the offending newspaper is the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can send off a few emails and tell them what you think. I make it easy for you:

The letter in question, quoted in part above, is here. Right at the top of the page.

Here are some suggestions as to whom you might email:

Michael J. Klingensmith
Publisher and CEO
612.673.7576
michael.klingensmith@startribune.com

Nancy Barnes
Editor and Senior Vice President
612.673.7937
nancyb@startribune.com

Scott Gillespie
Editor
612.673.4516
sgillespie@startribune.com

Jeff Griffing
Chief Revenue Officer, Advertising
jeff.griffing@startribune.com

Don’t just sit there. Take action!