American newspapers

Evolutionary theory in letters to the editor

This research note presents the results of a content analysis of 234 letters to the editors that discuss evolutionary theory and were published in American newspapers. We find that letters to the editor both support and hinder the cause of teaching evolutionary theory in American secondary schools. On the one hand, anti-evolutionary theory messages are marginalized in the letters section. This marginalization signals a low level of legitimacy for creationism. It might also contribute to the sense of tension that sustains creationist identities. On the other hand, relatively few letters explicitly note the fact that scientists or the scientific community accept evolution. Interestingly, the obscuration of the scientific community’s support for evolutionary theory occurs both in letters supporting and opposing evolutionary theory.

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