Letters to the Editor

Pseudoscience — not chemtrails — is the real threat to our society

EDITOR: As a 28-year subscriber to Sonoma West, our family enjoys your paper, its accurate editorials and appreciate how it maintains local accountability. We just renewed our subscription for two years.

We were insulted to find a flier by Geoengineeringwatch.org in our mail, delivered Sonoma West. This is not scientifically proven and alarms people with false assumptions. We feel that it is the responsibility of a reputable newspaper to not distribute misleading flyers. I have recommended to many people I know to subscribe to your paper, and this Geoengineeringwatch propaganda is embarrassing.

Please vet your flyers for obviously false information so you can maintain your reputation for delivering the truth. Your advertising staff needs to do their homework and make sure they are not upsetting people with misinformation .

I hope your editorial staff will independently research this geoengineeringwatch nonsense and print an article in your paper confirming the falsity of this concept.

Respectfully,

Clark Mitchel

Sebastopol

FROM THE EDITOR: Thanks, Clark. Your letter was the cause of much spirited debate in our newsroom.

There were several problems with that flyer — the first of which was that it was not marked as “paid advertising,” which it should have been.

It does not reflect in any way the opinion or beliefs of this newspaper — nor, in the opinion of this editor, does it reflect the scientific consensus on this topic.

Our publisher’s traditional stance is that the only thing he won’t allow to be put in the paper as a paid insert is “hate speech,” but this particular piece made us rethink that policy.

At the very least, we will require a disclaimer on future inserts that goes something like this: “PAID ADVERTISEMENT: The opinions expressed in this material do not represent the views or opinions of this newspaper.” 

As many writers in the social media wars have pointed out: “Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach,” which means that media platforms of all types must take more responsibility for the kind of content they allow in their pages or on their platforms. In the opinion of this editor, unsupported and unscientific speculation contributes to a rising tide of irrationality and conspiratorial thinking which threatens the culture at large.

Thanks for bringing this our attention.

Laura Hagar Rush

Sonoma West Editor

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