The bizarre case of the lower case
While reading an article on American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website — one of the things I do so you don’t have to — something struck me as odd.
The article was “Creation News to Note”, a weekly column contributed by Answers in Genesis. I know what you’re thinking . . . “What could possibly be odd about that?”
Was it the fact that I wasn’t pounding my head against the wall? Nope. I’d just finished reading more about Donald Trump’s success with the Birther crowd, so already had a nice bit of drywall-patching to do.
Was it the Young Earth Creationist viewpoint? Nah, I expected that.
Tell me, can you see it?
Cody is certainly aware of formaldehyde’s reputation, noting that his claim is “ ironic [since] formaldehyde is poisonous to life on [e]arth.” But Cody’s team has identified a specific chemical reaction involving formaldehyde that would result in simple organic compounds. Moreover, such compounds are similar to those that have been discovered on meteorites and comets, giving the team confidence that formaldehyde may be responsible for many of the organic compounds that exist naturally in space.
Note the editor’s mark in the first sentence. OneNewsNow decapitalized the name of our planet.
Indeed, at LiveScience, we see:
“We may owe our existence on this planet to interstellar formaldehyde,” said researcher George Cody of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., in a statement. “And what’s ironic about it is that formaldehyde is poisonous to life on Earth.”
I began to ponder. Why would an editor decapitalize the name of our planet, a proper noun? Maybe it wasn’t the editor; maybe that’s what AiG submitted. So, I searched the site for the word “earth”.
The first place I found it capitalized, outside of an article title or the name of an event (“Earth Day”)? Another AiG “Creation News to Know” column:
Years ago, the idea that Mars was inhabited by humanoid creatures seemed, at least to some, quite plausible. Today, of course, we know that Mars is lifeless (on the surface, anyway). Nonetheless, astronomers have turned their telescopes farther and farther away from Earth in hopes of finding a planet as “just right” for life as Earth is. The problem is, no matter where they look, Earth looks to be increasingly unique.
Several other AiG columns likewise capitalized “Earth” appropriately. It appears that AiG recognizes Earth as a planet. So, why would a OneNewsNow editor not merely decapitalize Earth, but purposely draw attention to the decapitalization?
Um . . . This is all I'm coming up with.
What do you think? Am I reading too much into the intentional and purposeful decapitalization of Earth’s name?