Yes, here we go again.
I was interested in this Syracuse, N.Y., dateline story already, because of its obvious religious overtones -- both in terms of the scientist in the lede and the metaphysical, to say the least, nature of the issues involved in this breakthrough.
Then, later on, we had -- OMG! -- that whole revisionist Associated Press Stylebook thing going on again. But let's be patient and look at the actual story for just a second:
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Peter Saulson sat in a synagogue for the Jewish new year Sept. 14, cut off from the rest of the world. He had turned off his cell phone and computer to observe the holiday.
Saulson was oblivious that his email inbox had started exploding around 7 a.m. with 75 messages that carried the same subject line: "Very interesting event."
Saulson wouldn't get word until that night, when he finally turned his computer back on, that he was on the verge of culminating his life's work, and the work of a thousand other scientists across the world.
That was the day two massive telescopes, one in Louisiana and the other in the state of Washington, detected for the first time gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes from 1.3 billion years ago.
I like the fact that this story opens in a synagogue, where one must assume that folks would upper-case the "G" in "God," as well as the "E" in Einstein, as in Albert, if for different reasons under Associated Press style.
However, the setting for the this drama eventually moved to a different location, the office of Duncan Brown, another Syracuse professor. At this location, it appears that a high number of people are either new atheists or active in various polytheistic religions.
Why do I say that?
Yes, here we go again, as the impact of this scientific discovery sank in:
That meant gravitational waves existed, and that scientists could detect them. It meant that two black holes had crashed into each othermore than a billion years ago – something no one had ever seen before.
In an area outside Brown's office that day in October, other SU physics students and faculty gathered and watched the data online results at the same time. A big cheer went up. Someone said, "Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Oh, my god!"
So, in social-media terms, that would be "OMg! OMg!"
Since this phenomenon keeps taking place, let's pause to review the contents of the journalism bible -- small "b" -- that is the authoritative text on this issue. Saith the AP stylebook:
gods and goddesses
Capitalize God in references to the deity of all monotheistic religions. Capitalize all noun references to the deity: God the Father, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Allah, etc. Lowercase personal pronouns: he, him, thee, thou.
Lowercase gods and goddesses in references to the deities of polytheistic religions.
Lowercase god, gods and goddesses in references to false gods: He made money his god.
So are these Syracuse folks actually shouting, "Oh my false god! Oh my false god!"
Now, whenever we note this trend, there are always folks who leave comments saying that this style error was probably just a typo. Things like that happen in Twitter and we understand that.
Things like this, perhaps:
Now you know that, for the traditional Catholic Scalia, we are talking about "God," rather than "god."
Here at GetReligion, we second that request for some kind of confirmation on this change. Or is there simply a kind of quiet rebellion going on at some AP desks?