"Harvard researchers perpetrated scientific fraud resulting in millions of premature deaths" — that is what the headline should have said over the Sept. 13 article regarding the sugar industry paying Harvard researchers to handpick studies to generate predetermined outcomes thatminimized the link between sugar and heart disease ("Sugar industry rigged research").

We expect dishonesty from industry, like pharmaceutical companies that raise prices 600 percent so they can get more money. Deception and price-gouging are part of the American way. We worship what makes money.

But junk science from Harvard feeds anti-intellectualism and distrust of research. Shame on them. But wait, the researchers were well-paid for their dishonesty. Never mind.

Richard DeBeau, Northfield

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Why is it front-page news that yet another American corporate industry has spent decades lying to the public? The tobacco, auto, oil and gas, chemical and pharmaceutical industries have all been caught lying and endangering people for money, over and over for decades. Why not sugar?

Our politicians told us that we were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that American Indians were savages, that we needed to go to the moon (no one to this day can give you a coherent answer to that one), and that we need to keep dropping bombs in the Middle East.

Let's just start from the premise, as a friend of mine says, "that everything you've been told since you were born is a lie." Like an infantilized herd, we seem to be addicted to hand-wringing, shock, issues and hysteria — all false dramas and distractions from conducting meaningful lives.

When they tell you that something is "new and improved" or "doctor recommended," or that you should be an "energy voter," or that we are winning hearts and minds, or that it's football season, turn off the idiot box, talk to a friend, go for a walk or find a good book.

Dave Evans, Bemidji, Minn.

Expanding on Ellison's examples of positive impacts …

In his Sept. 13 commentary "I believe America can beat Islamophobia," U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison points out many ways in which Muslim-Americans are strengthening our communities and government.

Violent actions by extremists too often overshadow the positive steps Muslims around the world are taking to build peace. Violence dominates media coverage of the Middle East, leading Americans to believe that Islam and violence go hand in hand. That is not the experience of our unarmed peacekeepers, many of whom are Muslim, working in some of the most violent countries around the globe. Nonviolent Peaceforce, an international nongovernmental organization with offices in St. Paul, works with a network of more than 4,000 civilians led by Muslim women in Syria working to build peace. They are determined to rebuild and strengthen civil society in their country so they can live without fear of air raids and their daily lives can return to normal. In Mindanao in the Philippines, our peacekeepers work with Muslim leaders involved in peace and cease-fire processes.

These are the stories we need to tell. We are grateful to Rep. Ellison for telling stories of Muslim-Americans and their positive impact on our state and nation, and reminding us that "the best way to overcome darkness is with the light."

Marna Anderson, St. Paul

Clinton and deplorability: sensibility and semantics

As this national election cycle underscores, we are a deeply divided nation on social, ethical and political issues. A healthy society allows for meaningful argument, often virulent, without calling into question the fundamental character of one's opponents.

How far we have strayed from that innately American sense of fair play. For too many years, we have been shouting at one another from opposite sides of the fence, too often going beyond the bounds of normal discourse to accuse our opponents of being almost subhuman (racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, etc.). Both sides, conservative and progressive, have lowered themselves to such schoolyard taunts on a dismayingly regular basis.

Only days ago, Hillary Clinton described roughly 47 million American voters as "deplorable" dolts who can't get out of the way of their own deep-seated prejudices. In sheer numbers, she has called the equivalent of the total citizens of Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania "irredeemable." I cite Clinton only because hers is the most recent instance of our national name-calling fever. This has to stop. Can we all take a deep breath and listen to those with whom we disagree, without ascribing awful motives? The Star Tribune's recent account of former Minnesota Gov. Al Quie's friendship with an activist from St. Paul ought to be the example we strive for as a city, state and nation.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

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"By their associates and those who they admire — you will know them …": This principle is something many people live by, and one that parents teach their children. Consider whether you'd want your own children to emulate the language, values and actions of anyone who refuses to respect millions of people because of their race, religion, gender or financial status.

The dictionary synonyms for "deplorable": disgraceful, terrible, awful, appalling, unacceptable, shocking, unpardonable, unforgivable and shameful. Which definition would you chose for such behavior?

Now consider Donald Trump — he has repeatedly disrespected millions of women, minorities, handicapped, dependent groups — and has cheated hardworking people, yet he is admired and supported by many followers, while he encourages them to emulate his behavior and repeat his lies.

Can we at least say that this is deplorable, even stretch the claim a little (by association) to: "It is deplorable that those who tolerate and admire his behavior are behaving deplorably?"

Margaret Klempay DiBlasio, Roseville

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The numbers are shocking! A recent nationwide poll shows that over half of those respondents who identified themselves as Republican believe that: 1) President Obama was not born in this country; 2) that President Obama is a Muslim, and 3) that Muslims should not be allowed in this country. If that's not "deplorable," I don't know what is.

Judith Monson, St. Paul

There are dreams, there's reality, and there's the heart of the matter

I truly feel sorry for the young lady who wrote "She's broke but can't help dreaming of a fairy-tale wedding" (10,000 Takes, Sept. 13). In my mind, her priorities are terribly mixed up. Who doesn't want a fairy-tale princess wedding? I know I did, but I ended up getting married in the judge's chambers with my family present. Afterward, we all went out to lunch at a beautiful restaurant.

But, with reality rearing its head, practicality must come in, or get ready for more monstrous debt. The 10,000 Takes writer started to come down to Earth, but then she had the thought about people laughing at her ugly dress, horrible cash bar and horrible decorations, and she lost me. She even stated that talking to her parents about it would be futile. It seems clear that she just wants the big party and that the new married life is secondary. Her boyfriend may want to think twice about this.

Gail Van der Linden, Minneapolis