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ISSUE 120 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/9/2007

Blondes not on the endangered species list: Fair hair makes a prime target for falsehoods

By Lindsey Myers
Staff Writer

Friday, March 9, 2007

Good news, St. Olaf: Gentlemen can continue preferring blondes; blondes can continue just wanting to have fun and the tired quips surrounding our campus’s predominant hair color can keep circulating for years to come. Why? Because recent “scientific” claims that blondes are en route to extinction have been debunked, and it appears that there will in fact be plenty of flaxen hair to make the world go ‘round for many generations.

I invite all of you readers to take a moment to expel a deep sigh of relief before reading any further, because I know this prediction had many of us fretting over the fate of humanity. Thankfully, there is no cause for alarm: Our children and grandchildren and even our great-grandchildren will enjoy a steady supply of light-haired lovelies, and the so-called “news” providers behind this hoax have apologized for their sensational reports.

If you hadn't heard, The New York Times, the Sunday Times, ABC and even CNN all reported within several days of each other that recent scientific studies had predicted the extinction of natural blondes in the near to relatively-near future. Most reported that this would occur by 2202, but the Manitou Messenger Variety editors alluded to a time-frame as immediate as 15 years (which could be evidence of how far the game of media telephone can be extrapolated or actual reports that editors heard. Who knows?).

For any truly blonde readers who are confused, these predictions all suggested that no new blonde babies would be born after a certain point, not that existing blondes would be struck dead by tow-head-only pandemics. Either way, the future looked grim: The ambiguous entity science was predicting a reality akin to that recently featured in “Children of Men,” but instead of being completely infertile, women would simply stop producing blonde babies.

The claims were explained in terms of genetic dominance; the genes for light hair are recessive and therefore at risk for eventual elimination from the gene pool as dark-hair genes slowly take over. The added implication of bottle-blondes solidified the argument, and the articles insisted that even countries like Norway and Sweden may find themselves blonde-less within 200 years.

The evidence for these reports were all traced to a 2002 study from the World Health Organization (WHO), and London reporters added that “the scientists” expected the last true blonde to be born in Finland in 2202. To add controversy to the stories, legitimate geneticists were interviewed and several gave strong defenses of the blonde gene’s ability to survive and flourish.

Either way, it all sounds pretty convincing, right? Too bad the WHO never conducted any such study, let alone published such results. Apparently, this is just another case of a falsified wildfire that seemed too intriguing to investigate before publishing.

More fascinating still, this is not the first of such claims. The good people at trace rumors of blonde extinction back many years, with particularly virulent theories emerging in 1961, 1906 and even the 1890's. It seems, then, that the idea of potential blonde extinction has continually been able to grab people’s attention. The question remains: Why?

Perhaps it is because blondes are scientifically proven to be more attractive to men than brunettes, and statistically more capable of breaking hearts, kicking asses and taking names, all while having a genetic predisposal towards cuteness and sassiness. (Chill out: I'm making this up as I go, like any good reporter on all matters blonde.) As a result, the media can’t help but sensationalize their cultural and genetic importance, and what better way to do that than to present the threat of their possible disappearance?

Just as newspapers will write about the possible endangerment of snow leopards while shrugging off the gradual extinction of certain bacteria, so too will our media be inclined to hype up blonde extinction while never once suggesting similar trends surrounding brown or black hair. Blondes should therefore take these hoaxes as the highest form of flattery and validation, keeping in mind, of course, that only dumb blondes would actually believe such garbage reporting.

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