Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Smithsonian Supporting Intelligent
Design



I had to be reminded about this by Hedwig the Owl. I recalled reading something regarding this movie and the Smithsonian briefly yesterday in the Times, Smithsonian to Screen a Movie That Makes a Case Against Evolution, and in the flow of things going on in the day it didn't register to the totality that it should have. What it boils down to is that the Smithsonian has agreed to show a movie, The Privileged Planet, put out by the Discovery Institute , which is pretty much the premier intelligent design supporter in the United States. I shan't get into my position with regard to intelligent design, anyone whose read this blog knows and anyone else can read the copy of the email I sent to the Smithsonian as you see it below. I wasn't sure who should get the email on this, but using Hedwig's blog I can provide this contact page which can be used to send an email such as I sent below. You'll see with this email that I'm providing the addresses of the offices I used, as far as I'm aware these are as good as any:

To: info@si.edu ; smithsmt@palmcoastd.com ; info@sipress.si.edu

Sent: Sunday, May 29, 2005 8:26 PM

Subject: Discovery Institute Screening of The Privileged Planet

I was appalled to read that the Smithsonian has agreed to show The Privileged Planet, a film produced by an anti-evolution organization representing an evolutionary perspective that's anything but scientific.

The Smithsonian has had a worldwide association with scientific integrity and leadership in this country, and by agreeing to show this film it is undermining its status in both areas. If intelligent design could in anyway be considered a valid scientific alternative to evolutionary theory I'd be all for showing The Privileged Planet in the nation's premier scientific venue for the public. Unfortunately intelligent design is not a validated scientific theory, yet the Smithsonian, an institution from which many Americans take their cue for their understanding of science, is indirectly supporting the advancement of a non-scientific alternative to accepted evolutionary theory, and moreover one that panders to religious belief as an explanation for natural phenomena. While the Smithsonian may be explicitly stating that it doesn’t support the views expressed in this movie, its mere association with it provides the impression of endorsement in the minds of many Americans and people throughout the world.

Recent developments have managers of IMAX theaters opting not to show films which mention the scientifically determined age of the Earth, in addition to making mere mention of evolution, because it’s felt that such information would upset certain audiences in various parts of the country and the theaters did not want to invite the controversy. Having the Smithsonian step into this controversy on the side of the individuals who wish to bring into question the theory of evolution, however unintentionally this may be, is a major blow to science in this country.

I urge the Smithsonian to re-consider its support for The Privileged Planet and the Discovery Institute. The support provided to both thus far has done a major disservice to the reputation of the Smithsonian, and is not in keeping with the Smithsonian's heretofore consistent support of legitimate scientific endeavors.

I would also recommending registering your displeasure with your political representatives in DC, specifically your congressional and senatorial reps.

Addendum: Another email address to express your concern to is nhevents@si.edu, the address for the event coordinator at the Smithsonian.

3 Comments:

Blogger Africanuck said...

How can they possibly support showing this???

I really have to wonder if the fundys haven't been quietly putting their people into what they feel are key positions over the years and now are ready to launch an assault on science in general.

Don't they realize that in teaching the kids "religious science", they are going to turn out a generation of people who can't compete with the rest of the world?

Welcome back to the Dark Ages...

2:16 AM  
Blogger James said...

For more details on this I'd recommend going to:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001078.html#more

where there's a fairly lengthy discussion on this going on.

One of the reasons thrown out there is that the Smithsonian, which is dependent on support from the government, has been pressured to accept the film from the Discovery Institute, which paid $16K for the privilege of being able to show it at the Smithsonian. There's also a suggestion that the Smithsonian needs the money. Whatever the reasons, the Smithsonian has managed to put itself in the spotlight with this and what may have been a movie that a group paid to show at the Smithsonian, which wouldn't have brought attention, has now become something else all together.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Africanuck said...

Interesting link James, thank you.

1:05 AM  

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