Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Smithsonian & The Discovery Institute

I made something of a stink last Sunday in my post Smithsonian Supporting Intelligent Design, as did many many others (to wit: Hedwig and The Panda's Thumb: Smithsonian Warming to ID?, to name but a few), about the Smithsonian showing the Discovery Institute's film The Privileged Planet. I sent an email to the Smithsonian expressing my concern, which I shared in my post. I just received the following email from the Smithsonian:

Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 2:40 PM
Subject: Re: Discovery Institute Screening of The Privileged Planet


Your correspondence of May 29, 2005, regarding the screening of "Privileged Planet" has been received in the Smithsonian's Public Inquiry Mail Service for response.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History recently approved a request by the Discovery Institute to hold a private, invitation only screening and reception at the Museum on June 23 for the film "The Privileged Planet." Upon further review we have determined that the content of the film is not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution's scientific research. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the National Museum of Natural History supports or endorses the views of the Discovery Institute or the film "The Privileged Planet." Given that the Discovery Institute has already issued invitations, we will honor the commitment made to provide space for the event, but will not participate or accept a donation for it.

We appreciate your interest in the Smithsonian Institution.

Well, in my mind the question still begs as to how the Discovery Institute got in the door to start with, but my guess is that all things considered that this is as good of a solution as can be expected without creating too overly much of a stink about it. That a group that the Smithsonian neither supports or endorses managed to make its way into the house for a great PR moment is no small thing, and I should hope that the Institute is going to be far more vigilant in the future. I wonder if this qualifies them to take the $20K offered by the Randi Foundation for not showing the film? Something to look into.


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