Sunday, May 29, 2005

Putting the "Science" in Pseudoscience

The New York Times reports that the venerable Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History has lent the patina of legitimacy to the creationists by hosting the premiere of the Discovery Institute's propaganda film "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe." This film makes the argument that the hand of a creator - an intelligent designer - is evident in the universe. Randall Kremer, spokesman for the Smithsonian, claims that the presentation is not meant to infer endorsement of the ideas expressed in the film.
He added that staff members viewed the film before approving the event to make sure that it complied with the museum's policy, which states that "events of a religious or partisan political nature" are not permitted...
Clearly some museum staffers are unaware that the basis of Intelligent Design is wholly (or holy) religious, and as "scientific theory" it lacks both science and theory (in the sense of a testable hypothesis). Perhaps thoughtful people should vociferously bring this to the museum's attention (an email to Heather Rostker, designated contact for the museum's exhibits and public programs, for example).

Combined with pressure by religious groups to prevent Imax theaters at museums from showing films that include the presumption of natural evolution (see "On the Ash Heap of Science"), this situation is really quite alarming.

1 comment:

Don Wharton said...

The Smithsonian has now distanced itself from this film. It is "not consistent with the Smithsonian
mission." They have returned the $16,000 but will apparently allow the film to be shown. I have heard it asserted that the reason was to prevent a lawsuit since the Discovery Institute had a signed contract.

This was a very regrettable misstep for a very respected institution.