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Education The Almighty Buck Science

Darwin Evolving Into A Tricky Exhibit 1364

Posted by Zonk
from the inherit-the-wind dept.
rbochan writes "The new Darwin Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History has 'failed to find a corporate sponsor in the United States because American companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians over the theory of evolution' according to articles at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, and The Register. The $US3 million needed for the exhibit was met by private charitable donations."
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Darwin Evolving Into A Tricky Exhibit

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:46PM (#14093481) Homepage Journal
    Pathetic. I am much more willing to give my business to those companies that can take a stand. Furthermore, as a professor in the biosciences, I am especially troubled by stories like this. Perhaps even more disturbing is that this does not appear to be a news item covered in the mainstream US media. I had to learn about this first from Slashdot, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph and The Register, thanks to ~rbochan.

    Arguably, much of our current understanding of biology and bioscience (development of drugs and antibiotics, medicine etc...etc...etc...) and many things that may surprise you are due to a fundamental understanding of biology. Try future developments in body armor, engineering, acoustics, propulsion and search algorithms on for size. All of those disparate fields have been influenced and guided by cross-polination from bioscience and ignoring or even worse, rejecting a scientific understanding of the world will only hold us back.

    It is particularly ironic because one of the missions of the American Museum of Natural History is education of those very same individuals and corporations who are benefitting from decades of science education in the United States.

    Religious extremism come in many flavors folks, and if we are not careful, we are going to lose our edge. Remember, this country is only a couple hundred years old. Those societies that have embraced education and science historically are those societies that survive.

    • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:56PM (#14093629) Journal
      In the end, I'd much rather that companies don't take a stand. Not about evolution, not about politics, not about anything else. The fewer companies that throw their weight around for whatever reason, good or bad, the more our country moves towards something representative of the desires of the human beings who live here.

      I'm sure that many of the same CxOs who refused to risk their company's image put their own money in the pot. Now if only they'd do the same for everything else.
      • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:34PM (#14094195)
        Do we even know whether or not this was about taking a stand on Darwin in the first place? I only read the first article, but I saw exactly 0 companies quoted as witholding support to avoid controversy. It's a very slippery business trying to ascribe one particular cause to the lack of support for a fundraiser. "I'm persecuted" sounds a lot better than "nobody's interested." I've never been to any natural history museum that even hinted at anything other than Darwinism, so I don't see why it would be so controversial now.
      • In the end, I'd much rather that companies don't take a stand. Not about evolution, not about politics, not about anything else.

        Thank goodness Intel took a stand on the theory of ultraviolet lithography. Thank goodness Boeing took a stand on the theory of aerodynamic lift. Thank goodness Dole took a stand on the theory that biological contamination can cause disease (did you know you can't even see bacteria?). Thank goodness all the corporations that develop AIDS medicine have taken a stand on biological
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Don't you just love intelligent design, such flawless logic!!! Reminds me of this ever more relevant excert from one of the great movies of all time:

      BEDEVERE:
      Tell me. What do you do with witches?
      CROWD:
      Burn! Burn them up! Burn!...
      BEDEVERE:
      And what do you burn apart from witches?
      VILLAGER #1:
      More witches!
      VILLAGER #2:
      Wood!
      BEDEVERE:
      So, why d
    • by Kohath (38547)
      I am much more willing to give my business to those companies that can take a stand.

      Provided it's a stand you agree with. And you're not exactly in a huge majority. So don't hold your breath.

      I am willing to give my business to those companies that provide me with items I want. Specifically, I buy stuff that's worth more to me than the money I offer in exchange. I'm rational.
  • by XorNand (517466) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:47PM (#14093500)
    The $US3 million needed for the exhibit was met by private charitable donations.
    IMHO, the arts and sciences should be supported by private donations, not corporate sponsors. Professional sports have been utterly ruined by sponsorship. I'd hate to see the arts go down the same drain, esp. in situations like this. Can you imagine Dali being turned down by a gallery who said his work might not fit the status quo as dictated by Standard Oil? (yes I know he was Spanish) Sometimes good art and good science fly in the face of public opinion. Institutions who increasingly seek more and more of their budget from corporations are doing an extreme disservice to themselves and to the public.
  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:49PM (#14093519)
    I guess some zealots just won't trust anything that comes from Apple. Sad, really. :)

    Seriously, I don't know many Christians, even young-earth creationists, who'd actively go after companies that promoted this exhibit. Jerry Falwell's group might bitch a bit, but they do that anyway.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

      by evil agent (918566)
      I guess some zealots just won't trust anything that comes from Apple.

      Well sure. Ever since Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they've been suspicious of all fruits.

  • Debate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taskforce (866056) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:49PM (#14093528) Homepage
    Sorry, there's an actual debate going on?

    As in those presenting the current crop of alternate theories have a leg to stand on? This is really news to me.

  • by Chickenofbristol55 (884806) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:50PM (#14093555) Homepage
    'failed to find a corporate sponsor in the United States because American companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians over the theory of evolution'

    I think Darwin's theory needs to evolve to survive in its ever changing environment.

  • by Biff Stu (654099) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:50PM (#14093557)
    They need a trained workforce that understands biology and chemistry. If the religious wack jobs can't handle it, let them boycott the latest antibiotics. After all, bacteria don't evolve, right?
    • There is no point arguing in support of evolution if you haven't taken the time to even look at the claims of your opponents. IDists make a distinction between micro- and macroevolution and see the evolution of bacteria in response to antibodies, for example, as an example of microevolution at work. If you don't know this then you make yourself look as much of a fool as them. (Well, maybe not quite as much of a fool, but a bit of a fool anyway.)
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:50PM (#14093558) Homepage Journal
    What about making a balanced exhibit that companies CAN support without losing business, and letting people viewing the exhibit come to their own conclusions? I personally would find a Scofield/Darwin/Coppe exhibit to be very enlightening- even if I think the evidence behind Darwin (Spontaneous Genesis) and Coppe (Intelligent Design) would knock Scofield (Young Earth Creationism) all hollow (but then again, that's how it should be isn't it, since this is in historical order of theories proposed?)
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:55PM (#14093622) Homepage Journal
      Any "balanced" exhibit would come down firmly on the side of Darwin to the total exclusion of the others. Both ID and Young Earth creationism are so full of crap that there's no way to present them accurately and scientifically without alienating the creationist (including ID) crowd. Asking for a "balanced" Darwin exhibit that gives fair play to creationism is like asking for a "balanced" Hubble exhibit that gives fair play to astrology.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:53PM (#14093596)
    Darwin Exhibit, huh. Does it include the evolution of DRM on audio CD's, and the roadkill *coughSonycough* along the way?
  • by Deanasc (201050) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:54PM (#14093611) Homepage Journal
    None of the high tech companies can belly up to the bar and pick up the tab? That's just sad. I especially think the biotech companies have a duty to pick sides here. Where would some of them be without genetic engineering, proof of evolution if I've ever seen it? Genzyme, Biogen I'm looking at you! Or a company like Intel. What are christians going to give up computers because a chip maker sponsored the right side of the debate? Not after what the Vatican just said. [yahoo.com] So a small handful of fanatics clinging to dogma are going to push us all around with threats of boycots. I believe that's part of the definition of terrorism.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @03:56PM (#14093627)
    $sys$Evolution.

    Now only the geeks will learn about it.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:01PM (#14093698)
    The real problem to the Fundamentalist Christians is not that Evolution is wrong -- but that it's right!

    You can ignore what's wrong without worry. It's a lot harder to ignore what you know is right. It's a lot more likely that the dinosaurs are millions of years old, rather than that the entire Earth was created only 8K years ago and God put the fossils there to confound the unbelievers.

    Trying to remove the only theory that actually has some evidence to support it from discussion overall, or elevate truly unproven speculations to having equal weight, only confuses children -- and harms the nation's future.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:01PM (#14093700)
    ...is that it was not intelligently designed.

    If they had only put a picture of Michaelangelo's 'Creation of Adam' instead of crusty ole Darwin, the money would have come pouring in.

    Imagine the creationist's surprise when they find out that God is a woman in a surgeon's uniform.

    Suggested reading: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000D4FE C-7D5B-1D07-8E49809EC588EEDF [sciam.com]
  • by thewiz (24994) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:15PM (#14093898)
    And moving to Australia!
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:16PM (#14093911) Homepage
    Sadly, this is nothing new. KCET, the producing station of "Cosmos" series almost went bankrupt back in the 80s because they had a hard time securing corporate underwriters for that series.
  • by greg_barton (5551) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <notrab_gerg>> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:20PM (#14093970) Homepage Journal
    The next time you get into an Intelligent Design debate, ask this question of the ID advocate: Are you afraid of the Avian Flu?

    If they answer "Yes" you can slam them. Basically, the Avian Flu is only a threat if you think evolution is valid. The only way it can be a problem to humans is if it mutates, evolves, into a strain that can spread from human to human.

    So, if they're afraid of the Avian Flu, they MUST believe in evolution. If they're not afraid of it, all the better. They'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. :P
  • by Viper233 (132365) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:36PM (#14094224) Homepage
    Put Simply... there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, no Devil, no reincarnation, no magic...

    These figures/beliefs were created by the same creatures who believe and idolise them, i.e. humans.
    In our existance (this world, universe) there are things that occur in this world that we cannot yet explain, this can make us feel somewhat insignificant and futile in our existance. It raises such questions as
    • Why am I here?
    • What is my purpose?
    • What will happen to me when I no longer exist?
    • What will be the consequences of my actions in this life?
    This can somewhat be related to the need to believe in something!! (put simply in one aspect). Humans also feel compelled to hold morals and respect for others. Some(most) of us naturally become upset when people are treated unfairly(+many synonyms). Religion has been designed and evolved to accomodate and somewhat enforce this. E.g. don't kill, don't steal, don't cheat people, don't kill animals, don't eat meat, don't be greedy etc. Someone could probably better explain this need better than I can but be seen to be present in every culture with certain themes current through out.

    Here are some other characters that I have believed in over my life (especially as a child) that were created by man
    • Santa Claus
    • The Tooth fairy
    • The Easter bunny
    • Superman
    • The Teeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Monkey Magic
    • Jesus
    I was told by an enlightened Christian friend in the past that I would be going to hell after I died due to me not accepting God and Jesus... at the time I didn't ask her what the consequences were for no longer believing in the other characters, I wonder what the consequences would be?

    --
    This is for you Claire
  • by jlowery (47102) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @04:39PM (#14094285)
    US companies want to complain about the neglect of science education in this country, yet don't want to support an exhibit on one of the most groundbreaking ideas of modern science.

    You get what you pay for, fellas.

  • Too much fear. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stlhawkeye (868951) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:00PM (#14094554) Homepage Journal
    They fear the fundamentalists too much. The majority of Christians are fairly reasonable people who aren't going to boycott anything. This is one of those rare issues where companies are excessively defferential towards what they perceive to be a mainstream. Like the bank that stopped using a pig in its advertisement to avoid offending Muslims, I don't think American corporations need to fear fundamentalist Christians nearly as much as they do.
  • Myths (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bassman59 (519820) <andy@@@latke...net> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @05:00PM (#14094561) Homepage
    I hope that in a couple thousand years, if we haven't blown up the planet, civilizations will look back at the Christ story and the Biblical creation myths as exactly that, a mythology, one viewed in the same way that we look at the myths of the old Greek and Roman gods.

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst

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