I’m going to have to visit the American Museum of Natural History and see the
new permanent exhibit on human origins. It sounds very good; they’ve done something I try to do in some of my talks on evolution, splitting it between the more easily comprehended, sexy stuff of fossils and reconstructions and the more abstract and more recent material on molecular biology and genetics. There’s an oft-told myth among the creationists that evolution is dying, but it’s precisely that explosion of new information we’re gaining from molecular approaches that has been revitalizing the research for some time now.
The do throw one sop to the culture wars:
One issue cannot be entirely sidestepped in any public presentation of human evolution: that many people in this country doubt and vocally oppose the very concept. In a corner of the hall, several scientists are shown in video interviews professing the compatibility of their evolution research with their religious beliefs.
This is a new permanent exhibit, but I vaguely recall seeing a video presentation like this at a museum somewhere; was it on display at the AMNH before? It’s not a big deal, as what I remember of it was being faintly embarrassed at these scientists professing to be proud of their archaic bone-in-the-nose magic rituals. That part will be skippable—I look forward to seeing the real evidence, that wonderful piece of the universe that is untainted by the delusions of tradition.