I ♥ Philadelphia

Look what they’ve done: Philadelphia declares a whole Year of Evolution, a celebration starting on 19 April.


The YEAR OF EVOLUTION kicks off for the public on Saturday, April 19, as the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology opens Surviving: The Body of Evidence, a new exhibition which explores the process of evolution and its outcomes. Other public programs so far scheduled at the University of Pennsylvania include lectures by Donald Johanson, Director, Institute for Human Origins (May 2008), Spencer Wells, Project Director of the National Geographic Genographic Project (October 2008), Charles Darwin expert E. Janet Browne, author of the two-volume Charles Darwin: Voyaging and the Power of Place (November 2008), and renowned biologist Ken Miller (February 2009). Additional lectures, Penn Museum programs for children and families, scholarly symposia, and an evolution-focused freshman class book-reading selection, will round out the University’s rich offerings.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, The Franklin, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Mütter Museum and College of Physicians, and the American Philosophical Society Museum join with Penn Museum and the University, in offering programming in the coming year. Included in the public offerings are exhibitions about the work of geneticist Gregor Mendel (Academy of Natural Sciences), and Charles Darwin (American Philosophical Society Museum), as well as an evolutionary perspective on a medical collection (Mütter Museum). Related IMAX movie programs at The Franklin, and a closer look at our closest relatives–fellow primates–at the Philadelphia Zoo, are all part of the year.

Dr. Howard Goldfine, Professor of Microbiology, School of Medicine, and Dr. Michael Weisberg, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, School of Arts and Sciences, are co-chairs of the University’s YEAR OF EVOLUTION. Dr. Janet Monge, Acting Curator of Physical Anthropology, Penn Museum, and co-curator of the Surviving exhibition, was instrumental in organizing the city-wide effort.

This is how it is done, people! Organize a whole series of positive, informative events for your town, right now — you’ve fallen behind Philly!

Now I just need an excuse to visit…Philadelphia is a great old town that has just gotten better.


  1. sinned34 says

    Hmmm, I might have to stop referring to Philly as pedaPhiladelphia (which I do mainly to bug a friend who’s a Flyers fan).

  2. jeff says

    Wow, the Mutter Museum is tiny compared to the other sponsoring institutions, but IMO it might be the best place for people to decide if we are “created by a loving God”. The museum is a 100-ish year old collection of “medical oddities” : lots of bizarre birth defects, grotesque deformities, and a bit of quaint Americana (the tumor removed from the jaw of Pres. Grover Cleveland.)

  3. says

    Everyone lucky enough to live in Philadelphia should make it a point to support these events — visit the museums and exhibits, and attend the lectures. Make this a stunning success!

  4. says

    Our city is awesome, isn’t it? Now if only the high school kids could stop killing people in the subways, we’d be even better.

  5. Holbach says

    Yes,great city, Philadelphia And I know it well having been there many times, all for pleasure. Have been to all the mentioned museums many times over the years and are worth a visit whenever you are in Philadelphia. The UP Museum of Archaeology and Anthropolgy are a must for we people of sound and inquiring minds. If you go to the American Philosophical Society check the roster of great Americans and Europeans who were members, the cream of the rational world. The city is also home of Stephen Girard, an atheist and one of America’s first financiers and philanthropists. And the Franklin Institute is always a pleasure to check out all those science exhibits without any hint of the ID crapola. Great hotels and restaurants, a city seeped in history, great architecture, and so much to see and do. And those rich and wonderful suburbs! I’ll probably be there again in mid May or October when the weather is the most enjoyable. To those who have never been to Philadelphia and will have good memories and times I urge you to go, especially now that the city is celebrating our reason for our existence. Hats off and a bow to Stephen Girard!

  6. says

    The timing is especialy great, as I just discovered one of the mainstream commercial theaters here is carrying Expelled starting Friday.

    And I have to second Morse — holding our heads up high about our city would be easier to manage if we weren’t so busy looking over our shoulders.

  7. Holbach says

    Heck, I’ll have to make it to Philly again in November just to (and other pursuits) have Janet Browne autograph my copies of her great two volume biography of the great Charles Darwin. If you people do not have this set, I urge you to get it as it is considered to be the best biography of the great man to date! Again, get down to Philadelphia as I cannot sing it’s praises enough!

  8. Nick says

    And for those who happen to be in a town, a great precursor for the year’s events is Dan Dennett’s talk at Penn.

  9. says

    Oh, that is good news.

    On the other side of the pond, we get mostly news of crazy people/lying bastards/Creationists, so it’s nice to see some good old science being celebrated.

  10. says

    This is astounding, and it gives me hope. In fact, it almost brings a tear to my eye in light of the deceptive, duplicitous hell that Expelled has been forcing down everyone’s throats.

    For this year, I am a Philly fan, and I will do my best to donate to these bold and honest museums. America desperately needs more of this.

  11. brokenSoldier says

    This strikes me as the kind of event that the public should be begging the Discovery Institute to sponsor for intelligent design – a forum to let the public know the affirmative science behind their ideas, instead of bankrolling mockumentaries that make no effort to explain anything in the affirmative sense.

    Though it’s be hard to have a “Year of Intelligent Design.” They’d probably only need something along the lines of “Afternoon Discussion of Intelligent Design.”

  12. alex says

    even though nowhere near Philly, i’m going to evolve like hell this year just join in the celebrations.

  13. Longtime Lurker says

    Now if only the city itself would evolve into a safe, prosperous metropolis. On the bright side, you can get a great tripe sandwich at the Italian market (better yet, a roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich), and a boricua butcher originally from Arecibo makes a really good morcilla.

    Might have to road-trip down…

  14. says

    The good thing about ID and other forms of creationism is that it reminds us how interesting evolution actually is.

    These are especially interesting times, as the actual selected changes are often teased out of genomes, and the manner in which we and our relatives diverged from each other becomes increasingly apparent.

    That’s the good thing about science–it stays interesting. With Expelled we do have a circus, complete with clowns, which has made ID entertaining for a little while. Once the circus is over, though, ID will be as dull, stupid, and worthless as ever.

    The year-long event is especially good, then. Expelled had to pad out the entire 90 minutes with Nazis (Springtime for Hitler, iow, if most of the comedy in this is unintentional), demonization, and assorted lies. They couldn’t fill even a minute with any science of ID.

    A year of evolution is only a start, however. It’s time that this truly fascinating subject be engaged by intelligent layfolk, while the IDiots can go off and chant their religion.

    Glen Davidson

  15. RedMischief says

    Definitely an exciting time for those of us in Philly…especially since we have so few opportunities to really feel pride for the city. I do research at UPenn, so I’ll definitely be joining in the festivities!

  16. says

    I work at Drexel, so I’ll be trying extra hard to support the festivities. (We’re still really, really sorry for Michael Behe. Honest.) It’s too bad the first ScienceDebate fell through, but maybe I’ll get a chance to give it a plug at the debate tonight.

  17. JasonG says

    I work at Drexel too, so I’ll make sure to support as many events as I can, starting with Dan Dennett’s talk this evening. (Nick, thanks for your post on that.)

  18. OctoberMermaid says

    One of my best friends lives in Philly. I’ll have to get her to check this out and take pictures!

  19. craig says

    I’ve always wanted to visit Philadelphia and have admired the city from afar, despite all of the slurs I’ve heard from Pennsylvanians who live near but not in the city.

    I’d be thrilled to attend some of these events. Somebody buy this poor (literally) guy a ticket. :(

  20. craig says

    “They’d probably only need something along the lines of “Afternoon Discussion of Intelligent Design.””

    A Moment of Silence.

  21. Hugh Slaman says

    Incidentally, why do we not see a “Year of Quantum Mechanics” or a “Year of General Relativity” or a “Year of the Roundness of the Earth” being held in any major city? Could it be that these theories are so well established by virtue of their empirical predictions that they do not need any special defense from scientists?

  22. MAJeff, OM says

    Hugh, they’re a buildup to and celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species. Damn, are you even trying to make a serious point?

  23. says

    Incidentally, why do we not see a “Year of Quantum Mechanics” or a “Year of General Relativity” or a “Year of the Roundness of the Earth” being held in any major city?

    Ahem. 2005. World Year of Physics. To honor the centennial of Einstein’s papers on special relativity, Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect. Gosh, the idea that atoms exist is so lacking in “empirical predictions” that those physicists really needed to mount a “special defense” of it, didn’t they?

  24. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    More like, small religious minds do not understand enough about those things to feel threatened. Well, not the roundness part, at least not so much these days.

    Tell me again why you expect rational people to defend that which isn’t being attacked?

    Slowly but surely religion yields its claims as to the workings of nature. The gaps in which a god may be hidden are getting smaller and smaller.

  25. Feast on the Lake says

    This is excellent news!

    I may have to make time to take a trip to Philly this summer.

  26. marc buhler says

    A year after Woodstock, I was at a “birthday party” in Philly, and remember Tom Paxton performing the ‘Talking Vietnam PotLuck Blues’ there. (Note: I *was* a young pre-hippie at the actual event the year before! Saw Jimmy and everything!)

    As we grew up around Princeton, it wasn’t far and we got to go to Philly for a number of things such as Phillies games (e.g. a couple of years before Woodstock my dad and I went to a doubleheader with his friend, the author Bill Goldman). I think Philly is Great!

  27. says

    AMAZING! I am so glad I live half an hour outside of Philly. I will be attending as many of these events as possible! Please visit Philly so you can come to some of them, PZ; I would love to meet you!!

  28. Cameron says

    Thanks, Dr. Myers! I live 3 blocks from the Franklin Institute and about 6 from the Mutter, and I haven’t heard anything about this. Very, very cool.

    And all of you who haven’t been here: Philadelphia has a hell of a lot to offer. I wound up here almost by accident and have stayed 40 years. While you’re checking out the science, also check out our restaurant and theater scenes. And don’t forget to do the Fairmount Park trolley tour.

  29. brokenSoldier says

    A Moment of Silence.

    Posted by: craig | April 16, 2008 3:18 PM

    Very nice. Perhaps – when ID finally runs its course – we could observe one of these in remembrance of all the scientific minds that perished when their pysical landlords (Behe, Dembski, etc…) killed them to make more room in there for ID.

    Just a thought:

    How do you explain a gap in current scientific knowledge?

    Science = We don’t know yet. We should collect data, experiment, and observe until we find a way to explain it.

    Irreducible Complexity = We can’t.

    I have no idea how some people can still honestly view ID and its irreducible (and specified) complexity concepts as viable science, when its mere definition stands diametrically opposed to the basic tenet of science itself.

  30. Crudely Wrott says

    This is most welcomed news. So, PZ, if you finagle a way to go will you take me with you?

  31. says

    I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research from June 11-15th in Philadelphia. Thanks to y’all for the tips. I’ve always meant to go to the Mutter museum and see the Hirschsprung colon (http://8e.devbio.com/article.php?ch=13&id=133); here’s a good opportunity!

    For all you inquiring minds, there are free, public seminars on stem cell research on the afternoon and evening of June 10th, details here:


    I can tell you that the speakers are top notch for having heard many of them before. Worth attending.

  32. Cheezits says

    Come to Phily this weekend! You can attend the Phact meeting:

    “At 2 PM on Saturday April 19, Andrew Petto will talk about Science issues including attempts to interfere with teaching evolution.”