Smithsonian + Discovery Institute = Misinformation

The Smithsonian is sponsoring a traveling exhibit called Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?, which is going around the country to various libraries. By all accounts, it’s an excellent exhibit, and they also promote good education: they offer workshops on human evolution to local teachers (they also offer tours to local clergy — they’re additionally sponsored by the Templeton Foundation).

The exhibit is in Cottage Grove, Oregon right now. You’ve all seen Cottage Grove — the big parade scene in Animal House was filmed there. But it’s also a nice little town south of Eugene. I’d be there right now, if I were still living in Oregon. World-class educational exhibit on evolution in my former back yard? Yes, sounds awesome.

Except…other groups are free to piggy-back on the exhibit, and wouldn’t you know it, the Discovery Institute is going to exploit it to spread their special lies all over it on 10 March.

Science and Human Origins—What does the Evidence Really Say? Thursday March 10, 6-8 PM

Did human beings evolve from earlier animals? Was the process that produced human beings guided or unguided? And does it matter? Here is your chance to learn about the current state of the scientific evidence, to separate fact from speculation, and to explore why it matters.

Speakers at this event are: Ann Gauger, co-author of Science and Human Origins, a Senior Research Scientist at the Biologic Institute, and Director of Science Communication at the Discovery Institute. Richard Sternberg is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He previously served as a staff scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information and as a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Event hosted by various local Cottage Grove Churches.

Ugh. I don’t even know what to say.

Did human beings evolve from earlier animals? Yes. I suspect the DI will try desperately to weasel around that question, so I’m surprised they ask it. They are opposed to natural mechanisms for evolution, some of their fellows are young earth creationists, and they’ve been trying to walk the line between just saying that life evolved, but with the assistance of intelligent super-beings, and avoiding the whole issue for fear of alienating their YEC allies.

Was the process that produced human beings guided or unguided? There is no evidence at all that it was “guided”, but this is the DIs whole schtick — they’ll be in the middle of this evolution display trying to argue that evolution can’t work, therefore this-being-they-avoid-naming-called-God.

And does it matter? Here we go, the other side of the DI: moralizing about “cultural renewal”. At least John West isn’t there so you might not hear much about Hitler. But you never know.

I hope competent, knowledgeable Oregonians will attend and call out the frauds. Hey, if you do, send me a report on the event, too.


  1. Artor says

    Hey, thanks for the tip! I’ll see if I can drag my son down there. It’s only 20 minutes away! I think I’ll wait until the DI display is up, so we can have fun mocking it and laughing loudly.

  2. Larry says

    This exhibit was in my local library at the beginning of the year and it was excellent. As far as I know, it wasn’t controversial, but then, I live in the south bay area in CA which tends to skew to the college educated, more scientific literate population.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    No matter how many protesters attend, the DI donation box will be full by the end of the talk.