Monday, September 26, 2005

More Amusement From Cornelia

Cornelia Dean articles never cease to amuse me, and her latest is no exception. The article discussed how museums deal with visitors who question Darwinian theory on "religious grounds":
Lenore Durkee, a retired biology professor, was volunteering as a docent at the Museum of the Earth here when she was confronted by a group of seven or eight people, creationists eager to challenge the museum exhibitions on evolution.

They peppered Dr. Durkee with questions about everything from techniques for dating fossils to the second law of thermodynamics, their queries coming so thick and fast that she found it hard to reply.

After about 45 minutes, "I told them I needed to take a break," she recalled. "My mouth was dry."

That encounter and others like it provided the impetus for a training session here in August. Dr. Durkee and scores of other volunteers and staff members from the museum and elsewhere crowded into a meeting room to hear advice from the museum director, Warren D. Allmon, on ways to deal with visitors who reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds.

However, note the nature of the questions. They were on the techniques for dating fossils and the second law of thermodynamics- hardly religious in nature. Thus Dean's bias shines through: she cannot conceive of objections to Darwinian theory on anything other than religious bases.

She at least acknowledges that acceptance of evolutionary theory is a matter of "belief":
Dr. Allmon, who directs the Paleontological Research Institution, an affiliate of Cornell University, began the training session here in September with statistics from Gallup Polls: 54 percent of Americans do not believe that human beings evolved from earlier species, and although almost half believe that Darwin has been proved right, slightly more disagree.

I find it humorous that these supposed advocates of the Enlightenment should be so condescending towards those who merely doubt unproven theories and do not adopt the "faith" of mainstream scientists. Voltaire would be more than a little disappointed. Doubting received dogma is what leads to new knowledge, not simplistic acceptance of it. But evolution is, of course, different. It must be protected by the mainstream media because it is so important to their philosophical worldview.

She does not repeat Cornelia's Creed, but she comes close:
"There is an art, a script that is very, very helpful," he said.

A pamphlet handed out at the training session provides information on the scientific method, the theory of evolution and other basic information. It offers suggestions on replying to frequently raised challenges like "Is there lots of evidence against evolution?" (The answer begins, simply, "No.")

She throws in the obligatory quote from the Discovery Institute:
John G. West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, whose researchers endorse intelligent design, said he was not aware of organized efforts to challenge museum exhibitions on evolution. He added, "It is not unheard of for museum exhibits to be wrong scientifically."

No elaboration, but it is well-known how horse evolution exhibits have been inaccurate and misleading over the years. The American Museum of Natural History currently has an exhibit devoted to showing the old, misleading version and the new, "correct" version. We are supposed to trustingly "believe" the new and improved version, I guess. Then there is Piltdown man- a really big oops.

Overall, I find the article humorously condescending. She adamantly refuses to acknowledge the scientific problems with macroevolutionary theory, and, as always, seems blissfully unaware of her own philosophical or religious bias in approaching the issue.


At November 03, 2006 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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