ID Film To Be Aired at Smithsonian
The intelligent-design film The Privileged Planet will be shown at the Smithsonian on June 23. See story on The Ames Tribune. Pam Sheppard at AIG has a report also. Following the showing at the National Museum of Natural History, the film will air on PBS stations around the country.
Update 06/02/2005: The Smithsonian appears to be backpedaling. Although they have not canceled the showing, they are now claiming the content of the film is “not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution’s scientific research,” reports the Washington Post. Yet all the arrangements were made on the up and up two months ago, with no objections made even though staffers previewed the film twice. They are apparently taking heat from some opponents of intelligent design. The Post article reveals that The Amazing Randi (a well-known skeptic) offered the Smithsonian $20,000 not to show the film. For updates on this developing story, visit the EvolutionNews blog; it contains links to recent news reports, and also has copies of the original documents from the Smithsonian about the film showing. Update 06/24/2005: The event apparently went off smoothly without acrimony or dissent. Here is an eyewitness report from Salvador Cordova. See also the 06/09/2005 entry.
Why should the Darwinists be alarmed at this decision by the Smithsonian to co-sponsor the film? It’s a private showing. The film makes a pretty mild proposition that there are aspects of our universe that seem inexplicable by chance, and that there might be some grand design or purpose behind it. Five scientists at the American Museum of Natural History already agreed that our solar system appears special (see 04/04/2005 story). One of the founders of the Smithsonian, the great American physicist Joseph Henry (see July 2004 Scientist of the Month) would be pleased.
Most of the critics who are up in arms act like they haven’t even see the film. As for the Amazing Randi, the most amazing thing about him right now is his inconsistency. He exposes those who fool others, but fails to see how he is fooling himself (see 10/06/2000 story). His tactic is bound to backfire and only give the film more publicity. Randi should stick to what he is good at: fighting faith healers and psychic surgeons. Would he have offered the Smithsonian money to stop Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry from doing stage demonstrations? Doubt it. Come on, all you materialist skeptics; skepticism is good to a point, but sometimes you need to aim your baloney detectors at yourselves. Instead of censorship, how about some debate about the scientific facts? Since Randi doesn’t appear up to debunking what cannot be debunked, because it is reinforced in the film by many respectable scientists he himself respects, he is making a pseudoscientist of himself. Now the promoters of the film have a new advertising angle: Come see the film The Amazing Randi doesn’t want you to see!