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Friday, May 27, 2005

Further Update! National science institution warming to ID?

The Smithsonian Institution and the Discovery Institute are providing slightly different stories about what is going to happen on June 23.

(Note: If you don’t know what this is all about, you will be best off to read the previous post first. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it really is the simplest and best approach.)

Right now I am going to post the two sides’ stories, tell you what I think, and stay on top of it all in the next few weeks.

The public affairs officer in charge of special events at the Smithsonian, Randall Kremer, told me (Denyse O’Leary) the following this afternoon:

DO: I am just trying to clarify that there is going to be a showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian on June 23.

RK: Yes, the Discovery Institute made a donation to the Smithsonian and in return have the privilege of hosting an event here and I understand that that’s the film they are going to be showing.

DO: One of my issues is that I have to book a flight and get down there so I just want to make sure that it is not going to be cancelled or anything ...

RK: Not that I’m aware of, no.

DO: So the way it works is, the Discovery Institute made a donation, and so they’re going to rent the facilities and show the film ...

RK: They’re not renting the facilities; by making a donation, they have an opportunity to host an event here, yeah. It’s just semantics, really. they’re holding an event here. We have events here all the time. ... It’s a normal opportunity that they would be hosting an event here and so they would be showing that film. If anything else comes up, you have my direct number.

DO: Normally when such an event is shown, the Smithsonian co-hosts the event with the ...

RK: Yes, that’s just the pro forma

Okay, that’s the Smithsonian’s version.

A Discovery Institute spokesperson told me that Discovery had not made a donation but rather entered into a contract and paid for the right to hold an event at the Smithsonian. Co-sponsorship was the Smithsonian’s initiative. (Note: This paragraph has been edited from an earlier version because I had posted a communication that the sender now maintains was private. I won't contest his views regarding the nature of the communication, but I don't think it's material either. I certainly stand by the facts posted in this paragraph, which are identical to the facts posted in the previous one. - Denyse)

What I think: This may be miscommunication between Randall and Discovery.

Randall assumes that Discovery made a donation but Discovery assumes they paid for the right to hold an event. Randall assumes that the Smithsonian co-hosts all events and Discovery doesn’t. I think Randall and Discovery need to talk.

Clearly, something is going to happen at the Smithsonian on June 23 that should delight ID advocates and enrage anti-ID folk. But the two organizations differ on how they want to define it.

I was going to post the invitation I received, but several things went wrong: 1) My Internet service provider took the evening off 2) I couldn’t make Picasa upload work 3) Now I think I hadn’t better post the invitation anyway, for several reasons, including the fact that some persons—not the genteel regular readers of this blog, of course, but a scruffier sort—could print it out and try to get in for free drinks and a show. If you want to know more about the invitation, you can contact someone at the Discovery Institute.

Also, I gather that films (obviously) have to be screened and I have to assume that Privileged Planet (which is excellent, by the way) passed the screen test.

So, friends, thanks for your patience. Something ID-friendly is definitely happening at the Smithsonian and I hope the wine is as good as the movie. I will keep you abreast of uproars as they ensue.

Tomorrow I will blog about a bunch of other neat ID-related stuff. I don’t suppose any of those Institution/Institute people work weekends, so I can talk about something else for a change. Whew!

To find out more about my book on the intelligent design controversy, go to By Design or by Chance?


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