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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Privileged Planet to be shown in Canada at the University of Toronto June 23

The controversial film, Privileged Planet, will be shown at the University of Toronto on June 23, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Privileged Planet will also be shown at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington at 6:00 p.m. that same night but, due to the uproar, is no longer co-sponsored by the Institution.

News of the film first surfaced on this blog, the Post-Darwinist, and was then picked up by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Service note: If you are looking for my extended review of Privileged Planet, go here. If you are looking for information on the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one will bring you up to date.
The film argues - using generally accepted science evidence only - that Carl Sagan was wrong.

Far from being a "pale blue dot", as Sagan believed, Earth occupies a highly favourable position in the galaxy, not only for life but for scientific discovery.

The proposed US showing attracted outrage because people who heard a rumour that the film opposes evolution (it doesn't address the topic) launched a barrage of complaints.

As a result, the Smithsonian withdrew its cosponsorship - but the showing will proceed at the Institution as planned, as will the Toronto showing.

O’Leary is the author of By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress, 2004), an overview of the growing intelligent design controversy. She will be at the Smithsonian showing in Washington.

Media may contact Dr. Michael Pare ( for more information.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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Girl guarded by trio of lions?

Just when I was sounding off on the subject of animals and intelligence in the post below, this pops into my box:

A 12-year-old girl who was missing for a week was found being guarded by a trio of lions, said police in Ethiopia.

The girl had been abducted by a group of men who wanted her to marry one of them, said Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo from Bita Genet, about 560 kilometres from Addis Ababa.

(Note: If this story is true (and often they are not), the lions have more decency than the ... Okay, okay, so CALL the PC police. REPORT this blog. GET me arrested. It's an honour to be in jail with the honourable people, and maybe some decent lions. - d.)

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O’Leary meets an intelligent spider ...

Yesterday, I was digging holes in my cucumber hill.

The trowel unearthed one of those mid-size grey spiders, common in the Toronto area.

The spider did not run away, but sat at the edge of the hole, gesticulating.

I picked the spider up with the trowel, on a divot of earth, and set it near the fence, thinking it would escape behind the fence.

But it did not escape; it stayed near the divot and continued to gesticulate.

I looked more closely at the hole and, sure enough, near the middle lay a little white ball of spider silk, a spider’s egg case.

I tossed the egg case in the spider’s direction, and she immediately grabbed it and trotted off behind the fence.

Incidents like this convince me that the intelligence of invertebrates is often underrated by traditional hierarchies of life forms.

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