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Re: Creationist "lecture" -- comments

Re the creationist thread: I have taken two groups of visitors to San 
Diego to the ICR Museum in Santee (their request) in the past year. The 
first time, it was a small group and we went through without the guide. 
The second time, it was a large group of people winding up a 
professional short course in geological conservation, and that group went 
through with a tour guide. Both times, it was an unsettling experience.

I do not want to debate creationism here; a lot of you are doing that 
quite well. I just want to point out that, in its label copy and 
brochures, the museum does in fact make every effort to discredit Darwin 
and a host of other world figures they disagree with (Freud, Hitler, 
and Isaac Asimov are all given equal weight on the bad guys' side). They 
had a little tract in the gift shop on Darwin's deathbed 
conversion (which they reluctantly conclude did not happen).

The most disturbing thing was the second visit I made. The group was very 
geologically knowledgeable and very polite: no rude questions or comments 
or anything like that. However, one employee took our license plate 
numbers, and she and the manager did the most astonishing good cop--bad 
cop interrogation of me. As I know that their personnel have hung out at 
our museum (getting exhibit ideas, proselytizing, etc.) without 
harassment, I was amazed. At the time I was being interrogated on who we 
were and why we were there, there were still people from my group 
spending money in the gift shop.

Fossil get surprisingly little treatment in the exhibits. They show up
after the trompe l'oeil wall painting of the Ark, in which you can see 
the plates of a Stegosaurus bedded down in its stall for the night. There 
is the Ark room, followed by the geological catastrophe and fossil room, 
followed by the Ice Age room, followed by the archaeology room (am 
amazing blend of Neanderthals, Egyptians, Paleoindians and the Ishtar 
Gate recreated in cinder blocks). I feel that they have shied away from a 
lot of paleo issues in their museum interpretation. You can, however, 
pick up copies of all their brochures throughout the exhibits. (Their 
live animals are very poorly cared for, by the way, especially the 
snake--no surprise there.)

Sally Shelton
Director, Collections Care and Conservation

|                                                                       |
|                 San Diego Natural History Museum                      | 
|                          P. O. Box 1390                               | 
|                  San Diego, California 92112 USA                      | 
|              phone (619) 232-3821; FAX (619) 232-0248                 | 
|                       email LIBSDNHM@CLASS.ORG                        |
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