Encouraging seedy methods is bad advice…

…no matter what the purpose. There’s a list of ways that people can get evolution to be more emphasized in museums, but unfortunately it reads like a handbook for converting people to Christianity.

Let’s take a look at some of the points.

2. Drop a note into the institution’s “Suggestion” box as you leave, explaining how increased emphasis on evolution would be an attraction. Adding, “I’ll donate more money to the zoo if you do it…” can get the staff’s attention pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, that might be the case for non-scientific material well and is tantamount to bribery. However, I do get the point they were trying to make, but something still seems off about that suggestion.

6. If you know a thing or two about evolution, bring a Post-It pad the next time you visit one of these places, and share some of this knowledge with others by attaching notes to pre-existing plaques.

This seems a little passive aggressive. Now I have left out other points where the author suggested more direct action, but this one seems seedy.

7. If your kids are old enough to enjoy a little fun, park yourself in front of a primate exhibit and get them to ask bystanders, “are humans really evolved from non-human ancestors?” Then adopt a chimp-like gait and moan, “Me want answer! Me want answer!!” Kids will just love this.

Sort of like how religious people park their kids on the corners of streets to hand out leaflets explaining why people are going to hell. People don’t like being harassed and I don’t think “but we’re talking about science” is enough justification to bother other people. I also don’t think it’s right to use kids this way for any reason.

8. If your job is to design plaques, use your position of power to secretly introduce real science, plaque by plaque.

Using a position of power to influence decisions is not something I want to encourage, no matter what the result. It’s inappropriate. I know people are saying “but it’s for the greater good! REAL science!”. That may be so, but if you’re sneaking around proper procedures for an institution’s decision-making, that’s just not cool. What if I’m a plaque designer and my ideal of “real science” is intelligent design? I don’t think we should be encouraging people to side-step the peer review process like this.

I think it’s great to promote evolution and I think museums in particular have a responsibility to display accurate, up-to-date, and non-sanitized information. But I think we should leave the sneak tactics to those who have nothing else to use. We have mountains of evidence on our side, there’s no need to trick people. And if the opportunities for truth are being busted down because of corruption or politics, there are ways to handle that appropriately that don’t involve sinking to their level.

I intend to promote evolution to my kids by simply teaching them about it. I don’t want to feel like I’m tricking them or trying to indoctrinate them. If I did sneaky things to get them to agree with me, I’d be no better than a creationist.

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