The Discovery Institute, a group in Seattle that supports an alternative theory, "intelligent design," is announcing on its Web site that it and the director of the museum "are happy to announce the national premiere and private evening reception" on June 23 for the movie, "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe."
News of the Discovery Institute's announcement appeared on a blog maintained by Denyse O'Leary, a proponent of the intelligent design theory, who called it "a stunning development." But a museum spokesman, Randall Kremer, said the event should not be taken as support for the views expressed in the film. "It is incorrect for anyone to infer that we are somehow endorsing the video or the content of the video," he said.
The museum, he said, offers its Baird Auditorium to many organizations and corporations in return for contributions - in the case of the Discovery Institute, $16,000.
When the language of the Discovery Institute's Web site was read to him, with its suggestion of support, Mr. Kremer said, "We'll have to look into that."
He added, "We're happy to receive this contribution from the Discovery Institute to further our scientific research."
The president of the Discovery Institute, Bruce Chapman, said his organization approached the museum through its public relations company and the museum staff asked to see the film. "They said that they liked it very much - and not only would they have the event at the museum, but they said they would co-sponsor it," he recalled. "That was their suggestion. Of course we're delighted."
Mr. Kremer said he heard about the event only on Thursday. He added that staff members viewed the film before approving the event to make sure that it complied with the museum's policy, which states that "events of a religious or partisan political nature" are not permitted, along with personal events such as weddings, or fund-raisers, raffles and cash bars. It also states that "all events at the National Museum of Natural History are co-sponsored by the museum."
When asked whether the announcement on the Discovery Institute's Web site meant to imply that the museum supports the film and the event, Mr. Chapman replied:
"We are not implying in any sense that they endorsed the content, but they are co-sponsoring it, and we are delighted. We're not claiming anything more than that. They certainly didn't say, 'We're really warming up to intelligent design, and therefore we're going to sponsor this.' "
But what was their headline? "Smithsonian warming to intelligent design" is pretty far from
[The Smithsonian] certainly didn't say, 'We're really warming up to intelligent design, and therefore we're going to sponsor this.' "
I know I shouldn't quote so much of the article, but it's a great example of how the DIscovery Institute lies.