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 Bigfoot exhibit at Idaho Museum will be "neutral"
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
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Posted - 06/13/2006 :  14:27:53  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
A coming Bigfoot exhibit at the Idaho Museum of Natural History will present artifacts and films of the purported beast in a "neutral" fashion, according to this AP article at LiveScience:
quote:

Idaho Museum to Open Bigfoot Exhibit
By The Associated Press

posted: 13 June 2006
03:30 pm ET

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) _ The director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History says it won't matter whether Bigfoot is farce or fact when a new exhibit opens Friday.

Linda Deck, who is also curator of the Bigfoot exhibit, said the museum is taking a neutral position and simply displaying artifacts that involve the legendary creature that some say lives secretly in the Northwest.

"As human beings we make sense of our world in a variety of different ways,'' Deck told the Idaho State Journal. "We've got our myths, legends and beliefs and a very scientific way of knowing about our world, too, where we make hypotheses and test things and learn and change what we think.''

But for Bigfoot believers, it could be a treasure trove.

Included in the exhibit is the Patterson-Gimlin film that shows a large creature striding away before turning and looking directly at the camera.

In the clip the creature steps on a branch. That branch is included in the exhibit. The branch was used to calculate the creature's height at 6-foot-6, said Dave Mead, exhibits director at the museum.

Also on display is a flannel jacket worn by the late Rene Dahinden, who spend 40 years in search of Bigfoot. He wore the jacket during a series of commercials for Kokanee beer.

Other objects in the exhibit include American Indian depictions of Bigfoot, a stick thought to have been twisted by one of the creatures, art and sculptures of Bigfoot, hair samples said to be from a Bigfoot, a cast of an impression said to be of a Bigfoot's elbow, and other evidence gathered by people involved in the search for Bigfoot.

Jeff Meldrum, an anatomy professor at Idaho State University and a local Bigfoot expert, said the exhibit will give visitors a new way to consider the subject.

"I think the (museum's) approach is a very thought-provoking one that recognizes there are a variety of dimensions to the experience of Bigfoot,'' Meldrum said. "The exhibit attempts to use the topic of Bigfoot as a springboard to analyze different ways of knowing. A variety of those things intersect with the subject matter at hand.''

. . .




As a skeptic, I think this is a terrible use of a public "Natural History" museum. Is a "neutral" exhibit about the Deluge and Noah's Ark coming to a Natural History Museum near you next? Seems to me the trustees of the Idaho Museum of Natural History are simply whoring to the local tourism industry, in a manner they apparently think will be "deniable."

When I first saw this article, I assumed the "Museum" would turn out to be one of those little roadside tourist traps in the middle of nowhere, where one can buy curios and photograph the kids next to a chain-saw sculpture of Sasquatch. Such "museums" are kitsch, hokey, silly, and kind of fun, in an entertainment sense. This is much worse.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/13/2006 14:43:49

pleco
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USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  14:41:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
What's next, a "neutral" exhibit about dinosaurs - show them standing by Noah's ark in that ridiculous painting? Or a neutral exhibit showing both evloution and creationism? Don't we want a very thought-provoking exhibit that recognizes the variety of dimensions to the experience of how Man came to be?


by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  15:04:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
This isn't a "neutral" exhibit. It's an exhibit that is completely uncritical of the spurious claims it presents. They're going to display "hair samples said to be from a Bigfoot." What the hell is that about? Can't they do a DNA test to determine whether they are only showcasing yak hair? Ah, but yak hair won't get people through the turnstiles.

Aren't all museums supposed to have a mission statement that includes some sentiment about educating the public to the wonders of real science? I hope this stunt backfires on them big time.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/13/2006 15:08:30
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  15:14:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Ah-hah!:

The Idaho Museum of Natural History's Web site mentions:
quote:
SPECIAL HOURS!
The Museum will be open on Sunday, June 18, 2006, from noon to 4:00 p.m. in conjunction with the Bigfoot Rendezvous and Father's Day. Come enjoy our new exhibit on this special day!
[My emphasis.] This confirms my guess about the Museum whoring to tourism.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/13/2006 15:17:49
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  15:23:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

This isn't a "neutral" exhibit. It's an exhibit that is completely uncritical of the spurious claims it presents. They're going to display "hair samples said to be from a Bigfoot." What the hell is that about? Can't they do a DNA test to determine whether they are only showcasing yak hair? Ah, but yak hair won't get people through the turnstiles.

Aren't all museums supposed to have a mission statement that includes some sentiment about educating the public to the wonders of real science? I hope this stunt backfires on them big time.



This sober prose was the closest to a "mission statement" that I can yet find on the Museum's Web site (it's under "Visitor Information"):
quote:
The Idaho Museum of Natural History is home to collections in anthropology, vertebrate paleontology, earth science, and the life sciences. It holds an archive of documents and ethnographic photographs. Researchers pursue scholarly study of the collections and publish their findings in outside and Museum-sponsored publications. The Stirton-Kelson Library of the IMNH specializes in archaeological and paleontological holdings and is a branch of the main ISU Eli M. Oboler Library. Exhibitions emphasize the collections and mission of the Museum, and include permanent and special offerings. Educational classes for children, families, and adults provide more in-depth exploration of the natural history of Idaho.



Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  15:43:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I found the "Mission Statement" of the Idaho Museum of Natural History. It was hidden at the bottom of their main page (duh!):
quote:
Our Mission

The Idaho Museum of Natural History actively nurtures an understanding of and delight in Idaho's natural and cultural heritage. As the official state museum of natural history, it acquires, preserves, studies, interprets and displays natural and cultural objects for Idaho residents, visitors and the world's community of students and scholars. The Museum also supports and encourages Idaho's other natural history museums through mentoring and training in sound museological practices.



Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  15:48:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
Hmmm....one could argue that Bigfoot is part of the culture.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  15:52:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
Actually, Halfmooner, their Mission Statement can be found at the top of the FAQ page.
quote:
Mission:
The mission of the Idaho Museum of Natural History is to acquire, preserve, study, interpret and display objects relating to the natural history of Idaho and the Northern Intermountain West for research and education. The Museum seeks to enhance in the citizens of Idaho and visitors an understanding of and delight in Idaho's natural and cultural history. Specific areas of interest encompass the anthropology, botany, geology, paleontology, and zoology of Idaho and the Northern Intermountain West. The audiences served include citizens of Idaho, visitors and the national and international community of students and scholars. Information is disseminated through exhibitions, public and professional presentations, publications, formal and informal education, telecommunications and other interpretive programs. (emphasis mine)
One wonders whether the purpose of this display is research or education, and exactly how the scientific understanding of the citizens of Idaho is "enhanced" by this exhibit.

Look, I know science can sometimes be a hard sell and many museums need to drum up business in order to fund legitimate research. But they could have presented an honest and scientific examination of the Big Foot phenomenon without pandering to the credulous.



edited to add: Ah, I see you've found an abbreviated mission statement on the main page.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/13/2006 15:58:47
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  16:51:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I'm all for it! Rock on, Idaho Museum of Natural History!

Idaho, and indeed the entire country, is filled with myth and legend. To present a piece of those legends in a strictly neutral way, especially with the history of it, and encourage it's viewers, most of whom are not stupid, to make up their own minds, is a museum at it's best. Those who go in believing won't change their minds short of gunpoint anyway, and neither will the skeptics because we are, after all, skeptics and the evidence had better be pretty damned good. The rest, unencumbered with such baggage, will have an entertaining and thoughtful experience.

It is abhorrent to we skeptics that the hair hasn't been tested and the exhibit is not debunking the whole, ridiculous thing. But suck it up, guys; the museum-going, non-scientific public doesn't want nit-picks. They want interesting and informative displays to think about whilst wiping the ice cream off the kid's faces before getting in the car to go home. If they didn't want to think, they wouldn't go to a museum in the first place.

Myth and legend are a part of all of the cultures of the world. I, for one, am delighted to see this one dragged out into the daylight and public view unfettered by biased opinion. Indeed, I would like to see an entire wing of a museum dedicated to just that.

I think I've got a Sasquatch rant or two, floating around here somewhere....




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  17:28:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
Museums are public institutions with a responsibility to educate, not entertain.

Perhaps next month they could host a "neutral" exhibit on the possibility that dragons were really living dinosaurs which did battle with medieval knights. I'm sure the kids would have a great time.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  18:26:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Museums are public institutions with a responsibility to educate, not entertain.

Perhaps next month they could host a "neutral" exhibit on the possibility that dragons were really living dinosaurs which did battle with medieval knights. I'm sure the kids would have a great time.



You miss the point. Has it been definitively shown that Bigfoot does not exist? No, it has not, and these stories are now coming in from all over. I seem to recall that a recent one has come out of Malaysia, and the Yeti story has been around for probably centuries.

On the other hand, it has been definitively demonstrated that no human eye has ever been laid upon a dinosaur other than those that we feed each winter. Or a dragon either (except for the Komodo Island species of monitor lizard), comes to that -- y'know, an exhibit concerning the world's various forms of dragons might fit nicely in a mythological display.

An early mentor of mine, a retired high school teacher and ferocious checkers player, once said to me that he never taught anyone much of anything beyond rote. What he tried hardest to teach was how to learn. I am firmly convinced that he was correct. Those who can't be persuaded to think will never learn anything beyond mind-numbing rote and will leave the museum with exactly the same number of quadrapalegic brain cells that they entered with.

Which is why I like the idea of this display. If it is done well, it will reach it's targeted audience and will certainly be educational. And exactly what the hell is wrong with a little entertainment while we're at it, eh?




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 06/13/2006 18:35:30
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  18:44:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Let me ask a further question: If you did not have fun at a museum, would you bother to go?

Me, I'd happily bring a sleeping bag hang out in one of the better ones for days at a streach if they'd let me. I wouldn't even have to be doing research. Museums are and should be entertaining. Otherwise, who besides scholars would visit?




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  19:10:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy
You miss the point. Has it been definitively shown that Bigfoot does not exist? No, it has not, and these stories are now coming in from all over. I seem to recall that a recent one has come out of Malaysia, and the Yeti story has been around for probably centuries.
Filthy, there are stories of people with the ability to shapeshift into various animals in cultures from all over the world as well. There just isn't any evidence that these stories are true.

quote:
On the other hand, it has been definitively demonstrated that no human eye has ever been laid upon a dinosaur other than those that we feed each winter.
Well, no, that isn't exactly right. There just hasn't been any evidence found that would lead us to believe medieval people fought dinosaurs yet. A discovery of a mummified T-rex with a lance in its side could be discovered in a remote cave next week. However, I agree that it would be foolish to promote such a theory based on the current state of evidence in exactly the same way I feel it is irresponsible to promote the idea Big Foot might be real based on the state of current evidence. All scientific investigation has suggested that Big Foot is a mix of legend of fraud.

quote:
Which is why I like the idea of this display. If it is done well, it will reach it's targeted audience and will certainly be educational. And exactly what the hell is wrong with a little entertainment while we're at it, eh?
There is nothing wrong with entertainment, but not at the expense of science. Showing a collection of hairs with a tag that reads: "Some claim this is yeti fur. Is it? Who knows!" or "You decide!" is not educational in the slightest.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 06/13/2006 19:12:10
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  19:22:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I gotta humbly but strongly disagree with my guru, Filthy on this one. Though a museum does need to be interesting and entertaining, it should not be a sideshow of flimflammery exhibits. The American Museum of Natural History, in New York once was such a sideshow, in the days when it was operated by that magnificent showman, PT Barnum himself. Barnum collected such a strange menagerie of exhibits that success itself was a problem at his American Museum. If people stayed too long to gawk, there was no way for new suckers paying customers to enter. Barnum solved that problem by posting a sign by a door inside. Seeing the sign, many were intrigued, and went through the door -- only to find themselves standing on a New York street. The sign said, "This way to the Egress."

There is plenty of stuff in the natural world that is interesting and entertaining, if presented intelligently, in my humble opinion. No need to pander to the local tourism industry by being shills for the Bigfoot Rendezvous.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 06/13/2006 19:23:26
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Randy
SFN Regular

USA
1989 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2006 :  19:41:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Randy a Private Message
The Idaho Enquirer Museum of Natural History

"We are all connected; to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically."

"So you're made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?"
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson
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beskeptigal
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USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2006 :  01:40:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by pleco

Hmmm....one could argue that Bigfoot is part of the culture.

That's the way I see it too, culture and history. As long as they stick to the evidence and clearly represent its strengths and weaknesses as evidence.
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