ANOTHER ICR FALSEHOOD
by Lenny Flank
Here is yet the latest in the ICR's long string of distortion, misrepresentation and outright lies.
In the January 1996 issue of Acts and Facts, the ICR's monthly newsletter, the following small article appeared:
"TULSA ZOO REMOVES EVOLUTION EXHIBIT"
Tulsa architect Dan Hicks, supported by a petition signed by 2000 area residents, plus a scientifically conducted poll showing that over 2/3 of the city's population believed the zoo should not promote evolution, was able recently to persuade city officials to remove exhibits depicting horse evolution and human evolution from display at the zoo. Hicks and his co-workers credited the influence of ICR materials with playing a significant part in this action and also suggested that citizens in other communities could undertake similar projects."
However, when I wrote to the Tulsa Zoo to ask about this, I found that things were not at all as the ICR was attempting to paint them. A copy of a memo dated January 8, 1996, was sent to me. It reads:
"RECOLLECTION FROM THE 1995 ORIGINS ENCOUNTER:
Early in 1995, a private citizen (and member of Tulsa Zoo Friends) by the name of Dan Hicks approached the Zoo staff with requests that some Zoo signage be modified. He stated that he was offended by some text, and confounded by that fact that said text contradicted beliefs that he had instilled in his child at home. He specified (a) graphic reference to a common ancestor for chimps and man; (b) 'straight-line evolution' as represented by Equus models in one of our displays; (c) another display's reference to the age of the Cosmos. He offered to replace some of the signage at his own expense, as well to provide a 'disclaimer' attesting to the 'non-factual' nature of evolutionary 'theories'. He was thanked for his interest and input, assured that some thought woul dbe given to his comments about horse evolution, and told that his offer to provide new signage at his own expense would not be necessary.
During the next six months, Dan frequently wrote to me and others with the same basic requests. He appealed to ZooFriends' Executive Director and President, the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, the Chairman of the Park Board, City Council persons, and the Mayor of Tulsa. Many letters of protest were received from private citizens; most of these were based on a form letter, and many seemed to be affiliated with fundamentalist churches in our area. Letters were written to the editors of local newspapers as well. Petitions were submitted with up to 2,000 signatures; to my knoweldge, these were not prepared or conducted by an independent agency. Our City's population is about 380,000; the metropolitan area is 745,000, and I am unaware of a 'scientifically conducted poll' representing two-thirds of either population number.
In September, City and PArk officials met with Dan Hicks and his associate to discuss their concerns. Although we did not feel it was appropriate to honor all of his requests, we did agree to the following: (a) to place a sign at the Zoo's entry which states, 'There are many views on the origin of biological species and their behaviors. The information that accompanies our displays is based on compelling evidence of the natural sciences. Because scientific knowledge is subject to change, these displays may be revised as new informatin becomes available.' (b) to reword one line of signage from our chimp exhibit from 'Scientific blood tests show that chimpanzees are man's closest biological relative, branching off from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago' to 'Scientific blood tests, including DNA analysis, show a biological similarity between chimps and people'. (c) to modify the exhibit on Equus ancestry to more completely reflect current sicentiifc thought, using the writings of Dr. Bruce McFadden.
Although Mr Hicks volunteered to work with us on copy for the latter modification, we declined his offer. The general tone of our meeting expressed a need for sensitivity to the beliefs of different groups, but confirmed that established scientific principles could not be ignored or watered-down."
David G. Zucconi, Director
Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum
In a personal note to me, Director Zucconi says:
"Lenny--thanks for your letter; it made my day! As you can see from this 'recollection', we did not remove any exhibits nor turn our backs on basic biological information. We are trying to avoid an 'in-your-face' attitude (this is, after all, the Bible Belt), but not at the expense of objective interpretation of data. The City (Mayor et al) has been supportive and helpful. Your interest and support is appreciated."
A letter I sent to ICR, asking them to provide the name, methodology and results of the person who conducted their "scientifically conducted poll" (as well as asking them bluntly why their Acts and Facts article claims that exihibits and displays were removed when in fact they had not been) has so far gone unanswered. Hmmm.
It therefore appears that nearly every sentence in the ICR's newsletter article was blatantly untrue. There was no "scientifically conducted poll" done by ICR or anybody else. The Zoo did NOT remove any exhibits depicting horse and human evolution. In fact, the distinct impression given by the Zoo is that they considered the creationists to be a huge pain in the neck, and wished they would just go away. They apparently dealt with the ICR's minions by politely brushing them off and making a few cosmetic changes.
If one were cynical, one would suppose that the ICR's inaccurate story concerning this "victory" was deliberate, with the unacknowledged goals of (1) rallying the cretinist troops ("see, we won this time!"), (2) making sure those donations to ICR keep coming in ("we can win elsewhere too") and (3) encouraging other supporters to get out there and fight for the Lord. Thus, ICR's newsletter article can best be viewed as a flat-out falsehood which was told in order to keep those checks coming.
One would THINK that ICR would have learned a lesson from having this lie exposed. Alas, they have not. In the December 2003 issue of "Acts and Facts", we find:
"A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY Grand Canyon National Park invited Dr. Steve Austin, ICR geologist, to speak to rangers about his discovery of an extraordinary fossil deposit within Grand Can- yon. The talk to uniformed rangers and science research coordinators occurred on the south rim of Grand Canyon. Dr. Austin illustrated the mass kill and burial bed containing billions of large nautiloid fossils within the Redwall Limestone. Discussion followed about how limestone strata could be deposited in minutes. The rangers expressed interest in improving geologic lectures to the public and changing signs which consider only uniform sedimentary process oper- ating over millions of years and wanted to explore other creationist thinking on Grand Canyon."
Since this spiel sounded so similar to the earlier Tulsa Zoo lie, I had my suspicions that ICR was fibbing yet again. A quick email to the National Park Service's Grand Canyon office confirmed that my suspicions were indeed correct. The Park Service responded:
Thanks very much for bringing your information of Steve Austin to our attention. Steve Austin was one of the 100 or so Research Permit holders in our park. All Permit holders are obligated under the Permit requirements to submit articles or presentations to the park for the purpose of educating interested park staff on the nature of their research. Steve came to present his research under the guidelines of discussing only his study methods and results (the same constraints for all research presenters) - and that is exactly what he did without one reference to Noah, Noah's flood, or any other creationist ideas.
I don't know what individual rangers said to him privately after his presentation regarding his study; however during the public question and answer period he was scrutinized and questioned very rigorously by a few of the Park Interpretive Rangers. No one at any time expressed interest in changing our interpretive signs to include creationist views.
I am sorry to learn Steve Austin is not being truthful about the circumstances of his research presentation. Our policy is to allow all researchers an opportunity to present their data in a public forum at the Park; however, if researchers abuse this privilege by false proclamations to further their own agenda, we will have to take this into consideration when selecting speakers in the future.
Emma P. Benenati, Ph.D.
Ecologist / Research Coordinator - Grand Canyon National Park"
So ICR is lying yet again.
How typically creationist.
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