Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UPenn Archeology and Anthropology Museum

Today I visited the UPenn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, primarily for the new "Surviving" exhibit. It goes into evolution, specifically human evolution, and how many of our current traits have ancestral (plesiomorphic) origins. However, I believe that the phrasing of the explanations in the exhibit is dangerous, because it indicates a erroneous cause-and-effect relationship in order to make it easy to understand. Whereas Darwin indicated that random changes in the population are selected for, which leads to the persistence of beneficial adaptations, the exhibit tended to explain that the reason we have certain characteristics is for a purpose. This is dangerously close to Intelligent Design, even though the exhibit's authors clearly believe in ancient, non-creationist origins. What we should be inculcating in today's youth and in all of society in general is that natural selection is the main mechanism of evolution and how this occurs, as this is what makes evolution the most clear. While it is certainly amazing that we are what we are and that our bodies are amazingly intricate, such phraseology leads to incorrect understanding.

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