Just a very quick comment because I’m totally absorbed in work right now and really shouldn’t allow myself to think about anything else, but I just read this short editorial by Maggie Ardiente in the Amercian Humanist Association newsletter and it saddened me enough to want to share it:

Last weekend I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has become one of my favorite cities in the United States. I love it all: the history, the culture, and the food—oh, the spicy New Mexican food! I particularly enjoyed a visit to the Petroglyphs National Park, where our tour guide Luke talked about the history of the area and how the rock formations developed over 200,000 years ago. After the tour, I asked Luke if he ever encountered fundamentalist religious groups that challenge his 200,000-year-old claim. Not only did he say yes, but that because of his commitment to accurate scientific data, he’s no longer assigned to lead tours by such groups! We were lucky to have him.

Wait. What? I’ve been to Petroglyphs National Monument too. It’s part of the otherwise entirely splendid National Park Service. But this guy is seriously being pulled from leading groups that don’t want their infantile fantasies to be challenged? Really?

So there is one truth for reasoning people, but faith-driven people are to be allowed their own truth? They don’t have to be exposed to the actual facts if they don’t like it? Shame on you, NPS!!!! Shame on you. Your bounden duty is to stand up for what the national parks represent. The rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, for instance, really are two billion years old and they’re going to stay that way whether people like it or not. If they don’t want to hear it then they have absolutely no business being there. You don’t pretend it’s not true just to avoid upsetting them.

You can’t pander to people like this without being hypocritical. You guys know why the features in these wonderful places are the way they are, and to tacitly hide the truth from people just because they don’t want to be faced with it, is dishonest and cowardly. Of course, the primary fault lies with the morons who want to gawp at things but don’t want to understand what they’re gawping at, but that’s no excuse. The NPS has a duty to uphold, so if Luke’s interpretation of events is correct, somebody at Petroglyphs National Monument should be ashamed of themselves and the NPS needs to reassess its policies to make sure it keeps its finger in the dam. Train staff in ways to handle dissenters with diplomacy by all means, but please don’t allow ignorance to breed.

By the way, I took the following photo at Petroglyphs National Monument. It clearly shows a space alien, proving without a shadow of a doubt that scientists are TOTALLY lying to us about global warming and vapor trails and evolution and Noah’s Flood not really having happened and… and… and stuff.

About stevegrand
I'm an independent AI and artificial life researcher, interested in oodles and oodles of things but especially the brain. And chocolate. I like chocolate too.

28 Responses to Facepalm

  1. Lucas Ebbinghaus says:

    What are you working on?


  2. JohnMWhite says:

    I understand your frustration but it may be the case that the tour leader in question was simply prevented from dealing with religious groups because he did not respond to their questions in a diplomatic manner, rather than religious groups getting a fact-free tour because they whined and stamped their feet. I have no idea if that is the case, but I’d be surprised if the park is hosting “choose your own theory” tours, though I’m surprised religious groups even bother going to a place full of petrogylphs and asking for a tour if they are put out at being reminded how old the planet truly is. And we are dealing with religious groups, who generally whine and stamp their feet (and blow stuff up if they can get away with it) a heck of a lot and get plenty of attention politically.

    • stevegrand says:

      You may conceivably be right about the lack of diplomacy – I don’t know for sure. I can only go on what the woman from the AHA said. But this is not the first time I’ve seen the NPS (who I adore, on the whole) tone things down to avoid offending people’s crazy and pathetic hyper-religious views. And yet how diplomatic should one have to BE with simple statements of fact about the world? Don’t mention that two plus two makes four, in case it offends people who want it to make five! There’s nothing intrinsically offensive in stating the age of the geological features, and I can’t imagine this guy goes around ending his sentences with “so suck on that, you religious nuts” because I’ve never met a park ranger yet who wasn’t extremely courteous and patient with people. So I presume the problem is being solved now by neglecting to mention the truth when a group is likely not to want to hear it. That can’t be good. There’s far too much ignorance in this country and it’s not going to improve if everyone gets to live inside their own reality bubble. As it is, the pretender to the presidential throne spouts palpable lies all the time and the Fox News machine simply heals reality around them until a sizeable segment of the population earnestly believes them to be true.

      • JohnMWhite says:

        I haven’t heard of other incidents where the NPS has had to tone things down for religious sensibilities but if that is the case it probably does add more weight to this being a simple case of omitting the truth to appease fundamentalists, which is certainly disappointing. Fox News and their Magic 8-Ball of a candidate have pretty much arrested the ability of the country to have a discussion that revolves around facts, so no wonder it drives you nuts to see even the parks seem to be allowing people to insulate themselves in a bubble because of their truth allergy.

      • Mick says:

        In this piece is an entirely new concept to aid you Steve that you seem to have utterly ignored… when contemplating the emergence of conscious awareness and testing it…maybe rather than aim for full consciousness (the goal right) well knock it down a peg or two and go for ‘creationist’ instead! Once you have that cracked then adding a billion creationist AI agents together would probably get you up to the level of primate!

  3. archdragon87 says:

    It really does look like a space alien. Any idea what it actually is? Or is it a fake?

    • stevegrand says:

      No it’s real – I’ve seen the same character elsewhere and where I live is peppered with petroglyphs. It’s a god, but I forget which one. Either that or it’s one of our lizard overlords from the New World Order. I think David Icke probably knows…

      • Luke Pollen says:

        My vote is on it being one of the lizard overlords. And I, for one, welcome our space reptilian masters.

  4. Alhad says:

    (blind)Faith vs Facts: it is the same age old debate, irrespective of the geography and location. Even developed countries are no exception to herds of people who cannot digest science. Read an article somewhere that said fewer than 40% of Americans believed in the concept of Evolution! But as you said, Science simply seeing the things as they are and not as we wish or imagine them to be.

  5. Mellowcow says:

    I just had to imagine a fact-free tour: “Yup, those are definitely some ol’ rocks over there. Well maybe they’re rocks. Who knows, right?”

  6. Jeremy says:

    I wonder whether it will be easier or more difficult to emulate (or genuinely create) artificial life stupidity within the sphere of intelligence.
    It certainly seems to me that humankind has been learning strategies for more self-convincingly avoiding the truth in recent decades. I wonder if it is an evolutionary coping mechanism…

  7. I for one agree with your statement that tour guides for any geographic landmark should just be trained on how to deal with these fundamentalists instead of avoiding education. The fact that we as a species can understand our place in the universe is something to be celebrated, not shunned and swept under the rug just because a few people can’t deal with their religion being challenged.

    I also agree with Benjamin. Can you give those of us who couldn’t donate to your project some idea of how it’s going? I for one have been waiting for this new artificial life program since Creatures was released.

  8. Dan says:

    In 2009 I visited the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. It seemed to me that the signs at the visitor center were very strangely worded, as if to avoid the subject of specific time lengths. I asked if this was due to creationist complaints and was told yes.

  9. Ibad says:

    Steve! I want to contribute to Grandroids, but the kick-starter page says it’s closed. I am a bit late to the party, how can I contribute?

  10. Please fixme says:

    Hi Steve. I’ve forgotten my password to your grandroids page, and the “reset password” functionality isn’t working: “unable to send email”.

  11. PTTG says:

    Just FYI, the grandroids website is down.

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