loading

Could a Change of Plaques at a Museum Help Engender True Philosophy?

I visited a famous museum of art a while back, and was awed by the breadth of their collection.

I spent most of a day there, and as I walked through, something occurred to me; the historical plaques I read only told the story of our current understanding of history. They did not mention how our ideas of, for example, 12" Egyptian stone carvings, have changed from thinking they were idols to something like spirit "vessels" for the departed. This one-sided view gave the impression that we knew all about Egyptian culture. Yet, our understanding changes all the time. Translations of the "Book of the Dead" from 1930 hardly resemble recent translations.

I wonder, if we mentioned on a plaque how a particular artifact changed our views of ancient cultures, and did this for several artifacts, or even mentioned briefly some key research along the way, we might jog the minds of museum goers a bit more. Maybe get them thinking that the world is more open than presumed. Thus some visitors might get excited at the unanswered questions and have a desire to do further research in a topic on their own.

If a change of plaques could tell a larger story of how our ideas and "what we know" is challenged and changes all the time, then perhaps . . . it might even jog the visitor to challenge some of his or her own ideas, thus beginning to inspire true philosophy.

sort by: active | newest | oldest
1-10 of 40Next »
Kiteman9 years ago
As gmoon says, good museums update display information as often as possible, though not necessarily on a very frequent basis. If artefacts have had a significant impact on a branch of study, then that is, in my experience, usually stated (although UK universities are not funded like US museums, relying less on endowments and bequests).

It can be expensive, though, and time consuming. I am in occasional contact with a large aquarium in the UK regarding updating its displays, and funds and time have meant that they are still in the planning stages of what to put up after some six months of work (they are trying to balance the needs of eager youngsters who can't read with more inquisitive minds who find cartoons childish).

As for politics, though, the only places I can see standing beliefs outweighing facts in a museum context are the various Creationist "museums" popping up around the world, where they display utter tosh like dinosaurs and humans co-existing and fossils being laid down by Noah's flood.

(Quietly seethes and contemplates arson)
If they want to believe in creationism, they can. However insane it may be. (The anematronic dinosoars would be fun to see go up in flames though)

That reminds me, I had quite an discussion (it was really an argument) with someone that supposevely believes in God today, but all of her answers were on some sort of methanphetamine. She literally pulled the answers and "proof" out of her *cough*.
She used the bible as proof, and then I made a reference to The Lord Of The Rings. Sorry for going off on a tangent, it just reminded me of it.
royalestel (author)  Doctor What9 years ago
Oh dear. I'm afraid of where this thread is going, but, nevertheless. . .

Believing in creationism does not make one insane. Even the idea is not insane. It may be wrong. But, as I have said numerous (numerous!) times, each of us believes something utterly ridiculous. The point of manners, etiquette, and just general tolerance is to allow people to believe what they want to.

It is the way that people act that we need be worried about. After all, each of us has insane thoughts and beliefs, every time we dream.
royalestel (author)  royalestel9 years ago
I should add, "allow people to believe what they want to and respect it". This does not mean that you agree with it or even imply that you approve of them believing it, but you do not mock it. And on the flipside, if you have truth, you share it with others in a loving, unimposing way.
With you on the act - everybody has weird thoughts and daydreams, but most of us realise how anti-social it would be to try and force others to share that weirdness. I know you find it hard to grasp, but I am OK with people believing in Creationism (religion is, after all, an evolved emergent phenomenon, and DNA is hard to defeat). I am not OK with Creationists who flatly declare huge swathes of evidence-based science to be wrong, or even satanically-inspired lies, just because they contradict the basis of their income worldview. Creationist museums don't present an honest opinion; this is our Faith, we have no valid evidence for it but it comforts us in times of need. Instead they say this is the real world, if anybody tells you differently they are evil atheist liars who are attempting to subvert your soul for Satan.
royalestel (author)  Kiteman9 years ago
Look, two wrongs don't make a right. So you're not okay with it. You lovingly guide them to truth. Things we know, not postulate.

They say dinosuars walked aside man a few thousand years ago. You say, well, that doesn't really match some things we've seen, especially if you look at carbon decay rates.

You don't belittle their faith because one expression of it is ridiculous. After all, there have been plenty of ridiculous expression of scientific thought. And still are. Like dumping tons of iron into the ocean and such.

I know you find it hard to grasp, but I am OK with people believing in Creationism Not sure what you mean by this. You sure don't seem to be OK with it. I worked with a guy that claimed he was never angry, but constantly yelled at me when I asked him the status of his projects. Sure seemed angry to me.
I'm not expressing my point very well, am I?

It's the pushing on others that is the problem.

Creationists actively promote concepts as "fact" that are demonstrably false. They deliberately misquote respected scientists (check out the "talk" page of the Conservapedia page on Evolution for a typical example).

They actively campaign to have scientific concepts removed from science curricula because they contradict their religious standpoint.

The creationist stand-point is purely Faith-based (ie lacking in credible evidence), and so belongs in church or as a subject of study in a class on comparative religions. It does not belong in a science (evidence) lesson, yet they expect to get "equal time" for their beliefs (which is where Pastafarianism entered the scene).

If they keep it within their churches, if they admit Creationism and Intelligent Design are religious positions, if they do not publish outright lies and claim they are scientifically-sound, then I am fine with it.

When they turn up at my school and try and tell me that I should be teaching "biblical truth" in a physics lesson, and that I should teach my class that the universe was formed only 6000 years ago, then I am not OK with it.
royalestel (author)  Kiteman9 years ago
You didn't express yourself poorly; I read it poorly. I was in a hurry and it seems I just about missed the entire last paragraph. Sorry about that. I want to explain that I generally believe the Bible to be literally true. However, I think far too many people assume the text says things it doesn't. As I believe God created the universe, I guess that makes me a Creationist. However, I do not support or in any way endorse the Creationist museums, or teaching Biblical truths as scientific evidence. They're not. I'm fine with someone teaching "The Bible says that the God (or gods) created the world in seven creative periods called days. It doesn't say much more than that about the process of creation, though it implies some delegation was involved, and perhaps commitees. Astrophysicists are pretty sure that the universe came to being in a giant explosion of matter and energy called the Big Bang. Here's why." I've been pondering over why I'm ok with this teaching of religion in the classroom. I think it's because it's the truth. I mean, I learned in high school various other religions' beliefs on the creation of the Universe, particularly the ancient Greeks, why not the Bible's version? Which is pretty short, and doesn't say anything about dinosaurs or matter created out nonexistence. If people are lying or doing crazy things like trying to forge archaeological "evidence" in support of their view of the Creation, they ought to be brought up on charges for any crimes they commit. But I don't think the average Creationist (by this I mean the average Christian) lies about these things. One final comment, as for scientific concepts being taught, I am fine with it, as long as they are portrayed as having a certain confidence level, backed up by certain evdiences that the concepts appear to explain quite nicely. This goes along with the whole point of this topic.
as long as they are portrayed as having a certain confidence level, backed up by certain evdiences that the concepts appear to explain quite nicely. This goes along with the whole point of this topic.

Spot on. I even encourage my better students to try and catch me out, rather than taking it on trust that what I say is true. Like the boy who went to a talk by a US creationist and came back convinced that bones could fossilise in a few days or hours (rather than millions of years), because the speaker (Ken Ham) told him that mineral impregnation was the same as mineral replacement. All I did was "fossilise" a sock and proved Ham wrong. Disproving Ha,'s lies about carbon dating was harder, because the boy was eleven, and not very "up" on his nuclear physics ;-)
royalestel (author)  Kiteman9 years ago
Yeah the carbon dating thing's not very convincing. Personally, I'm guessing it's hard to explain because we don't understand the phenomenon that well. Or at least the people that try to explain it don't. I know I don't know how we can be so sure that decay rates aren't affected by other factors. How do we the decay rates don't change? Anybody running a multi-decade experiment just tracking the decay rates to see how well empirical evidence matches up with the calculated rates?
1-10 of 40Next »