A new Field Museum video on non-alternative fact

This new short video, including several of my colleagues at Chicago’s Field Museum, shows scientists at the Museum standing up for the facts about ecology and evolution. I like that, and I also like the absence of anything overtly political. But of course we all know why this was made: it is a political video made in reaction to the Trump administration’s disdain for truth and, in particular, Kellyanne Conway’s statement about “alternative facts”—which now has its own Wikipedia page.

I like the emphasis on facts and the uncompromising statements about evolution, which need to be made to a public that’s largely creationist. In the main, then, I see this as a positive statement. But my feelings are a wee bit mixed, for the video wouldn’t have been made without Trump, so it’s also politically-motivated statement that could have been (but wasn’t) made without political motivation. Nevertheless, it can stand on its own as a commitment of scientists to the truth.

Another political bit: the poster at 32 seconds in saying “ALL humans are immigrants from Africa.” Now if that’s not a reaction to Trump’s misguided executive orders on immigration, I’ll eat my Stetson.  It is true that the ancestors of all modern humans originated in Africa, but, for instance, all indigenous New World humans were more recent immigrants from Siberia. The poster might have been a bit more accurate.

h/t: Don


  1. Historian
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Bravo to the Field Museum!

  2. Jody Hey
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    fun video.
    But I noticed the odd sign that says “All humans are immigrants from Africa”.

    In what sense are present-day Africans immigrants from Africa?

    This little ‘fact’ is reminiscent of the off-putting narrative that is common in documentaries and articles on human evolution about _our_ “journey out of Africa”. The problem with this story is that it mostly speaks to non-Africans, for in fact there are a billion modern humans in Africa who did not journey off the continent.

    • Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Good point, Jody.

      • Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        I have a T-shirt from the Richard Dawkins Foundation that says “We Are All Africans”, which is a bit more accurate. Maybe the “we are all immigrants” refers to everyone who was assembled there in Chicago — fair enough.

  3. Ian Clark
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The Forces of Facts vs. the Forces of Fantasy and Faith.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    But…What about Sweden? Look at Sweden.

  5. Merilee
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink


  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    A great video. Short and sweet. I have visited this world class museum several times.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      And it is free general admission for all of February.

  7. GBJames
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink


    My daughter is a museum educator and has been pushing her institution towards making a stand for facts, too.

  8. Kevin
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    There will be no Stetson eating today.

    We are all Africans.

    Whether President Hooha-fingers knows this is not as punishing to us as the fact that he acts like it is not the case.

  9. rickflick
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I imagine this would get puzzled head scratches in Europe.

    “Why should a scientist have to declare that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old? Isn’t it taught to every child in elementary school?”, they would ask.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 21, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Not just Europe. NZ, Aussie too. We two always get left off but are the equivalent of Norway, Sweden etc in the statistics and do much better in this context than southern Europe. Canada is often up there too and is ahead of southern Europe as well.

      Just sayin’. 🙂

      • Ann German
        Posted February 21, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but sayin’ it with such a nice accent!

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink


        • rickflick
          Posted February 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink


  10. Posted February 21, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Looks like an interesting museum.

  11. nicky
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    The thing is, it did not show how we arrived at the conclusion these are indeed facts, why are these facts actual facts and not alt-facts.
    I prefer e.g. the ‘Clearly Stated’ video on whale evolution (a sheer endless hit with my young (3 & 6) children, for some obscure reason they want to see it again and again) which goes into the evidence.

  12. Mark R.
    Posted February 21, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I can get behind this in a heartbeat. Very succinct with an easy message to comprehend (if not addled by faith that is).

  13. Posted February 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    The Washington Post says:

    A White House spokeswoman told multiple reporters on Sunday that Trump had played just “a couple of holes.” Then his partner, Rory McIlroy, told a golfing publication that they’d done a full round of 18. And there were pictures. The spokeswoman then acknowledged that she had misinformed the press corps. Trump, she said, had “intended” to golf just a couple of holes.


    Somebody is forcing Resident Trump to play golf against his will.

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted February 21, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Does he even have a ‘will’ to play golf against? And who would win, Trump or his will?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 21, 2017 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Could this be the only time that Trump propaganda has understated anything?

      (“He played a full 18 holes. No, he played 36 holes. No, he played 72 holes and won the US Masters…”)


      • Posted February 22, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        I’m reminded of hearing years ago hearing about the North Korean press (read: propaganda ministry, of course) reporting that Dear Leader (I forget which one) had shot an 18.

        So, dare I say we (the species) should move to have DL and DT face off in golf? Maybe that would be a good way to get the countries talking! 😉

        (Actually no, for the obvious reasons …, but it would be amusing seeing the conflicting reports.)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 22, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink


          Actually, Trump did it in 17. (One of them bounced right out of the hole and into the next).

          It was YUUGE!


      • Diane G.
        Posted February 22, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        …in front of crowds bigger than all of those of Tiger Woods’s entire career lumped together!

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