Sunday, December 14, 2014

Megan Fox's "Audit" of the Field Museum's Evolving Earth Exhibit: A Review

Homeschooler and creationist Megan Fox (not the actress) recently "audited" the Evolving Earth Exhibit at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. "Audit" is a strong word: I work for real auditors (CPAs), who are highly educated experts in their subfields and concerned with accuracy (because they can be sued). When they don't know something, they look for the answer. They've also passed the long and difficult CPA exam administered by the State of Colorado. Megan Fox doesn't have the equivalent of any of these qualifications in the field of biology: what she's produced isn't an audit, but a silly video that I'm watching so you don't have to.

Megan Fox at the Field Museum. Image from via Google images.

Fox jumps right in with eukaryotes, which she doesn't know how to pronounce. The exhibit says that at first, all eukaryotes were single celled, and some are still single-celled, implying that others are not.   Fox says this means that eukaryotes have always been single-celled. No: it means some of them have changed. If they changed after becoming single-celled eukaryotes, they might have changed before that, too. The conclusions she draws from her faulty logic--that living things have always been made of eukaryotic cells--doesn't even follow her first premise: that eukaryotes have always been single-celled organisms.

Then Fox goes on an angry, confused, frustrated tirade about how angry and confused she is, and she doesn't want scientists to tell her they know how animals came to exist, because they don't know. At least she loves looking at the fossils--"real science," she calls them. Make a note of that.

The next exhibit discusses changes in the atmosphere 470 million years ago. "How do they know this? This sounds so stupid." Unfortunately, the exhibit did lack the footnotes to scholarly work that Fox was apparently looking for. Maybe the atmostphere just came into existence, Fox says. Maybe aliens did it. It reminds me of Judge Jerry Scheindlin's quip to defendants: "Maybe I did it."

The early plant exhibit draws just as much contempt, along with a demand for a videotape from 470 million years ago, proving that green algae and moss at shorelines were the first plants. Fox snorts at the plant fossils (which she called "real science" just a moment before) as proof of nothing. My layman's guess about the assertion that these were the first plants: algae and moss are very simple plants, and there were no fossils of other plants below the first algae and moss fossils.

Next up for attack is the exhibit stating that it took around 50 million years for plants to evolve from tiny, vascular things to leafy trees. Fox again laments the lack of a videotape from the era and wonders how scientists know it's not 40 or 60 million years ago--that they just want people to believe. Through the video, Fox, apparently a young earth creationist, goes on about the purported lack of evidence and appeal to faith without a hint of irony. The object of her contempt this time: an exhibit stating that plants evolved and that roots allowed plants to grow farther inland, along with an explanation of cladiograms, or branch drawings, to depict evolutionary changes.

Like any good young earth creationist, Fox trots out the gaps argument: where are the missing links between one life form and another that it evolved into? She asserts that every "missing link" found has been a hoax. In fact, many real "missing links" have been found, but there's the rub: every missing link creates more gaps. Let's say you have a fossil from 10 million years ago and another from 20 million years ago. There's a gap. If you find a fossil from 15 million years ago, you end up with two gaps of five million years each. But if you don't find a missing link--and you might not since living things usually decompose instead of fossilize, and things can happen to a fossil over the course of millions of years--there's just no proof that one thing evolved into another. Heads I win, tails you lose.

Moving on to early tetrapods, or animals with four feet, Fox says, "They want you to believe that the fins fell off and they grew feet. That's the dumbest theory I've ever heard in my whole life." It IS dumb and it's incorrect: fins evolved into feet--scientists aren't asserting they fell off. Fox compares this evolution to a Coke can: a Coke can can't fall from the sky with letters in a disarray and right itself. It's a version of the pocket watch argument, the problem with which is that non-living objects don't reproduce and therefore cannot evolve. Again, Fox wants to see the video. As much a I dislike smart-mouthed kids, I'd love seeing one ask her for the videotape of the six-day creation of the earth and all its life forms.

Next, Fox gets to the cool part: the dinosaurs, or dragons as she calls them. She knows they are dragons because one of her children told her so, and the skeletons look like drawings of dragons--artists of the 20th and 21st centuries knew what dragons looked like. Yes, they did. (And Harry Potter apparently belongs in the biography section of the library.) Fox asserts that humans and "dragons" lived alongside one another at one time, waving away the idea that long ago, people might have found dinosaur fossils and drew them and made up stories about them, while scientists performed carbon dating and observed that human fossils don't appear under dinosaur fossils. But no, scientists are covering up evidence (like the "dinosaur cave paintings" she saw in Creation magazine) because it would throw off the evolutionary timeline by hundreds of millions of years.

The argument of the gaps comes up again as Fox looks at the human ancestor exhibits. Of course, she's less impressed with fossil evidence here than she was earlier. Neanderthals are just stocky humans (like Eastern Europeans with those big brows). Maybe Leonid Brezhnev did have a little more Neanderthal DNA in him than most of us, but yes, Neanderthals are genetically distinct from Homo sapiens. 

Asking for evidence and wanting to know how something came to be known are great things--except when they're asked rhetorically with arrogance and deliberate ignorance. And it's amusing when the person asking obviously hasn't applied the same demands to their own pet ideas. A suggestion for readers: look at the video with the sound off. You'll get a free tour of an interesting exhibit.

ETA: Fox is not only stupid and annoying, but she's being sued for being a creepy stalker.

ETA 2: I've been informed that the exhibit is actually called "The Evolving Planet Exhibit." (In fact, it's simply called "Evolving Planet" according the Field Museum's web site.) I thought it was called "Evolving Earth Exhibit" because that's what Megan Fox used in the title of her video. This, from a woman who went on about "words matter[ing]." Did you know that the fact that there's a dinosaur named in honor of J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books (Dracorex hogwartsia) means that dinosaurs were dragons? Lest I be accused of any more inaccuracy, Dracorex doesn't literally mean the animal was a dragon. Dracorex is a genus of the pachycephalosauridae family (part of the dinosaur clade, of course). Pachycephalosaurus means "thick headed lizard." You can't make this stuff up.

After careful consideration, I've decided to leave the blog post title as is. It's more likely to be found in searches.


tess said...

with awe, i commend your persistence -- watching (or worse, listening to) people like that give me a headache!

Lori Miller said...

Tom Naughton has said he hates the combination of arrogance and ignorance. This woman has ignorance, arrogance, condescension, and the patience/frustration tolerance of a small child.

Larcana said...

I wouldn't even subject myself to her idiocy...thanks for the review. I blame the media for letting these fools get interviews on network TV. This only makes them feel like their "theories" are provable.
Her kind don't like their children subjected to "liberal education', including university.

Lori Miller said...

She and the video have been savaged on the Internet, with hardly anyone stepping up to defend young earth creationism. I think she's done more to hurt her case than help it.

I saw two comments from you--I just published the one since the other seemed similar.

Larcana said...

Sorry I thought the other didn't post so I repeated.

MeatGirlMegh said...

Speaking of getting your facts right, you do realize it's actually called the "Evolving Planet Exhibit" and not the "evolving earth", right? For evidence of the actual name, you could have used intensive investigative journalist tools like "google", which actually would have automatically corrected you and lead you to the right exhibit. It's a shame that so many people who claim to be scientifically superior are spreading around the wrong name of the science exhibit, and not even checking out the amazing museum website. Sigh.

Lori Miller said...

Actually, all the sources I read referred to the exhibit as the "Evolving Earth Exhibit." Given that Google brings up the exhibit site as the first entry when searching for that phrase, I'm not sure why you're so puffed up with indignation. Nor do I care.

Now go away.

Lori Miller said...

By the way, it's actually called "Evolving Planet," not "Evolving Planet Exhibit."

Val said...

You lured me in, thinking it was the ACTRESS ;-) !!!
You've far more patience than I do, my dear...
470 million yr old videos; this could be as Excellent as Bill & Ted!!!

Val said...

I find the legal case to be FAR more interesting...

Lori Miller said...

Bill and Ted--that must be it. Fox needs to watch less HBO and more PBS.

As for the legal case, she and a couple of friends have also filed over a hundred requests for information that have cost a Chicago-area library over $125,000 to fill. Quite the piece of work, isn't she?

Lowcarb team member said...

......sorry this is off topic !

Just stopping by to send best wishes for the Christmas and New Year season. I know you've not had an easy year ! but we send best wishes

All the best Jan and Eddie

Lori Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori Miller said...

Thank you, Jan and Eddie. Merry Christmas to you, too!