You people call yourself scientists?

The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum.

Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year’s exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans, said Robert Sullivan, who was associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Also, officials omitted scientists’ interpretation of some research and let visitors draw their own conclusions from the data, he said. In addition, graphs were altered “to show that global warming could go either way,” Sullivan said.

“It just became tooth-pulling to get solid science out without toning it down,” said Sullivan, who resigned last fall after 16 years at the museum. He said he left after higher-ups tried to reassign him.


Sullivan said the changes in the climate-change exhibit were requested by executives who included then-museum Director Cristian Samper and his boss, former Undersecretary for Science David Evans. He said several scientists whose work was used in the exhibit objected to the changes.

4 thoughts on “Self-Censorship

  1. I used to work there. The sea change began about 18 years ago with corporate sponsorships of events and exhibits, examination of exhibits to make sure they don’t offend, etc. Before that there was a culture of academic freedom, much like a university. The gradual sea change became a tsunami under the Bush junta. It’s analogous to what’s happened at VOA and CPB and by extension, to NPR.

  2. it is probably because they realized that man made climate change is fiction, and actually looked at the fact that man made co2 only makes on one hundredth of one percent in our atmosphere…oops,

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