Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Charles who?

"Tell me again who Charles Darwin is?"

This would have been a delightful and charming request from a young child at bedtime. Unfortunately, it was not bedtime, and the person asking the question was not a child. She was, in fact, the contact for special events facility rental at the CANADIAN MUSEUM OF NATURE!!!!!

I had been attempting to book a room for a festive dinner, hosted by the Humanist Association of Ottawa, to commemorate Chuck’s 200th/TOS’s 150th. In the course of getting information, I mentioned that the event I was booking was to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin, and also asked if she knew whether the Museum had any special Darwin events planned for 2009. She asked me who Darwin was. I explained that I was referring to Charles Darwin, who developed of the Theory of Evolution. She still had no idea who I was talking about.

I suppose I must admit that there may be many fully functional and educated adults who do not know who Darwin is. And I can certainly understand that many people who are not “into” science and/or history could not produce Darwin’s name if asked about evolution, and many others would not remember what Darwin did if asked about the name. And, I must say that the facility booking co-ordinator was very nice, and provided all the information I was asking for, and even passed on my request for information about 2009 Darwin events to someone in the educational programming department (and *she* knew who Darwin was). But I still can’t wrap my mind around the concept that any employee of our national natural history museum would not even recognize the name.

[For anyone in the Ottawa area who might be interested in attending Darwin celebration events, we are still working on dates, and unfortunately, the museum will only book 6 months in advance. Watch this blog for more information.]


Anonymous said...

That's... umm...

That's just bizarre, really.

Did you suggest to her that maybe she should make a note of reading up a bit on that? Seein' as it's the kinda thing might come up, now and then, given where she works?

TheBrummell said...

Did you ask her about other famous scientists? Possibly she has a greater interest in other aspects of nature, like physics or geology or atmospheric chemistry or something. Did you throw names like Lyell, or Plank, or Dirac at her?

Theo Bromine said...

TheBrummell said...
Did you ask her about other famous scientists?

Besides the fact that I was too dumbfounded for that to occur to me, the purpose of my call was not to plumb the limits of knowledge of the museum staff. (I suppose if I had more presence of mind and more chutzpah, I should have done so as a public service - on the other hand, I do still want to have her good will for when I reserve the room.)

However, even if she had been inclined towards other aspects of science and its history, I still find it incomprehensible that the description of Darwin and evolution still did not evoke any response of recognition.