Vertebrate Paleontologists Punked by Creationist Filmmakers

Kevin Padian, of the Department of Integrative Biology & Museum of Paleontology at University of California, Berkeley, recently dashed off a letter to colleagues titled “STARS OF V.P. PUNKED BY CREATIONIST FILMMAKERS.”

[VP is “Vertebrate Paleontology.”] What’s the beef? Padian wrote the following on Nov. 18th:


Got your attention? Good. Here’s a recent video called “Evolution, the Grand Experiment,” that dozens of VPers helped to make, innocent of the fact that the smooth-talking and obviously intelligent filmmakers were young-earth creationists. As the publicity says, it was “filmed over 12 years on three continents and seven countries,” and you can get it for twenty bucks on Amazon. It’s being widely shown on cable TV. And it’s being used in testimony for a current trial about whether and how to teach evolution in schools.

The scientists punked by these twerps include Jim Kirkland, Phil Gingerich, Angela Milner, John Long, Gary Morgan, Irena Koretsky, Tasser Hussain, Gunther Viohl, Peter Wellnhofer, Tim Rowe, Annalise Berta, Phil Currie, Bill Clemens, Paul Sereno, Dave Weishampel, Nick Czaplewski, Andy Knoll, and Monroe Strickberger … and yours truly. It’s not that what all of you say in the video is wrong. It’s that the filmmakers have taken it completely out of context. They have represented the honest uncertainty of science as fraud and hoax.

While this ‘punking’ may be a first for the vertebrate paleo crowd, it’s certainly not the first such devious effort. Here’s one involving biologists and our own P. Z. Myers.