Richard Leakey: Kicking ass, taking names.

A recent article by Kendrick Frazier published in Skeptical Inquirer mentions a fight brewing in Kenya over the display of some of the most important archaeological finds of the past century showing human evolution through the fossils of our hominid ancestors. The National Museums of Kenya is about to reopen after 18 months of renovations, and the local religious whackjobs are trying to confine the fossils to a back room, lest a poor heathen get a glimpse at an actual fact and be converted to the religion of reality.

While the Museum attempts to placate the situation by calling it “delicate” and expressing an interest in satisfying a diversity of visitors, former director and total badass Richard Leakey has stepped up to point out that the church leaders are outrageous fundies who shouldn’t get a say in how science is done. I’m all for being understanding of others’ beliefs, but if church leaders have the figurative balls to support their actions by saying, “Our doctrine is not that we evolved as apes,” then the rest of us should have the balls to say, “Your doctrine is ignorant and outdated. Grow up.”

Richard Leakey has a posse.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. WOO-HOO! Three Cheers and a Huzzah for Dr. Leakey!

    And I'm proud to say that I live not fifteen minutes from Swarthmore College. Who'd have thunk it? A real hotbed of skeptical goodness in my own backyard!

  2. If ya don't want to see the fossils don't go to the dang museum. How hard is this??

    I'm gonna go find something to beat my head against… should be a rock around here somewhere


  3. Maybe we could go to their churches and start singing Freethought anthems and shout out passages from science textbooks?

    After all– Sauce for the goose, and all that.

  4. I've always had that "don't screw with them in thier church" sort of policy, but if they start pushing into museums natrual history section ….. NATRUAL HISTORY FOR CHRISTS SAKE (tee-hee).

    If you can't have reality in a musuem (which almost no one goes to these days anyway,.. well maybe they do but I havnt seen them) then where can it go?

  5. Maybe it's a local thing, but the last time I went to the Museum of Science here in the Land of Dirty Water, it was packed to the gills with parents and their kids. Granted, that was Thanksgiving weekend, but still. Attendees are attendees!

  6. Incredible. Is the museum in question a public institution without ties to evolution-denying fundies or not? If so, then it need not pander to the demands of extremists.

    Unless of course someone makes the decision to do so deliberately…

    Yet more evidence, if it's needed, that the idea, let alone the facts of evolution are just outright terrifying to some people.

  7. For those (in the US) wishing to be more active in their support of evolution, I can recommend the work of the National Center for Science Education. These folks were instrumental in the winning the court case of Kitzmiller v. Dover that got a Federal Court judge to declare that (un)Intelligent Design is NOT science and thus doesn't belong in a science class.

    This battle is going to last for a LONG time, so please give the folks at NCSE a hand ($) if you can.

    Oh, and if your name is Steve, please consider joining "Project Steve" on their website. It pisses the creationists/ID'ers off no end! Sorry to those of you poor sods without a proper first name ;P

  8. Are _you_ offended? I was just pointing out the (unintentional, presumably) irony in the choice of metaphors.

  9. I was just thinking that fundamentalists really don't see any different categories in life. They don't say things like "I'm not getting involved with that because religion is incompatible". Everything is under the religious category. But it occurs to me that even mainstream religion, the so-called un-fundamentalists, do a pretty good job at messing with the known world too. I don't think religion and science should ever mix, while my attitude towards art and science is that where appropriate the should. What Richard Leaky has done is good, but I wonder if religion should be banned from charity in places like Africa.

    Religious people will still be able to give money to charities, and volunteer their good deeds, but they wouldn't be able to try to convert people or promote their religions. All of the money saved on new Bibles and Korans can go to sick children or something. The existing ones can be recycled into instructions for condoms to try and fight AIDs. Better still, they won't be able to hold a country back through promoting medieval belief systems. At the moment large numbers of evangelists, often funded from evangelicals in the US or the Middle East, are in virtually every semi stable, poor as shit, African country taking advantage of the situation.

  10. While historicaly most early charities started as programmes run by religious organisations that is no longer the case. And while charitable works should be encouraged through tax-relief (as they are in most western countries), I never quite understand why religious institutions themselves are seen as charities.

    In good cases it can lead to a greater sense of community and add value to local peoples lives. In bad cases it can lead to faith healers bilking people out of their money and not even letting society share in their ill-gotten gains!

  11. I agree with Joshua.

    Richard Leakey use to work for the museum,and

    it's possible bad blood was established within the


    Although I'm only speculating,,his absence precipitates

    the movement by the church,maybe next time,someone

    might brake it..

    I respect his loyalty and commitment,and I hope he

    learns to better take care of his toys..

    Take care my friends M,Dmon

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