Evening News Reads: David H. Koch asks…What does it mean to be human?

Good Evening!

Tonight’s post is going to focus on something I came across while planning my family’s summer vacation in Washington, DC. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Smithsonian has an exhibit bought and paid for by one half the Tea Party Darlings…The Koch BrothersDavid H. Koch.

Yes…the same man who brought…or should I say bought, you Scott Walker!

The same man who has inspired so many post over at Think Progress.

Half of the team of brothers that we have written about here on Sky Dancing.

Feast your eyes on the National Museum of Natural History’s Exhibit on Human Evolution and Climate Change…

Human Evolution by The Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program

David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins: What does it mean to be human?

From the Koch Family Foundation website:

Education & Science

Mr. Koch supports science-related projects including funding of the long-running PBS documentary series, “Nova,” and a science and technology center at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. As the national sponsor of The Bill of Rights Institute’s 2009-2010 high school essay contest, Mr. Koch’s philanthropy helps educate young people about the words and ideas of the nation’s founders. Winners of the “Being An American” contest were honored at a gala held in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Koch’s $15 million gift to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., created the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins that opened spring 2010. The 15,000-square-foot exhibit offers visitors an immersive and interactive museum experience. In 2006, he made a $20 million gift to the American Museum of Natural History, creating the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing.

Public Policy

A passionate believer in free societies, Mr. Koch has funded research and education programs that analyze how freedom creates prosperity and advances social progress.  He serves on the boards of the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation and Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Notice the Americans for Prosperity Foundation does not have a link attached to it…well here it is.

Anyway, can you grasp the irony? This is the man who is part of the Dynamic Duo behind the Tea Party and all they stand for…KOCH INFLUENCE BEYOND THE POLITICAL ARENA

David and Charles Koch, billionaire owners of Koch Industries, have donated their money to organizations beyond the political arena. In fact, Koch Industries has donated millions of dollars to non-profit, as well as for profit, organizations and museums.

In a profile by Gary Weiss for portfolio.com, David Koch explained why he donated $100 million to renovate the aging State Theater in Manhattan, home to both the New York City Opera and New York City Ballet. Koch explained that not only could he afford to give, but he attends that theater more than any other theater in the world.  Koch is quoted as saying, “I love the whole aspect of it—gorgeous music, fabulous sets…. And, of course, there are beautiful girls.”

The reasons why they donate to these companies are not always quite so apparent as the ballet’s “beautiful girls.”. Weiss suggests that the Kochs’ philanthropy is being used to balance the scales against their ardent politics.

Those politics are deeply rooted in the free market system. Koch explained to Weiss, Taking David Koch at his word suggests that he and his brother are giving because it’s the right thing to do; however, they also donate because it also allows them to further their own political agenda.

Several examples illustrate this point.

Yes, take a gander at those examples…here’s a couple of paragraphs about the Smithsonian exhibit I am focusing on now:

…Koch-sponsored group called Americans for Prosperity. a huge supporter of the Tea Party Movement since its inception.

http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/100316/GAL-10Mar16-4075/media/PHO-10Mar16-212004.jpgKoch has also donated money to the arts and museums. He has supported renovations of the Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater building, the dinosaur wing of the American Museum of Natural History, and the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural.

Koch donated $15 million to the Smithsonian to help to create an exhibit on human evolution. The exhibit hall is titled The David H. Koch Hall of Human Evolution. Paleoanthropologist Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, has come under criticism for accepting Koch money.

When questioned about it, Potts called Koch a “philanthropist who is deeply interested in science…. our donors have no control over the content of our science or scholarship of our exhibits. And the same is true in this case. We feel very grateful for David Koch’s contributions to helping, I hope, the American public and us being able to bring science to them.”

Dr. Joseph Romm, editor of Climate Progress and a Senior Fellow at the American Progress, has criticized Potts’ “greenwashing,” noting that the Smithsonian downplays or ignores the risks posed by human-caused climate change in a number of exhibits.

“The exhibit’s main theme is that extreme climate change in the past made humans very adaptable, an interesting theory based on limited data and lots of speculation,” Romm writes at his website. “But its huge flaw is that it it leaves visitors with the distinct impression that human-caused global warming is no big deal — even though our understanding of the grave threat posed by that warming is based on far, far more research and data.”

Romm asserts that Koch has spent over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the anti-science disinformation machine, calling Koch “an even bigger funder of disinformation on climate science than Exxon Mobil” in an attempt to derail climate change policy.

There apparently was a big stink back a few years ago, folks got wind of the Smithsonian Hall of being “Human and began to write about it, as these series of articles from Think Progress points out. Please note that many of these are from 2010, and some are in PDF formats. (Also since I was in such a hurry to get this post up, I will list these articles in groups.) Anyway, check these out:

‘Climate Crime Scene’ declared at Smithsonian’s David H. Koch Hall Of Human Origins. | ThinkProgress

A ‘Grateful’ Smithsonian Denies Greenwashing ‘Philanthropist’ David H. Koch’s Dirty Money | ThinkProgress

New Yorker exposes Koch brothers along with their greenwashing and whitewashing Smithsonian exhibit | ThinkProgress

For more articles that refer to the questionable funding of the Smithsonian Exhibit, again from 2010:

Global Warming Heats Up at the Smithsonian – The Daily Beast

How Did Washington Get Pushed So Far Towards the Crazy Right? | AlterNet

As for the other kinds of philanthropic activities of the Koch Brothers:

The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, A reporter at large: Covert Operations The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

Here is an article in response to the Mayer piece above: Jonathan Chait On The Shameless David Koch, America’s Whiniest Billionaire. | The New Republic

One more: The billionaire Koch brothers: Tea Party puppetmasters? – The Week

And yet another one: The Long Tentacles of The “Koch-topus” | NationofChange

Now this Nation of Change article mentions a PBS editorial which you can find here: PBS | Ombudsman | Trust but Verify

And then…you have this from Andrew Goldman (so you know where this one is going to go): How Oil Heir and New York Arts Patron David Koch Became the Tea Party’s Wallet — New York Magazine

Koch also funded the Dinosaur wing as well, which also makes for some interesting conversation..but for now, I look forward to seeing this exhibit on Evolution and Climate Change bought by the Koch Agenda moneybags…I wonder, if any of these display’s have a dickless Adam…without Eve…or any mention of neanderthals on the ark…or that the earth is only 6,000 years old…hmmm, or dinosaurs with saddles on them…

What do you think?

22 Comments on “Evening News Reads: David H. Koch asks…What does it mean to be human?”

  1. Ahhhhh, I was in a hurry to get this posted…here are links to the “education section” of the exhibit:

    Introduction to Human Evolution | The Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program

    Then there is this crap…Broader Social Impacts Committee | The Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program

    In the vibrant scientific field of human evolution, new discoveries and research findings are regularly reported as lead stories in newspapers and other media. Despite strong public interest, however, many people find the idea of human evolution troubling when viewed from a religious perspective. While polarized public opinion on the matter is the usual focus, the diversity of contemporary religious responses to evolution is less recognized. These responses point to opportunities for a productive relationship between science and religion without assuming a conflict between the scientific evidence of human evolution and religious beliefs.

    There are a number of different approaches to the science-religion relationship. One approach is to see science and religion as separate domains that ask different questions focusing on separate interests in human life – for example, about the natural world in science and about God in religion. This approach depends on respecting and maintaining the distinctions but can sometimes overlook the ways in which scientific interpretations may have an effect on religious beliefs. Conflict is seen to arise when efforts are made to eliminate the separation that the first approach assumes. The strongest conflicts develop when either science or religion asserts a standard of truth to which the other must adhere or otherwise be dismissed. An alternative approach sees interaction or engagement as positive. Engagement takes many forms, including personal efforts by individuals to integrate scientific and religious understandings, statements by religious organizations that affirm and even celebrate the scientific findings, and constructive interactions between theologians and scientists seeking common ground, respect, and shared insight into how the science of human evolution contributes to an awareness of what it means to be human.

    Surveys on the public acceptance of evolution indicate that the conflict approach continues to impede public understanding of scientific methods and ongoing discoveries. Looking beyond that, however, the wider variety of perspectives suggests that there is considerable support for maintaining the integrity of religious understandings of the world while embracing the factual basis of evolution, including human evolution, at the same time.

    (Rick Potts, Director of the Human Origins Program)

    Guess they had to get that in somewhere?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t really have a problem with that. The Catholic Church accepts evolution. It’s entirely possible to believe in an original creator who started it all in motion. The only problem is for ignorant people who take the Bible literally.

      • Yeah, the Catholic Church accepts evolution…that is great, and I agree about the nuts who take it literally…but my issue with the little “social commentary” is why even mention it? Do all the other parts of the museum, like the sections that talk about the Earth’s rock formation and planets and stars and the Big Bang…do they have a statement from the director of the exhibits that mention the religious issue?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Good point.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I’m not sure what to say about the Climate change stuff. Humans did survive the Ice Age, and that certainly made us more adaptable.

    Do you think the Smithsonian should have refused Koch money? I think Nova is one of the best programs in the history of TV. If Koch helped support it, that’s fine with me. Exxon-Mobil supports PBS programs too. At least some of their money is going to something good.

    On the other hand, it’s clear that corporate control of media has also affected PBS and NPR.

    • Well BB, when I came upon the title of that exhibit, it was so ironic and funny to me.

      Someone who is only concerned with humanity that is up in the 1% range, and could care less about the humans who are on the lower financial scale, is paying for an exhibit that is called: What makes us human?

      No, I don’t think they should refuse the money, I guess when funding for the arts and sciences has been cut, they better take it from where they can get it.

      Then doing a little googling, it seems that there was quite a bit of discussion about the ulterior motives of the Koch connection to funding an exhibit on evolution and climate change.

      Which raises the question about corporate ideals, and extreme beliefs being manipulated into history and science….anyway, I thought the whole thing was laughable…but then I seem to laugh at so many things lately, whether they are truly funny or not.

      • But, you know…it is strange how Koch is fighting to cut funding for social programs and any resources for museums that are funded by the government, only to donate an entire wing in these museums so they can push their agenda on the masses.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think what you found is very interesting, and it does make me wonder if they have an overall hidden agenda. Actually I’m sure they do have one. The only thing is if these institutions refuse money from big donors, we won’t have any museums or PBS science shows. It’s definitely problematic, and it does bother me when I see some of the corporations that support PBS and NPR.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      It’s late so not much time to find links about The Ice Age & humans. Found this, which you might find interesting: http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/ice-ages-and-sea-levels.html

      Suffice it to say that there were a lot less humans alive during the time of the ice ages than there are now. Sea levels were low, so much more land mass was exposed. The entire land mass wasn’t covered in ice. With climate change, ice masses will melt and sea levels will rise dramatically, decreasing the size of land masses.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Good points. Obviously the crisis is greater now, since the earth is so heavily populated.

  3. One more thing…on a personal note. I have written about my friend Jessica and her husband Orlando. Well, the last few days have been difficult as I talk to her on the phone. When you have a dear friend who is in a bad situation, and you are miles and miles away from her it gets frustrating. You can feel the desperation and worry in your conversations… and can’t help as much as you would like.

    So I wanted to put this out there…if anyone knows of a job availability for a talented, hard working chef in the Fernando Beach/Amelia Island Florida area, could you pass it on to my friend Jessica and her husband Orlando? ChefOrlando77@yahoo.com
    Thank you!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I hope she finds something, JJ.

      • Me too. They did not qualify for aid before, so maybe they can at least have some resources available to them…but which her luck I am not counting on it. I know posting it here will more than likely not amount to anything, but I just had to do something.

  4. ecocatwoman says:

    My theory: whether it’s the Koch’s or Exxon/Mobil, I think they are hedging their bets. Most large corporations donate to both political parties so that whoever wins will owe them. Also it’s great PR. It’s like Sea World being involved in the stranding network. When there are injured manatees, dolphins, whales or sea turtles, Sea World’s stranding team responds. The animals are taken to their facility & treated & nursed back to health, if possible. Once healthy, they are released. Those releases get lots of free media coverage. And, they look like friends of animals, not those who imprison animals. Most people don’t dig beneath the headlines, so the good publicity, a t worst, balances out the bad publicity. At best, it makes people doubt there is a bad side at all. Then, especially for Koch, it’s about legacy. He will be remembered, long after his death, for his largesse via his philanthropy. When the history books are written (think Carnegie, Stanford, Ford, etc) his generosity will be the focus, not his dastardly deeds. Anyway, that’s my take on it.

    Plus the money these men & corporations are giving – it’s a combination of the taxes they don’t pay & the gov’t subsidies (our tax dollars) that they are spending, anyway. As long as their bought & paid for politicians keep giving them our money & allowing them not to pay their fair share, they’ve got money to burn. And money to non-profits, at least a percentage of it, is tax-deductible. Yeah, it’s out of the kindness of their bionic hearts.

  5. To me this is somewhat similar to Rupert Murdoch… Fox News vs. Fox Entertainment, etc. Hedging bets, indeed.

    I really don’t think these guys have a political ideology, more a desire for vast political/marketing/etc. power, and they’ll use/invest in whatever lever at their disposal.

    Excellent catch, JJ.

  6. NW Luna says:

    The Smithsonian does feel the effects of pressure from major donors. I recall that they suddenly decided to move to the basement a planned exhibit of photos on wildlife in the Arctic which originally was going to be on the main floor. Could it have something to do with the photos’ commentary on global climate change? Nahhhhh.

    Many of the photos and commentary were also in a book by a Seattle outdoor book publisher, which is why the ruckus was publicized here. Link is from 2003 Seattle Times.

    Subhankar Banerjee’s book on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge got the kind of publicity money can’t buy: an endorsement on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

    But after U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., used the book to argue against oil and gas leasing in the refuge, the Bellevue photographer saw the Smithsonian Institution relocate an exhibit of his photographs and drastically trim the pictures’ captions.

    Meanwhile, the Office of the General Counsel has written The Mountaineers Books, Seattle-based publisher of “Seasons of Life and Land,” asking it to remove from all future editions any references to the Smithsonian or a Smithsonian-sponsored traveling exhibit.

    “It is perceived the book has been politicized,” a disappointed Banerjee said yesterday.

    Just who pushed for the changes and why is unclear.