Republican Billionaire Funds Evolution Exhibit

This is good to see. At the CBS website in Cheyenne, Wyoming we found this story: Koch gives Smithsonian $35M for new dinosaur hall.

Your Curmudgeon is one of the few — it seems like the only — Republican bloggers on the sane side of The Controversy between evolution and creationism, so this may be the only blog of its kind where you will read this story. CBS is talking about David H. Koch, one of the Koch brothers who are known for their donations to conservative causes. He is also known as a global warming skeptic. Left-leaning commentators like to criticize him because, as Wikipedia says:

David Koch dislikes President Obama’s policies. “He’s the most radical president we’ve ever had as a nation… and has done more damage to the free enterprise system and long-term prosperity than any president we’ve ever had.” Koch believes that Obama’s father’s economic socialism explains what Koch views as Obama’s belief in “antibusiness, anti-free enterprise influences.” Koch believes Obama himself is a “hardcore socialist” who is “marvelous at pretending to be something other than that.”

But Koch is not easy to categorize. He donates substantial sums to cancer research and to numerous cultural charities. And, contrary to the usual stereotype of a right-wing billionaire that floats around the blogosphere, Koch is no creationist. Here are some excerpts from the CBS story, with bold font added by us:

An energy businessman is donating a record $35 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to build a new dinosaur hall on the National Mall, the museum complex announced Thursday.

The donation by David H. Koch, the executive vice president of Koch Industries Inc. of Wichita, Kan., is the single largest gift in the museum’s 102-year history. The Smithsonian Board of Regents voted Monday to name the new dinosaur hall in Koch’s honor.

As you know, the Smithsonian is nothing like Ken Ham’s Creation Museum. In case you’re in doubt about Koch’s motives, get this:

In 2009, Koch gave the Smithsonian $15 million to build a new exhibit hall exploring human evolution over 6 million years. The museum’s Hall of Human Origins also was named in his honor, tying in with another area that interests Koch.

Here’s a link to the Hall of Human Origins. But Koch does have a controversial side. There’s this, for example:

Some groups have criticized the Koch brothers for funding efforts fighting legislation related to climate change. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has listed Koch Industries among the nation’s top 10 air polluters.

Koch said he’s fascinated by the subject of climate change and believes the public should learn more about it. “There’s debate, of course, as to how much of the warming is caused by human activity vs. just the natural cycles in the climate fluctuations of the globe,” he said.

The story ends with this quote:

“I’m sorry but I have eclectic interests,” he said. “I give away a very large fraction of my income to support these worthy institutions, and I’m trying to help in the most important ways that I can to make the world a better place.”

So there you are. Were we to guess, we’d say that he won’t be supporting the Discoveroids. As for his other causes, they seem fine to us.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Republican Billionaire Funds Evolution Exhibit

  1. Charley Horse

    But he does support the creationists. He uses his wealth to
    buy Retaliban politicians. The ones that are against clean air,
    clean water and alternative energy research and development.
    He donates to universities that support hiring professors that
    promote the far right….anti middle class and pro wealthy and
    corporate greed. That donation is chump change to him.

  2. longshadow

    Gee, Charley; perhaps a blog with a motto that reads:

    Conserving the Enlightenment values of reason, liberty, science, and free enterprise.

    is the wrong place to be posting the sort of Koch-hating talking points embraced by OWS cretins and the Socialist Workers Party.

    For the record, the Kochs are libertarians; to call them “anti-middle class” is just pig ignorant.

    As for pro-wealth — who isn’t — or do you enjoy seeing people suffer in the grinding poverty and misery that is ubiquitous when free enterprise is prevented from flourishing?

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    The Kochs give big to ACLU and cancer research too. A few years ago progressives decided to make them Emmanuel Goldsteins, but they’ve always been libertarians.

    Meanwhile, among the President’s biggest donors in 2008: Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Time Warner, GE, Morgan Stanley…

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cid=N00009638

  4. Gabriel Hanna

    The ones that are against clean air,
    clean water

    Yes, Charlie, they desire to breathe and drink poison. How stupid are you?

    Nobody is against clean air or clean water, and pollution levels are far lower than when I was young, and I’m much younger than SC, who can remember much worse pollution, the sort you see in Asia now.

    Being for or against the way the EPA chooses to regulate is not the same thing as being for or against clean water, though state-worshippers delight in blurring the distinction as much as possible.

    It’s funny how easily you would see the fallacy in “You’re not a patriot if you oppose the US bombing of Libya” but “you hate the environment if you vote Republican” slides right down. Straining at gnats and swallowing camels indeed.

  5. retiredsciguy

    Curmy, it would seem that David H. Koch would be a big supporter of your blog. I wonder if he’s a regular commenter here? Pseudonymously, of course.

  6. Retired Prof

    I’m trying to do my part for the Kochs by keeping vigil over a segment of their property.

    A quarter mile of Koch pipeline crosses the field on my south forty. I keep an eye out for helicopters disgorging foreign saboteurs onto that field bearing shovels and explosives. If I see such a scenario developing, I plan to deter the invaders by hiding in the bushes and firing at them with my deer rifle. I keep a supply of ammunition loaded with non-expanding bullets so that I can shoot human beings without violating the Hague Accord.

  7. retiredsciguy says: “I wonder if he’s a regular commenter here?”

    He’s probably got other things to do with his time.

  8. Spector567

    I’m not sure what to think of the Koch after this. On the one hand they are political manipulatirs with an weird excessive political ideology and climate denalist. On the other hand they actively funded a global temperature study to see if there viewpoint was right and it actually proved them wrong. The true test will be what they choose to do with that information.

  9. Obviously, SC, you’re not the only republican here!

    The Koch’s also regularly sponsor PBS science related shows, like Nova and Nature. They certainly aren’t anti-science.

    I think Koch opposes anything that constrains his ability to do bidness, (as JR would say), which means restrictive environmental and business regulation. He would be especially opposed to efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption, which is probably why he asserts that the human contribution to global warming isn’t proved. That’s my speculation, of course, but it fits with his overall libertarian profile.

    His political views are misguided, but that’s a separate subject.

  10. The study that Koch paid for was a farce. Checking thermometers.
    The contributions are nothing more than PR.
    Buying pols and professors is where they cross the line.
    Electing more Retalibans is insane unless you think global warming
    is a hoax, think a Supreme Court made up of religious fundamentalists
    is a good thing, assault weapons carried openly on the streets legally,
    allow corporations freedom to pollute, eliminate minimum wage,
    destroy unions, allowing tax money to be given to church schools,
    deny women the right to choose and want to declare a war on Islam
    then vote for any and all Retalibans….once known as the GOP.

  11. Jack Hogan

    Ed said:

    The Koch’s also regularly sponsor PBS science related shows, like Nova and Nature. They certainly aren’t anti-science.

    Right. I have the Nova episode “What Darwin Never Knew” on my DVR. First “major funding” provider credited: David H Koch Fund for Science.

    Using an anti or pro dichotomy, obviously Koch is pro-science and pro-evolution.

    And as I like to repeat, creationism is bi-partisan and tens of millions of Republicans accept evolution. Polling shows that only 60% of Republicans are creationists, along with 40% of Democrats and 40% of independents.

  12. Spector567

    Actually Charley the study wasn’t a farce. One of the major excuses of climate denialist was that the climate scientists were cooking the data and using poor statical method. The koch study took the same sets of data as well as several other sets of data and they had a statetician run the information.

    It showed that the Climate scientists had been right all along and that they had been using proper statical methodology. Basically that the data was good and a replican libratarian funded study proved it. No more silly political excuses.

    (sorry about the side track)

  13. Jack Hogan

    Spector567 said:

    (sorry about the side track)

    Hard not to get side tracked when a virtual parade of strawmen is marched onto the thread.

  14. Spector567 says: “sorry about the side track”

    I expected it. No problem.

  15. retiredsciguy

    SC: “He’s probably got other things to do with his time.”

    Well, true. And the $MM he donates to PBS, Smithsonian, etc. reaches a slightly bigger audience. Still, he’d probably enjoy expressing his ideas on a like-minded blog.

  16. retiredsciguy

    Charley Horse says, “Buying pols and professors is where they cross the line.”

    You mean like George Soros?

  17. I never heard of Koch until now. But rather than debate about him, let’s realize that there are 1000s of other influential conservatives and/or religious people who would otherwise be great advocates evolution, but just don’t understand it (and the “controversy”) well enough to be confident about supporting it without alienating much of their base. Let’s help them.

  18. aturingtest

    Gabriel Hanna : “Being for or against the way the EPA chooses to regulate is not the same thing as being for or against clean water, though state-worshippers delight in blurring the distinction as much as possible.”
    Not really defending Charley here- his rhetoric is definitely over-the-top, with its reliance on either-or thinking (which I took as the theme of SC’s post here), but…
    With all due respect, don’t you think “state-worshippers” is itself a little over-the-top in the same way- “blurring distinctions” that are really just differences in political viewpoints, and denying the middle ground that exists there?

  19. retiredsciguy

    Frank J states, “…there are 1000s of other influential conservatives …who would otherwise be great advocates evolution, but just don’t understand it … well enough … Let’s help them.”

    It would seem that Koch’s donations go a long way toward that end, especially his support of science programs on PBS.

    aturingtest: “…“blurring distinctions” that are really just differences in political viewpoints, and denying the middle ground that exists there?”

    That seems to be the problem when we stray from discussing science, which is based on evidence, and start discussing politics, which is mostly a matter of opinion.

    What is reality in science is not determined by how many people you can sway with your argument. The universe is what it is, whether anyone believes it or not. Not so with politics, which is not based so much on evidence as it is on opinion. Only in extreme cases, such as North Korea or Cuba, is there much evidence when it comes to politics.

    The “intelligent design” creationists at the Discovery Institute don’t have any evidence supporting their peculiar view of reality, which is why they rely so heavily on trying to sway opinion.

  20. Spector567

    Retiredsciguy
    I can sum it up in one idea. Media Education. How to tell the credibility of a source, and how to spot BS, false stats and other tricks. Other countries teach it as part of their mandated education for the past 40-60 years. The US has had it only for the past 20 and it’s sporadically applied.

    Long story short, from a young age people are unable to sort out the truth between conflicting viewpoints and the media has no problem capitalizing on this to make a story. Thus when someone gets a conflicting story, they go with what “feels” right and they think everyone else is just doing the same.

  21. retiredsciguy

    I must admit that I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to straying off-topic. Case-in-point — My comment above about George Soros. Another case-in-point — I should have also mentioned Warren Buffett, whose railroad, BNSF, would likely be carrying much of the oil that would otherwise be flowing through an unbuilt Keystone XL pipeline. Might explain why the Obama administration is intent on blocking the pipeline.

  22. He donates substantial sums to cancer research and to numerous cultural charities.

    Yes he does.

    But Koch is not easy to categorize.

    That’s because he donates substantial sums to cancer research and to numerous cultural charities. It make him look like less of a kook. Fund the non-controvertial stuff and maybe people will give you a pass on science denialism. It’s a shrewd PR strategy.

    “There’s debate, of course, as to how much of the warming is caused by human activity vs. just the natural cycles in the climate fluctuations of the globe,” he said

    So much debate. So much uncertainty. So much…doubt.

    Global Warming: It’s Not About the Hockey Stick