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CMNH documentary does not contain hidden bias

Letters to the Editor

Michael Suglio

Issue date: 10/2/09 Section: Opinion
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In a letter to the editor published in the Sept. 18 issue of The Observer, Dr. Joseph Keiper lists several grievances he has with the film [I directed]. I'm sorry to hear he's unhappy with the documentary, but I don't apologize for the film and will defend it wholeheartedly. Keiper makes several statements that are simply untrue, and I feel it is only appropriate to set the record straight.

I didn't film in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) when it was closed (in fact, I wasn't allowed to) and I did not intend to portray the CMNH as empty. Perhaps Keiper missed the multiple shots of students walking through the fossil collection and happily pointing at their favorite dinosaurs? Also, I didn't purposely "mute" patrons of CMNH. We filmed several interviews with patrons of CMNH, but unfortunately they had to be scrapped due to sound issues or crying children. It's unfortunate I didn't get usable interviews, but such technical complications are a natural part of the filmmaking process.

Keiper misunderstands the film by claiming I address the taxidermied snake in CMNH as "Satan." In the Creation Museum, Satan is portrayed as a viper that lurks over Adam and Eve, while in CMNH, a taxidermied viper can be found in the African animals section. In order to highlight a point of commonality between the two museums and to provide some comic relief, the narrator states, "Satan was found lingering in the Garden of Eden. Surprisingly, in CMNH, Satan was found, but as the form of a gaboon viper." While the film technically refers to the snake in CMNH as "Satan," it's done so merely in jest and not intended to be taken literally.

Finally, both sides represented are given equal amounts of interview time. The Creation Museum interviews comprise 23 minutes and 45 seconds of the film while the CMNH employee and biology teacher interviews actually represent a larger portion of the film, amounting to 27 minutes and 31 seconds. I wasn't allowed to interview the "executive director" of the Creation Museum, so instead I interviewed Mark Looy, one of its founding members. The executive director of CMNH, Dr. Bruce Latimer, made it very clear to me that he did not want to be interviewed.

Ultimately, if you are looking for hidden bias in my film, I'm sure you'll find it. My film shows how both the Creation Museum and CMNH approach science differently in a fair and objective manner. I didn't show CMNH in a negative light and I never hope to do so. This museum is an intricate part of the CWRU and Cleveland community and has been a part of my life longer than I can remember. I encourage you all to take Dr. Keiper's advice and use your CWRU ID and check out the museum for yourselves.
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In This Issue


  • Can you name this place?
  • Have you heard about Case Western Undergraduate Bioethics Society?
  • Homecoming at CWRU
  • Preparing for 2009's local and state elections
  • President Barbara Snyder engages the student body in first-ever student State of the University address
  • RAD classes aim to protect students
  • Six CWRU students test positive for H1N1
  • Students celebrate sustainability at campus-wide GreenFest


  • At least Anderson keeps it close
  • First round robin puts Spartans in driver's seat
  • Football Gameday: Case vs. Wooster
  • For Denison QB, first test is daunting
  • Judges bring Spartans down to earth

Fun Page

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  • Crossword Solution
  • Maze Solution
  • Sudoku Solutions


  • Drastic healthcare reform unnecessary, wasteful
  • Editorial: USG must take action, stem abundance of resignations
  • Moore's Capitalism: an undeserved bully pulpit
  • Recycling: getting to know your plastics
  • State sex education legislation provides needed overhaul
  • State your case: what do you do on a rainy day?


  • Acappella for Africa successful fundraiser for Global Medical Initiative, showcases CWRU's multiude of a cappella talents
  • Baker-Nord Center to hold student-run Flip Camera Film Festival
  • Botanical Gardens, Baker-Nord Center present compelling afternoon of poetry reading and composition
  • Cleveland Museum of Art opens Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 exhibit
  • Eldred Theater season opens with Heidi Chronicles
  • GLTF season opens with gut-busting Edwin Drood
  • Hitting the Spot: Cody Wood
  • Kid Cudi brings introspective musical perspective to Case Western
  • The Buzz
  • Thinking about summer jobs and real-world employment can never start too early

Cross Country

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  • Nicely catches 3 TDs in win

Sex and Dating

  • The real reason to get a flu shot


  • Streak snapped: Spartans get first UAA win since '06

Spartan Spotlight

  • Spartan Spotlight: Brian Evans

Worst Case Scenario

  • Cold season
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