Filmmaker Randy Olson Backtracks on False Claim in Film, Admitting: "apparently there are a few textbooks that have traces of Haeckel's embryos...."
The documentary Flock of Dodos depicts biologist Jonathan Wells as a fraud for claiming in his book Icons of Evolution (2000) that Haeckel's bogus embryo drawings were used by modern textbooks to misrepresent the evidence for Darwinian evolution. But at a screening last Wednesday night at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Olson essentially admitted that it was his film that was wrong, not Wells. In answer to an audience question about whether he still maintained that "there are no Haeckel's embryos in modern textbooks," Olson replied:
at the time of that discussion [about Haeckel's embryos in the film], I wasn't aware that apparently there are a few textbooks that have traces of Haeckel's embryos that they use for models of these things. (emphasis added)After this stunning admission, Olson went into full-spin mode, insisting that the whole matter was trivial and insignificant. Question: If the issue is so insignificant, why did Olson spend an entire segment in his film trying to debunk the claim that Haeckel's embryos have been used in modern textbooks?
Another audience member then pressed Olson about how carefully he had investigated the issue before attacking Wells, asking "how many textbooks did you investigate before you made the statement that it wasn't in the book? And you just said that you didn't look."
Olson responded: "Right, and it's a statement of opinion in that scene there."
Notice how Olson avoided answering the actual question put to him: How many textbooks did he examine before making his false claim that Haeckel's embryos were not in modern textbooks?
At least Olson has now basically admitted he was wrong. But don't hold your breath for him to correct his film or apologize to Jonathan Wells. After all, Olson was informed about these errors in his film last year, but did nothing to correct them. He still seems to be hoping that his viewers will be a "flock of dodos" and accept his claims without questioning.
If you would like to listen to Olson's admissions for yourself, download my podcast at ID The Future, which contains audio clips of Olson's recent backtracking.