Real Science. Really.

gaston_maspero_demaillotageThe mummy exhibit is billed as Real Science.

Calling the Mummies of the World display Real Science legitimizes the practice of stuffing dead people under glass and taking them on the road for show-and-tell.

Never occurred to me it would be fake science, but the billing allows advertisers to claim:

Real Mummies.
Real Science.
Real People.

Real Science means a team studied the human remains using modern techniques including computerized tomography (CT scans) and carbon dating without having to hack off bones for study.

The exhibit literature assures visitors that remains are treated with respect.

But isn’t the very act of removing an ancient mummy from her resting place disrespectful?

And what about the Peruvian children offered to the gods in a religious tradition, only to be spirited away by scientists?

Invoking the name of Real Science enables anthropologists to remove mummies from their graves.

Would you allow scientists to remove your grandparents from their tomb? What about your great-grandparents?

You might argue they are real people.

So are the Peruvians, Egyptians and Germans displayed in Mummies of the World.

Real Mummies.
Real Science.
Real People.

Image in the public domain from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in authenticity, framing, Indian, journalism, Native Science, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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