May 10, 2007

Bodies - the deceptive exhibition

"Bodies - the exhibition" is now on display at Southpoint Mall in the Raleigh-Durham area. People have commented that it is not as artistic, inspired or thought-provoking as the original German vision, being only an Atlanta-based knock-off. They also comment on the overt anti-smoking message, with the bin to drop your cigarettes and lighters next to the diseased lungs on display. All that is OK.
What I found more interesting, however, is the way that the Fetus room uses deliberately mis-labeled displays in order to make anti-abortion propaganda out of it.
When you walk in, the first display is on the right, beginning with "9-week fetus" - the size of a small newborn kitten, leading to the immediate thought "Oh my god! Is that what gets aborted even as early as 8 weeks?!? I thought the first trimester was a lot less significant than that!"
Beside it are a couple more in the series, "11-week fetus", "13-week fetus", whatever.
On a different wall, "Embryos", is another series labelled "4-week", "5-week", "6-week", "7-week", and "8-week". The largest of these is the size of my little fingernail.
The two series are deliberately placed so that it is hard to make a comparison from "8-week" to "9-week", but, if you look, it is readily apparent that there has to be much more than 1 week between the "8-week" and the "9-week" displays.
I asked one of the lab-coated assistants about this; she said she wasn't sure, but she thought that the "embryos" and "fetuses" were dated from different start dates... the "embryos" from conception, the "fetuses" from some weeks later... that the "9-week fetus" was probably a "17-week embryo".
So why is there nothing displayed in the gap from 8-week to 17-week?
Why are the items displayed so as to make sequential viewing impossible?
Why is there no definition of the exhibit's (mis)use of the word "fetus"?
Can there be any other explanation than that it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the timeline of fetal development, with the intent of making people think that a 4-month fetus is what would be destroyed at 2 months of pregnancy?
Who is behind the misrepresentation? The company? The exhibit organizers? The staff?
Someone with as big an ax to grind as the anti-smoking display-maker, but without the honesty to display the facts clearly - presumably because they recognize that terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester is, as the honest display would show, really no big deal.

No comments: