Dear fuzzy-headed faces from prestigious places,


          Please stop dumbing-down your [specific area of scientific expertise] to coloring book level.  I'm really sorry [name of college or university] doesn't pay enough for you to disregard all those enticing offers from [television channel] but every time you recite from a script written to be understood by [target audience] you inflict excruciating pain in my brain. 
           I know.  Brains don't actually have pain receptors.  But, when watching [video of gravity tests in a testosterone-laden common-sense-free environment] I experience (real-to-me) empathetic groin pain and I feel a similar pain inside my skull when I watch you transmogrify [complex theorem or formula] to the level of SeeDickAndJaneRun.

          Because specifics are better than vague analogies:

          •  Tweedle Dee, aka Brian Richmond, The George Washington University (NOVA, Becoming Human minutes 2:28 thru 3:00) - his explanation of a few theories why quadrupedal protohumans became bipedal: "...they stood up to be able to see over tall grass...they stood to be able to pick fruits off of the low branches of trees...(or)...to cool more efficiently so that we don't have as much sun beating on so much of our body."
          •  Tweedle Dum, aka Daniel Leiberman, Harvard University (NOVA, Becoming Human minutes 3:00 thru 4:40) - his favorite opinion why quadrupedal protohumans became bipedal:  "...the most compelling hypothesis is that it saved us energy."

          These two idiots bruised my frontal lobes.  Their few seconds of Discovery Channel fame only proved one thing:  neither of them actually understands natural selection.

          In a muddled attempt at simplicity, this NOVA episode completely fails to explain natural selection and offers information as true, which is the exact opposite of the truth.  The show paints a picture that six million years ago, in the middle of protoAfrica (with the environment in flux and jungles becoming savannahs)...for reasons we can only guess at...a protochimpanzee stood on its hind legs and, subsequently, passed that ability to constantly walk upright to its progeny.

          The fiction—like that of so many television shows based on psudo- and/or fuzzy-science—is relating that the reason/desire to walk upright preceded our distant ancestor's ability to do so.  But when somebody from [prestigious place of higher learning] says, "they stood up in order to..." how can we interpret it otherwise?

          What actually happened?  How did a few of the little ancient monkeys who walked on four legs many millions of years ago eventually walk on only their two hind legs?  The same way every gradual evolutionary change occurred in every living entity since the beginning of life.  It happened by mistake.  Zillions upon Trillions of miniscule beneficial mistakes.  The same number (or more) of non-beneficial mistakes also (must've-probably) occurred, but any of those mistakes (those which don't improve their possessor's chance of procreation) are useless in evolutionary terms and lead to extinction. 

          One quadrupedal protohuman gave birth to a malformed baby with a slightly misshaped pelvis (I'll call her Miss Takè).  Her pelvis was a bit too flat, too horizontal...and all the quadrupedal kids at school teased little Takè because she wasn't very good at reindeer games.  But she was able to survive long enough to procreate and pass along that genetic error because she was [reason for not dying...including being lucky].  She had a fifteenth cousin twice removed with a slightly bent thumb which made swinging from branches a little harder than normal, but she always won at thumb-war; and her imperceptibly encephalitic and slightly taller great-great-great grandson (who could never peek over a log without his forehead being seen when playing hide-n-seek) became a great hunter because of his above-average eyesight...and his eighteenth son from his fifteenth mate (who happened to be distantly related to thumb-war cousin) was taller-still but he happened to have less body hair, hated the winter, and walked a long distance in order to live in a warmer place...ad infinitum...modern man.

          South Park's (Mrs Garrison's) grasp of the theory of evolution is more accurate.  The fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are more capable than NOVA at explaining natural selection makes me giggle-cringe (but inflicts no pain in my gulliver).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Accidental evolution through deformity? How do you know that's what actually happened? No more believable than the head over tall grass tale. Look at Lucy, short legs, heavy body and arms, top heavy, useless at running, not as efficient at climbing trees. Why did her ancestors evolve her into weakness? No one can prove evolution and no can prove the existence of a big daddy god creator. It's all a question of belief.

veach glines said...

It's not all a question of belief unless you also include those who believe in facts.

One example: the intentional 'evolution through deformity' (your words) which humans have inflicted upon all the canines and felines...and that's only in a few thousand years (and mostly in the last hundred).

Your question 'why did Lucy's ancestors evolve her into weakness' highlights your failure to understand the basics of natural selection.

Lucy survived because she was better than her tree climbing cousins at some thing or some several things. Accidentally better; not intentionally better.

Neanderthals were accidentally better too...for a long time...until they were no longer better enough.

Evolution has been proven.

Those who decline to accept the facts are daunted by the idea of hundreds of millions of years of life and death bringing about slow change thru millions of small accidents.

It's the same daunting slow change as continental drift, which is also a fact.