Jesse Bering has an interesting explanation for belief in God as an evolved trait. Basically, it helps you if you feel like there is always someone out there watching you because sometimes there is.
From the Dish.
Cicadas emerge from the underground only periodically. Depending on the species, that period will be 7, 13, or 17 years, which are all prime numbers. Why does this make sense?
Suppose there are some predators (like birds, and the Cicada Killer Wasp) that attack cicadas, and that the cicadas emerge every 12 years. Then the predators that come out every two years will attack them, and so will the predators that come out every 3 years, 4 years and 6 years. But according Mario Markus, “if the cicadas mutate to 13-year cycles, they will survive.”
The other advantage is that cicada species with different intervals will rarely compete with each other for food.
Female Muscovy ducks have spirally, squiggly vaginas that keep out undesired penises. For desired penises, they simply relax their muscles to allow entry. They have evolved this capacity while male Muscovy ducks have evolved 8-inch penises that get fully-erect in a third of a second.
Friends, duck sex is a high-stakes world.
From Wired, via OMG Facts.
Richard Adams at the charmingly-titled No Left Turns blog digs up some unsettling quotes from A Civic Biology, the textbook John Scopes used to teach evolution and was at issue in the Scopes Monkey Trial. The textbook hops from genetics to talk about race and eugenics and calls certain families “parasites” and suggests society do something to control their breeding.
The Remedy. — If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with some success in this country.
Wow… That’s pretty awful stuff. Adams reacts:
Remember, many of the people who supported teaching this stuff denounced those who disagreed for being anti-scince, and backward. Willian Jennings Bryan defended Christianity against Darwin, but he also turned to a more basic language when he called it a “barbarous doctrine.”
Interesting bit about this textbook: it was actually the book that Tennessee required to be used in school. It was only the section on evolution that was controversial, and shortly after the trial, a new edition of the book was released with evolution mostly scrubbed from it — except it still included the quoted section, with a few edits. You can read the whole thing online.
But as long as we’re on the subject of cringe-inducing books from the early 1900s, let us reflect on The Wonder Book of Children of All Nations from England, wherein E.P. Gaston visits the American south to report:
You find yourself liking the half-wild piccaninnies best. Their great brown eyes look at you with a mixture of awe and humble respect — but that is just the time to look out for pranks. The youngsters are less to be trusted than most dogs, but they know the meaning of gratitude, and show it in a clumsy sort of way if the stranger shows them attention or speaks kindly. They are more nearly like dogs, in fact, than anything with which my young readers might be familiar.
Via The Corner.
Quoth Glenn Beck:
“I don’t think we came from monkeys. I think that’s ridiculous. I haven’t seen a half-monkey, half-person yet.”
Mr. Beck is mistaken in at least these ways: 1) Our closest relatives are apes, not monkeys; 2) We didn’t “come from” any existing animals, but we did come from the same animals that monkeys did; and 3) many transitional forms have been found in the fossil record — or to take him literally, a chimpanzee or a gorilla or an orangutan could probably be considered “half-monkey, half-person”, as they’re somewhere between the two, genetically.
Here’s Wikipedia on human evolution, the super-family of great apes, which includes humans, and monkeys.
Of course, as a Mormon, Beck’s confusion about ancestry only begins with evolution and continues into thinking that American Indians are descended from ancient Jewish tribes. (For balance, here is another Mormon trying to explain away this strand of crazy.)
From Talking Points Memo.
It couldn’t be less surprising that Delaware’s Republican nominee for the Senate — and masturbation opponent — Christine O’Donnell doesn’t understand science, “theories”, and evolution:
Creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that.
It goes without saying, O’Donnell probably has a different idea than I do about what constitutes evidence.
Bonus treat: O’Donnell has also spoken out against the dangers of “orgy rooms”:
All this coedness is outside normal life, said Miss O’Donnell. “Most average American adults don’t use coed bathrooms – if they had the option of a coed bathroom at a public restaurant, they wouldn’t choose it.” Coedness “is like a radical agenda forced on college students,” she said.
I agree. That agenda is totally radical.
This is where we contemplate for a moment that, as Andrew Sullivan reminds us, the Tea Party is supposedly all about fiscal sanity, limited government, and constitutional principles, and not about social conservatism.
Via Talking Points Memo, Pareene.
Today’s Google logo depicts: “Scientist unveil fossil of Darwinian masillae”
Posters on the Rapture Ready forum, who can’t wait for the world to end, had this to say:
I find myself mad and in disbelief that googel would celebrate such an out right falsehood.
Its a monkey people!!!
I saw it and was going to post on it as well but you beat me to it. I almost threw my laptop it made me soooooooooo mad! Made me wonder what the logo would look like after we’re taken outta here!
I never use liberal Google either.
This is just disgusting.
Gee Whiz, if Google is trying to stay in touch with what is going on in the world today, they should change their logo to have burning red flames of fire around it…… GOOHELL
Discover Magazine is holding a contest to make a two-minute movie that explains evolution and its significance. Sounds exciting, and I look forward to seeing what people come up with. They did a similar thing with string theory, and it’s worth checking out the winner, String Ducky.
Also tagged contests, movies