Thursday, April 05, 2007

Evolution for Idiots

Here's a short video that has just been posted on The Panda's Thumb. You can read the comments over there or watch the video here. Let's make our own list of everything that's wrong with it. Sometimes I wonder whether these things help or hurt the cause of science education. Today I'm leaning towards "hurt."


  1. If you cut the movie from the moment a chimp shows up on until the end, thus having only the evolving smiley-faces remaining, would you still say it is that bad? There are oversimplifications, but for a viewer who know NOTHING about evolution, this can bring a visceral understanding of the process, upon which one can build actual knowledge afterwards, if interested.

  2. Is this supposed to demonstrate genetic drift? The different "environments" don't seem to have anything to do with which goofy faces die and which reproduce. How are changes ("mutations") introduced?

  3. At the risk of "damning with faint praise", the best I can say is that it was better than the peanut butter disproof of abiogenesis. I disagree with Coturnix's statement that it would help someone completely unfamiliar with evolution, as I think you need to know what to look for to even see the points they are trying to make. On the other hand, it could potentially be a useful visual aid to go along with a more involved explanation.

  4. Huh?
    I don't know what the hell that was supposed to be about, even though I do know what it was supposed to be about (if you get my meaning).

    Trying to see the variation among faces at the start was like doing one of those "find six differences between these pictures" puzzles, only it flashed by too fast, then there was no clear connection between the environments and the differential fitness.

  5. Creationists make a distinction between macro-evolution (which they say is impossible) and micro-evolution, which is too obvious too ignore. Macro-evolution is the same process on a longer time scale and this is all that the video is trying to show.

    It wasn't trying to show the detail of how evolution works, just the silliness of trying to claim a "barrier" to macro-evolution.

    In this light, I say it helps. As an instructional tool, you are right that it hurts.

  6. Mike Haubrich says

    Macro-evolution is the same process on a longer time scale and this is all that the video is trying to show.

    That that's incorrect, as I attempt to show in my essay on Macroevolution.

    This is one of the reasons why I object to the video. It assumes that continuing strong positive natural selection leads directly to something beyond microevolution. Real biology is not that simple. If we dumb down evolution to the point were the explanation is incorrect then how are we any better than the Creationist liars?

  7. I recently got a response for the creator of the video to my critique of it. It reads as follows and can be found here as well;

    " I think u r missing the point.

    evolution vs creationism isnt a scientific battle, its a PR battle.

    The creationist target people with no scientific education. If you say, well im not gonna dumb this down such than an idiot can understand it, you dont have to be a great strategist to realise you will never reach the target audience.

    Damn straight I knew exactly what i was doing when i made this vid. I could have included the code, the genetic drift fitness and all sorts of other shit, but the target audiance wouldnt have understood a word.

    Get with the programme! this is not a scientific debate among academic peers, you are not trying to win the hearts and minds of scientists, you are trying to win the hearts and minds of idiots with no scientific understanding.

    let me follow on by saying that there really arnt that many photos from 1 million years ago.

    Creationist make a big song and dance about ‘the only evidence that we came from primates is imaginary drawings’.

    Taking these two factors into account I did the best I could.

    This is not a scientific paper, its 2 mins of vid.
    I could have made it explicit, but then it would not have reached the target audience.

    Its like bein critical of those vids where one animal morphs into another cos evolution works over multiple generations, no one creature changing."

  8. According to laelaps, the person who wrote the video says,

    Get with the programme! this is not a scientific debate among academic peers, you are not trying to win the hearts and minds of scientists, you are trying to win the hearts and minds of idiots with no scientific understanding.

    I prefer to try and win hearts and minds by teaching correct and accurate versions of evolution. This is a war between truth/rationalism and lies/superstition. If you abandon truth in order to win a battle then you've lost the war.

  9. Just to be clear about the intellectual level of the people you have to convince, these are some comments posted on the above video.

    'Evolution works real good on a computer program.How many years does a dog or wolf,or any land animal for that matter, have to swim before it grows fins.Evolution is a fairy tale for adults.Praise God.'

    'When did the soul "evolve".I take it you disagree with Genesis "God made them after their own kind".'

    '1 Corinthians 15,500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus after his resurrection. How many eyewitnesses have seen macro-evolution? Praise God.'

    'If any of the thousands of vital organs evolved, how could the organism live before getting the vital organ? Without a vital organ, the organism is dead—by definition.'

    'If a reptile's leg evolved into a bird's wing, wouldn't it become a bad leg long before it became a good wing? How could metamorphosis evolve?'

    'The coma should have been a period. 500eyewitnesses saw Jesus after His resurrection.They not only saw Him, they talked with Him and learned from Him.Most were still alive when 1 Corinthians was written so if it was a lie don't you think someone would have said something? Praise God.'

    -I somehow dont think addition of the details of genetic drift in small populations is gonna be a decisive factor!

  10. The video was silly but humorous, very much like the stuff that comes out of the mouths of those who 'preach' evolution as a real science.

    If evolutionists want to end the arguments all they have to do is, get their brilliant heads together and assemble a 'simple' living cell. This should be possible, since they certainly have a very great amount of knowledge about what is inside the 'simple' cell.

    After all, shouldn't all the combined Intelligence of all the worlds scientist be able the do what chance encounters with random chemicals, without a set of instructions, accomplished about 4 billion years ago,according to the evolutionists, having no intelligence at all available to help them along in their quest to become a living entity. Surely then the evolutionists scientists today should be able to make us a 'simple' cell.

    If it weren't so pitiful it would be humorous, that intelligent people have swallowed the evolution mythology.

    Beyond doubt, the main reason people believe in evolution is that sources they admire, say it is so. It would pay for these people to do a thorough examination of all the evidence CONTRARY to evolution that is readily available: Try The evolutionists should honestly examine the SUPPOSED evidence 'FOR' evolution for THEMSELVES.

    Build us a cell, from scratch, with the required raw material, that is with NO cell material, just the 'raw' stuff, and the argument is over. But if the scientists are unsuccessful, perhaps they should try Mother Earth's recipe, you know, the one they claim worked the first time about 4 billion years ago, so they say. All they need to do is to gather all the chemicals that we know are essential for life, pour them into a large clay pot and stir vigorously for a few billion years, and Walla, LIFE!

    Oh, you don't believe the 'original' Mother Earth recipe will work? You are NOT alone, Neither do I, and MILLIONS of others!

  11. Why do humans hate to be wrong? DNA Origami

  12. How about that rediclous opening sceine from 2001 A SPACE ODDESEY with those silly paemen sitting around i mean this whole idea of EVOLUTION is stupid and rediclous only a complete moron would think humans and chimps are related

  13. Its funny how some wackos can take a few bone fragments or find a lizard fossel and claim its proof that all humans evolved from apes and are related to chimps THEIR JUST BEING REDICULOUS

  14. This video seems to have brought the crackpots out of the woodwork. I agree with earlier statements - it is obvious that including more detail would not have benefited the intended audience.