Category Archives: evolution

American Morans, Creationist Edition

Buzzfeed did one of its infamous listicles at the Bill Nye/Ken Ham circus sideshow, er I mean “evolution/creation debate” (and no I didn’t watch it — sorry, but we had one of those in Tennessee about 100 years ago and I see no reason to repeat it). You can read the piece here, 22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution.

Most of the questions are rather silly and pointless, IMHO — yes, Virigina, there is such a thing as a stupid question. As Slate’s Phil Plait, who bothered to answer the questions, pointed out,

[…] the vast majority of them are due to a misunderstanding of how evolution works rather than being pointed barbs striking at the heart of science.

I have a question for creationists: why can’t you tell the difference between “their” and “there”?

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Sorry, I know this is a little petty. But I have a hard time taking scientific criticism seriously when it comes from people who don’t know basic grammar.

Also, whopper of the day to the dude who thinks evolutionists/secularists/”huminists”/non-God believing people do believe humans come from aliens and extraterrestrials. What? He probably got that crackpot notion from a book he got at the Grand Canyon bookstore. Seriously, this is what happens when you live in a bubble, folks. You start opening your mouth and a whole mess of stupid falls out.

(Original American Moran here, more American Morans here).

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Filed under American Morans, Christian Right, evolution, science

Don’t Know Much About Biology

I can’t imagine why Republicans have a woman problem with idiots like Erick Erickson spouting insane shit like this:

“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.”

Actually, no. Not even close, idiot.

Erickson, who shared these pearls of wisdom in an all-male panel discussion about working women on Loud Obbs, is showing his remarkable ignorance of science, evolution, and the natural world — not to mention history and anthropology. He’s pathetically trying to shoe-horn his right-wing ideology exactly where it doesn’t belong, and he’s making an ass of himself. May I suggest another place to put that ideology? Some place dark, moist, and not all that pleasant-smelling?

The one thing any observer of the natural world knows is that the animal kingdom is marked by its diversity. Boy Biologist Erick’s first mistake was to open his yap and say “typically” in regards to the natural world. Because nothing is typical in nature. No such thing, Boy Biologist. But Erick seems to think because male homo sapiens are physically larger than females, every species is that way. His second mistake was to equate size with dominance — something else not borne out in the natural world. Sometimes, but not always. Especially not when dealing with species such as humans, with our ginormous brains and all.

Let’s start at the bottom of the food chain for an example. That would be the male spider, frequent post-coital meal of the larger, more dominant female spider. Or let’s look at fish. Did you know that all clownfish are born male? And the most dominant male clownfish becomes female? True story. It appears a male clownfish’s highest aspiration is to be female. Suckit, Boy Biologist.

The animal kingdom is filled with examples of female-dominant sexual dimorphism. And in many animal species, it’s not just size which matters: it’s social order and behavior, too. Look at hyenas, where females have all the power — and it’s inherited, regardless of other hyenas’ age or size. Even in primates, female dominance is prevalent.

But silly me. Boy Biologist Erickson and his friends at Loud Obbs don’t care about science. They are anti-science, we all know it. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t keep opening their yaps and letting all the stupid fall out.

Here’s some science for you guys. This one comes from the Southern Beale archive:

You know, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have my reproductive organs flying around loose in the breeze where any predator, fungus or hunting accident could come along and snip it all off, making me evolutionarily irrelevant. That’s a hard burden to bear, a not-so-subtle reminder of how biologically dispensable you guys really are. There are always more males out there willing to spread their seed; it’s the female of the species who carries the burden of the species’ survival. We’re the ones who not only bear the young but care for them as well.

This isn’t me talking feminist claptrap, this is basic evolutionary biology: the bird that’s going to get snapped up at the feeder is the bright red highly visible male cardinal, not the drab brown female blessed with a natural protective camouflage. She’s more important in the grand scheme, which is why she’s been given this protection. God I know that chaps y’all’s ass big time.

It’s the battle of the sexes, played out over thousands of years. Men are bigger and stronger and take down a mammoth but for all your bravado it’s we women who keep the species going. And you’re just dying to control that, too.

Sorry, fellas. I love you, I really do. But when it comes to science and stuff? You’re sorta disposable. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to retire to Amazonia, I’m just pointing out what we science-y types learned in evolutionary biology 101.

So yes, Republicans, do tell me how the war on women is all in our pretty heads and how you’re not anti-science. I’m all ears.

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Filed under conservatives, Erick Erickson, evolution, feminism

So Glad We Voted For The “Reasonable” Republican

Look what happens when you vote Republican, Tennessee:

Statement from Gov. Bill Haslam; April 10, 2012:

Governor: Legislation to Become Law Without My Signature

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on HB 368/SB 893:

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.

“The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.”

Got that, Tennessee? You didn’t vote for the crazy Ron Ramsey or the crazier, twitchy Zach Wamp. Nope, you voted for the “grown-up.” The non-crazy Republican. The Reasonable One. And guess what you got! You got the same crazy-assed, half-baked crap as if they’d thawed one of those cavemen they’re always finding up in the tundra and stuck him in the governor’s chair. I ask you: what is the difference? Gov. Haslam has a big sad over the crazy stuff the legislature is doing but who cares when it’s still the law!

Way to go! Now we’re going to be churning out a bunch of idiot kids who think Adam and Eve dined on Bronto Burgers and took their pet dinosaur for a stroll through the primordial forest. But what the world needs are not religious nuts, it needs scientists and engineers. Good going, Governor Goofball. So you didn’t sign the bill, what, you lost your veto pen?

I have friends who are leaving this state. Friends with kids. People who do not think this is a good place to raise their children. It’s really hard to argue with them when the governor doesn’t have the balls to tell the extremists in his own party to cut the crap. And if I can’t convince my friends that this is a place you want to live, how are we going to convince major employers to set up shop here?

Nope, Governor Goofball blames the media. How dare they write about the strange things happening in the legislature!

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Filed under Bill Haslam, culture wars, education, evolution, Tennessee, Tennessee government, Tennessee politics

This Explains The Republican Base

Finally, a behavioral study that explains the eternal conundrum posed by the Republican Party: why do people vote against their own economic self-interest?

The National Bureau of Economic Research’s study enlisted student and community volunteers. Each participant was given a unique amount of money that differed from the next person by $1. Then, everyone was given an additional $2. They were not allowed to keep the $2; they could only give it to the person just above them or the person just below them in wealth.

Kuziemko says in this scenario, most people gave to the person with less money, since they would not have gained or lost money either way.

The behavior was different, however, lower in the distribution. The second-to-last person gave his $2 to the richer person “almost half the time,” she says. If he gave his $2 to the one person in the room with less money, he would also become the poorest person in the group — in last place.

The researchers believe this happened “because it’s so painful to have that one person below you jump over you.”

[…]

Kuziemko has seen the paper interpreted in different ways, including on what she called “right-leaning blogs,” which say it shows a lack of support for redistribution of wealth.

“[But] I think that another way of looking at it might be recognizing that there is a lot of status anxiety, specifically for people who are sort of lower in the distribution and to be sensitive to that,” she says, “and maybe not being so sensitive to that undercuts support for redistribution among people who rationally, we think, should be supporting it.”

I find this fascinating. Status anxiety seems to describe most conservatives I know really, really well. They’re always calling out liberals for being “elitists” and “limousine liberals” who are “out of touch with real America” and all that. Seems like status anxiety is what’s behind conservative ressentiment, the desperate conservative need for cultural relevance and, as Julian Sanchez wrote,

…this obsession with the idea that somewhere, someone who went to Harvard might be snickering at them.

This explains why class warfare and identity politics are such compelling arguments, especially as income disparity increases.

Or, you know, maybe the folks on the next-to-last rung of the economic ladder are just really opposed to redistribution of wealth on principle — even at their own expense.

[/eyeroll]

An example of how last-place aversion worked its way into our social fabric was the Jim Crow South:

Kuziemko found last-place aversion throughout U.S. history, including during the era of Jim Crow laws. One study she found argues that Jim Crow was more important to poorer Southern whites than it was to the wealthier plantation class.

“The way I thought about it was, [these institutions] were really important for relatively poor whites so they could have permanently — and sort of officially — a group they could always look down on,” Kuziemko says.

Fascinating, especially when one remembers that minorities, Muslim and immigrants remain important punching bags for the conservative base today. It seems the Republican Party wants nothing more than to create a permanent underclass.

It seems that at its core, the debate is between those who place a premium on the community versus those who value the individual. Back when I studied evolutionary biology, so long ago that we dissected a Stegosaurus in class, we learned that contrary to popular belief, humans are not the only species to exhibit altruistic behavior. The example used was adopting orphans: humans do it all the time, but from an evolutionary perspective, it doesn’t make sense. Evolution is the competition to pass on an individual’s genetic material; by using your own energy and resources to raise to sexual maturity someone else’s offspring, you’re ensuring the survival of genes that are not yours. From an evolutionary perspective, that orphan should be put out on an ice floe.

Of course, we don’t do that, but neither do many species of animals. It’s not unusual for females to care for orphaned or abandoned offspring they’re not related to. Evolutionary behaviorists theorize this ensures the survival of the species as a whole, not just the individual.

Altruism strengthens the entire species, but of course so does individualism — a successful species needs both. The challenge is to find that balance between the two, which I guess is what our politics is supposed to be about. Doesn’t seem to be working right now though, does it?

Last-place aversion is an interesting idea, though, and it certainly explains why so many Teanuts are happy to give tax cuts to millionaires and corporations but don’t want to extend unemployment benefits to their neighbors.

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Filed under conservatives, evolution, politics, science

Time For Us Women To Cut You Boys Off

I am so ready to nip shit like this in the bud:

Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III, vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said contraceptives fit any reasonable definition of preventive health care because they averted unintended pregnancies and allowed women to control the timing, number and spacing of births. This, in turn, improves maternal and child health by reducing infant mortality, complications of pregnancy and even birth defects, said Dr. Lawrence, who is in charge of the group’s practice guidelines.

But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, say birth control is not a preventive service in the usual sense of the term.

“Pregnancy is not a disease to be prevented, nor is fertility a pathological condition,” said Deirdre A. McQuade, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat. “So birth control is not preventive care, and it should not be mandated.”

About one-half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended.

Wow, and right on the heels of the whole “forcible rape” outrage, too. Assholes.

I will never understand why the people screaming the loudest about how awful abortion is are the same people putting up roadblocks to women trying to access birth control. What the hell is wrong with you people?

And don’t even get me started on the whole tortured “pregnancy is not a disease to be prevented” bullshit. Who says “preventive care” applies only to disease?

Last week I got into an argument with someone over abortion coverage in insurance policies. He said he didn’t understand why he should pay more because women are “irresponsible.” Because an unwanted pregnancy is always the woman’s fault! Isn’t that neat how that works? Heads you win, tails we lose.

Look fellas, I’m sorry you lack the plumbing that would enable you to get pregnant, gestate and give birth and all that. I’ve long suspected your inability to create life in the same way we ladies do has been a source of equal amounts fascination and disgust on your parts for thousands of years. Grow the fuck up already.

You know, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have my reproductive organs flying around loose in the breeze where any predator, fungus or hunting accident could come along and snip it all off, making me evolutionarily irrelevant. That’s a hard burden to bear, a not-so-subtle reminder of how biologically dispensable you guys really are. There are always more males out there willing to spread their seed; it’s the female of the species who carries the burden of the species’ survival. We’re the ones who not only bear the young but care for them as well.

This isn’t me talking feminist claptrap, this is basic evolutionary biology: the bird that’s going to get snapped up at the feeder is the bright red highly visible male cardinal, not the drab brown female blessed with a natural protective camouflage. She’s more important in the grand scheme, which is why she’s been given this protection. God I know that chaps y’all’s ass big time.

It’s the battle of the sexes, played out over thousands of years. Men are bigger and stronger and take down a mammoth but for all your bravado it’s we women who keep the species going. And you’re just dying to control that, too.

Well guess what: you can’t. And you won’t. The earliest cave women knew which plants and herbs and tinctures and infusions prevented pregnancy and induced miscarriage. It’s in the archeological record. Women have been doing this for thousands of years. Do you seriously think you can stop what women have been doing forever? You won’t outlaw abortion, you’ll just drive women to desperate, unsafe, archaic means of doing what they’ve always done. And keeping women from accessing birth control is only making more unwanted pregnancies, not fewer of them.

I repeat: We’re the ones who not only bear the young but care for them as well. We know what’s best for us. And we will act accordingly.

I’m thinking this battle needs another ancient solution. A little nationwide Lysistrata action, perhaps. I’m tired of being dicked around by you assholes. Really, I am. And while plenty of men out there are believers in women’s reproductive choice and women’s access to birth control, I’m thinking maybe some of you guys just aren’t fighting hard enough on our behalf.

I think it’s time to cut you off until you guys recognize that we women will not be pushed around, that “small government” does not mean government small enough to fit inside my womb, that women can be trusted to make the right decisions for the human race because dammit that’s what we’ve been doing for thousands of years anyway.

[UPDATE]:

Oh for God’s sake. This was totally the wrong day for me to learn we have a state breastfeeding law. Words fail me.

Jesus get over your squeamishness, people. What is the deal?

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Filed under abortion, birth control, evolution, feminism, rants, women's rights

Ron Paul Doesn’t Believe In Evolution

OK, now I feel completely justified in mercilessly mocking the followers of Ron Paul. The doctor doesn’t believe in evolution? For real? Or is he just pandering to the Bible thumpers in his district? Either way, it’s not looking good for this so-called “maverick straight-shooter.” Y’all are idiots.


Via Carpetbagger Report, we have a transcript:

Audience member: I saw you in one of the earlier debates, all of the candidates were asked if they believe the theory of evolution to be true and they had a show of hands, but I didn’t see which way you voted, and I was wondering if you believe it to be true, and should it be taught in our schools.

Paul: First, I thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter. And I, um, I think it’s a theory, theory of evolution, and I don’t accept it, you know, as a theory…. I just don’t think we’re at a point where anybody has absolute proof, on either side.

(h/t, Digby).

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Filed under evolution, Ron Paul

>Atlas Lugged

>Hey, conservative Christians: there’s another Creation myth trying to gain traction in Washington D.C. and academia. This one comes from Islam, and blames the 9/11 attacks on Darwin.

The Atlas of Creation is a 12-pound, 800-page tome explaining the Islamic version of Creation, along with a dose of social commentary. What’s strange is that copies of the gigantic book were mysteriously sent to hundreds of high schools and universities in France this year; similarly, thousands of unsolicited copies were also sent to U.S. government offices, museums, and American universities. I’d hate to see the publisher’s postage budget.

Most folks oohed and ahhed over the atlas’s beautiful artwork, then recoiled in horror at “what a load of crap it is.” Some, however, like U.S. Secretary of the Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, decided to prominently display the Atlas in his office waiting room (a Commerce Dept. spokesman now says that was “a mistake.”)

Anyway, I know the nuttier fundamentalist Christian fringe believes Islam is a “vicious enemy.” But reading about The Atlas of Creation I can’t help but feel like I’m looking at two sides of the same coin.

See if this sounds familiar:

A caption from the book, below a photograph of one of the planes striking the World Trade Center, reports: “No matter what ideology they may espouse, those who perpetrate terror over the world are, in reality, Darwinists. Darwinism is the only philosophy that places a value on–and thus encourages–conflict.”

Darwinism is also to blame for fascism and communism. As the Atlas explains, it “is the root of various ideologies of violence that have spelled disaster to mankind in the 20th century.”

Wow, where have I heard that idea before? Oh, yeah:

We have had 150 years of the theory of Darwinian evolution, and what has it brought us? Whether Darwin intended it or not, millions of deaths, the destruction of those deemed inferior, the devaluing of human life, increasing hopelessness; Darwin’s theory has been deadly, indeed. … The time has come to recognize that evolution is a bad idea and should be, frankly, discarded into the dustbin of history.

That’s the late D. James Kennedy, in a 2006 fundraising pitch for his anti-evolution “documentary.” Kennedy passed earlier this year, but his comments are no different from what we’ve heard from Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, James Dobson and the rest.

Maybe instead of hating Islam, fundamentalist Christians should embrace the religion and its followers as fellow soldiers in the war on evolution. It could be a real “coming together” point, you know?

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Filed under Christianity, evolution, Islam