This is about as nutty a post as I will ever write, but waaaaait for it…
I am a scientist.
PART I: Pew Research
Pew Research is an American organization that self-describes as, “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.” They, “conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research,” and, “do not take policy positions.”
To try to put it simply, Pew aims to measure and document various aspects of global society.
So when they published a study in 2009 that detailed the proportional representation of Americans who do not believe in evolution and those who do believe in evolution (with the subcategories of evolution as a result of a natural process and evolution guided by a god), Pew was not trying to make a statement about the legitimacy of either category or either subcategory of those who believe in evolution.
PART II: Teach the Controversy
“Teach the Controversy” is a movement that exerts political influence to try to force American schools to brainwash children with the idea that evolution is a theory, which the movement’s patrons intentionally conflate with speculation, and that equal or greater weight should be given to the idea that a big salacious dick lurks over his toy planet and moves his little action figures (us) around as he sees fit, predicated of course on how well we behave.
They want to throw the cumulative data of all human observation — from the discovery of fire to the age of landing rockets on barges after launching them into space more than once — into the ring with ghost stories written more than 500 years before humanity really started getting close to possessing the technology to make glass windows a reality, and then let people who think Africa is a country in South America figure out which of the “controversial” “theories” is true.
One is a theory and is true; the other is folklore and is false.
PART III: The Science of Evolution (in the form of common sense)
The science of evolution does not require leaps of faith (“I see God all around me.”), and it does not require circular reasoning (“Then explain why in Genesis it says…) or feelings-as-proof reasoning (“If you find a wristwatch on a sandy beach…”) in order to be believed. It requires a simple conversation about sex and shit.
As is typically the case in this blog, when I say “shit”, I mean feces.
Below are two examples of natural selection.
Or more specifically, sexual reproduction…
Perfectly normal. We’re all products of it. Settle down.
Reproduction allows for the passing of genetic material to subsequent generations. The catch, though, is that a genetic code is not passed exactly as it exists one parent. Obviously, that is because it is combined in sexual reproduction to create offspring that posses some genes from each parent.
With the understanding that every child has genetic material from each parent, it must be accepted that no child is an exact copy of either parent.
That doesn’t mean anything on its own, though. This combination of genetic material could be imagined to just recycle a finite gallery of traits. The real kicker is selective breeding, a key element of natural selection and driving force of evolution.
Natural selection, in 2018 human terms, could be crudely explained by saying, “The most attractive (not necessarily physically) people get to reproduce the most.”
In prehistoric and ancient times — and even modern times in the cases of perhaps all other animals — attractiveness could be likened to physical superiority. That’s the meaning of the term “survival of the fittest”.
If there is a group of prehistoric primates walking around, and one of the males is a foot shorter, slower, and weaker than all the others, the female primates are more likely to chose the other males for sex, which would make it harder for his genetic material to survive.
Undesirable traits (not to as significant an extent in civilized human society in 2018) negatively affect the chance of reproducing.
But it’s not just lack of game that removes your genes from the pool; lack of fitness for environment stops your line too.
Long story short: reproducing beings can and do reproduce in a way that eliminates features, and though it happens unfathomably gradually, the incomprehensible longevity of humanity and botany among other realms allows microscopic changes to be stretched and stretched into small changes.
We don’t eat shit because it smells bad, right?
Right. And eating shit makes you sick, so thank god it doesn’t smell like churros!
Or what if we find the smell unpleasant because eating shit makes you sick?
Suppose there was a male primate who found the rank heat of another specimen’s dead lunch to be the choicest spice, and couldn’t keep his hands off. Do you think he dodges E. coli long enough to have children?
If there was a trait available in the human genome that allowed for the birth of folks who crumbled at the aroma of a Filet of Squish, do you think it would ever survive a generation?
Now, if 10,000 years ago half of all homo sapiens were genetically pre-disposed to swoon at the scent of stool, do you think that particular characteristic would have made it to the 21st century? Even with all the pestilences we’ve faced and the level of disease in our discharge? No way.
Nobody is making it to adolescence with a diet that includes scat, let alone finding a mate. But how, Steve, does this prove evolution?
Obviously it doesn’t. But it is an imaginary illustration of how a trait could be removed from a species. There may never have been a case of people who loved to eat poo, and I don’t even know if olfactory preferences are hereditary, but the simple principle — unaffected by the question in the prior clause of this sentence — is that if there are traits that cause the specimen carrying them to be more likely to die of illness or unfitness, the traits are less likely to be passed on. Replace love of log with fragile femurs and repeat the train of thought above.
It’s a cruel world, and disadvantageous characteristics or predispositions can make specimens unfit. And if you ain’t fit…
Humanity is, in some ways, beyond this due to our intelligence — the intelligence we posess because due to physical inferiority to predators, only the smartest survived.
To wrap up this odd section, if certain specimens are undesirable, they are less likely to pass on their genetic material, as are those whose genetic material leads to unsuitability for their environment. It doesn’t have to be eating poo; it could also be not having the hand strength to open the shell of your primary food source.
If you can’t survive or you can’t breed, your genes will have a hard time moving forward, and the future of the human race will look less like you. It will evolve away from you, if you’ll excuse the cloudy over-simplicity.
According to Pew’s study, only 32% of the American public believed in evolution by natural process (like natural selection). Thankfully a further 22% aren’t completely blind, but they do see a divine hand in evolution. 31% of respondents believed that evolution doesn’t happen, or more specifically, “Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”
Almost a third of Americans (as of 9 years ago) believed that if no woman on Earth ever mated with a man under seven feet tall again, the normal range of human height would continue unchanged.
So if you believe the statement, “Evolution is just a theory,” exposes a lack of verification, or if you believe we should, “teach the controversy…”
why don’t you go eat some shit?