Dr. Zaius, Line 2

We weren’t sure it was worth mentioning Christine O’Donnell’s latest Politically Incorrect Blast from the Past…

O’DONNELL: You know what, evolution is a myth. And even Darwin himself—

MAHER: Evolution is a myth? Have you ever looked at a monkey?

O’DONNELL: Well then, why they — why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?

…but then, we hadn’t considered the movie tie-in.

Bill Maher’s New Clip Of O’Donnell: ‘Why Aren’t Monkeys Still Evolving Into Humans?’ [ThinkProgress]

The idea that someone as ignorant as O’Donnel could become a Senator in the most powerful nation on Earth is a shocking travesty. But even more disappointing is that based on the brief chitter chatter that followed the O’Donnel clip, I wonder if anyone in that room (other than Sagan’s wife) could have correctly rebutted to O’Donnel’s ignorant statements.

The correct response to O’Donnel is not to say that evolution is “slow” but rather, that evolution is a non-teleological process. That is, evolution is not goal oriented. There is no requirement that monkeys eventually evolve into anything, let alone humans. Evolution is simply a process whereby environmental and genetic factors combine to enable differential reproductive success for different members of the same species. This results in differences in gene distribution over time, and eventually (probably through physical isolation of sub populations) the emergence of distinct populations that no longer can interbreed. When O’Donnel asks why monkeys aren’t evolving into humans she simply does not understand that the monkeys of today and humans all evolved from a common ancestor, we diverged and began to exploit distinct ecological niches and we are all of us, monkeys and humans, exquisitely adapted to our particular niche. To a biologist monkeys are not “unfinished humans.” They are a species that is beautifully adapted to its current environment.

The sad thing is that science education in this country is so poor that very few Americans have a clear understanding of the basics of the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. O’Donnel is hardly unique in her deplorable ignorance.

@Serolf Divad:
As a non US American who has watched US America up close… the mind boggling part to me isn’t that US America is science and math dumb, but rather willingly science and math ignorant less these ideas make one a commie or something less than a US American.

@Serolf Divad: It would have been fun to watch the assembled celebrities get into a shouting match over punctuated equilibrium.


Tha sad thing is that on the TV Cinq version of Mahr’s show they probably did. That’s because in France people like Claude Levi Strauss are actual celebrities who show up on TV discussion shows. Could you imagine if Mahr had Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins and Cornell West on one day to discuss issues?

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