Might it even be that the marvellous simplicity and power of natural selection strikes some biologists as so beautiful an idea – an island of order in a field otherwise beset with caveats and contradictions – that it must be defended at any cost? Why else would attempts to expose its limitations, exceptions and compromises still ignite disputes pursued with near-religious fervour?
—Beauty is truth? by Philip Ball
Who’s trying to maximize…optimize…grow faster or pace it out better…eat more or better…procreate at all, let alone more than the next guy?
Photo from Yoda’s Wookieepedia page
Photo source: Mexico’s Blind Cavefish
Photo of The Romneys and their sons is sourced here.
Figure caption with the NPR political article/source:
"A display of a series of skeletons showing the evolution of humans at the Peabody Museum, New Haven, Conn., circa 1935."
That, and copying Huxley’s famous figure, might be what the museum exhibit creator had in mind, but these 80 or so years later we’re all done recklessly and inaccurately insinuating that we evolved from gorillas, that evolved from chimps, that evolved from orangutans, that evolved from gibbons.
A row of primate skeletons does not depict human evolution any more than a row of dog skeletons depicts the evolution of beagles.
It’s images like this that perpetuate misunderstandings that contribute to the obstacles to evolution acceptance. And of all places to mislead readers about evolution, an article about evolution denial is definitely not one.
edit (added after initial post): If NPR readers don’t see a problem with this depiction of human evolution but still feel superior to the evolution deniers in the article, then Darwin help us.
…to find out why you’re mistaken.
image source: Confirmed: Dogs Sneak Food When People Aren’t Looking (duh)
Evolution’s got a P.R. problem. Let’s fix that.
We’ve written and talked ourselves silly over how to effectively communicate evolution. And the need for these discussions will continue, at least at this level of intensity, until we find a way to lift the stigma from evolution. A big part of that stigma is borne of and fed by our persistent battle with fundamental creationists and obstinate science deniers. These are powerful and well-funded anti-science interests, but they are not the majority. And in some ways we’ve fetishized the controversy that they cause, deriving maybe a bit too much pleasure from the battle, all the while driving so many bystanders to sympathize with them or to avoid the “debate” entirely. And then there’s the very much alive problem of social Darwinism (although the term’s rarely employed) that continues to taint evolution, causing far too many to avoid evolution’s perceived dark side and its unsavory implications, and to even wash their hands of it. Many educated, open-minded, kind-hearted folks fear that evolution justifies racism and/or socioeconomic disparity and it’s our misrepresentation of evolutionary processes that’s at least partially to blame. Rather than focusing all our attention on the science deniers, let’s enlighten the rest of us. Evolutionary misunderstanding is affecting our families, friends, and neighbors… our readers, watchers, likers, and sharers. It’s time to stop blaming creationists for all of evolution’s problems and take a look in the mirror. That science deniers have a voice in this “debate” and have sway over sympathizers is partly our fault, so it’s our challenge to overcome.
This theme will never get old.
[Pardon the knuckle-walking ancestor … diminishing evidence for that!]
[And pardon the linear, progressive evolution implied… see previous P.S.A.s that address the negative implications of this imagery.]