Rhymes With Fuchsia

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hey, Hey, We're The Monkeys

On Saturday I drove Miss B to the first performance of her ballet recital (Sleeping Beauty — beautiful indeed); she was pretty wired, especially after we got into a minor accident when I stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk and got rear-ended. There were no injuries and there was very minor damage to the other van, none to ours, but it threatened to push her over the edge she had already been teetering on. Our conversation consisted almost entirely of what she had forgotten (nail-polish remover — luckily we were able to borrow some) and if it had really been necessary for me to stop short like that. (Legally, yes, but it probably wasn't my smartest move ever.) Still, we got there only a bit late, she eventually calmed down, Grant arrived in due course, and she danced splendidly in our rational and unbiased opinion.

Sunday it was Grant's turn for chauffeur duty, and, as you might expect of Science Dude and Science Kid in slightly calmer circumstances, the level of chat rose quite a bit. At one point they had the following exchange:
Grant: Some people who are skeptical of evolution ask, "If people evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"
Miss B: Well, that's silly. Just because some monkeys evolved into people doesn't mean all monkeys did.
She went on to give a reasonable lay explanation of allopatric speciation (part of a population gets separated from the main group and adapts differently to the environment until, even if the respective descendant populations get mixed together again, they don't interbreed in nature, having become separate species).

"Great," I said on hearing of this, "our daughter is smarter than Larry King."

Now, I don't actually mind if she's smarter than Larry King (richer would be nice too), but it's a bit annoying that the country's most popular prime-time talk-show host asks questions that a sixth grader can tell are silly, even if he just does it to yank a scientist's chain. It's even more annoying that every biblical fundamentalist in the country thought that he'd refuted evolutionary theory with that one silly question.

And about that word theory, I have a question of my own: why is it that relativity and heliocentrism are never called "just theories"?

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5 Comments:

  • I know that odds are there is a Larry King fan somewhere that will be offended by this but I have to say it.

    Aren't most sixth graders smarter than Larry King? Oh wait, maybe that's Bill O'Reilly...;op

    By Anonymous JessaLu, at 11:26 PM  

  • Have you heard about the brouhaha over the movie "Expelled"? Long story, here are some links:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/im_gonna_be_a_movie_star.php

    the fun really started when Meyers tried to see the movie at a screening in Minneapolis:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/expelled.php?utm_source=mostactive&utm_medium=link

    I don't know how I missed all this when it happened (it was covered by the New York times), but I have had an awfully good time chasing links all over the internet this weekend.

    By Blogger Ruth, at 11:35 PM  

  • Um, you are aware that your sixth grader is brighter than MOST adults, aren't you?

    By Blogger Roxie, at 9:29 AM  

  • Beautiful and smart. She'll rule the world some day.

    By Blogger Danielle, at 9:38 AM  

  • i was smarter in the 6th grade than i am now. ;)

    seriously though, ben stein and the fundamentalists and those who watch larry king and believe his arguments are all stupid. because evolution and religion aren't mutually exclusive. i mean honestly. think about it. how beautifully elegant is evolution? and if one believes in god, why wouldn't one consider that only god could create such a thing?

    By Anonymous maryse, at 1:36 PM  

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