An Irish comedian discusses evolution and creationism

February 24, 2012 • 8:18 am

Here’s a bit of Irish levity after the last post on the secularization of that country.

Dara Ó Briain is an Irish comedian and television host and a staunch atheist who describes himself as “ethnically Catholic.”  Here’s his humorous take on evolution and creationism. Though his description of natural selection leaves a bit to be desired, it still shows that evolution via selection isn’t “random”, but involves a concatenation of a random process (the generation of variation) and a nonrandom one (the disposition of that variation by selection).  And he got the appendix right.

I wish I could make my students laugh this much while teaching the evidence for evolution.


36 thoughts on “An Irish comedian discusses evolution and creationism

  1. Jerry,

    Do you wish you could make your students laugh as much because A) you think humor is a more effective means of teaching than say a humorless approach, of B) you enjoy the positive reinforcement that comes with making others laugh, C) both A & B, or D) other reasons.

    1. I teach design of experiments sometimes and find that getting people to laugh at bad design, such as supposed trials of homeopathy by homeopaths, is a good idea for all the above reasons.

  2. You’re being a bit harsh saying that in a 3.5 minute comedy monologue the description of natural selection “leaves a bit to be desired”!

    The bit about blind monkeys was clearly metaphorical, as any Sophisticated Comedian would tell you.

    “In the kingdom of the blind, its said the one-eyed man is king”
    “In the kingdom of the bland, its 9 o’clock on ITV”

    1. Yes, he’s a comedian and he knows his science… pretty well.

      On an episode of QI he got extra points for knowing the triple point of water. Unfortunately, when he return on the next series he was docked points for having been wrong by 0.1° … 


      1. I couldn’t agree more with both of you. He is the funniest, most intelligent comedian around – just brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing his latest concert “Craic Dealer” in Aberdeen on 1 April.

  3. O Briain has a degree in physics and appears on the BBC with my colleague Brian Cox fronting an excellent occasional live programme about astronomy, Stargazing Live.

  4. Careful about the appendix. It apparently makes it easier to recover from serious intestinal illness such as cholera. It appears to act as a reservoir for intestinal bacteria. I will look for the citation….

    1. As long as people are voting for their favorites, here’s mine. ANYTHING by Tom Lehrer.

      Tom Lehrer- The Vatican Rag – YouTube

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