What else would you expect?

June 21, 2014 • 1:34 pm

I’ve been to a fair few meetings of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), but I’ve never heard of any creationists hovering around them and proselytizing for God. But that’s changed, for this year the meetings are in Raleigh, North Carolina. For you non-Americans, that’s in the religious South.

My second student, Mohamed Noor (the President of the SSE), tw**ted this message and photo from the meetings:

image001That’s Mohamed in the photo, and he told me that the guy holding the book (a Bible, of course) was preaching on the corner, and the bananas had Bible verses on them!

Noor, who is credulous, ate the banana. I would have worried that they contained poison. After all, the guy was a Christian!

If you’re at the meetings, be sure to catch the talk of my last (in both senses: latest and final) student, Daniel Matute. He won the SSE’s Dobzhansky Prize this year for being, in the Society’s judgment, the most promising young evolutionary biologist. I’m immensely proud of him, and of Mohamed of course, who will be giving the Presidential Address.

h/t: Lynn


47 thoughts on “What else would you expect?

  1. Of the young man pulling the banana stunt, all I can say is, he is not only ignorant in himself, but also the cause of ignorance in others.

  2. Are they pushing bananas as god’s gift of the perfect fruit again? Or is it just that bananas have “appeal”.

      1. Of course all should be aware of the following points about this moment of great comedy:
        1) The domesticated banana is a man-made fruit. A sterile polyploid that cannot survive without human propagation. The wild banana, made by God, is a small, chewy fruit filled with seeds.
        2) The way monkeys often eat bananas (wild or domesticated) is better: they often do not open the fruit by the removable ‘tab’. As we all know this often fails, and it mushes the banana. They instead peel the banana from the opposite end. This is much easier, and has none of the problems of opening from the ‘tab’.

        Checkmate, Creationists!

  3. That creationist has a good point. We humans can’t be closely the other apes because they hate bananas.

  4. Ha! I encountered a group of Christian extremists the other week in Durham (one of the three corners of the Triangle, Raleigh also being one) outside a gay bar. They were shouting about the sinfulness of “homosex” (their term), and commanding people to ask for forgiveness (or burn in hell forever). They had some children with them as props and filmed everything, so I’m probably on YouTube somewhere debating the basics of evolution with the loud, obnoxious, lead proselytizer. 🙂 (He kept telling me “There’s more information in a single strand of DNA than inside a super-computer.” No idea what he was getting at!)

      1. How about less the (not-particularly-super) supercomputers used by the 1000 Genomes project? http://www.1000genomes.org/
        Wiki tells me that the human genome is 3,234.83 megabase pairs. A base pair is 4 bits of information, so that’s 12339 megabytes, if I’m doing my maths right.
        I could walk into my local PC tomorrow morning world and get that much storage for less than the price of the bicycle sitting in my garage. Just to relate it to the level of technology which even fairly dumb (by creationist standards) creationists are likely to be able to operate.
        Actually, I’m just having second thoughts about PC World. They had an awful lot of empty shelf space when I was in there last, and seem to be running, screaming, from supplying components at retail. So I might have to go to Maplin instead.
        Could I do it with the hardware in the house? Probably not.

        1. Maths wrong. 8 bits in a byte, so two bases will go in a single byte, so it only takes 1.6GB of space for the whole thing, uncompressed.

          You can buy 8GB thumb drives and store five human genomes, uncompressed, for $5. It’s not large at all by today’s storage standards.

          Of course, probably only about 1.5% of it codes for proteins. Throw in regulatory elements of various sorts and required structural fluff and just being really generous, probably not more than 20% actually does anything remotely useful , so the part that contains information for building a human is probably closer to 320MB.

          If (just for fun) that information were accumulated at a steady rate since life began, that’d be about one bit per year.

          1. What this leaves out is that a human is also built on the rather useful basis of a single, whole working human cell (from the mother’s side) – a descendant of a very long line of simmilar cells.

            This has some bearing on the contemporary question of “When does life begin?” It (probably) began once, a very long time ago.

          2. Creationists conveniently forget that there is more information in noise than in useful code as redundant language. The genome is, after random duplications and insertions, like a statue that the artistry of evolution carves something meaningful out of.

            Creationists stare at the material and admire its raw block form, while scientists appreciates the beautiful art that nature has created.


            Off topic:

            The 1 bit/a fact cracks me up! I had forgotten. But now I’m thinking of the astrobiologists that try to constrain (the emergence of) life as an information process. A paltry process, when you think about it that way.

            (A mistake on the order of mistaking informational entropy for physical entropy. Especially if Russell et al is correct, and the latter is important for forcing the emergence. There is a lot more physical entropy squandered to order disequilibrium processes of metabolism than squander of informational entropy to order processes of evolution.)

    1. I’m going to venture a guess that this was a talking point invented at a time when this was true. It wasn’t too far in this past that a gigabyte of memory on a supercomputer was indeed beyond our reach. If they’re getting their computer science from the 1970s, at least they’re over a century ahead of where they get their biology.

  5. . I would have worried that they contained poison.

    Not to worry, you don’t die from eating bananas you die from eating apples.

  6. I don’t like taking food from strange people. I won’t even eat leftover food from other people’s meetings. It freaks me out. I suspect it is some sort of OCD that probably got passed down from the French Aristocracy that makes up part of my heritage on my mom’a side. Hey, people get poisoned when they’re fancy.

  7. Silly medieval monks transcribing on to parchment! Clearly bananas are God’s chosen medium. They are perfectly designed for it, obviously.

  8. Several years ago, I saw what has become my favorite “comeback” to these Babble-spouting morons: “You’re not going to convince me of anything by quoting passages from a book that I think you’re insane to believe in the first place!”

  9. I just noticed that Mohamed’s Tw**t has generated 50 retw**ts!
    That’s a lot more than others from the convention.

    By the way, the creationist might be there just by chance, but the local paper had an article about Evolution 2014 two days ago.

  10. Since bananas are never once mentioned in the Bible, how does he know it’s not a fruit of Satan?

  11. Presuming so much effort was spent designing the banana, which is not mentioned in the Bible, shouldn’t one be entitled to expect a little more of the pomegranate, which gets 30 mentions in the Old Testament?

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