Bad Biology: How Adaptationist Thinking Corrupts Science
May 4, 2015 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Biologist/blogger PZ Myers provides a nice introduction to evolutionary theory, and explains how classical Darwinism is distorted by proponents of scientific racism and other pseudoscientific movements.
posted by overeducated_alligator (16 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dang! I just came here to post this.
posted by brundlefly at 4:28 PM on May 4, 2015


twanscwipt pws!
posted by lalochezia at 4:45 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just to stir the pot, The Salty Droid covers PZM.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 4:50 PM on May 4, 2015


Ugh, I'm trying to watch this but I want to strangle the camera operator. Stop hitting the damn microphone. Stop zooming in on the speaker and missing the slides. And stop hitting the fucking microphone already. Jesus H Christ are you playing the drums on it or something? Argh!

Please tell me there's a transcript, because what I've listened to stop far sounds really interesting...
posted by aspo at 9:38 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not quite, lalochezia, it should have been, "Wewease twanscwipt!" HA ha yeah WEWEASE TWANSCWIPT! HA HA HA ha ha... Sorry, alligator.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 10:36 PM on May 4, 2015


The explanation for the above-mentioned issues with the video can be found in a comment on PZM's website:

Please don’t be too hard on the cameraman–our (semi) regular videographer was ill, so a friend taped the talk–on his phone. (We were able to provide a tripod, at least.)
posted by ShooBoo at 10:45 PM on May 4, 2015


Interesting lecture. Thanks for posting.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:53 PM on May 4, 2015


> Just to stir the pot, The Salty Droid covers PZM.

That was pretty damn incoherent and I resent the time lost trying to figure out what they were going on about.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:26 PM on May 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


That was pretty damn incoherent and I resent the time lost trying to figure out what they were going on about.

I tried to figure this out:

PZ Meyers picked up an item from the Internet by a woman who says her friend/business partner/possible lover is receiving crazy letters from his crazy religious brother, made more disturbing by their tragic family history. PZM pegs this as an example of crazy religious people. Salty Droid, a blogger who appears to be focused on exposing internet marketing scams, has been covering the story from his own angle. He claims that the woman who wrote the letter is a known liar and scammer, and the man who supposedly wrote the letters - with whom he seems to have had some personal contact - is just worried about his brother, who has left his family and been pulled into her shady dealings. Salty Droid picks up the PZM post and basically right off claims that PZM is an idiot and a bigot - against Christians I guess? PZM says that doesn't make the letter any less crazy. Members of both sites declare victory, storm off.

All crystal clear now, right? Best I can do is say it is kind of tawdry of PZM to seize onto a story like that just because he wants to remind his audience that religion is bad for the 1000th time. But the droid guy also seems like kind of a dick.

Some vigorous stirring for a pretty small pot.
posted by atoxyl at 1:24 AM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, weirdly the Salty Droid guy comes out looking way worse by both ignoring the relevant context that his client(?) had actually paid to have his wife murdered years earlier, and by acting like he's the only thing preventing people who fall for internet scams from jumping off shopping malls. He could have made a stronger case, but the heady brew of profanity left him pretty incoherent without reading a lot of backstory. Instead, he just launches in with 'fuck you, anti-Christian bigot' which is functionally indistinguishable from the general invective that Meyers gets. Bonus points for describing the wife-murderer as a "nice guy" who just cares about his family. Being more straight-forward and less operatically self-indulgent with his saltiness would have let him look like far, far less of an unintelligible asshole.
posted by klangklangston at 10:16 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


No their father Anthony Sr. paid to have his wife murdered. The alleged crazy letter basically says "you are an adulterer and you are going to get what you have coming to you just like our mother did." Which is indefensibly crazy if it's authentic. Salty Droid has an ongoing vendetta against Naomi, who posted the letter (and with whom Dave is allegedly committing adultery I guess) and says Anthony Jr., who wrote it, is being misrepresented here. I don't know if that means he thinks the letter is defensible (which is ridiculous) or that he thinks the letter is fabricated. In the latter case it almost makes sense that he is going to town on Meyers for leaving the skepticism at the door when a juicy story shows up, except that his aggro style and venom toward Naomi make it very hard to tell what's really going on.
posted by atoxyl at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2015


My feelings about PZ have run hot and cold over the years. He used to really tick me off with his bravado and stunt-pulling (like desecrating a communion host).

However, in the last couple of years he has taken up the mantle of progressive values within the scientific and atheist communities. He is now as equally loathed by the Creationists as he is by the misogynist neoreactionary wing of the skeptic/atheist community. He's repeatedly put his ass on the line for feminism, anti-racism, and old-time liberalism—all this without sacrificing his dedication to good science. So, no free passes to fellow-travelers like Bill Maher (for his anti-vaccination grandstanding) nor to Richard Dawkins (for being a complete shit to everyone who isn't Richard Dawkins).
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:26 AM on May 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


"No their father Anthony Sr. paid to have his wife murdered. "

Ah, thanks, missed that.
posted by klangklangston at 4:04 PM on May 5, 2015


I always like it when PZ talks about this because like many biologists I struggle to talk to people who sort of get evolution but not really and thus have adopted a completely adaptionist approach. Sometimes it's just a friend on Facebook trying to teach their kid about nature who is saying something absurd but harmless, but other times it is a faculty member in a social science department teaching really damaging stuff and claiming biology supports it.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:50 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


However, in the last couple of years he has taken up the mantle of progressive values within the scientific and atheist communities.

Yup. This. I've really come around on Meyers because of this.
posted by brundlefly at 5:57 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thirding the PZ Meyers re-appreciation. This article marked the change for me (linked from here). And if he keeps explaining the subtleties of evolutionary biology like he did here, without worrying that it may "give ammo to the creationists" I'll like him even more.

But in the future I'll be disinclined to follow any links posted in a coke-fueled journalistic frenzy.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:44 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


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