Pharyngula

Shubin on Colbert

Watch Neil Shubin discuss evolution on the Colbert Report — he’s good. He convinced me to run out and order his new book, Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (amzn/b&n/abe/pwll)!

Comments

  1. #1 Sean
    January 15, 2008

    Easy going and affable. He put concepts on the table in little palatable bits without eating a single baby. Shame the best we can do is get a man like this on a Comedy Central show. Who does the scheduling for Leno?

    Carson used to have Jack Hanna on as a semiregular, why not Dr. Shubin? Other than the fact a fossil is not quite as telegenic as a bit of mobile fur or scales.

  2. #2 RamblinDude
    January 15, 2008

    I’m so glad Colbert is back. Shubin managed to get in quite a bit of information during that interview. I just may have to run out and get the book, too.

  3. #3 Leukocyte
    January 15, 2008

    I didn’t really like how he said, “we’re from apes, and before that, we were from reptiles.” I guess it’s a pet peeve of mine, but modern apes and humans evolved from a common ape-like ancestor. They haven’t been standing still since we branched off. It kind of leads to the whole “higher” and “lower” forms too. Everything that exists today has been evolving and is evolving constantly. Modern apes are the way they are because they were shaped by their environment, and the same is true for humans.

    It’s a small thing to harp on, but I think he blew a great teaching moment when Colbert brought up Huckabee and the “from monkeys” fallacy. It is very nice to see evolutionary biologists on pop shows like this though. It will take a lot more exposure yet to wake up the half of this country that believes in “seven days.”

  4. #4 natural cynic
    January 15, 2008

    What was amazing was Shubin dominating the conversation. Colbert really didn’t get into his smarmy creationist mode.

  5. #5 Sven DiMilo
    January 15, 2008

    modern apes and humans evolved from a common ape-like ancestor

    But if the word “ape” has any meaning at all, then our common ancestor with, say, orangutans was, in fact, an ape.

  6. #6 tacitus
    January 15, 2008

    What was amazing was Shubin dominating the conversation. Colbert really didn’t get into his smarmy creationist mode.

    Could be something to do with not having the writers around. I’m not sure what they do in preparation for the interview segments but I’m betting that the writers come up with at least some of Colbert’s jibes and one-liners.

    Stewart and Colbert are still worth watching, but the quality of the shows is suffering noticeably without help from the writing staffs.

  7. #7 Richard Gadsden
    January 15, 2008

    Shubin is a scab. No further comment

  8. #8 David Denning
    January 15, 2008

    One of Steven Colbert’s best interviews. It’s nice when he can provide some Colbert-style humor and yet still show considerable respect for the interviewee (who, in this case, deserved a real opportunity to speak to the audience). Thanks, Steven!

  9. #9 Sean
    January 15, 2008

    I am not a regular Colbert viewer. Consensus is that without writers, his conservative attack dog persona was toned down?

    I was pleasantly surprised by how he slid into being more of a facilitator than a creationist by the end.

  10. #10 S. Fisher
    January 15, 2008

    It seemed to me that Colbert was genuinely interested in what Shubin had to say and, writers or not, had a hard time keeping up his shtick (schtick?)

  11. #11 Mena
    January 15, 2008

    I saw him give a lecture at Fermilab (pout) and it was pretty good. I’ll have to check out the Colbert Report. I do agree that it has gotten a bit bad. The Daily Show too, but less. Maybe Jon Stewart is just better at improv type stuff?

  12. #12 The Ridger
    January 15, 2008

    Why doesn’t “we’re from reptiles” annoy you then, Leukocyte? We are from apes – just because apes are still around doesn’t make that untrue.

  13. #13 Icthyic
    January 15, 2008

    They haven’t been standing still since we branched off. It kind of leads to the whole “higher” and “lower” forms too.

    actually, what offset this tremendously was his use of the ear as an illustration of how many traits have been preserved or re-used from far different aspects of our history.

    It’s quite rare to see such a good specific example that can get across that message so quickly.

    and yes, richard is right, he is a scab. sucks to be a writer these days, whether one is writing a book, or for a TV show. completely irrelevant to the points he raised in his interview, though.

  14. #14 Mrs Tilton
    January 15, 2008

    Oh yeah, Ridger? Well, if apes are still around, how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS??

  15. #15 Rick Schauer
    January 15, 2008

    What never ceases to amaze me is how PZ can keep up (in a timely fashion) with all these evolutionary happenings across an incredible spectrum of web sites, radio and tv…hats off to you, PZ!

  16. #16 darwinfish
    January 15, 2008

    The amusing thing about Colbert is that he isn’t a creationist nutjob, but parodying one is almost impossible without people taking you seriously because the real ones are already parodies of themselves.

  17. #17 Chris
    January 15, 2008

    Do they know if they have tiktaalik plush toys yet? They would have made great christmas presents.

  18. #18 Ichthyic
    January 15, 2008

    The amusing thing about Colbert is that he isn’t a creationist nutjob, but parodying one is almost impossible without people taking you seriously because the real ones are already parodies of themselves.

    which of course is exactly why he does it.

    pretty much the entire show revolves around Colbert parodying those who are parodies of themselves, like the talking heads on Fox News.

    CC was smart to realize that there was a niche that Colbert’s style would fill quite nicely.

    really, Stewart/Colbert is like the Satire/Parody hour.

  19. #19 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    January 15, 2008

    Neil Shubin is very good. If he wasn’t rehearsed ahead of time on Colbert’s questions, then I am truly impressed. He picked his answers from a wide range of specialised information and not only nailed the question, but did so at a good level for the audience. I think I know what I’m getting for my birthday.

  20. #20 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    I didn’t really like how he said, “we’re from apes, and before that, we were from reptiles.” I guess it’s a pet peeve of mine, but modern apes and humans evolved from a common ape-like ancestor.

    If you bring up a pet peeve, it’s wise that actually be something that someone got wrong. Humans are a modern ape, and humans and non-human modern apes evolved from apes, and they all evolved from reptiles.

    They haven’t been standing still since we branched off.

    That’s true, but isn’t germane and Shubin didn’t say otherwise.

    It kind of leads to the whole “higher” and “lower” forms too.

    Uh, no, it doesn’t … at least not in any invalid way. Humans did evolve from reptiles, and fish before them, and if you draw the tree, humans are above the branch points of the most recent common ancestors of humans and reptiles and humans and fish. Modern reptiles and fish aren’t identical to our reptile and fish ancestors, but they are reptiles and fish, while humans are not.

    Everything that exists today has been evolving and is evolving constantly. Modern apes are the way they are because they were shaped by their environment, and the same is true for humans.

    Uh, yes and yes; duh. Shubin of course knows this and said nothing to contradict it.

  21. #21 truth machine
    January 15, 2008

    What never ceases to amaze me is how PZ can keep up (in a timely fashion) with all these evolutionary happenings across an incredible spectrum of web sites, radio and tv…hats off to you, PZ!

    I suspect a lot of birdies whisper in his e-mail.

  22. #22 kid bitzer
    January 15, 2008

    yeah, shubin came off really, really well. i’m impressed.

    not easy with a loose cannon like colbert.
    (my favorite was his interview with eleanor holmes norton).

    also not easy if you’re a geeky scientist.
    so hat’s off to shubin!

  23. #23 Moses
    January 15, 2008

    Constrained by the data. Exactly.

  24. #24 andyo
    January 15, 2008

    Colbert is always good with science interviewees. My favorite interviews of his are with the scientists. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has appeared twice already. Dawkins was OK too, Brian Greene. The Peter Agre one was very funny (he wanted to trade the guy’s Nobel for his Pulitzer or something, Agre told him he would trade it for two weeks of control of his show). Ken Miller was very eloquent as always.

    Colbert seems to be greatly more scientifically literate than say Jon Stewart and (gasp!) Bill Maher. On Jon’s defense, though, he’ll readily admit his ignorance, though he still has a self-righteous bit about science and religion being “two extremes” in his standup. Maher I think only uses “science” as a buzz word to advance his environmentalism and (paradoxically) his alt-med crap. Ironically, Colbert, being the religious of the three is actually very scientifically literate for a lay person, let alone for a TV guy.

  25. #25 andyo
    January 15, 2008

    Shubin is a scab. No further comment

    Posted by: Richard Gadsden | January 15, 2008 7:45 PM

    What does a scientist have to do with this petty fight between writers who are already well-off and greedy producer bastards? Actors, yeah, accuse them, other writers, whatever. I think these shows shouldn’t have come back on the air anyway, but scientists and other people who actually may do some good to society by educating should get this kind of airtime more and seize this opportunity. A good 6-minute interview with a scientist, especially in a theme as Evolution is far more positive than the negativity of breaking some petty strike line that doesn’t even concern needy people.

  26. #26 andyo
    January 15, 2008

    Whoops, forgot to close the blockquote, but you get the drift.

  27. #27 S. Fisher
    January 15, 2008

    Colbert was great when he interviewed Behe….regarding irreducible complexity…holds up mouse trap and says to the effect… so other than in a mouse trap we have no use for a spring or metal or a block of wood? Behe stutters and looks like an idiot.

  28. #28 Kevin
    January 15, 2008

    Writers who are already well off? Please andyo, don’t comment on a situation if you’re that ignorant of it.

  29. #29 andyo
    January 15, 2008

    Kevin, who are you comparing them to? I know people who make minimum wage, and even they as single people are living far better than others I know who don’t live in this country (the U.S.). I agree with the writers plea, but they aren’t exactly needy either.

  30. #30 andyo
    January 15, 2008

    Anyway, my point was that something like a TV writers strike is not a reason for scientists who have nothing to do with it to avoid going on shows and educating the public even if just a bit, in good fun and in good humor. Even if my comment was ignorant (which I don’t see but you can still argue if you want), Richard’s comment was way off-base. More science popularizers should be seizing this opportunity.

  31. #31 Kevin
    January 15, 2008

    Certainly some writers make very large salaries, but they are the vast minority. Half of all WGA members make $0 in a given year. People will sometimes cite average incomes, but that’s extremely deceptive when you consider very few at the top make ludicrous amounts of money. Most writers are not exactly living the good life.

  32. #32 Mystic Olly
    January 15, 2008

    Is Shubin a member of the WGA?

    Because if he isn’t he can’t be a scab.

    Oli

  33. #33 andyo
    January 16, 2008

    Ha! Did I say pulitzer above? I meant Peabody. I have no idea with these award thingys.

  34. #34 Sean
    January 16, 2008

    Should all members of the WGA who makes nothing in a given year be considered writers? For $75 and one submission, anyone can be a WGA member and own a little slice of the Hollywood dream while they work their real job.

    My wife is a minister because she sent in $20 to an ad in the back of Rolling Stone. Does her salary of zero count toward labor statistics for the clergy?

  35. #35 MartinDH
    January 16, 2008

    Oli:

    Is Shubin a member of the WGA?

    Because if he isn’t he can’t be a scab.

    That’s not the reason Shubin is not a scab.

    He’s not a scab because being interviewed on a TV show is not replacing a striking writer. He may be a rat for crossing a picket line, but he’s no scab.

  36. #36 autumn
    January 16, 2008

    I really don’t want to derail here, but hasn’t the Screen Actor’s Guild been a little at fault here? If SAG had joined the writer’s strike, I guarantee that it would have been resolved very quickly.
    Back to topic, any appearance by an actual scientist who is the least bit able to deliver science to the masses without seeming out of reach, or out of touch, is a very valuable thing. If there is a silver lining to the present “Age of Ignorance” it is that, because of the idiotic ideas that thinking folks find themselves up against, there are a few more science personalities becoming more visible. Would Tyson be where he is in public consciousness if not for his need to point out the flaws in hugely popular insanities? In the early nineties, the only scientist anyone could name was Hawking, and then only to say that they were amazed by his “overcoming difficulties”! Come on! Be amazed because he thinks as deeply about the universe as anyone on the planet, not because he’s in a ‘chair. These days, at least, there are a bunch of more prominent thinkers who are at least in the public’s collective eye.

  37. #37 Kevin
    January 16, 2008

    Sean, no they probably shouldn’t. That was just an example to demonstrate the fact that writers as a group are not exactly top of the food chain. They rely on residuals and the like to make money and that’s precisely part of the reason they’re on strike. This isn’t just an act of greed, they really do deserve to see some of that money.

  38. #38 MAJeff
    January 16, 2008

    That interview was a brilliant bit of public science education.

  39. #39 Moses
    January 16, 2008

    Writers who are already well off? Please andyo, don’t comment on a situation if you’re that ignorant of it.

    Posted by: Kevin | January 15, 2008 11:00 PM

    Take your own advice.

    Writer’s Guild of America (WGA)
    700 West Third Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    (323) 951-4000
    http://www.wga.org
    Membership # (323) 782-4532

    The WGA represents writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable and new technologies industries. Membership requirements for a screenwriter include accumulating 24 units of employment (screenplay for a feature length theatrical motion picture; radio play or teleplay 90 minutes or longer) with a signatory company/distribution company within three years preceding the application.

    Once the qualifications are met, $2,500 is due to the guild for activating membership.

    Salary Range: Staff television writers generally earn $60,000 to $80,000 per year to start.

    There are minimums set by the Writer’s Guild of America. Compensation for a television story and teleplay for network prime time television networks begins at $14,700 for a program of 30 minutes or less, $30,145 for a program of 60 minutes or less, and $42,413 for a program of 90 minutes or less. Writers are also entitled to residuals on some programs depending on the number of times the show airs.

    That was from a 2006 on breaking into the writing field. Writers aren’t poor. By a long shot. And good writers make much more than Union Scale.

    BTW, a “year” is not a 52-week year, but a produciton year which is shorter. You can look at the entire WGA scale here:

    http://www.wga.org/uploadedFiles/writers_resources/contracts/min2004.pdf

  40. #40 MAJeff
    January 16, 2008

    this strike is about far more than annual salary. The primary issue is, “Who gets paid for residuals?” As it stands, writers don’t make anything once a show goes to DVD or pay websites. What they’re striking for is payment (and not a lot) on these different sources of revenue corporations are creating with the writers’ labor.

  41. #41 Kevin
    January 16, 2008

    Moses, so you mean it was an article designed to get people to become writers…?

    Staff television writers seems to be a very deliberately chosen label, don’t you think? I’m sure the WGA encompasses many, many more categories.

  42. #42 Moses
    January 16, 2008

    Certainly some writers make very large salaries, but they are the vast minority. Half of all WGA members make $0 in a given year. People will sometimes cite average incomes, but that’s extremely deceptive when you consider very few at the top make ludicrous amounts of money. Most writers are not exactly living the good life.

    Posted by: Kevin | January 15, 2008 11:48 PM

    I used to work as a CPA in LA (various arts). Now I work as a CPA in Nashville (music). There is a massive over-supply of midling-to-crappy writers. Just like there is a massive over-supply of midling-to-crappy musicians, actors, etc.

    My experience, watching this as an accountant in this industry for 17 years, is that they CHOOSE this HIGH RISK/HIGH REWARD FIELD voluntarily. Most of them DO NOT MAKE IT. However, writers who are actually GOOD and work get paid quite well and generally don’t lack for jobs.

    But the reality is, like anyone who tries to make it in entertainment, they’ve chosen to pursue a high-risk, high-reward, high-competition, high-failure-rate career field and most of them make little or nothing. And if they’re not making money is usually because they’re not good enough to stand out from the crowd.

    Frankly, the entertainment business is brutal. And the reason it’s so brutal is that you and 200 other people are chasing 20 jobs. Which is why so many end up in food service jobs.

  43. #43 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    If we are apes is based on how one defines apes. It is purely arbitrary removing humans from apes…

    Also, monkey is very poorly defined, and it is actually totally reasonable to define humans as have an ancestor that evolved from “A monkey”

    The confusion is purely based on the idea that we did not evolve from the extant apes or monkeys, but share a common ancestor with each modern group (ape or “monkey”) in the past. The semantics comes in when we realize that, if we are apes, it seems a bit redundant to say we evolved from apes. It would sorta be like me saying I evolved from the Irish.

    Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish.

    Hope I made that clear,,,

  44. #44 Dave K
    January 16, 2008

    Moses (#39), that’s pretty misleading, though I don’t think you were intending to be misleading. The numbers you quote show that TV and movie writers are fairly well paid when they’re working, but the problem is that the majority of WGA members aren’t working at any given time. They can often go years between jobs paying those kinds of rates, and in the interim they live off residuals from their previous jobs — and it’s those residuals that are the focus of the strike. The strike isn’t about the small handful of writers with a steady gig on a long-running TV show; it’s about the vast numbers who are currently out of work, but who previously worked on a show from which the studio is still making money.

  45. #45 Moses
    January 16, 2008

    this strike is about far more than annual salary. The primary issue is, “Who gets paid for residuals?” As it stands, writers don’t make anything once a show goes to DVD or pay websites. What they’re striking for is payment (and not a lot) on these different sources of revenue corporations are creating with the writers’ labor.

    Posted by: MAJeff | January 16, 2008 12:33 AM

    Heh, heh. You and Kevin shouldn’t try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs. I deal with this professionally, and have for my entire 17-year career as a CPA. So, some how I bet I’d be on safe ground to say that I know more about royalty/residual payments than both of you put together. I probably also know more about dirty dealings, the star machine process, and how this works than you can shake a stick at.

    What’s going on right now intimately effects many of my clients, directly or indirectly. But I’m not the one arguing with an emotional appeal that the writers aren’t well paid. They are. Quite well paid. Nor am I arguing that they shouldn’t strike. Or that all their claims are unfounded. Or that, in some areas, their claims are (frankly) bullshit and over-reaching and the studios are right.

    Where they’re not compensated is in certain income streams which are, despite the assertion of the writers, quite a bit more murky than either the writers or the studios would have you believe. One side says: “Ah, over-here is a bright line.” And the other side says: “No, it’s over here.” Which is why there is a strike.

    And people like me, nobody listens to, we’re just “bean counters.” Which suits me fine. As groups of people, every damn one of them has shown me their ugly, greedy side on more than one occasion. And I trust that greed to, eventually, make both sides reach some compromise they can live with.

    As for the specifics, neither side is entirely right. But of the two proposals, I actually tend to side with the studios who are, essentially, proposing new media sales (movie downloads) be treated the same as DvD sales for royalty/residual purposes.

    I tend to be more sympathetic for the WGA on the “Internet streaming” issue because I’ve seen too much abuse by studios and record labels of “promotional” materials as an excuse to not pay royalties. But even with this sympathy, often times these programs are offered for free (like Battlestar Galactica reruns I’ve streamed) so I don’t see where the artists are really running the high-ground. Especially as these promos are generally to enhance the the long-term success of the show and do not generate revenue to offset the costs of distribution.

    Yet, I see studios abusing this. Forcing writers to make non-show promotional content for download/streaming. So, once again, an issue with two compelling sides.

    Anyway, I’m back to bed. Maybe I’ll fall asleep this time.

  46. #46 Janine
    January 16, 2008

    Oli:

    Is Shubin a member of the WGA?

    Because if he isn’t he can’t be a scab.

    That’s not the reason Shubin is not a scab.

    He’s not a scab because being interviewed on a TV show is not replacing a striking writer. He may be a rat for crossing a picket line, but he’s no scab.

    Posted by: MartinDH | January 16, 2008 12:14 AM

    Jon Oliver, Rob Riggle, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones have crossed their own picket line to appear on A Daily Show. Are they rats?

  47. #47 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish.

    You’ve just contradicted yourself.

    Hope I made that clear,,,

    As usual, no.

  48. #48 Brownian, OM
    January 16, 2008

    What about us for watching the shows rahter than boycotting them? I’m not up on my union lingo, but shouldn’t we get a label too?

    How about:

    Clams?

    Gluten?

    Ingrown hairs?

  49. #49 thalarctos
    January 16, 2008

    Clams? Gluten? Ingrown hairs?

    Jamies.

  50. #50 MAJeff
    January 16, 2008

    What about us for watching the shows rahter than boycotting them? I’m not up on my union lingo, but shouldn’t we get a label too?

    Hey, this is one of those times where being not having cable turns out to be politically correct rather than just an annoyance. Yay!

  51. #51 Ichthyic
    January 16, 2008

    You’ve just contradicted yourself.

    actually, i read it as saying we didn’t evolve directly from fish, meaning fish->human.

    rather, fish->amphib->etc.->human

    could be wrong, in which case then it would indeed be contradictory. it’s a rather trivial point, in either case.

  52. #52 Doc Bill
    January 16, 2008

    Freaky! I cut through Barnes and Noble because it was raining and on my way though I saw this book, Inner Fish. I paused, flipped through it and bought it!

    It’s a great book and I’m going to spend the rest of the night reading it.

    No wonder I can breathe under water! I’m a fish. Who knew!

  53. #53 ndt
    January 16, 2008

    @ Post #3:

    Leukocyte, he didn’t say we were from modern apes. I don’t find it misleading or confusing at all to say humans evolved from apes.

  54. #54 melior
    January 16, 2008

    This is cool — some new direct evidence for the contribution of expression factors in addition to genes to evolution.

    A research team led by Dr. Richard Behringer at MD Anderson Cancer Center reports that they have successfully switched the mouse Prx1 gene regulatory element with the Prx1 gene regulatory region from a bat — and although these two species are separated by millions of years of evolution — the resulting transgenic mice displayed abnormally long forelimbs.

    And thanks to Pharyngula, I know what paired-box homeodomain transcription factors are! :)

  55. #55 Fernando Magyar
    January 16, 2008

    melior,

    And thanks to Pharyngula, I know what paired-box homeodomain transcription factors are! :)

    I’m sure it’s not what you meant but there may be more truth in that statement than you intended.

    http://isc.temple.edu/marino/embryology/parch98/parchdev.htm

    The Primitive Pharynx and Pharyngeal Arches and their Derivatives

    During the fourth week of embryonic development, a series of 5 bar-like ridges appear on the ventrolateral surface of the head and neck region. The ridges are called pharyngeal (branchial) arches. The arches are covered by ectoderm. The ectoderm between the arches form clefts (grooves) called pharyngeal (branchial) clefts (grooves). The arches are bordered medially by the pharynx which is lined by endoderm. Medially each of the pharyngeal arches is separated by a pharyngeal pouch. These pouches approach the corresponding branchial cleft. The approximation of the ectoderm of the pharyngeal cleft with the endoderm of the pharyngeal pouch forms the pharyngeal membrane. The grooves and pouches are named (numbered) the same as the preceding arch.

    Each arch contains a cartilaginous core, an aortic arch, and a definite cranial nerve. Each cranial nerve will supply the structures that develop from the mesenchyme of the arch.

  56. #56 paul01
    January 16, 2008

    Colbert was throwing softballs to Shubin. I had just read the book the day of the interview, and it is amazing how much of the book’s talking points Shubin managed to get in. Steven was agreat help to him.

    perhaps it was partly lack of writers too. Jon seems to be doing better without writers than Steven.

  57. #57 Donnie B.
    January 16, 2008

    For those who would like a little sample of Shubin’s writing, pick up a copy of the latest Natural History magazine. There’s an article based on “Your Inner Fish” in it. (It’s the cover story, in fact — pretty funny illustration of a fish head popping out of a business suit.)

  58. #58 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    I said:
    “Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish.”

    Truth Machine said:
    “”You’ve just contradicted yourself.””

    Where did I contradict myself?

    Next I said:
    “Hope I made that clear,,,””

    truth machine curiously responds:
    “”As usual, no.””

    So where am I usually not making myself clear T-machine? Examples of this usualness?

  59. #59 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Ichthyis said:
    “actually, i read it as saying we didn’t evolve directly from fish, meaning fish->human.
    rather, fish->amphib->etc.->human”

    Yes, this is what I mean. It does seem trivial, but the basic idea of direct evolution, is what has confused so many people on the web. Despite objections, it is fine for someone to say that evolutionary biologists say we come from “apes or monkeys.” It is all a matter of which apes and “monkeys” you are referring to, and how direct you are claiming.

  60. #60 Amenhotep
    January 16, 2008

    Sorry folks, us Europeans are uninterested in the writers’ strike, but glad to see some good science education going out on the box. I wonder if there was a scientists’ strike, would journos refuse to cross a picket? No? Didn’t think so.

    As for the fish/monkeys thingy, if we are adopting terms like “fish” and “monkeys” as identifiers of *clades*, then we are *still* fish and monkeys. Let’s not get too anthropocentric here – these are essentially human labels, flags of convenience. So we may use them as identifiers for common ancestors, but it’s a slightly different meaning-set from when we use them to identify extant life-forms.

    For example, if we called a cod a “fish”, then we would be more “fishy” than a shark. Let’s not get hung up on words – it is the underlying concepts that are important.

  61. #61 Stephen Wells
    January 16, 2008

    I still don’t see how “We evolved from fish” is in any way problematic. Fish is a folk toxonomy anyway (paraphyletic group?), and it’s very clear that, go back far enough, our ancestors were swimming vertebrates with fins and gills, which kind of suggests “fish” to me. The fact that there are other intermediates doesn’t seem relevant. I can say that I got here from Oxford, without specifying that I got from Oxford to Longbridge and then Longbridge to here.

  62. #62 maxi
    January 16, 2008

    I agree. Nowhere is *anyone* suggesting we evolved directly from fish. The route matters not, but the starting point remains.

  63. #63 the constant skeptic
    January 16, 2008

    way to go posting on colbert, as if you don’t get enough web traffic already… I wish I had half your readership. I think I am going to buy that book myself. Glad to see Colbert back… proves that teleprompting is becoming passe.

  64. #64 paul01
    January 16, 2008

    A bit semantical, I suppose, but descended from apes could mean from the family of apes, which would be true because genus homo belongs to the family of apes. The descent would not be wholly temporal, but also classificatory.

    Shubin does refer to nested hierarchy quite often in his book. “Fish” could aslo stand in for “vertebrate”.

  65. #65 Leukocyte
    January 16, 2008

    My initial sensitivity to the usage of those terms has been (unfortunately) tweaked because of stupid creationist slogans such as, “If we evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” So yes, we are apes, and there are other members of the ape family around too, but all of us modern apes are different from the common ancestor ape that we all (equally) evolved from. The pet peeve that I was inarticulately referring to is the assignment of directionality to evolution, like fish led to amphibians and yada yada yada humans, as though H. sapiens with upright posture and big brains are the inevitable outcome of the evolutionary process. Upon watching the interview again, I agree with you all that Shubin didn’t say anything wrong, and the time it would have taken to explain the finer points of his statement would have wasted the rest of the interview and glazed over the audience’s eyes.

  66. #66 Stephen Wells
    January 16, 2008

    The answer to from monkeys/why monkeys question is to establish that modern species are in cousin-type relationships, not ancestor-descendant relationships. Most people have cousins, and most people can grasp that their cousin is not their grandfather. In America, assuming you’re talking to an Anglo or a Hispanic person, you may also try the “You have European ancestors; Europeans still exist” tack.

  67. #67 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    “I still don’t see how “We evolved from fish” is in any way problematic. ”

    It is very problematic, as it is the basis of the whole debate. The problem of saying we evolved from “Monkeys” implied to many people that humans evolved directly from extant monkeys.

    The confusion is two fold, as one part being the fact that they confuse the living monkeys of today with the idea of long dead monkeys that simply do not exist anymore, and the second confusion of directness where they see, by way of the wording an implied, “Monkey-human” transition with no other intermediates. It is this second aspect of the confusion that throws so many people off on both sides of the issue.

    Biologists have tried to explain that humans did not evolve from the extant apes, have also stated we did not evolve directly from either extant monkeys OR extinct monkeys. Then, when a creationist utters “I didn’t come from no monkey,” the well meaning, but confused individual may often try and correct him and say, “Scientists do not say we evolved from monkeys” when in fact science says no such thing. Science only says we did not evolved “Directly” from extant or extinct monkeys, but science does show, depending on how one cares to define monkey, that we DID evolve from a monkey like ancestor indirectly.

    So, as obvious as it might sound, when we say, “We evolved from fish,” confusion based on directness does show its ugly head. It is due to this confusion that most of the supposed educated people I have met still claim, “Scientists do not say we come from monkeys” despite, based on the above acceptance of, “We evolved from fish” that they would be wrong…

  68. #68 chriss
    January 16, 2008

    I had the book in my hand…in my hand…and then I changed my mind and bought Irreligion by John Allen Paulos. Now before I make the trek through the snow to Chapters to pick up Shubins book does anyone have any other favourite reads? PZ…considered a monthly book list?

  69. #69 HP
    January 16, 2008

    I wonder if there was a scientists’ strike, would journos refuse to cross a picket? No? Didn’t think so.

    “Dammit, Bill, I know there’s a scientists’ strike. But I’m a journalist. I have an obligation to my readers. And no picket line can keep me from attending the Board of Regents’ Special Subcommittee on Funding and Disbursements preliminary planning meeting on appropriations for Academic Year 2011! What a story!”

  70. #70 Anton Mates
    January 16, 2008

    As for the fish/monkeys thingy, if we are adopting terms like “fish” and “monkeys” as identifiers of *clades*, then we are *still* fish and monkeys.

    We don’t identify “fish” and “monkeys” as clades, though. Both categories are paraphyletic.

    We do identify “reptiles” as a clade, but in that sense, we are not reptiles and none of our ancestors were. We’re amniotes, and the reptiles descended from a different amniote branch.

    (Unless turtles turn out to be basal to both us and the other reptiles, in which case “reptiles” will have to be paraphyletic too. But that doesn’t seem to be considered very likely at the moment.)

  71. #71 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago wrote:

    So, as obvious as it might sound, when we say, “We evolved from fish,” confusion based on directness does show its ugly head. It is due to this confusion that most of the supposed educated people I have met still claim, “Scientists do not say we come from monkeys” despite, based on the above acceptance of, “We evolved from fish” that they would be wrong…

    Lago, I’m not sure if I see your point. Some of my ancestors are fish. For example, all my ancestors that 417 million years ago were fish.

    Also, some of my ancestors are monkeys. For example, all my ancestors that lived 40 million years age were monkeys.

    And some of my ancestors are apes. For example, all of my ancestors that lived 14 million years ago were apes.

  72. #72 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis, I think you are confused to my point. It is simple. It goes like this:

    Creationists often say, “I did not evolve from no monkey!” and, “If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

    Many scientists have tried to correct them explaining that we did not evolve from the “monkeys” that are alive today, but evolved indirectly from monkeys that no longer exist (basically monkey-ape-human, not Monkey-human).

    People hearing scientists say, “We did not evolve from monkeys” when the scientists were referring to the living monkeys of today, and not the extinct “monkeys” we evolved from indirectly, ended up confused, and believed the scientists were saying, “Humans have no monkey ancestors in their past”

    Now people confused on the issue are correcting creationist incorrectly over and over again…

    Get it now?

  73. #73 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 16, 2008

    I, for one, include ourselves in the terms “ape” and “monkey” and support restricting the word “fish” to Actinopterygii, but that’s not going to become normal usage anytime soon…

    I have, however, eaten ray wing that was served as “fish”. I call bullshit. Ray wing is fibrous and slimy at the same time. It is literally palpable that carps and trouts and whatnots are more closely related to cattle and chickens than to rays.

    Maybe if we all start talking about “true fishes” or “fishes in the strict sense”…

  74. #74 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 16, 2008

    I, for one, include ourselves in the terms “ape” and “monkey” and support restricting the word “fish” to Actinopterygii, but that’s not going to become normal usage anytime soon…

    I have, however, eaten ray wing that was served as “fish”. I call bullshit. Ray wing is fibrous and slimy at the same time. It is literally palpable that carps and trouts and whatnots are more closely related to cattle and chickens than to rays.

    Maybe if we all start talking about “true fishes” or “fishes in the strict sense”…

  75. #75 Felicia Gilljam
    January 16, 2008

    Methinks it should be perfectly alright to say that humans evolved from fish given that cladistically, we ARE fish… more specifically, bony fish. Tee hee.

    Either way, it feels as though the issue is more or less resolved here at least, no? We all know what is meant by “humans evolved from monkeys”. Now, how is this best communicated to someone who doesn’t know much about evolution? “Humans didn’t evolve from modern monkeys but monkeys that existed a long time ago and gave rise to both modern monkeys and modern humans” is a bit clunky, no?

  76. #76 lago
    January 16, 2008

    “Humans didn’t evolve from modern monkeys but monkeys that existed a long time ago and gave rise to both modern monkeys and modern humans” is a bit clunky, no?

    because again the above implies a direct evolution of humans from monkeys, which is incorrect, as we have went over numerous times..

  77. #77 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago wrote:

    “People hearing scientists say, ‘We did not evolve from monkeys’ when the scientists were referring to the living monkeys of today, and not the extinct ‘monkeys’ we evolved from indirectly, ended up confused, and believed the scientists were saying, ‘Humans have no monkey ancestors in their past’

    “Now people confused on the issue are correcting creationist incorrectly over and over again…

    “Get it now?”

    Kind of. I agree that no human is a descendant of any monkey that is actually living as of January 16, 2008. And, also, the most recent common ancestors that I share with all of the chimpanzees that are alive today probably lived between 4 and 6 million years ago. And those organisms were much more ape-like than monkey-like.

    However, some of the monkeys that are alive today are very similar to monkeys that are my ancestors. For example, some of the spider monkeys that are alive today are very similar to all my ancestors that lived 40 million years ago, which were all monkeys.

    A question: Are any of the monkeys that are alive today members of the same “species” of monkeys that were alive 40 million years ago and that are my ancestors? I don’t know. Maybe somebody does.

  78. #78 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago wrote: “because again the above implies a direct evolution of humans from monkeys, which is incorrect, as we have went over numerous times..”

    What do you mean by “direct?” If you mean that no monkey gave birth to a human, then, of course, you are correct. But some of my ancestors are monkeys. For example, all my ancestors that lived 40 million years ago were monkeys. Now a population of those organisms evolved into more ape-like organisms and homo erecti before they evolved into me. But those organisms are my ancestors. I wouldn’t invite them to my family reunion. In addition to being dead, they are very distant ancestors. But they are my ancestors.

  79. #79 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis asks:
    “A question: Are any of the monkeys that are alive today members of the same “species” of monkeys that were alive 40 million years ago and that are my ancestors? I don’t know. Maybe somebody does. ”

    That is pretty much a great big “No”, and for several reasons, but again, I am going to just go with “NO”

    Jarvis then asks:
    “What do you mean by “direct?” If you mean that no monkey gave birth to a human, then, of course, you are correct. But some of my ancestors are monkeys. ”

    By direct we mean with no intermediates groups left in-between that are unaccounted for. The general public gets confused when we say things without a qualifier. When we say things like, “humans evolved from fish,” a very large amount of the general population actually think scientists are saying humans evolved directly from fish with no other intermediate groups involved ( as in; fish-basal tetrapod-amniotes,-basal synapsids-advanced synapsids {eucynodontids blah blah blah} etc…)

  80. #80 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago said: “That is pretty much a great big ‘No’, and for several reasons, but again, I am going to just go with ‘NO.’”

    Are you sure?

  81. #81 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis wrote: “By direct we mean with no intermediates groups left in-between that are unaccounted for. The general public gets confused when we say things without a qualifier. When we say things like, ‘humans evolved from fish,’ a very large amount of the general population actually think scientists are saying humans evolved directly from fish with no other intermediate groups involved ( as in; fish-basal tetrapod-amniotes,-basal synapsids-advanced synapsids {eucynodontids blah blah blah} etc…)”

    That’s a good point. I think these days when someone says that humans evolved from fish, a lot of people think the person means that a fish gave birth to human. And that obviously didn’t happen. So, it’s good to make clear that no fish gave birth to a human. And when talking with non-experts, it is good to try to avoid saying: “Humans evolved from fish.” It’s better to say: “Some ancestors of humans are fish.”

    But it is important for those of us who realize that some of my ancestors are fish to make clear to those who don’t realize this that, indeed, some of my ancestors are fish. It tends to help people understand the causes of the existence of, and differences, among organisms. When I tell people that some of my ancestors are fish, it helps them understand what I mean when I say that bacteria that was on earth about 3.5 billion years ago evolved into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. It gives them a picture to work with.

  82. #82 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Lago said: “That is pretty much a great big ‘No’, and for several reasons, but again, I am going to just go with ‘NO.’”

    Jarvis asks:
    “Are you sure?”

    Lago responds,
    placental mammal species just do not last 40 million years as “species”, never mind the fact that monkey is so ill defined that it would be rather uncertain for me to claim what was here 40 million years ago would qualify as monkey even though the Old World-New World split was considered to be about then…

  83. #83 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago responds,

    placental mammal species just do not last 40 million years as “species”, never mind the fact that monkey is so ill defined that it would be rather uncertain for me to claim what was here 40 million years ago would qualify as monkey even though the Old World-New World split was considered to be about then…

    So, are you saying that there were no howler monkeys that lived 30 million years ago? Are you sure? What about 20 million years ago?

    Are there any shrew species that have been alive for 40 million years? No shrew that is alive today was alive 40 million years ago. But were there any organisms alive 40 million years ago that (1) looked a lot like some of the shrews alive today and (2) could have successfully reproduced with some of those organisms alive 40 million years ago?

  84. #84 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis said:
    “And when talking with non-experts, it is good to try to avoid saying: “Humans evolved from fish.” It’s better to say: “Some ancestors of humans are fish.”

    When I express myself freely, and do not care about people misunderstanding me, I say that we are “modified fish.”

    Though this sound extremely accurate to me, to others who have not studied the developmental anatomy and gene expression, it sounds like crazed gibberish..

  85. #85 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis:

    I think you are confusing the term “species” with other terms like “families” and so on…

    Shrew is not a species as you know but you may have a species of shrew. This does not mean one can say because of this that a species of shrew has lasted 40 million years because shrews have last the same…

    If you want to define species I must leave you on your own, as all of these definitions are hotly debated and can be very arbitrary,,,

  86. #86 SteveyD
    January 16, 2008

    I was trying to figure out where I had seen Shubin’s name lately just before this post and finally put 2 and 2 together. Shubin is coming to my University (U of Utah) to give a public guest lecture in April. I’m taking an Evo/Devo Biology class this semester taught by a professor who knows him well and was on the Tiktaalik expedition. Shubin will be giving a guest lecture in our class the next day. Very exciting!

  87. #87 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    “Shrew is not a species as you know but you may have a species of shrew. This does not mean one can say because of this that a species of shrew has lasted 40 million years because shrews have last the same…”

    I know. The point is that here is what you said: “placental mammal species just do not last 40 million years as ‘species?’”

    That’s a strong claim. Are you sure you are right? I don’t know enough to be able to determine whether you are right. But is there not one single example in the history of planet earth in which a placental mammal could successfully reproduce with another very similar placental mammal that lived 40 million years earlier? What about 30 million years? What about 20 million?

  88. #88 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis

    I may be wrong but someone once told me the oldest living placental mammal species still living today is the Hawaiian Monk seal. How correct that is I actually do not know. I think it is supposed to be around 12-15 million years old, and is considered extremely old for a placental mammal.

    If you can find a species of placental mammal that has been around for 40 million years, please let me know, as I would be very interested in seeing it. I love learning I am wrong so, here is your chance.

  89. #89 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago said:

    “I may be wrong but someone once told me the oldest living placental mammal species still living today is the Hawaiian Monk seal. How correct that is I actually do not know. I think it is supposed to be around 12-15 million years old, and is considered extremely old for a placental mammal.

    “If you can find a species of placental mammal that has been around for 40 million years, please let me know, as I would be very interested in seeing it. I love learning I am wrong so, here is your chance.”

    I can’t research it now. Also, thanks for that information on the Hawaiian Monk seal.

    What about any kangaroos?

    Here is something on kangaroo evolution:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/v2h426714759483j/

    I wonder about lemurs. Spider monkeys? Howler monkeys?

    But here is my point: Some of my ancestors are fish. Some of my ancestors are monkeys. Some of my ancestors are apes. Some of my ancestors are bacteria. But, as you have said, the most recent common ancestors that I share with all the chimpanzees that are alive today are more ape-like than monkey-like. And, at least for pedagogical reasons, it is good to say that no monkey has ever given birth to a human. And, when talking to people new to evolution, it is generally better to say that “humans have ancestors that are fish” rather than say “fish evolved into humans,” as the latter may suggest that some fish gave birth to some humans, which didn’t happen.

    In addition, it is important for people to understand that a population of bacteria evolved into fish. And a population of said fish evolved into reptiles. And a population of said reptiles evolved into rodents. And a population of said rodents evolved into monkeys. And a population of said monkeys evolved into apes. And a population of apes evolved into humans. Or, if you prefer, we are apes.

  90. #90 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    First Jarvis, get someone explain the difference between a species and a term like, “Kangaroos.” I have sorta give-up on that point as you seem way too lost…

    Next Jarvis said:
    “In addition, it is important for people to understand that a population of bacteria evolved into fish. And a population of said fish evolved into reptiles. And a population of said reptiles evolved into rodents. And a population of said rodents evolved into monkeys. And a population of said monkeys evolved into apes. And a population of apes evolved into humans. Or, if you prefer, we are apes.”

    OK, Bacteria didn’t evolve into fish. We trace the development of eukaryotes to a complex process of endosymbiont association mixing several “Prokaryotic” organisms into the a hypothetical eukaryotic answer, and then we develop multicellular organisms…which vary and are selected resulting in multilayerd organisms like diploblasts and triploblasts. Then triploblasts develop coelomates (which seems to be a rather reversible condition based on selective pressures) and from these organisms we develop metamerism, which allows for repeat segments (how many times this evolved is up in the air). Then from these groups you get deuterostomes (probably from a protosome ancestor that became sessile and lost the selective pressure on what was anterior or not). Then we develop from these deuterostomes (if we can claim they are monophyletic) the chordates. Depending on how one defines fish, as soon as the chordates develop “vertebrae” or a similar place holder as we see in lampreys, you have yourself a fish.

    Next fish did not evolve into reptiles but evolved into stem tetrapods…

    Stem tetrapods evolution gives rise to early tetrapods and into a debated issue on amniote evolution, and where the lines split. Despite this let us just say synapsids develop early on and are quickly placed on a separate branch from diaspids. How these branches get separated bring about debate between people…

    Synapsid evolution is a wonderful subject and too in depth for this response, but let me reduce it to mammaiaformes developing based on some sorta arbitrary rules from advanced theraspids that leaves us with basal mammals that develop numerous branches, like the multituberculates, the marsupials and the placentals (Many, if not most, would object but I place monotremes under multi’s as a surviving branch).

    From placentals, after the more basal forms we see different “clades” developing under placentals which rodents is one of. This group does not give rise to primates, and therefore does not give rise to man…

    The above is extremely simplistic but it does show some of the problems in discussing things the way you have Jarvis, and does show that some are not only confusing to many, but are just plain wrong…

  91. #91 Jim Thomerson
    January 16, 2008

    If you look at relationships in a cladistic manner and think in terms of phylogenetic systematics, it will not bother you that all the gnathostomes except sharks, skates, rays, and ratfishes are included in the osteichthyes, the bony fishes. So, yes, apomorphic or not, we are all fishes. When I explained this to one of my cell biology colleagues, she responded, “That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard!”

  92. #92 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    actually, i read it as saying we didn’t evolve directly from fish, meaning fish->human.

    A pretty unlikely reading, since no one claimed that their parents were fish.

    rather, fish->amphib->etc.->human

    could be wrong, in which case then it would indeed be contradictory.

    Like I said.

  93. #93 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    “Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish.”

    Truth Machine said:
    “”You’ve just contradicted yourself.””

    Where did I contradict myself?

    “we did not evolve from fish” contradicts “we evolved from ancestors which in turn had ancestors that can be defined as fish”. It’s really rather obvious.

  94. #94 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    The pet peeve that I was inarticulately referring to is the assignment of directionality to evolution, like fish led to amphibians and yada yada yada humans, as though H. sapiens with upright posture and big brains are the inevitable outcome of the evolutionary process.

    There is directionality: fish->amphibians->humans, not humans->amphibians->fish. That has nothing to do with inevitability of humans.

  95. #95 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    The answer to from monkeys/why monkeys question

    The answer is: not all monkeys evolved into humans. It helps to remember that speciation is usually a result of population isolation.

  96. #96 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    “I still don’t see how “We evolved from fish” is in any way problematic. ”

    It is very problematic, as it is the basis of the whole debate. The problem of saying we evolved from “Monkeys” implied to many people that humans evolved directly from extant monkeys.

    The fact that people make erroneous inferences doesn’t change the fact we evolved from (ancient) fish.

  97. #97 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    Biologists have tried to explain that humans did not evolve from the extant apes, have also stated we did not evolve directly from either extant monkeys OR extinct monkeys.

    The common ancestor of humans and modern monkeys was a simian; it’s quite reasonable to call this simian a monkey.

  98. #98 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    So called “truth machine” said:

    “we did not evolve from fish” contradicts “we evolved from ancestors which in turn had ancestors that can be defined as fish”. It’s really rather obvious.”

    Then you are a moron and know little of the debates being discussed, as when the creationists we are discussing do ask, “If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” they are indeed referring to humans evolving from monkeys directly. This was all explained above so even a child such as yourself could understand.

    Also, no one in here, and not even the creationists I know of that I am referring to, are confused by what we mean by “we” yet you seem to be. We does not mean me, or my family or us in this room, but humans as a whole, as where was their derivation point evolutionarily.

    You sir, are a moron…

    Now where is this usual you were discussing?

  99. #99 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis, I think you are confused to my point.

    Or maybe he’s just right.

  100. #100 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    “Humans didn’t evolve from modern monkeys but monkeys that existed a long time ago and gave rise to both modern monkeys and modern humans” is a bit clunky, no?

    because again the above implies a direct evolution of humans from monkeys, which is incorrect, as we have went over numerous times..

    It implies no such thing. You are incorrect, as you have been numerous times.

  101. #101 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    When we say things like, ‘humans evolved from fish,’ a very large amount of the general population actually think scientists are saying humans evolved directly from fish with no other intermediate groups involved ( as in; fish-basal tetrapod-amniotes,-basal synapsids-advanced synapsids {eucynodontids blah blah blah} etc…)”

    I doubt that even a very small fraction of the general population thinks that.

  102. #102 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    I said:
    Biologists have tried to explain that humans did not evolve from the extant apes, have also stated we did not evolve directly from either extant monkeys OR extinct monkeys.

    The idiot responds:
    The common ancestor of humans and modern monkeys was a simian; it’s quite reasonable to call this simian a monkey.

    The idiot seems to have missed my full responses such as this here:

    “Many scientists have tried to correct them explaining that we did not evolve from the “monkeys” that are alive today, but evolved indirectly from monkeys that no longer exist (basically monkey-ape-human, not Monkey-human).
    People hearing scientists say, “We did not evolve from monkeys” when the scientists were referring to the living monkeys of today, and not the extinct “monkeys” we evolved from indirectly, ended up confused, and believed the scientists were saying, “Humans have no monkey ancestors in their past””

    “Truth machine…you are either an idiot, as I am assuming,,or you are purposely avoiding reading and comprehending what I have said…

  103. #103 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    “I doubt that even a very small fraction of the general population thinks that.”

    As I can now see, you have plainly not debated many creationists in your time…

  104. #104 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    Then you are a moron

    Sorry, but you’re wrong. And we evolved from fish (through intermediates, of course).

  105. #105 truth machine
    January 16, 2008

    The idiot seems to have missed my full responses such as this here:

    I haven’t missed your responses, but they don’t change the fact that we evolved from (ancient) fish (through intermediates). Everyone else understands this, and the fact isn’t changed by whatever confusions some people have or what scientists do to try to overcome these confusions. This is quite clear, and I’m done with you (as is everyone else, I suspect).

  106. #106 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    I said:
    because again the above implies a direct evolution of humans from monkeys, which is incorrect, as we have went over numerous times..

    Idiots says again:
    It implies no such thing. You are incorrect, as you have been numerous times.”

    Yes it does imply that as that is the root of the misunderstanding scientists have been trying to explain for the past several decades, or more, to creationists. They have been trying to explain direct evolution from, as in, “monkey-ape-human verses monkey-human,” as well as explain the difference between extinct monkeys and extant…

  107. #107 noncarborundum
    January 16, 2008

    Hey, Lago, I can call names too. Shall we have a go? Let me start:

    Thou tottering dread-bolted scut! Thou loggerheaded hell-hated boar-pig!

    (from the Shakespearean Insulter)

  108. #108 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Idiot now starts to get the use of a qualifier:

    “Then you are a moron
    Sorry, but you’re wrong. And we evolved from fish (through intermediates, of course).”

    The qualifier you have added is what I have been discussing, as without such, the general public gets confused on what science says, and when creationists get their hands on quotes they are able to use these lack of qualifier to misdirect the public into believing scientists are saying some rather silly things. This is a weapon that we’re are supposed to fight against to help clarify science for people that do not generally work in the field or read the literature in full for themselves (aka, the general public)..

    The fact that you cannot grasp this is amazing

  109. #109 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    “Hey, Lago, I can call names too. Shall we have a go? Let me start:”

    The person is an idiot as he made comments about me using the phrase, “as usual” even though I do not recall ever speaking to the individual before …ever…

    Also the person misrepresented what I clearly said by only using partial quotes. If he had read my posts fully he would have seen I answered to the aspects that were confusing him pretty much from the get go, but simply avoided this.

    The person was also insultive first while while doing the above.

    In short, I am sticking with “Time Machine” being an idiot…

  110. #110 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    “First Jarvis, get someone explain the difference between a species and a term like, “Kangaroos.” I have sorta give-up on that point as you seem way too lost…”

    I didn’t mean to suggest that kangaroos are a species. I wondered if there are any instances in which some of kangaroos could successfully reproduce with any other organism similar to them that lived 40 million years before them.

  111. #111 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    “OK, Bacteria didn’t evolve into fish.”
    Yes, they did. No bacteria evolved so that the daughter-organism was a fish. But bacteria are ancestors of fish. Bacteria evolved into fish in the sense that a population of bacteria evolved into various organisms, and at some point said bacteria became fish.

  112. #112 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    “Next fish did not evolve into reptiles but evolved into stem tetrapods…”

    Yes, they did. See my previous post.

  113. #113 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    “The above is extremely simplistic but it does show some of the problems in discussing things the way you have Jarvis, and does show that some are not only confusing to many, but are just plain wrong…”

    Are you an idiot? Fish evolved into rodents. No fish gave birth to a rodent. But a population of fish eventually evolved into rodents. All rodents have ancestors that are fish.

    The language can sometimes be confusing. But when I say that fish evolved into humans, I don’t mean that some fish gave birth to humans. I mean that all humans have ancestors that fish. That’s true.

    Don’t be an idiot.

  114. #114 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago wrote: “We does not mean me, or my family or us in this room, but humans as a whole, as where was their derivation point evolutionarily.”

    Lago, you, Truth Machine and I all agree agree that no fish gave birth to any human.

    But we also agree that all humans have ancestors that are fish.

    Fish evolved into humans in the sense that two fish have descendants that are humans. I’m one of their descendants. I’m not going to invite them to the family reunion. They’re dead. But I’m on of their descendants. And I’m proud of it.

  115. #115 Skwee
    January 16, 2008

    I just bought the book-go get it now. Maybe this is just my obsession with all things Tiktaalik, but it’s one of the better books I’ve read.

    And while we’re on books, PZ was quoted in the preface to the paperback version of The God Delusion. Yay PZ!

  116. #116 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Lago, we can all agree on two propositions:

    1. No fish gave birth to any human.

    2. Some (though not all) of my ancestors are fish.

    In addition, perhaps we can all agree on a third proposition:

    When discussing evolution with people who are new to it, it tends to be better to say “some of my ancestors are fish” than to say “fish evolved into humans.”

  117. #117 MAJeff
    January 16, 2008

    ordered two copies of the book. One for me, and one for my veterinarian, former HS biology teacher Dad.

  118. #118 FishMonkey
    January 16, 2008

    This silly fish/monkey/bacteria argument has to make you wonder why some people don’t believe in evolution when the evolutionists don’t even agree on man’s common ancestor.

    Even the name-calling is pedestrian.

  119. #119 PZ Myers
    January 16, 2008

    I’ve heard that he mentions Pharyngula in the book — you’ll have to tell me what it says.

    Here in benighted Morris, we have no real bookstores (the U bookstore’s main business seems to be selling t-shirts and keychains, plus textbooks) so I have to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

  120. #120 Jim Thomerson
    January 16, 2008

    We cladists regard all ancestors as hypothetical. Humans and monkeys share a hypothetical unique common ancestor which is more recent than the hypothetical common ancestor which humans + monkeys (including their unique common ancestor) share with guppies.

  121. #121 Leukocyte
    January 16, 2008

    Well, fishmonkey, what do you even mean by man’s “common ancestor”? One would have to specify with what other group one was comparing humans with to determine a common ancestor, unless of course you are referring to the common ancestor of all humanity, in which case the answer is simple: an early human.

    The disagreement, if there even is one, is more of a semantic dispute as to how best for us “evolutionists” to communicate the reality of evolution to people who have no experience with the idea thanks to a malevolent Christian organization and teachers too terrified to use the “e-word” in the classroom.

  122. #122 windy
    January 16, 2008

    Then you are a moron and know little of the debates being discussed, as when the creationists we are discussing do ask, “If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” they are indeed referring to humans evolving from monkeys directly.

    No, they are asking why the monkeys didn’t evolve, under the erroneous assumptions that evolution implies progress and/or a constant rate of change. If they were asking about direct evolution, they’d ask “Why don’t monkeys give birth to humans anymore?”

  123. #123 brightmoon
    January 16, 2008

    If we are apes is based on how one defines apes

    I was on a public bus a few days after they released Tiktaalik in the news and a friend asked me about human evolution. A little old lady creationist eavesdropper in the back seat started giving me the lecture, “Young woman*, you are not an ape!!!” I looked at her, tried to keep a straight face, and said,”Ape! Hon,you’re a fish with legs and you’ve still got your gills. They are right here.” while pointing to my throat

    *that was kinda flattering as im in my 50s

  124. #124 Jarvis
    January 16, 2008

    Fishmonkey wrote: “This silly fish/monkey/bacteria argument has to make you wonder why some people don’t believe in evolution when the evolutionists don’t even agree on man’s common ancestor.”

    What argument are you referring to? And why do you say it is silly? And what do you mean “man’s common ancestor?” Do you mean the most recent common ancestors that all humans share with all the chimpanzees that are alive today? Are you asking what those two organisms looked like? No person knows exactly what those two organisms looked like. But they looked more like me than like an elephant or a fish.

  125. #125 Ichthyic
    January 16, 2008

    >Hey, Lago, I can call names too. Shall we have a go? Let me start:

    Thou tottering dread-bolted scut! Thou loggerheaded hell-hated boar-pig!

    *ahem*

    I think you might have forgotten that pirate lingo is more appropriate for this venue?

    Ya horn swollgin’ swabbie!

  126. #126 Monado
    January 16, 2008

    “Your Inner Fish” is a great title for a book about evolution!

  127. #127 Lago
    January 16, 2008

    Jarvis,

    Is your first language English?

  128. #128 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    “Is your first language English?”

    You are an idiot. Would you like to meet?

  129. #129 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    You are an idiot. Would you like to meet?

    I think you should ask for a picture first.

  130. #130 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    Hey, Lago, where do you live? What do you?

    Hey, Lago, do have fishes that are ancestors? You piece of shit.

  131. #131 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    I think you should ask for a picture first.

    Why do you say that?

  132. #132 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    cause it sounded like you wanted to ask him on a date.

    you mean you didn’t?

    LOL

    if you start getting all huffy about an internet chat, you got more problems than will be solved in this thread, that’s for sure.

    Lago failed to express himself properly in his first post, and went downhill from there, but the rest of the responses aren’t much better, frankly.

    He was trying to equate the creobot slogan of saying darwinism means monkey->human (without incorporating the idea of intermediary ancestors) to the idea that they might end up claiming that darwinists claim fish->human (with no intermediates).

    I pointed this out early on, he agreed that that’s what he was trying to say, but the entire point is trivial, because even the creobots who say shit like “I am NOT a monkey” don’t gain much traction, let alone if some started saying “I am not a fish”.

    the rest of the thread degraded into an argument over a misunderstanding of semantics and expression.

    it’s fucking ridiculous to take it to the point of implying physical violence is necessary, so now you get to play the butt of the joke.

    clear? or have i gone on into needlessly detailed explanation?

  133. #133 Mena
    January 17, 2008

    Ichthyic, just be glad that this isn’t a thread that degenerated into two or three people praising themselves on their prowess with logic and how no true scotman would ever have evolved from a fish named Godwin. He would be in the species of Ad hominem, or something like that. It didn’t, did it? Sorry but I just can’t seem to get through these long ranty threads, espeically ones where people end up threatening other people with law suits or physical violence. Meeting for dating would be ok however…

  134. #134 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    “it’s fucking ridiculous to take it to the point of implying physical violence is necessary, so now you get to play the butt of the joke.

    clear? or have i gone on into needlessly detailed explanation?”

    I understand his point. No fish gave birth to a human. No one disagrees with that. And I’m right that some of my ancestors are fish.

    And he’s being a dipshit. He needs to learn.

  135. #135 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    No fish gave birth to a human.

    he’s not saying that (at least, that’s not what his original post was about).

    he’s saying that creobots might easily get confused and conclude that evolutionary biologists are saying that fish evolved directly into humans.

    and yes, they ARE stupid enough (some of them) to say something just like that.

    he was directly trying to compare it to the idiots who claim we all say that humans evolved directly from monkeys.

    not that a monkey gave birth to a human, or a fish gave birth to a human.

    though, come to think of it, I actually HAVE run into creobots who have accused evolutionary biologists of saying that very thing, amazingly enough.

    However, that is a different thing than what I think (and have been affirmed in thinking by #59) Lago was trying to say, if doing a poor job of expressing it.

    the rest of what he was getting at I haven’t the slightest clue, but I think his original gist was to admonish us to be very clear about what we mean when we say “humans evolved from fish”.

    my answer, still, to that is that the only people who would confuse it in the way he implies ARE in fact creobots, and that makes it entirely trivial in my book, since in reality i don’t give a rat’s ass what creobots manage to confuse in their tiny little brains, just so long as they shut the fuck up!

  136. #136 Alan Kellogg
    January 17, 2008

    Since we’ve advanced to tetrapod evolution, here are my thoughts on the subject.

    If you want to get technical here (it’s a Pharyngula thread, who doesn’t want to get technical), the reptile like animals mammals and the mammaliaformes arose from were not, technically speaking, reptiles. As a matter of fact, last I heard the animal Seymouria (once considered the first reptile) was actually a mammal-like reptile and thus not a reptile.

    From all I’ve read the sequence would appear to be tetrapods to amniotes and true amphibians, with the amniotes being divided into the reptiliaforme mammals and the reptiliaforme reptiles. From which we get, the proto mamaliaformes, the mammaliaformes, the proto mammals, and true mammals on one hand, the proto reptiles, true reptiles, proto archosaurs, true archosaurs, proto aviaformes, aviaformes, proto birds, and birds.

    But I’m just going by what people have written, so what do I know?

  137. #137 MAJeff
    January 17, 2008

    in reality i don’t give a rat’s ass what creobots manage to confuse in their tiny little brains, just so long as they shut the fuck up!

    But if they shut up, they cease to be entertaining. There is, you must admit, a certain pleasure in the simple act of pointing and laughing.

  138. #138 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    But if they shut up, they cease to be entertaining. There is, you must admit, a certain pleasure in the simple act of pointing and laughing.

    a role I’m happy to give over to Tom Cruise.

  139. #139 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    “he’s saying that creobots might easily get confused and conclude that evolutionary biologists are saying that fish evolved directly into humans.”

    I agree with him. And he has a good point here. And I said so.

    Here is one thing I said: “When discussing evolution with people who are new to it, it tends to be better to say ‘some of my ancestors are fish’ than to say ‘fish evolved into humans.’”

  140. #140 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    I agree with him. And he has a good point here. And I said so.

    then perhaps we could stop with the back and forth?

    seriously.

    can we go with the idea that Lago thought you misunderstood him and was wrong, and you thought he misunderstood you?

    far be it from me to play peacemaker, but once the conversation starts to degrade to the “where do you live?” point, it’s time to figure out how to move on.

  141. #141 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    Ichthyic wrote: “far be it from me to play peacemaker, but once the conversation starts to degrade to the ‘where do you live?’ point, it’s time to figure out how to move on.”

    It’s fine with me. And thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

  142. #142 MAJeff
    January 17, 2008

    Here is one thing I said: “When discussing evolution with people who are new to it, it tends to be better to say ‘some of my ancestors are fish’ than to say ‘fish evolved into humans.’”

    I’d even go so far as to say that “humans evolved from fish” is far better than “fish evolved into humans.” The former does not shut down the possibility of any number of intermediate creatures, as well as other species evolving from fish (of those ancient varieties), whereas the language of the latter does tend to imply a single directionality that is far more troublesome.

    The point that I–as a layperson who has a bit of knowledge (basic outlines etc.) but not lots of the specifics–think is important for communicating with folks like me, and those who are even less informed, is that the overall explanation be clear that we’re talking about long periods of time, lots of different branches, ancestors that are different that extant species but that are common to them. There are a number of ways to include that information, some of which are more technically important than others.

    my $0.02

  143. #143 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    a role I’m happy to give over to Tom Cruise.

    I should have said:

    a role I’m happy to have Tom Cruise play, if the creobots would just shut up.

  144. #144 MAJeff
    January 17, 2008

    …a role I’m happy to have Tom Cruise play, if the creobots would just shut up.

    I thought maybe you wanted him pull out the e-meter *wink wink*

  145. #145 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    doesn’t he keep his e-meter in the closet?

  146. #146 MAJeff
    January 17, 2008

    maybe that’s why he won’t come out. Sort of like Charlotte with her Rabbit? (OK, bad faggy Sex in the City reference)

  147. #147 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    The person is an idiot as he made comments about me using the phrase, “as usual” even though I do not recall ever speaking to the individual before …ever…

    What a fucking moron. I have read his repetitive and fulsome droolings on public forums before; they “usually” do not make things clearer, as is the case here. One might say “Yes, humans evolved from fish — via intermediates of course — but that can confuse some people who think it means humans were born from fish” instead of gibberish like “”Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish”.

    The fact is, though, that creationists don’t think that we mean that some fish gave birth to a human; as Windy noted, no one asks “Why don’t monkeys give birth to humans anymore?” And I would note that creationists want to know where the half-fish half-man intermediate fossil is, which they wouldn’t ask for if they thought we were talking about fish giving birth to humans.

  148. #148 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    he’s saying that creobots might easily get confused and conclude that evolutionary biologists are saying that fish evolved directly into humans

    But he doesn’t just say that, he says that when we say “humans evolved from fish” we are wrong — despite the fact that we don’t mean that humans were born from fish. And we’re wrong because the creobots might get confused. That’s sort of like saying that Darwin was wrong because of Hitler; it’s consequentialist nonsense.

    And then he says it over and over …

  149. #149 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    The fact is, though, that creationists don’t think that we mean that some fish gave birth to a human;

    sad to say, this actually isn’t accurate.

    I HAVE actually witnessed creobots so stupid they really did say exactly that:

    “if humans came from monkeys, show me a monkey giving birth to a human”

    also seen as:

    “show me a cat giving birth to a dog”

    surely you’ve seen these idiots? they are rather rare here, but I’ve seen them post on PT from time to time, and sometimes in the comments sections of online papers from the more backwards parts of the US.

    And I would note that creationists want to know where the half-fish half-man intermediate fossil is, which they wouldn’t ask for if they thought we were talking about fish giving birth to humans.

    that’s a different level of stupid, and for sure more common.

    speaking of just that kind of logic, didn’t you catch that letter from the mayoral prospect in Fla earlier this week?

    not quite as bad(?), but the logic of the half monkey/half human thing was there with his:

    “where are the 75% bird – 25% lizard intermediates” thing.

    seriously, NEVER take away from the level of stupid creationists are willing to embrace.

  150. #150 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    Here is one thing I said: “When discussing evolution with people who are new to it, it tends to be better to say ‘some of my ancestors are fish’ than to say ‘fish evolved into humans.’”

    This changes nothing; if the creobot has the supposed confusion, they’ll just take this as meaning that some of your great-great-great-…-grandparents were born from fish. Changing the language to avoid confusing creobots is useless; you have to first cure them of their misconceptions.

  151. #151 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    I’d even go so far as to say that “humans evolved from fish” is far better than “fish evolved into humans.”

    But this is the very thing that Lago stupidly objected to: “Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish”.

  152. #152 MAJeff
    January 17, 2008

    TM, that may be. I honestly tuned out when it started to get really hostile.

    But, I think if you watch the video–and this is what I was aiming for as a semi-informed layman–that Shubin uses “we evolved from fish” but also talks about the various connections that occurred over long periods of time. Like I said, I think the interview was a fantastic example of public science education. The contextualizing of “humans evolved from fish” hit all of the specific and necessary points. It was clear from the totality of the interview that the idea of a half-human/half-fish thing is ridiculously out of the realm of what’s being discussed.

    And Colbert was a willing and interested participant in that public education–I loved hearing his own sort of awe in saying “Is that tiktaalik”….shit, I’d probably just sit there and go, “That is so fucking cool.”

  153. #153 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    But he doesn’t just say that, he says that when we say “humans evolved from fish” we are wrong

    again, I understood it to be more of an admonition to be very clear about how it is expressed, rather than it being “wrong”, at least originally.

    he seemed to confirm that interpretation in #59.

    the repetition, while seemingly obscuring what I thought was his original point, is pretty much beyond me, however, and I’m not sure if he actually has a different point in the latter posts, or is merely rambling, or is just responding to some perceived personal attack.

    frankly, I don’t even care at this point.

  154. #154 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    I HAVE actually witnessed creobots so stupid they really did say exactly that:

    “if humans came from monkeys, show me a monkey giving birth to a human”

    also seen as:

    “show me a cat giving birth to a dog”

    surely you’ve seen these idiots?

    I’ve seen the latter … but no one claims that dogs evolved from cats, so there’s a deeper stupidity there that doesn’t relate to some misinterpretation of our saying “A evolved from B”.

    I don’t recall having seen the former, but can conceive of it.

    they are rather rare here

    Lago claimed that When we say things like, ‘humans evolved from fish,’ a very large amount of the general population actually think scientists are saying humans evolved directly from fish with no other intermediate groups involved ; while there may be some particularly stupid creobots who think that, I think the claim that “a very large amount of the general population” does is absurd.

    “creationists want to know where the half-fish half-man intermediate fossil is”

    that’s a different level of stupid, and for sure more common.

    Exactly.

    speaking of just that kind of logic, didn’t you catch that letter from the mayoral prospect in Fla earlier this week?

    Yes, I caught it — a creationist using the sort of logic I just said they use.

  155. #155 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    again, I understood it to be more of an admonition to be very clear about how it is expressed, rather than it being “wrong”, at least originally.

    Here’s the statement, the one I said was contradictory, again:

    Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish, but the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined as a fish.

    The only previous mention of fish (in the comments) was my “Humans did evolve from reptiles, and fish before them”. Doesn’t sound direct, does it?

  156. #156 Ichthyic
    January 17, 2008

    I think the claim that “a very large amount of the general population” does is absurd.

    agreed, which is why i thought the entire observation rather trivial to begin with, and said so (#51).

    Is there some reason to drag it out further at this point?

  157. #157 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    The contextualizing of “humans evolved from fish” hit all of the specific and necessary points.

    Quite so, which is why Lago’s insistence that humans did not evolve from fish, and his complaint about it being misunderstood when neither Shubin nor anyone here failed to contexualize it, is so foolish. But it’s an axe that he has ground more than once before and no doubt will grind again.

  158. #158 truth machine
    January 17, 2008

    Is there some reason to drag it out further at this point?

    Hey, I’m just responding to previous posts; no more posts, no more responses from me.

  159. #159 Lago
    January 17, 2008

    Wow Jarvis, you got a lot of ball challenging a person you’ve never met before. You see no problems with this action?

    OK, it has been claimed I was unclear. Please quote me where I was unclear, and do so without using partial quotes…

    My claims of the general public misunderstanding what evolutionary biologists are saying comes from years of talking with both lay-people, and creationists. Most people in the US, as well as many other places, have a profound misunderstanding of biological evolution. One of the most common misunderstanding is based on what a direct ancestor is verses an ancestor, and they use quotes to support their views. These quotes are pretty close to identical to the statements I have been trying to iron out here.

    My guess is that many in here simply have little experience in this subject. Ichthyic did seem to grasp what I was saying fine, but also claims I made other confusing statements. I would like an example of one of these…

    So called “truth machine” says he has read my comments before posted elsewhere and said these posts were lacking. Examples please?

  160. #160 Felicia Gilljam
    January 17, 2008

    Lago, I’ll also be happy to challenge you even though I’ve never met you before. Such is internet – and such is also the area of science in general. If a scientist were only allowed to challenge the ideas of those s/he met, where would we be?

    No one here doubts that you’re correct in that people are idiots and don’t understand evolution. We AGREE on that. So please stop harping on about it. What truth machine and Jarvis are objecting to is that you claim that humans do not have an ancestor that was a fish. Would you care to corroborate this statement?

  161. #161 George
    January 17, 2008

    Shubin was on Bloggingheads TV with Carl Zimmer:
    http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/8008

    When will PZ make a return appearance?

  162. #162 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    Lago, I’m sorry I used the offensive language and directed it toward you.

  163. #163 Lago
    January 17, 2008

    Felicia said:
    “What truth machine and Jarvis are objecting to is that you claim that humans do not have an ancestor that was a fish. Would you care to corroborate this statement?”

    Show me where I said the above? I quite clearly stated that I consider humans to be “modified fish,” as I do all tetrapods. I was showing how we should not state things without “qualifiers” when discussing things with lay people.

    The “challenge part” I was referring to is Jarvis saying:
    “You are an idiot. Would you like to meet?”

    I was not referring to being challenged on my points. Jarvis never challenged my initail comments of phylogeny verse implied direct descent,… only misunderstood them. Jarvis did go on to challenge my statement that placental mammals species rate changes are too fast to allow for unchanged species over a 40 million year span. I am not saying it is impossible, but I find it very unlikely. I told Jarvis I love being shown to be wrong, and if he so desired, he could do his best to do so on that subject. Jarvis presented responses to this that seem to show a total lack of understanding of what is meant by “species”

    Only one person has actually challenged me on anything I have actually initially said, and that was “Truth Machine” stating that people, even creationists, do not commonly misunderstand who we (meaning humans) are supposed to have evolved from directly, due to the wordings above such as, “We evolved from monkeys.” My claim is that creationists misuse these statements to represent a falsehood such as humans arose directly from a monkey ancestor, which we didn’t, and by way of this cause a muddying of the waters. They do that when we say, “Humans arose from fish” as well. This does not mean I am saying that there are no fish in our phylogeny, as we are indeed, cladistically speaking, Sarcopterygian fish. I am saying that creationists use such quotes to create skip and jump phylogenies that sound so ridiculous to lay people, that they turn away from the science as being junk. This is a common creationist tactic that I have dealt with for years

    For example: I have the “Atlas of Creation” right here next to me, and they show a squirrel evolving from a crocodile, and are making claim this is what evolutionists say, and one way they do this is by misinterpreting the quotes that do not use proper qualifiers.

    None of the above seems too hard to understand, and I do not grasp why so many people seem to think I am saying something else that I have never once said..

  164. #164 Lago
    January 17, 2008

    “Lago, I’m sorry I used the offensive language and directed it toward you.”

    I reread many of the things I wrote to you, and realize that you may have thought I was saying you were stupid. I never meant to do that, and I didn’t think you were asking stupid questions.

    I realize I speak in a weird English that is based on having a mother that taught me proper English, while at the same time growing up with mostly immigrants, and the children of immigrants, that spoke English using a foreign set of grammatical rules. Due to this, my speech is a unique hybrid onto itself. Because of the above, when I have continued miscommunications with someone, I general find, if I find out their background (such as, “Is English your first language”) I can sometimes see where the confusion lies. This is why I asked you if English was your first language. (I am often asked if English is my first language as well, and most often by people that speak several languages)

    I do see that, while I was calling “Truth Machine” names for misrepresenting my position, you might have taken my benign question as hostile. Sorry about that. It was never meant to be.

  165. #165 Jarvis
    January 17, 2008

    Lago, I appreciate your candor. And there is no need for you to be sorry. And I appreciate your commitment to resolving misunderstandings and getting at the truth.

    One of the difficulties of the internet is it can cause confusion and misunderstanding. We don’t have access to tone of voice, gestures and facial expressions.

    I was frustrated because I shouldn’t be doing this now, and I felt that my effort to clear up the confusion and resolve the issue wasn’t being respected the way it should be.

    I think this issue of how we convey what we understand about evolution to those who are resistant to it is an important issue. Sometimes it’s not easy to figure out how best to convey what we believe and know to be true, especially to those who are suspicions of it.

  166. #166 windy
    January 17, 2008

    Only one person has actually challenged me on anything I have actually initially said, and that was “Truth Machine” stating that people, even creationists, do not commonly misunderstand who we (meaning humans) are supposed to have evolved from directly

    May I point out that I commented on the same thing in #121, and me and TM are two different persons (although you might never see us in the same room at the same time)

    For example: I have the “Atlas of Creation” right here next to me, and they show a squirrel evolving from a crocodile, and are making claim this is what evolutionists say, and one way they do this is by misinterpreting the quotes that do not use proper qualifiers.

    There is no way to add all “proper” qualifiers in normal discussion. You can always claim that something is missing from the description. The reductio ad absurdum is that we should not say that humans evolved from anything, since even saying that humans evolved from their immediate predecessor species Homo whatever, invites the misunderstanding that they just one day up and changed into humans. But there is no such thing as “direct” as opposed to “indirect” evolution. Modern fish are just as directly descended from Paleozoic fish as humans are.

    And as for foolproofing your statements against creationist misunderstanding – “Make it idiot-proof, and someone will make a better idiot.”

  167. #167 Lago
    January 17, 2008

    “I think this issue of how we convey what we understand about evolution to those who are resistant to it is an important issue. Sometimes it’s not easy to figure out how best to convey what we believe and know to be true, especially to those who are suspicions of it. ”

    I, or course, agree. I think what is also important, as I am bettin’ you’ll agree with, is that, what works for one person, or group of people, may not work at all with others.

    For example, there are creationists that think the science is on their side and that there is a huge scientific movement called, “Intelligent design.” Often these people think what they call, “Darwinism” is dead, and only some weird liberal conspiracy is still clinging onto to such, “Outdated ideas.”

    This first example can sometimes be changed by simply bringing them into a proper University library, and showing them the vast output in Journals on evolutionary biology, as well as giving them good examples of obvious transitional forms…

    Next there are the deeply faithful creationist that think the concept of Evolution is part of Satan’s great plan, and, even though there is evidence for such, it is lie. Anything goes for these people, and quote mining is a very common way to lie for them in defense of their faith. They generally know quite well they are misusing quotes, but feel they are justified due to being on the true side of God.

    The only real way to fight the above is to in no way attempt to change these creationists minds, but to show where they lie, and how they manipulate wordings to their advantage to fool people still on the fence who do not have much experience in the biological, and or geological sciences. It is this second group I have been discussing on this thread, and, in my experience, the people these creationists are after, are often the most important..

  168. #168 Lago
    January 17, 2008

    Windy…

    I was not trying to make a perfect statement out of anything actually, but I had come in after reading Leukocytes post above and the comments on that post. I was trying to clarify some issues that were confusing people.

    The main thing I started to discuss, as stated above, was a misconception lay people started to spout. This misconception was that we are not from monkeys. As I had explained, people used to ask, “If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” Scientists tried to explain 2 things to help that ended up setting off even more confusion:

    1. We are not from the modern monkeys you see alive today in the zoo and “monkey” is not even a well-defined term used in some strict scientific way

    2. Monkeys are not our “direct ancestors” but apes are (depending on some semantics, this is based on how we define apes, and whether or not we care to arbitrarily separate us from them or not)

    What the lay non-creationist often heard was, “Science does not say we came from monkeys,” Referring to it as Leukocyte did above, (if I remember right), “The Monkey fallacy.”

    What had happened was that many well-meaning people misunderstood what the scientists were explaining and started to yell at creationists that science does not say humans evolved from monkeys but shared a “common ancestor.” This last phrase has been used by numerous creationists I have talked to and debated to make claim science is in conflict with itself on this issue.

    The fact is, we did evolve from what can be defined as a monkey, but just not directly, as we still consider apes and monkeys separate in common terminology (cladistics opens up another can of worms).

    By using clarifiers somewhere in the early part of the debate on evolutionary issues, we help clarify things, and at the same time, disarm the creationist liars…

    This is basically all I tried to say…

  169. #169 e-okul
    January 17, 2008

    Lago, I’m sorry I used the offensive language and directed it toward you.

  170. #170 truth machine
    January 18, 2008

    What truth machine and Jarvis are objecting to is that you claim that humans do not have an ancestor that was a fish.

    No we aren’t.

  171. #171 truth machine
    January 18, 2008

    Only one person has actually challenged me on anything I have actually initially said, and that was “Truth Machine” stating that people, even creationists, do not commonly misunderstand who we (meaning humans) are supposed to have evolved from directly

    Windy also challenged this, as did Ichthyic, notably in #155. But that’s not my primary “challenge”. That was to your ridiculous false claim that “we did not evolve from fish”. All your blather about confusing laypeople and needing qualifiers is arrogant garbage because no one here, nor Shubin, failed to provide qualifiers; no one said or implied that any human had fish as parents. You’re a pompous condescending jackass who insists on lecturing people at length about things they already know.

  172. #172 Lago
    January 18, 2008

    Dear Time Machine…

    We are living in world where most people believe in some form of creationism. Over 50% believe Jesus is soon on his way to return to this world, and millions claim to believe we did not evolve at all, but were created from dirt, yet you claim:

    “All your blather about confusing laypeople and needing qualifiers is arrogant garbage because no one here, nor Shubin, failed to provide qualifiers; no one said or implied that any human had fish as parents.”

    No one ever said squirrels arose from croc, and no one ever said birds developed “halfwings” before full wings, or a “half an eye” before a full, yet these ideas are spread all the time due to misquotes, and huge amount of the general public believe these ideas to be what is taught by evolutionary biologists. We can list endless commonly held claims by creationist that are due to such misquotes. The fact is, more creationist claims are believed in this country that evolutionary ones. If you are in denial of this, then you should probably get your head out of the freakin’ cave you have it in.

    I also said nothing about Shubin, as I am quite sure he uses numerous qualifiers all over his book, and if he didn’t, he is going to find out real fast how quickly AIG will start spreading BS claims based on misuse of his quotes. The fact is Shubin discusses. at this site, the needs to shape what you say by the audience, and that is “Exactly”the same as what I said above…

    Finally “Truth Machine” you’d made claim about seeing me on other sites or blog boards, and used that to say of me, “as usual.” I asked you to provide evidence of that, and you still have shown nothing. How about that evidence?

  173. #173 Lago
    January 18, 2008

    One quick example of what I have been saying:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071128145712AAyy86L

    Notice how this poor bastard tries to explain the truth?,,, yet it is the people who believe themselves to be informed that are actually full of it? Notice how they ignore him? This is because what he is saying contradicts what they think they have heard.

    More from pbs:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/faq/cat02.html

    Notice the lack of qualifiers for such statements as:

    “Humans did not evolve from monkeys. Humans are more closely related to modern apes than to monkeys, but we didn’t evolve from apes, either.”

    The above cause huge amounts of confusion with the general public, especially those attempting to debate creationists with their own limited knowledge on the subject. No attempt was made to distinguish extant from extinct, or direct from indirect.

    another:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=1006041311733

    In this, we start off with the same confusion, but the “Best answer guy” starts to explain what is commonly left out of the explanation that allows for such confusion. He starts with the same type of statements that people often misunderstand, and then he straightens things out. This is rarely done, and, when not done, is the cause of so many types of confusion.

    Simply put, I have seen this misunderstanding, along with many others, for years and years, and it takes a lot to undue much of the time. These same set of confusions were actually stated on this thread before I posted, and it was to these statements I first responded. From that point on it has simply been a lot of misinterpretation of what I said by people like so called, “Truth Machine”

  174. #174 spurge
    January 18, 2008

    Lago.

    What point are you trying to make?

    You just did exactly what TM called you out for. Telling us stuff we already know.

    It seems that you are blaming Scientists for the ignorance of creos.

    Please correct me if I am mistaken.

  175. #175 Lago
    January 18, 2008

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/faq/cat02.html

    Quote:

    “1. Did we evolve from monkeys?

    Humans did not evolve from monkeys. Humans are more closely related to modern apes than to monkeys, but we didn’t evolve from apes, either. Humans share a common ancestor with modern African apes, like gorillas and chimpanzees. Scientists believe this common ancestor existed 5 to 8 million years ago. Shortly thereafter, the species diverged into two separate lineages. One of these lineages ultimately evolved into gorillas and chimps, and the other evolved into early human ancestors called hominids. ”

    The above is from pbs, notice how it did exactly what I said? Now does this confuse the issue? Let’s see

  176. #176 Lago
    January 18, 2008

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071128145712AAyy86L

    The above is named, “Atheists, if we didn’t evolve from monkeys, why do Creationists still say Evolution claims we did?”

    Most responses to the question go like this:
    “People who assert that evolution claims such a thing don’t understand evolution at all.”

    One did finally say:
    “Sheeesh, how many times do I have to explain this? We did come from monkeys.”

    Despite the above, the rest of the people posting in the thread ignore him.

    Above are two examples of what is rather commonplace. This has been what I have been discussing. This same issue started to be discussed on this thread, and it was to this problem I was responding.

  177. #177 Jim Thomerson
    January 19, 2008

    How about saying we evolved not from a monkey, but from the unique common ancestor of humans + the various chimpanzees, who was a another member of the great ape family Hominidae?

  178. #178 truth machine
    January 21, 2008

    How about saying we evolved not from a monkey, but from the unique common ancestor of humans + the various chimpanzees, who was a another member of the great ape family Hominidae?

    You’ve presented a false dichotomy; the most recent common ancestor of humans and monkeys was not a great ape.

    The most recent ancestor of humans and chimps was indeed a great ape, and the most recent common ancestor of humans and fish was a fish — more accurately, a population of great apes, and a population of fish. Which makes it true that humans evolved from apes, and that humans evolved from fish. That many sorts of confusions can stem from those statements if they aren’t carefully explained doesn’t make them false.

    It’s useful to consider how we got here: Lago said in #43 “Again, semantics but, we did not evolve from fish” — the only time that claim was made was when Colbert introduced Shubin with “an evolutionary biologist who says that mankind evolved from fish”. Now Lago says “I also said nothing about Shubin, as I am quite sure he uses numerous qualifiers all over his book…”. What a clown. Shubin says in the video “your armbones have evolved from fins”. Perhaps, following Lago, he should have said “the ancestors we evolved from trace their ancestors back to a point where we eventually come to an ancestor that can be defined to have had fins” — that’s obviously so much clearer.

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