Pharyngula

The ducks are gonna get you

Some poor young girl, deeply miseducated and misled, wrote into a newspaper with a letter trying to denounce homosexuality with a bad historical and biological argument. She’s only 14, and her brain has already been poisoned by the cranks and liars in her own family…it’s very sad. Here’s the letter — I will say, it’s a very creative argument that would be far more entertaining if it weren’t wrong in every particular.

I’ve transcribed it below. I couldn’t help myself, though, and had to, um, annotate it a bit.

Homosexuality, including same sex marriage, is not an enlightened idea [But tolerance and acceptance of diversity are]. The Romans practiced homosexuality [Every culture has had homosexual individuals; they differ only in the degree of suppression. The Romans actually regarded homosexuals as effete and inferior, and used accusations of gayness as expressions of contempt, just like modern middle schoolers]. Surely, after 2000 years, our level of intelligence should have evolved somewhat, so that we can truly pride ourselves of being cleverer than our forebears [Two millennia is actually a short span of time for biological evolution. Also, have you ever heard of the Dark Ages? Progress is not inevitable].

If homosexuality spreads, it can cause human evolution to come to a standstill [Nope. Homosexuals reproduce. Homosexuality refers to behavior and social preferences, not to biological limitations. Also, many heterosexuals choose to not reproduce as well, and it does not stop evolution in its tracks — in complex social organisms like ours, there are many ways to contribute to the species that don’t involve breeding directly]. It could threaten the human position on the evolutionary ladder [There is no evolutionary “ladder”. You have some serious misconceptions about biology, young lady!], and say, ducks, could take over the world [Evolution is not about taking over the world. There is no pinnacle. Every species has a different niche, not a different spot in a hierarchy of dominance]. Ducks always nest in pairs [This is called the naturalistic fallacy. You cannot draw conclusions from how one species behaves and declare that it justifies one specific kind of behavior in another species. I could point to gorillas, and announce that we should live in polygamous harems; I could point to bonobos and say that public homosexual acts ought to be accepted as a matter of course, and that we ought to have casual sex as often as we say hello. If you’d like, I could give you a long list of very kinky sexual behaviors practiced by various species on the planet; shall we decide that because ducks rape, so should we, lest we fall behind evolutionarily?] and if we allow same-sex marriage, then the ducks will have evolved further than we have [Ducks are just as “evolved” as we are, and we’re not more evolved than any other species on the planet. Evolution is about branching trees, not climbing ladders]. We will be in danger of all being equal, with ducks more equal than us [That makes no sense].

We should learn from history and not be stuck with copying ancient behavior [Are you, by any chance, a follower of Jesus or Mohammed? Because you know, those faiths are all about imposing ancient rules for behavior on modern society]. The government has no right to bring us back to the stone age [But the Middle Ages are OK, I suppose?]. I don’t want my children to have to compete with ducks [Wait. I’m trying to puzzle this out. Because you think ducks are all heterosexual, and your children will all be heterosexual (brace yourself, you might get a few surprises in 10 or 20 years there), and a policy of tolerance will turn every other human being homosexual, you’re afraid your kids will be competing for mates with ducks? Or is it that duck heterosexuality is the only criterion that makes them acceptable for positions of power, so years from now, your children will find themselves in a workplace dominated by duck bosses, who have overcome the handicap of lack of manipulatory appendages and very small brains to be in charge of everything? I don’t get it]. I want them to evolve further than I have [But you don’t believe in evolution!]. Any self-respecting human would aim for that, too. [Are you aware that the Abrahamic faiths all preach that humanity is in a state of ineluctable decay since the Fall and that human sin corrupts us? I don’t think any self-respecting human should be a Christian or a Jew or Muslim, for the same reason]

None of this really bears any weight for be, because I do not believe in evolution [You don’t understand it, either]. However, the powers that be believe in evolution, and have made many decisions based on it. They should be consistent: if you believe in evolution, then you can’t be in favour of homosexuality [If you accept evolution, then you recognize that there are diverse successful sexual strategies in the world, and you also have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of biology, so no, you should be much more accepting of reality], or the ducks will get you in the end [You can live your life in fear of ducks, or you can love your fellow human beings and encourage more love in the world. Your choice].

Jasmin H, aged 14 [You have time to grow up!]
Homeschooled [Obviously], Scargill

Comments

  1. #1 Colchester Plumber
    October 13, 2012

    i really enjoyed the topic . loved it . i will surely book mark this blog . thnx a lot . hope to read out some more interesting blogs soon . have a good day
    Colchester Plumber

  2. #2 Lukas
    Switzerland
    October 13, 2012

    I’m calling Poe.

  3. #3 Bob Lewis
    October 13, 2012

    A good annotation. One point: I think the line about all being equal with ducks being more equal is an attempt to reference Orwell.

  4. #4 Don
    October 13, 2012

    Pretty brilliant, arguing with a 14 year old.

    The paper shouldn’t print letters from kids that will embarrass them later. You’re an ass.

    Her parents may be horrid, too, but that’s no excuse for you.

    Pathetic.

  5. #5 Tom
    October 13, 2012

    The answer is simple, embrace our inter-species relationships! We must inter-breed with the ducks for the sake of our species!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPcBI4CJc8

  6. #6 Milton V.
    Close to Cal Academy of Sciences, SF, CA, USA
    October 13, 2012

    ((If homosexuality spreads, it can cause human evolution to come to a standstill )) I thought she didn’t believe in that evolution stuff, so how can it come to standstill?
    I wonder what her mom & dad tell her when she feeds the ducks in the park. “If you turn gay, you’ll grow up to be quackers.”

  7. #7 Hercule
    Maryland
    October 13, 2012

    Humorous (though I suspect the girl was serious), but one quibble. The idea of a “fall” and “original sin” is Christian, as is the idea that Jesus redeemed humanity from that “original sin”. The interwebs seem to indicate that Islam may have incorported this idea, but I am not sure. However, Jews do not believe in a fall or the idea of original sin. The idea of Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah is that children are not even responsible for their ethical and religious behavior until adult, and must be properly trained by their parents. As the mishnah paradoxically puts it “all is foreseen (by God) but free will is given (to man)” to choose ethical behavior or not.

  8. #8 Jason P.
    New Mexico
    October 13, 2012

    She had to choose ducks, in particular… That’s great. Ducks are SO gay, and I mean that literally. Both male and female ducks have been spotted engaging in homosexual behavior. They court each other, have sex, engage in pair-bonding activities, and even parent together. Their level of gayness (on a scale of incidental to moderate to primary is ranked as “moderate” and it’s been seen happening in the wild, semi-wild, and in captivity. Up to 19% of all mate pairs are homosexual. Furthermore, some are bi, and some even form “trio-bonds,” while lasting male-female pairings are rare.. (Source: Biological Exuberance, by Bruce Bagemihl, PhD. It’s the encyclopedia of animal gayness.) Further-furthermore, at least one duck has engaged in homosexual necrophilia (article here: http://www.nmr.nl/nmr/binary/retrieveFile?instanceid=16&itemid=2574&style=default) Take that, Jasmin! I hope she repents and changes her silly ways.

  9. #9 Nad
    Glasgow
    October 13, 2012

    I think it quite obvious that the writer intended her piece as a parody,perhaps the bit that gives it away is that she puts down fact she is home schooled.Of course anti gays must deny evolution so they can claim homosexuality as unnaturalAre we the only organism which views homosexuality as somehow amoral?

  10. #10 Emma
    October 13, 2012

    @Nad

    Of course we’re the only species which views homosexuality as immoral. We’re the only species with much of a concept of morality to begin with.

    Which, now that you mention it, is also something people with a limited understanding of the meaning of “survival of the fittest” tend to assume is not adaptive. Watch out, Jasmin! You better abandon all sense of right and wrong, or the ducks will get you in the end!

  11. #11 Lol Mahmood
    UK
    October 13, 2012
  12. #12 Rob Crompton
    UK
    October 13, 2012

    “I don’t want my children to have to compete with ducks. I want them to…”
    I shouldn’t do this – she’s a kid of fourteen, for goodness sake – but here I wanted the next bit to be…
    …compete with sparrows

  13. #13 Ed Darrell
    Dallas
    October 14, 2012

    There you go, P.Z.: It’s ducks, all the way down!

    (And the crazies will say, “Of course! We’ve heard of eider down!”)

  14. #14 Lee
    West Hollywood
    October 14, 2012

    And btw little girl ducks exhibit homosexual behavior too

  15. #15 Shanna
    Arkansas
    October 14, 2012

    Just a note: please do not equate all homeschoolers with ignorant crazies. There are a growing number of us secular homeschoolers who want our children to have an excellent education that we cannot obtain in our local school districts; and who do not want our children indoctrinated in a religious school. My local school district is particularly bad, and going further downhill each year both in test scores and graduation rates. This may be due to the fact that they are effectively bankrupt.

    My homeschooled 12-year-old daughter can explain to you the basics of how evolution works, as well as the basic geologic processes that have shaped our planet and the timescale involved. (We’re studying the earth sciences this year, currently working on plate tectonics.)

    It just pains me to see us all painted with the brush of ignorance and fanaticism.

  16. #16 David Hewitt, M.D.
    October 14, 2012

    I, for one, welcome our duck overlords…

  17. #17 House MD
    October 14, 2012

    Heterosexuality has been practiced for millions of years. It is time we learned from history and not be stuck with copying ancient behavior.

    If not, then the … lesbian lizards who reproduce parthenogenetically will take over world.

    Jasmine H’s father.
    Neverschooled, Scargil

  18. #18 Slugsie
    October 14, 2012

    Didn’t the ancient Romans also practise heterosexuality? Surely we should have progressed beyond that ancient system to something more modern by now?

  19. #19 Bob the Chef
    October 14, 2012

    What I find even more humorous is that you gave this article the serious attention you did, point by point, and on your blog. I’m glad you’ve finally begun debating people your own mental/emotional age.

    P.S. Much of the populace, whether it believes evolution is real or not, (mis)understands the process as progressive and in a naive sense teleological. She is by no means an unusual 14 year old. I would go so far to say she is a representative example.

  20. #20 Kimberly
    St. Louis, MO
    October 14, 2012

    Obviously homeschooled?! Not all homeschooling families share this perspective. This letter is a sad testament to the narrow minded views of some people, but to lump homeschoolers into that group is unfair.

  21. #21 GuardDuck
    US
    October 14, 2012

    Interesting transcription. Your quoted “fear of the duck(s)” is called “Anatidaephobia.” I, for another, welcome our duck overlords….

  22. #22 proximity1
    October 14, 2012

    For perspective, I offer you the following cited article for your consideration. It, too, presents an argued position.

    However, its author isn’t fourteen years old nor, I dare say, a product of home-schooling—though I don’t necessaarily object to home-schooling per se. In the old days, all the best-educated people started out in home schooling and, lest we forget, Bertrand Russell was home-schooled before going to Trinity College, Cambridge. But, that said, let us return our attention to return to the case example cited below, the author of which is Kevin de Queiroz, and, at the time of the article’s publication, was and may still be associated with the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

    Please read and reflect on this article’s virtues for sound reasoning and high-quality expository writing. Then we can discuss with a good deal more perspective the demerits of the young author whose letter is the object of derision in this thread.

    Speaking for myself, not even as a high-school biology student once upon a time should I ever have dreamed of or dared to submit somethihg of similar quality to a teacher of mine; yet this article was not only publicly presented, it was even given prior review by certain of the author’s professional peers.

    Read and judge for yourselves, dear blog readers.

    Out of respect for copyright, I present here a link to the .pdf file of the full text of the article.

    Ernst Mayr and the modern concept of species
    by Kevin de Queiroz

    http://www.pnas.org/content/102/suppl.1/6600.full

  23. #23 just me
    October 15, 2012

    You do realize that letter is a parody, don’t you?

  24. #24 Derpy2001
    October 15, 2012

    The letter was amusing, but I think you engaged in overkill when you posted the letter’s text actually intermingled with a larger volume of takedown than the origiinal letter had.

  25. #25 Flo
    October 15, 2012

    Yeah, it’s dumb, but she’s just a dumb kid and a victim. Attack the dumb adults who are so prolific in spreading this stuff. For instance, just a few days ago, a Repub member of the house committee for science claimed that evolution and the big bang etc. are all “from the pit’o’hell”. His comments deserve some tender deconstruction.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57527387/gop-rep-calls-evolution-lie-from-pit-of-hell/

  26. #26 MarlisB
    October 15, 2012

    I absolutely cringed when I saw that this ignorant, and mislead child signed off as a homeschooler – yegads! And when I saw your annotation of ‘obviously’ by it, in your otherwise extremely well written side notes, I became irate. You, in that one word, lumped all homeschoolers into one barrel. Clearly you don’t know many. We, like any other group of individuals come in a variety of favors. I’ve known public, even private schooled kids with as messed up a head as the fourteen year old whose letter you picked apart like yesterday’s cooked chicken.

    Not all homeschoolers believe in the drivel your young friend spouted off. You should visit our homeschool group someday, if you are in the area, we are Midwesterners too, to mess with the stereotyping a bit further.

    Now go pick that apart. I need my morning cuppa.

  27. #27 garicgymro
    United States
    October 15, 2012

    Erm… why are people acting as if this isn’t a parody?

  28. #28 Whateverman
    Central MA (US)
    October 15, 2012

    Because it’s indistinguishable from sincere religious indoctrination

  29. #29 Solkir
    October 15, 2012

    @Don

    When one expresses their opinion in a public forum, nobody has any right to complain when someone else refutes that opinion. “She’s only 14″ is not a valid argument. Shold we not hold people accountable for spreading misinformation simply because theyre under 18?

  30. #30 cialis
    October 15, 2012

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  31. #31 Piotr GÄ…siorowski
    Poland
    October 15, 2012

    Before anyone condemns homeschooling, remember that Michael Behe homeschooled son Leo turned atheist at the age of 17. No form of education capable of achieving that can be completely bad.

  32. #32 The Dudes Daddy
    DaddingDudes.com
    October 15, 2012

    I think she was aiming for humor by being absurd (the whole duck theme), but since the serious points that she’s trying to make are a lot more ridiculous, the humor gets lost.
    Or was she serious about the ducks?
    It’s not fair to put down such a young girl, but the real issue is the darkness and ignorance, which her opinions represents.
    Good annotations; enjoyed the post!
    The Dudes Daddy

  33. #33 Jr Deputy Accountant
    jrdeputyaccountant.com
    October 16, 2012

    This is CLEARLY a troll. And everyone has been trolled, hard. In some mother’s basement, some 40 year old dude with a not that funny sense of humor can’t believe his troll made it this far.

  34. #34 mk
    October 16, 2012

    Much fallacious reasoning found in the comments. If one notes that some poodle is obviously a dog, it is irrelevant to object that there are dogs that aren’t poodles. Although even that ridiculous rant from MarlisB is no match for the idiocy from trolls like Don and Bob the Chef (so if PZ has finally begun debating people his own mental/emotional age, does that mean that he was previously debating younger people?).

    @Derpy2001 What you call “overkill” is a standard feature of fisking.

  35. #35 Flo
    October 16, 2012

    So, a lot of people are referencing Poe’s Law:
    “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”
    But unless I’m mising some crucial info, it looks like a lot of people here simply think what the girl said is parody because of how outrageous and ridiculous it is.

    Is there some kind of anti-Poe’s Law? That “people will mistake a serious fundamentalist statement for satire when it is ridiculous enough”? Or would that still fall under Poe’s Law?

    See, this might very well be satire. But apart from how weird the statement is, I don’t see a reason to think so, yet. And, honestly? We’ve seen weirder statements that were meant seriously.

  36. #36 Sids
    October 16, 2012

    For all of those people complaining about the home school remark, allow me to point out that PZ’s implication is basically: ‘all people this ignorant are home schooled’. Your own arguments are on the lines of: ‘not all home schooled people are ignorant’. The two statements are not in any way contradictory. PZ’s claim leaves open the possibility of intelligent people also being home schooled. Please check your logic, you are arguing against a strawman.

  37. #37 Spud
    New Zealand
    October 16, 2012

    In fact, she understated her case. If everyone adopted homosexuality the human race would cease to exist in one generation. That’s natural selection.

    Even so, why the global attack on a 14 yr old girl? To say homosexuality is in the genes is a convenient political fiction. She’s saying that if you believe in evolution, you cannot believe homosexuality is genetic, and her case is reasonable, albeit put forward in a quirky, humorous manner.

  38. #38 purplekoolaidblog
    October 16, 2012

    Actually, since many duck species don’t pair bond, the Canada geese will really be the ones taking over. And the crows, too… just waiting for the right moment when the worldwide power grids go out, so they can swoop down and steal all our pocket change…

    (BTW I can’t believe the worldwide media is taking such an obvious bit of satire seriously. “more equal…” was just one tipoff).

  39. […] to say, the creative, if unintentionally hilarious, letter has prompted some fiery responses. Wrote PZ Myers of Science blogs: "Because you think ducks are all heterosexual, and your children will all be heterosexual […]

  40. #40 Matvyei
    London
    October 16, 2012

    It is clearly too tempting to rip apart an argument written by a very young person with a significant disadvantage in fact-based education. Does PZ Myers really crave a feeling of superiority that much? This child’s argument is not worth the attention given to it here. It would be more interesting to know what newspaper published this and to question their motives.

  41. #41 cloud man
    Honolulu
    October 16, 2012

    Maybe ducks would do a better job than humans

  42. #42 Tribeca Mike
    NY, NY
    October 16, 2012

    I’d rather have a bill than get bills. Just saying,

  43. #43 Antinomian
    Among the Floridiots
    October 16, 2012

    “God created Donald and Daisy, not Donald and Daffy.”

  44. #44 Jonathon
    United States
    October 16, 2012

    One note of correction: Muslims do not believe in “original sin”. That is a Christian idea. Muslims believe that all of us are born sinless.

  45. #45 Boris
    USA
    October 16, 2012

    It’s just like a “duck” to critically annotate, point-by-point, such a ridiculous argument with a (purported) child. Just like ducks to compulsively make fools of themselves trying to justify their self-serving aberrant behavior to children. In my country (USSR) and many others it is actually a crime to advocate homosexual behavior to children. Imho, you ducks have been trolled.

  46. #46 Piotr GÄ…siorowski
    October 16, 2012

    @Boris: “In my country (USSR) …”

    There is no such country, Boris, it was dissolved in 1991.

  47. #47 andythepict
    scotland
    October 17, 2012

    poe, however on a serious point, anti gay campaigners always seem to come up with the argument that gayness will spread (?) and we will die out as a species, the world is already vastly overpopulated, a few more gay people is exactly what the world needs!!

  48. #48 Luke
    Santa Clara, CA
    October 17, 2012

    @Spud, seems you don’t understand genetics either. Also, have you ever considered the possibility that the unbounded growth of the human population through mindless reproduction is not necessarily beneficial.

  49. #49 ente
    October 17, 2012

    This whole thing reminds me of Anatidaephobia. The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you!

    Now, everything makes sense!

  50. #50 Dan Baker
    Huntington Beach, CA
    October 18, 2012

    Nice job! I was expecting your replies to be snide and condescending to her but they weren’t… well I suppose a little condescension was unavoidable. But you weren’t mean to her and I appreciated that. She isn’t stupid. She’s just “young-and-stupid.” There is a difference.

  51. #51 Lori
    Maine
    October 18, 2012

    Poe? Is that you?

  52. #52 kuvasz
    October 18, 2012

    “Homeschooled.” The parents of that kid ought to be charged with child abuse.

  53. #53 Xavier Goldie
    Australia
    October 19, 2012

    Unfortunately, this is not a parody…this is a letter to the editor in New Zealand; there has been media coverage there regarding it, in particular, her mother defending her views.

  54. #54 Valeria
    East Coast
    October 22, 2012

    I, for one, welcome our new duck overlords.

  55. #55 TnkAgn
    Eugene, Or
    October 22, 2012

    As an Oregon Ducks fan, I look forward to the day when the Ducks rule the world! BWAAAAAHHHAAA

  56. #56 smy
    October 23, 2012

    “We will be in danger of all being equal, with ducks more equal than us”

    It sounds like a reference to Animal Farm, possibly homosexuality and communism go hand in hand.

  57. #57 John Wain
    October 23, 2012

    In RuneQuest, the ducks really can get you in the end!

  58. #58 Knight of the Normal Table
    October 24, 2012

    Let me very clear on the subject of homersexuality.

    HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN BEFORE GOD and God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah becuase of it and he will continue to judge nations who endorses the opposite of what HE created.

    Homersexers will nevr understand. Some will chnage their ways and switch back to straight again. Few and far between but it does happen. Exodous International is a prime example of a work in progress.

    I applud this young girl for standing up for morality and for standing up for Godly principles. However, she is wrong about one thing. Human evolution is a fke and very dead “science”, If eveolution were true, then homosexulity would not exist unless nature is trying to weed out the human race by depopulation. Then again we don;t need nature for that. We already have Van Jones, the Democrat party and the UN.

    There are plnety of young boys and girls like this who re NOT homeschooled. Sure government schools teach that homersex is cool and should be accepted as normal. The thing is that when that kid comes home he/she is taught that government school is wrong and then on Sunday when church time comes around Sunday School and preaching reiterates the wrongness of homosexers doing their thing.

    So, no matter what government school is teaching tht child, parents and church leaders are unteaching it. Same thing with evolution, and the same thing with American Global Warming (AGW). I personally teach young kids that global warming is real. I teach them that carbons fairies, the cousins of tooth fairies, go round the sky every night sprinkling carbon dust and heating the earth., By the time they get old enough to not believe in carbon fairies they wil also be smart enough to realize my intention of making it up and they will also doubt American Global Warming and hopefully liberalism in general.

    We need more parents and churches to enhance the morality of tomorrow’ future generation. I congradulate this young girl and send her my blessings as Knight of Sacred Writings of Ruah. Our society will bless and protect those like her and our society will tear down and destroy those who defy those like her. Kligu Rihshij alma Jin Ruah! , That is to say Strike down the scaled evil one.

  59. #59 Knight of the Normal Table
    October 25, 2012

    Oh and for the record, spelling is irrelevant on a site where the majority of the people think they are related to apes.

  60. #60 Dean Jacobson
    Majuro, RMI
    October 25, 2012

    At the Coos Bay Marine Lab, there was a same sex pair of ducks (a Brown duck and a mallard, if my memory serves) living very happily together. Both males.

  61. #61 cialis
    Turkey
    October 25, 2012

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  62. #62 cialis
    Turkish
    October 25, 2012
  63. #63 Insufficient Combatant
    October 25, 2012

    @ Dean

    I might add that the ducks are ANIMALS. We are set apart from animals. We have a soul, unlike DUCKs. Our actions make us accountable unto our creator, again, unlike animals.

  64. #64 Mary
    USA
    October 26, 2012

    I don’t see that this letter is necessarily parady. If you read all the arguments for Noah’s ark it is obvious that even many adults are not capable of critical thinking when it comes to their cherished beliefs. They are based on emotion, not logic.

    The old “if we evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkey’s” argument is usually stated by ADULTS not children. Should I really have to explain that no, we are not evolved from monkeys and nobody ever said that we were? That in fact we have a common ancester? That the idea of a species automatically evolving to a more complex state is not supported by the theory of evolution? That in fact if a species is adapted to it’s environment that there is no reason for it to change much, if at all?

    Although this girl used very childish “logic” for her argument, it is really based on the very old idea that promoted by ADULTS that if homosexuality is accepted, the human race will cease to exist. Of course that is so stupid because most people are not attracted to the same sex. I would say that all you have to do is see the number of pregnant teenagers out there to know that that is not likely to happen! (LOL)

  65. #65 Prasad
    Plano, TX
    October 26, 2012

    But I have to say this. This girl has the potential to be elected to the State Board of Education. Real talent. Raw talent if you will. And she is just so young!

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