The search for signs of intelligent life

Evolution, idols and cellphone madness -- the methods of modern communication, this week in TT.


Salon Staff
August 26, 2005 9:20PM (UTC)

White House

Save the Dinosaurs! The evolution debate thread

pt bridgeport - 06:33 p.m. Pacific Time - Aug. 22, 2005 - #55 of 151

Omphalism is an elegant theory. Natural selection is an elegant enough concept in its own right, but history of any kind -- and as Gould never tired of pointing out, evolutionary science is a historical science -- is messy and tangled and overly detailed. Just as the theory behind the Reynolds number has a definite elegance and beauty to it, but the second you try to apply it, you encounter all the unwieldy (although also beautiful in their inelegant way) complexities of turbulence.

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Evolution has the hold that it has over scientific minds because of its power to explain an enormous array of striking patterns in the data. No more and no less. When one of your I.D.ists can explain how it is that all the birds of Galapagos just happen to have been designed to look like closely related finches, with not a robin or a crow among them, come back to us. When one of your I.D.ists can explain how it is that all the mammals indigenous to Australia just happen to have been designed as non-placental, come back to us. When one of your I.D.ists can explain why all vertebrates just happen to start out with slits in their necks where the gills go, and just happen to have their very first veins be the ones that run by those once oxygen-rich gill slits, come back to us.

I.D. explains nothing. It doesn't aim to explain anything. It just aims to lie back, slack-jawed, marveling at the unexplainable complexity of it all. Which is not, in the first place, science. And which is also, in the second place, a surefire formula for failing to notice all the additional intriguing patterns that show up when you become seriously interested in explaining the patterns that you have noticed.

That's quite possibly I.D.'s biggest single failing. An atrophied sense of wonder at this wonderful universe.

Television

The Reality TV Cliché Thread

NicoleM - 06:51 p.m. Pacific Time - Aug. 19, 2005 - #40 of 69

That was ABsolutely dreadful. If I'm being honest with you, it was like watching my 92-year-old mother on the verge of breaking her hip in a limbo contest.

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BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

I'm just being honest!

Don't listen to him! Don't listen to him! You took the song and you made it your own. Your spirit touched everybody in this room! And that dress is perfect for you.

Yo, yo, yo, dawg. You know you my dawg, but man, I don't know man, it just wasn't hot, man. It was a little pitchy. Sorry, man, it just wasn't hot.

Social Issues

CELL HELL

Deruo - 08:29 pm Pacific Time - Aug 17, 2005 - #70 of 213

I used to live in Japan where everyone has a cellphone. Several years ago, before they became popular and carryable here, I remember having coffee with a friend of mine. Her cellphone kept going off and she kept answering the damn thing. Finally I got so ticked off I got up and left. I don't think she ever did get the hint, as I know someone else who did the same thing to her.

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Unfortunately my job requires I be reachable, but if I'm meeting with someone, client or friend, the phone goes to silent mode and I don't answer it until my time with them is finished.

I think they (and the Internet) have changed the way we relate to one another. I know people who can chat for hours online or text messaging, but can't hold a face to face conversation with someone.

Will never forget one day at lunch ... saw a table of four women, all with cellphones out, plunking away. Presumably sending text messages to other people rather than having a real conversation with the person next to them/across the table. They did this until the food came, then put their phones on the table, and even answered messages during the meal. Fascinating but sad to watch.

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Posts of the week is an ongoing feature of Table Talk, Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found here in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up here.


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