Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Last night, I found myself watching television with my husband - he likes to watch NOVA because part of his job involves promoting science to the general public, so once a week, the little TV in the corner of our living room gets turned on and he settles in to watch, while I grab some computer time or some reading time.

But I decided last night to watch along with him. Oh, boy. After I'd just posted on pigeonholing folks over the way different people process information, I was appalled to see this episode. You see, NOVA last night was talking about a family that has some members who are unable to walk upright easily. The family has experienced discrimination from their local community, on top of the difficulties arising from (apparantly) some differences in brain formation, probably due to a recessive gene passed on from both parents (who appear to have been first cousins once removed.)

The suggestion was made that this represented a "backwards step" in evolution. Oh, for pity's sake! This is a disability exacerbated by poverty and isolation. A child born with the exact same condition in the US would probably receive at least some physical therapy, or at the least, crutches. And there would be no suggestion whatsoever that they were some sort of "backwards step" in evolution.

This kind of nonsense does no favors for those who wish to teach evolution. (Hmm, let's set up the world's easiest strawman...) nor does it help the family. A little respect, folks, okay? Sheesh.


Blogger ef (Pam) said...

What? You mean evolution isn't a roadmap created by God soley to take billions of years to come up with white middle class american humans?

I'm a little baffled by the widespead lack of clue about basic scientific concepts (even on NOVA apparently!)

Let alone calling any person a "backwards step in evolution" - what's up with that? (though if I had thought of it in middle school, it would have made a handy verbal weapon I suppose)

11/15/2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

I'm writing a letter to the folks who produced this travesty to let them know I'd appreciate both some respect for the people involved and a little actual science please. (For heaven's sake, what next? Phrenology?)

Besides, I think evolution was to produce cats. What other species have managed to domesticate people into bringing them food and comfort on demand?

11/15/2006 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I intentionally didn't watch that episode BECAUSE of the previews that suggested that they would be depicted as evolutionary throwbacks!

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who was annoyed by that. Now I wish I'd seen it so I could write a letter, too.

To begin with, it's hugely disrespectful of the people who were the subject of the documentary. Second, you would think that scientists/the people who produce this sort of thing would realize that making science sensationalistic and scary only makes people more resistant ("Look, kids--that's what evolution will do for you. Have you walking like a *monkey* . . . "). Misinformation under the guise of promotion is a disservice.

11/20/2006 8:38 AM  

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