With all of the social issue nonsense being foisted on us by the Republicans, culminating in a vacuous creationism bill in Tennessee, I was compelled to revisit the Carl Sagan series, Cosmos.
I watched the second episode where Sagan boldly declares, “Evolution is not theory, it is fact.” He then went on to explain the story of the Heike crab and the markings on its shell that resemble a human face. Because of this visual interpretation, the local Japanese fishermen throw the crabs back out of remembrance of the warriors who lost an ancient battle in the area, according to Sagan. He used the story to illustrate what is meant by “artificial selection” as opposed to “natural selection.”
So I tooled around the internet, looking for articles that continued the discussion of the Heike crabs. What I found was an article on Brittanica.com that accused Sagan of ignoring the fact that because the crabs in question were “tiny” and “inedible,” Sagan’s recounting of the tale is just an example of “pareidolia” or the seeing of recognizable features in vague patterns. What the blog seems to suffer is an inability to see the forest for the trees. Sagan was demonstrating that, for whatever rationale we choose, we interfere in the survival of plants and animals in the same way that nature exerts its own influence on the survival of life on Earth.
I wanted to leave a comment on the blog and tell them what a half-assed effort they made on the overall topic discussion, but I ran into a situation I keep finding more and more on blogs and forums on the internet: I had to comment using an account that had nothing to do with the site I was reading. In this instance, I could comment using Facebook, Twitter, AOL, or some other accounts I had no interest in ever patronizing. What the hell is going on here? I didn’t get a LinkedIn account so I could tell some sports blog that the Vikings are not going to build their offense around a wide receiver or use my WordPress account to tell people to lay off all the anthro and furry creepiness. For some people, they aren’t going to care – I mean some people inexplicably see some value in Facebook and Twitter – but it is a nuisance that must have some kind of corporate consolidation money-motive behind it. But, ironically, I also see it as a form of “artificial selection”: evolution on the internet in action.