the contrarian

 

WILLY BRANT’S DIARY

A NEW THEORY OF EVOLUTION – CONTINUED

After our discussion on the female form, and evolution, Joe looked outside and said “It’s too hot to work outside today; anyway I don’t have any hay that’s dry. I have some soup bones simmering on the stove, and some stew beef thawing in the sink, enough for us both, maybe we could play a bit of crib and make up a soup for supper?”  Joe calls his favourite concoction soup, but it is so full of chunks of meat and veggies and macaroni you could walk on it without sinking.  But it’s not stew either, because he doesn’t thicken it.  It’s a lot better than when I try making it, he uses his mother’s recipe and I think he neglected some of the key spices or herbs when he told me how to make it.  Some cooks are like that.

So Joe fished a couple of beer out of the fridge, and went looking for the crib board. Knowing that I have a better chance of winning if I can get him thinking about something else, I threw out “We were talking about being evolved from apes or monkeys, some people think only 8000 years ago, but I think we have been around a lot longer than that.”  Joe takes the bait, “Science seems to be pretty much agreed that we have been around for 100 000 years, something to do with what they call ‘Mitochondrial DNA’, whatever that is.”

It’s his deal, so I throw in “yeah, but science agreed at one time that the earth was flat, in fact they tarred and feathered the guy who suggested it might be round. Also it isn’t long since they thought you could cure people by draining out all their bad blood, and they weren’t too impressed with the guy who said surgeons really ought to wash their hands before they dig in.  Science isn’t democracy, the guy with the most votes isn’t always right.  I think we have been around a lot longer than 100 000 years.”

“How so?” asks Joe. “Well,” says I, “Let’s look at dogs.  With some really serious selective breeding, we have evolved dogs from something sort of wolf-y, to critters like say a miniature poodle, or a Saint Bernard.  That took thousands of generations, with careful guidance, so how many generations would it take if it were by accidental mutations?  Lots, I say.  100 000 years is only”, here I do some finger-calculating, “about say 5000 generations.  Not enough for us to evolve to have black skins where there is too much sun, and white skins where there is not enough, and hair or no hair here or there, or all the other differences between us.  I say a Million years.”

Joe thinks a while, then says “They go by fossil bones too, every time they find a different bone, they thing they have a different creature. So if they found a fossil Saint Bernard bone, they would think it was not the same species as a Poodle bone.  Really not very scientific, is it?  There’s lots of fossil bones out there millions of years old, but they say they are not human if they don’t have the great big head we modern folks have.  Doesn’t seem like a really airtight way to decide what is our species.  They say we need that great big head to hold a great big brain so we can have language and all that.”

‘Which is just plain dumb!” from me. “That Saint Bernard’s brain is 5 times as big as the poodle’s, but the poodle is smarter!  Anyway, studying wartime brain injuries, soldiers who have had some big parts of their brain shot away are not disabled in any way, science can’t find any use for those parts!”

After two hands of crib without speaking, Joe goes “So, following your usual line of reasoning, I guess you are going to say the Space Aliens gave us our great big heads so we look more like them, they just haven’t got around to filling the brain up yet! Or maybe those parts are just for them to communicate with us, and we aren’t aware of it!”

I ignore that. Joe is sounding a bit mean; I wouldn’t say he is a sore loser, but I am up two games and a skunk and he isn’t smiling.  I suggest we get busy peeling some vegetables for that soup, and Joe puts away the crib board and goes for another round of beer.  Just another day.

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