Misconceptions about evolution: why humans did not evolve from monkeys

Part 2 in a series. Click here for part 1: why species, not individuals, evolve.

The one useful thing my sophomore year economics professor ever said came when discussing the first fundamental theorem of welfare economics (the idea that in a more or less perfect economy, markets optimize everything and government intervention is detrimental). “Nobody misunderstands the fundamental theorem,” he explained. “People who broadcast incorrect interpretations do so for their own gain.”

Charles Darwin Evolution Theory Natural Selection Genes Ape Monkey Drawing Hornet Ridicule Picture Weekly Show

This 1871 editorial caricature depicting Darwin as a monkey exemplifies the contemporary (and present day) ridicule of his theories.

Much is the case with evolution. Since Darwin’s famous On the Origin of Species, many have seen his theory as a threat to their social, political, or economic influence. As a result these people have spread false information to ridicule it, degrade its value in the public eye. This is how the most established fact in science has become riddled with controversy and why many people erroneously believe humans evolved from apes.

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Misconceptions about evolution: why species, not individuals, evolve

Evolution Species Individuals Evolve Pokemon Charmander Charmeleon Charizard Pokemon Weekly Show

My first exposure to evolution came through Pokémon. I can recall watching in awe as a creature became enveloped in an aura and morphed into a new monster. It looked something like this:

As you and I both know, this is not how evolution works. Aside from a protein named after Pikachu (Pikachurin), Pokémon does not offer a faithful lesson in biology. While evolution has become required in most classrooms in the US and the rest of the world, many misconceptions about the most established fact in science abound. In this new segment I will address the most common of these misunderstanding. Have any questions of your own? Please suggest them in the comments or message me directly. Enjoy!

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Your brain is a liar and can’t be trusted

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Ever heard the saying “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear?” It’s a fun and useful rule of thumb. Who hasn’t seen or heard something outlandish every now and then? What may come as a surprise, though, is how accurate this statement is. Mounting evidence suggests that our brains are not as trustworthy as they lead us to believe.

Look at this screen. It’s bright and colorful (and is filled with awesome posts you should totally like and share). But what if I told you that what you see might not actually be there? Unknown to most, the human eye has a blind spot—a rather sizable one, in fact. The area where the optic nerve connects to the eye lacks light receptors, leaving it unable to gather information. As strange as it may seem, you have two gaping holes in your vision.

Blind Spot Test Example Disappear Cool Eye Sign Vision Pattern Elephant Weekly Show

Close your left eye and look at the plus sign. Slowly move your head toward the screen, keeping your eye on the plus sign. When the elephant enters your blind spot, it will disappear.

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13 must-see historical photographs

The Internet is an incredible place. In it you can find all the news, games, and The Weekly Show blog posts to fill your wildest dreams. Scattered throughout the interwebs also live a collection of amazing photographs, ones that allow us to peer into hidden moments of history. Here is a collection of mind-blowing historical photos. As always, please share if you enjoy the post, and leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Let me know if you would like more content like this in the future! Click on a photo to expand it and view it in the gallery.

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Picture this: you’re watching a game of Russian roulette…

Picture this: you’re watching a game of Russian roulette. The first five people pull the trigger and draw blanks. Handing the revolver to the final participant, the previous player reassures him, “No need to worry. We all pulled the trigger, and we’re fine!”

Now, anyone who understands the rules of the game knows that the last player is not fine. In fact, we know with one-hundred-percent certainty that said player is going to meet a very unfortunate end. But why would the other participant suggest that he has nothing to worry about? As exaggerated as this example may seem, this type of reasoning pervades everyday decision making.

Cliff Diving Dangerous Crazy Beautiful High

“Dangerous? What are you talking about? I do this every day.”

How many times have you pointed out a friend or colleague’s risky behavior to the response of “What are you talking about? Everything worked out fine.” This reasoning often rears its head in the aftermath of questionable decisions, such as swearing at the principal or doing a cannonball off the roof (“Look, see? The bleeding stopped all by itself.”). Called inductive reasoning, the logic works by superimposing the past onto the future. One past outcome automatically becomes all future outcomes, disregarding the possibility of different results. As silly as it sounds, we actually use inductive reasoning on a daily basis. How do we know the sun will rise tomorrow? Well, it always has, so we just assume the rules of physics will remain unchanged. Even so, this thought process can lead to rather peculiar conclusions.

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