September 6, 2006

Random Thoughts

I've been trolling the threads over at Fark and things were getting kind of heated (and interesting) in one of the Steve Irwin threads -- so it's related to yesterday's posting, but not really a follow-up.

The farkers seem to be divided into 2 distinct camps: those who think Irwin was a veritable man of giant bronze cajones, and those who think the man was an idiot deserving of a Darwin Award. The cajones camp are irritated that Darwinians are "disrespecting" him in death, and argue that Irwin can't be a recepient of a Darwin Award because he has spawned 2 kids. The Darwinites make jokes and say he can get and is deserving of a Darwin Award. They are fighting like wet cats in a sack. Which brings me to my random thought for the day: The Darwin Awards.

Some farker was kind enough to cut and paste a section from the Darwin Awards website that details what makes one eligible for a Darwin Award, and it clearly states that you can have offspring and still get a Darwin Award. Yet many over there are claiming "Well, those are the "rules" for an Award, but I think they're wrong and they just don't understand Darwinism/natural selection, and I know better, so my beliefs are the right ones." OK, what are these people not getting about the rules that the creator of the Darwin Awards set down? Everything has rules, and whether or not you agree with them doesn't mean they don't apply. It really is that simple.

Besides, the way I understand natural selection is that certain traits/genes end up being eliminated from the gene pool because they have some disadventageous affect for the affected organism(s). So, Irwin had 2 kids -- big deal. That does not mean he passed his "let's go out and poke at venemous spiders" gene on to his kids. They could grow up to be complete non-risk takers. So, you can still have kids sans the defective gene, and naturally select that gene out of the pool (in this case barb to the heart) and that particular trait from your genetic line has not contaminated the gene pool.

Additionally, creatures with maladaptive genes reproduce all the time -- yet over time those better suited to the environment produce more offspring and eventually the trait is eliminated from the gene pool. While it can happen in a single generation, it can also happen over time.

It also makes me think about this. I have an identical twin who has a nephew, but I have no kids of my own. If I die by some stupid act of my own which is Darwin Award worthy -- am I ineligible? Technically, my nephew carries 50% of my genes, so I live on in the gene pool. And what about those people who have may have siblings they don't know about? Because if the fark-darwinianin purists who worship Irwin's giant brass-ones have their say, the trait has to be eliminated completely from the gene pool. In which case, only people with the last existing copy of a Darwin Award gene who kill themselves in a remarkably spectaluar method are eligible for an Award.

And finally, Cojone Purists -- get a grip! The Darwin Awards are loosely based on evolutionary principles and are used as a means to poke fun at the stupid things that people do, which usually results in their (un)timely demise. To wit:

The weather's a little too rough to go out in the deep sea where we were going to film today, so let's take this time to get some footage about stingrays for another show I'm doing. Let's go to a place where we know they are and there are lots of them -- swimming around, hiding on the sea bed, you know just doing their whole manta ray thing in their natural manta ray environment. And then let's take a gander at one of the largest bull male manta rays we can find. Now, no one should be surprised that Mr. Irwin got stung! It is a little shocking that the ray managed a heart blow, but this is not surprising. Smart people avoid dangerous creatures. Smart people don't swim in ray infested waters. Smart people, well, they read the article that is actually linked to at Fark, and get all the facts before they open their mouths!

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