Faye Flam’s cat answers creationists

Faye Flam, science writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is besieged by creationists since she takes a strong naturalistic and pro-evolution stance in her column Planet of the Apes.  Since she’s had trouble contacting scientists over the holidays, she turned the job of answering those creationists over to her cat Higgs (yes, he’s named after the boson).

Go have a look at how Higgs pwns the ignorant at “Yellow cat attempts to debunk creationist misconceptions.”  It’s great, and the last line is precious.

Serious Higgs is serious.

47 Comments

  1. Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    For those answers, I think Higgs deserves not only a treat, but some time chasing something colorful on the end of a string, followed by bellyrubs.

    Faye, you are taking proper care of your master, no?

    …and do you think you could convince him to spend some time here on WEIT? We could use his help keeping the trolls in line….

    Cheers,

    b&

  2. Filippo
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Faye Flam Flamingly Fulminates against Flim Flam.

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      More like, Higgs hisses at hapless histrionic halfwits.

      b&

      • Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Alliteration always allows admonition of ad nauseum arguments.

        • Filippo
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Here’s a couple more alliterations (unrelated to the topic):

          Heard in the Navy: “Prior Proper Planning Prevents P###-Poor Performance.”

          Song title from a WW I era alliteration-suffused song: “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers”

          • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

            Try saying those fast. Ss and Ps always get me. My daughter and I were reading Fox in Sox yesterday (which prompted my response on the broom thread)and those and letters that sound like those are the hardest in the rhymes.

            • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

              The secret is to find the rhythm inherent in the rhyme and emphasize that. Most people trying to recite tongue-twisters just try to get the syllables out of their mouth as quickly as they can. You can actually go faster with more accuracy if you instead focus on the rhythm.

              SHE sells SEA shells BY the sea SHORE.

              SISter Susie’s SEWing shirts FOR solDIERS.

              PETER Piper PICKED a peck OF pickled PEPPERS.

              HOW much YUCK would a WOOD chuck CHUCK if a WOOD chuck WOULD up-CHUCK?

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Marta
                Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

                You’re trying too hard.

                Tongue twisters are easy if you concentrate on content instead of words.

  3. Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t take a genius to see that animals all have a common ancestor (good job, though, with trying to mix some truth in with the lie), the problem is that you think humans evolved from soup. And then somehow found other ”common” species to marry…

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      What took you so long to get over here?

      • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        @masterrosie What kind of soup would that be, exactly? Chicken? Minestrone?

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      That’s…not even worng.

      You know, it wouldn’t kill you to read Jerry’s book — the one with the same title as this Web site. At least that way, you’ll know what it actually is that evolutionary biologists think happened.

      But the central point you’re missing is that no organism is ever more significantly different from its parents than you are from yours. (There are rare exceptions, but they’re irrelevant to evolutionary biology since they almost never survive.)

      Are you a perfect clone of your parents? Of course not. But are you very similar? Naturally.

      And that’s all that evolution needs — those tiny, minor variations from one generation to the next.

      Trace your ancestry and that of some random person on the opposite side of the planet, and you’ll find, even if you look nothing alike, you’ll share a great-great-great…great grandmother, probably no more than several centuries ago.

      Trace the pedigrees of a Toy Poodle and a Great Dane, and you’ll find that, a couple-few thousand years ago, they shared a great-great-great…great grandmother who was a wolf.

      Do the same with a cat and a dog, and you’ll find, about 55 million years ago, they both had the same great…mother that was neither a cat nor a dog, and more different from both cats and dogs than Poodles and Danes are from wolves, but the ancestor of all cats and dogs nonetheless.

      Now, do that with a human and a chimp…and you only have to go back about six million years to find a not-human not-chimp mother whose descendants, after six million years of normal minor intergenerational changes, include both you and the just-deceased Cheetah the chimp.

      The last universal common ancestor, who would have been a unicellular organism (that didn’t even vaguely, remotely resemble modern unicellular organisms in anything other than size) living in a soupy pond, lived over three billion years ago. Which, if you consider how many generations it would take with only minor changes in each generation, is just about right.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Actually the biosphere had to convert the previous carbon dioxide dominated atmosphere to an oxygenated one before the more interesting life (or so we like to think) came along.

        So the biosphere had excuses for not getting there sooner.

        Not so for our sloven troll. What kept him from being “First!”? Did he have to change gears first, or is the old thinking mechanism just rusty?

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I think you’re at the wrong blog. You should be taking that idea up with Ray Comfort, not Jerry Coyne. Coyne is actually familiar with evolution.

      • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Indeed, one might suggest that Jerry is so familiar with evolution, that he wrote the book on why it’s true!

        …sorry. No, no need. I can find my own way out….

        b&

        • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          Jerry’s book is so long, though, and has so many words, and it costs so much! Why slog through all that when, for 49 cents, you can get everything you need to know about evolution from a 24-page tract from Chick Publications?

          • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

            Boy, ain’t you tellin’ the truth! Jerry’s book is like, a couple hundred pages, and costs sixteen dollars!

            Why, you’d have to flip burgers for over two hours to be able to afford it, and you’d have to read a half-dozen pages every day for an entire month to make it to the end!

            Who has that kind of time or money? Maybe Bill Gates since he retired, but certainly not anybody else.

            Cheers,

            b&

            • Centricci
              Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

              Well, you won me over.
              I have to see what all the fuss is about 🙂

              Though, it will be in the original english.
              I made the mistake of reading “God Is Not Great” in a danish translation.
              Man, that was stupid.

          • Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            That is a great WordPress username.

  4. Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I wonder how low your IQ would have to sink if you’re going to ask the first question.

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      The questioner wasn’t thinking in terms of biology.

      You know how, in the Star Wars universe, it’s a miniclomnian infection that sets the Jedi apart from the mortals? You can’t be a Jedi without miniclomnians.

      Well, it’s the same thing in the Christian universe. It’s an infection with the “soul” parasite that defines personhood, and only humans are susceptible to infection. One might suspect some sort of genetic defect unique to the species, but that part usually gets obscured with technobabble about the particle of the week — as are questions of the nature and origination of the parasite itself.

      Incidentally, that’s how we know that souls like…shall we say…warm, moist, dark environments. It’s because they infest their hosts at the same moment the spermatozoa enters the ovum. It’s why Christians were initially so opposed to in vitro fertilization…though they’ve since revised their position on that one, for reasons as yet unexplained.

      Yes, it’s an utterly bizarre fantasy, but it does make a perverted kind of sense within the context of the story.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Marella
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        It’s midichlorians, just FYI.

        • Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Really? You sure that isn’t a brand name of a bleach dispenser you can control with a music synth?

          b&

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I think my post was deleted. It had a link to my YouTube video titled “The Truth About Evolution and Religion.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaF8vX6HXQ

      I’ll be glad to answer any questions you have.

      • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        I have no intention of watching the video, but the comments are well worth reading.

        • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          David, you’re missing out. The video is hillarous! He uses Gould to prove that Creationism is correct, he claims that animals have no consciousness and blithely states that humans are “superior” to animals. All with no evidence (as though any of that is un-ethereal enough to apply evidence).

          • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            Other David, I fear you are confusing belief for biology. Biology has never proven the existence of “souls”. Your video begins with that assumption. I could film a video about where elves come from, but if the video first assumed that elves exist, it would not be terribly scientific, now would it?

            I’d be curious to know how you define “superior”. Humans are the only animal (aside from domestic ones), after all, that does not make a positive contribution to the ecosystem.

            • Diane G.
              Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:27 am | Permalink

              There are other invasive animal spp that are deleterious to their new environments . . .

          • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

            I thought it was well worth setting fire to within the first minute. It takes talent to be that wrong just in philosophy in so few sentences.

        • Joris M
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          Youtube comments… that is a first.

          He lost me on the PhD, it is a sad truth that anyone throwing their degrees around like that loses much of their credibility.

      • Marta
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        “I think my post was deleted.”

        If only all of them were.

  5. Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    **Sigh, Dr. Coyne, thanks for reminding us that we are not closely related to cats.

    *Drowns sorrows in cup of hot chocolate*….

    • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Hey, what’s a hundred million years between species? I’m sure we can still find common ground!

      b&

      • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        I’m grumpy in the morning, does that count?

        • Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          You’re grumpy? You should see the post I made earlier in the “Dark Matter” thread. Jerry even chewed me out for it. It’s a damned good thing I didn’t post again until after the tea had finished steeping….

          b&

          • Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Ha! I know, my keyboard should be automatically disabled before 9:30 am.

  6. IreneD
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    And if the creationists are not satisfied by Higgs’ answers, we can always point them to another yellow cat who will be happy for a little sport: Jeff.

  7. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Flam seems to opt for a Standard Model Higgs!?

    “- What do you call it when the LHC collides protons and a cat appears out of the debris?

    – Successful cat hoarding?”

    • Still learning
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Where’s Schroedinger when you need him?

  8. J
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    “Higgs was almost certainly responsible for breaking electroweak symmetry, but he’s just so cute & purry we couldn’t hold it against him”
    – Flam (I’d like to think, at least)

  9. Dawn Oz
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ll send Higgs on, as he has the warm, furry, fuzzy approach that may help some people. Again, all this sounds quite strange from the Australian (and European context), where we accepted evolution a long time ago, and are now discussing global warming.

  10. Charles Jones
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t anyone notice that Jesus or some other saint is standing there between the eyes of Higgs preying?

    Has Higgs at long last made science and religion compatible?

  11. Exrelayman
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Hugs for Higgs!

  12. Posted December 30, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Speaking of Higgs and humor, I can’t believe that, what with two LHC teams making Higgs Boson related announcements in December, it still didn’t occur to me until far too late to make the joke that perhaps they were just trying to put the “mass” back in Christmas…

  13. Posted December 30, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I think scientists would take notice if their experiments showed life was first assembled by angels. That just hasn’t happened.

    But have they performed the relevant experiments? If not, how can you make this assertion?

    Perhaps Ventner and his team should perform an experiment where they place a bunch of precursor chemicals in a jar, and then pray over it for a while. Possibly sacrificing some goats would be a worthwhile experiment too, however I would point out that the problem of abiogenesis is hardly solved if you require an animal sacrifice in order to put the supernatural in it.

    Until scientists have performed these experiments, I don’t know how one can assert that they have evidence against a supernatural origin of life. Have they even tried casting magick spells over inorganic chemicals to see what happens? Seems lazy to me.

  14. Posted January 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    What I liked best about the link to Flam’s column is that in the masthead the link to “Religion” is right next to “Weird News.” 🙂


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