Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) on The Rubin Report

Eight days ago, I did a taping of The Rubin Report in Los Angeles, and had a great time. I told Dave beforehand that I wasn’t all that politically astute, and might want to talk more about evolution than politics, which is what we wound up doing. It was a pleasant and relaxed conversation, and I think it went well, though, as usual I’ve avoided listening to most of it.

There was of course a modicum of discussion of politics and religion, some of which came from my view that the most effective thing we could do to get people to accept evolution would be to get rid of those religions that condition people to reject it. (Those include Catholicism, which, although officially accepting evolution, also accepts the view that Adam and Eve were the progenitors of all living humans, and 27% of whose American adherents reject evolution despite the Vatican’s stand.) And, to get rid of religion, you need to effect social improvement.

But that wasn’t the bulk of our discussion. Listen for yourself. As is his wont, Dave divided the initial posts into two parts, but I’ll replace them with the concatenated interview when it’s posted later.

Part I:

By the way, I was told that some of the YouTube commenters (I didn’t read the comments) have come to this website expecting everything to be about evolution, and have been disappointed. Well, the website has changed since its inception, but if you want to find the evolution posts, just enter “evolution” into the search box on the upper left, or, better yet, look at this link, which searches by the “evolution” tag appended to the appropriate posts.

Part II:


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I said this before, but this discussion between Rubin and PCC(E) is scintillating. I’m only 1/4 through.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      It’s funny because I also commented that Stephen Fry was “scintillating” on Rubin’s show as well.

      • dabertini
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        PCC(e)never disappoints!! Every interview I’ve seen has been entertaining and informative.

  2. veroxitatis
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    But the problem Professor is that the “people in the lower half” keep electing people who will make their condition worse (Aleast in the US, but things may be heading that way in the UK with UKIP and in France with the National Front).
    If the graph you mentioned is correct, it looks like religiosity in the US will soar over the next four years.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Talk to them. Some of them will listen. Secular portions of our society are quite potent.

      Also such correlations are not that strong (compared to physical phenomena, e.g., electrons, bosons, etc.). Social and economic data are prone to changes that are notoriously difficult to predict.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I told Dave beforehand that I wasn’t all that politically astute …

    That’s some industrial-grade self-deprecation there, Jerry — maybe not in terms of political odds-making :), but you seem pretty astute policy-wise.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink


    • darrelle
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      I think it comes from the intellectual honesty and rational assessment of evidence habits that are required to achieve a highly successful career as a scientist, coupled with basic human decency. Like “common sense” “basic human decency” often does not seem to be very common or basic.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Not really. I just don’t know near as much about politics as do many of Rubin’s guests, so I wanted him to know I’d be more comfortable discussing evolution or the relationship between science and religion (we didn’t do any of the latter).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        No Dunning–Kruger prize for you then. 🙂

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jerry. I’ve quoted you below from the Rubin Report video Part II. Are you claiming that these recent changes in some human traits are evolutionary [change in frequency of alleles in a population] – i.e. that they are evidence that we are evolving? Going by what you said much earlier in the Report, surely the time scales are too short for us to be sure this is true.

        QUOTE PCC[E]: 16:26 “…here’s what we know about how we’re evolving: women are arriving at menopause later, they’re starting to menstruate earlier & our resistance to heart attacks is going up – that’s about all we know. [you mention sources here] women are evolving to remain fertile longer, they’re coming into fertility condition earlier, Europeans are getting taller a little bit & heart disease is [thought not completed] so we are evolving…”

        • rickflick
          Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

          One benchmark for how long it takes for genetic change would be lactose tolerance in adults. Assuming cattle domestication and milk consumption began about 10,000 years ago, that would set the outer bound.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

            That seems right to me. I don’t see how we can have such long term data on increasing age of menopause or increasing height of Europeans [as a change in allele frequency]. I’ve noticed a large jump in height in one/two generations, but I assumed it was improved nutrition & reduced disease [from the womb onwards].

            I don’t know enough about his sources to understand where he’s coming from here.

    • Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Yes .. and this from the man who “cost Hillary the election”!

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    … the website has changed since its inception

    Evolved you might even say, through a process of mutating posts and comments and artificial selection by our host, as per Da Roolz.

  5. Glenda
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Watched them both. So well done PCC(E). As always both informative and interesting – delivered in such a pleasant way.

  6. BobTerrace
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    An hour+ of fascinating facts told well. After reading this website for years, I learned nothing new, but enjoyed hearing about it again.

  7. darrelle
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to find time to watch these, hopefully this evening. Looking forward to it.

  8. Geoff Toscano
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    You definitely have a chance of that comment you make in the second section, where you refer to lack of evidence, I think in the discussion about evolutionary psychology and women, being taken out of context and making you appear to say the opposite of what you meant. But in the context of more than 60 minutes of interview a very minor blip, and I doubt creationists will watch it through anyhow.

    Overall very impressive. Lucid, articulate and informative, especially on the possible direction of evolution in humans.

  9. rickflick
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Good interview.

    I like Rubin’s questions. They seem to provide the opportunity for answers a general audience can appreciate.

  10. Kevin
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Those were fantastic videos. I wish as many people could see them as possible.

  11. Debra Coplan
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Always fascinating and well spoken Jerry….
    Really enjoyed listening to the interview.
    I also like Dave’s questions.
    This website is invaluable.

  12. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    “I was told that some of the YouTube commenters (I didn’t read the comments) ”

    Probably just as well.

    I say that not having read the Youtube comments, but they almost invariably descend rapidly into a shitfight.

    Now I’m off to Youtube to see if my prediction is correct…


  13. watson
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Just watched it–wonderful interview. Two of my favorite people for an hour, what’s not to love?

  14. eric
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jerry,
    Just got finished listening to the whole discussion. Fascinating. You did a great interview.

    I wanted to suggest a fiction novel based on your request near the very end that it would be ‘fascinating to write a science fiction book about the meeting of two encephalized hominid species’.

    Robert J. Sawyer did just that. Hominids hypothesized our civilization connecting to an alternate Earth where Neanderthals (forgive him, this was written before we knew they were the same species) became dominant. It starts with Hominids, written in 2002, and then there are two other books.

    Its not the best. There are lots of deus ex machina bits that don’t involve biology or evolutionary differences, but rather technology Sawyer uses to speed the plot along (the ‘translation problem’ is always a bugaboo of sci-fi). Nevertheless, he does explore some potential biological and behavioral differences – how would hominids that had a seasonal breeding cycle organize their society differently? If we could easily kill each other with a single blow, would that change societal acceptance of violence, and if so, how? And so on. And he incorporates the science of 2002, which was good and was eye-opening at the time (neanderthals with red hair? Mind-blowing back then!), albeit not so much now.

    I think the book you’re really interested in isn’t out there (yet). But Sawyer gave it a good try with the science he had to work with at the time. I didn’t like bits of it, but I liked it enough to want to read the second and third.

  15. Dale Franzwa
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    You look good on TV Jerry, but I had a downer today. While driving, I saw a car in front of me with a bumper sticker that said: Evolution is Fiction. I gave him the finger (something I don’t ordinarily do). But it made me wish I had a bumper sticker to counter the above (though somebody might trash my car in anger).

    That gave me an idea for a possible future contest on this site: Dream up some good pro-evolution slogans for bumper stickers. I thought of this: Evolution is True, read this-Why Evolution is True. Too repetitive and too long for a bumper sticker but maybe some of your readers can come up with better slogans?

  16. Diane G.
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:14 am | Permalink


  17. Rhonda
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Just watched the first one and will watch the second one tomorrow. Fabulous interview. Thank you for posting them.

  18. HaggisForBrains
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Excellent interview, good intelligent questions, and great answers.

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Had a chance to watch the Rubin show appearance last night. Pleasure to see an interesting discussion presented with geniality and good humor.

    Btw, though, Peppers was ’67 (meaning this is the year of its semi-centennial!); ’69 was Abbey Road.

  20. Ted Raymond
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Excellent interview! You did great.

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