Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Double Reverses and Idiocy


Jon is absolutely right about the ESPN MNF crew's stupidity regarding the Saints' lone offensive TD last night (And yes, I just used three different abbreviations in one sentence. Woo hoo.). I thought it was Tony K. and Mike Tirico, but Stuart Scott is an idiot by anyone's standards, so throw him in just for good measure. For the record, there is a double reverse, but it involves yet another handoff.

Someone who, inexplicably, gets this right is Gregg Easterbrook of TMQ. However, Easterbrook is so fucking stupid about so many other things, it's difficult for me to give him credit, even when he's clearly right. So I'll just move on to Easterbrook's dumbassery in action. Here's an example of Easterbrook's idiocy from the same column:
Of course, one must suspend disbelief when it comes to superheroes. But what TMQ always wonders about X-Men, Superman, the Flash and the rest is: Where are the body organs that support their powers? I'm willing to believe a superhero can fly, but where is the organ that provides propulsion? Supposedly Earth's yellow star activated in Kal-El powers that he would not have had under the red sun of Krypton. But still, some internal organ must produce the energy for his heat vision and the thrust for his flying and so on. In "Superman Returns," Supe can even fly faster than light, a power he lacked in the comics; apparently some organ too small to even bulge under his skin propels him to warp speed. Really, there must be some physical point of origin for a superhero's power. Storm must have a body organ that projects force fields that control weather. Iceman must have a body organ that can reduce temperature very rapidly, plus shed heat so Bobby doesn't boil. Where in their physiques are these organs?

Beyond that, the X-Men premise defies scientific thinking about natural selection, which holds that new organs develop very slowly across hundreds of generations. Assume some body organ can allow Shadowcat to walk through walls or Colossus to change his skin to steel: it's unimaginable such an organ could arise de novo in a single mutation. Many generations of relatively minor mutations would be required before a novel body organ could come into full functionality. Biologists from Richard Goldschmidt of the early 20th century to Stephen Jay Gould of the late 20th have speculated there is an as-yet-undiscovered natural mechanism that enables accelerated evolution. Otherwise it's hard to imagine how creatures lived through long chains of generations with still-evolving incomplete organs, since incomplete organs should be a fitness disadvantage and thus render their possessors less likely to reproduce. Unless the X-Men are an argument for intelligent design! The intelligent-design crowd believes natural selection can produce minor alterations in existing forms but cannot produce new organs or new species; a higher intellect controls that. The sudden, drastic evolutionary jumps depicted in the X-Men movies and comics sure feel like intelligent design. In fact one of the most interesting X-Men, Nightcrawler, asserts that the very rapid evolution he and his friends experience could not occur naturally and must be the result of God intervening for reasons not yet known. (Emphasis mine)
What the fuck?

Why is this bullshit in the middle of a column that's supposed to be about this weekend's NFL action?

There's so much wrong with this, it's hard to know where to start. Easterbrook likes to show us all that he has a soaring intellect, and that he just can't be tied down to the pedestrian task of sportswriting, I guess. He's a douche. First of all, it's a goddamn comic book movie. You take biology lessons from comic book movies at your own peril. Second, there isn't any differential reproduction in the "X-Men" world, from what I understand, so you don't have to worry about the evolution of complex organs. The "mutations" that give these characters their superpowers are, essentially, just MacGuffins. Third, he grossly misrepresents SJ Gould's "punctuated equilibria" idea as being some sort of "undiscovered natural mechanism that enables accelerated evolution." Huh? That's not what Gould meant at all! Fourth, he repeats the stupid saw that can be boiled down to the dumb-ass question "What good is half an eye?" It's better than none at all, you stupid bastard! Geez. Smarter people than I have addressed this question many times, and you'd think that bullshit question would've been put to bed by now. Finally, he gets around to making a case for Intelligent Design. What a fuckhole.

You know what really makes me want to cry about all of this?

Slate.com employs Easterbrook as a science writer. Even though he's been fucking savaged by people who actually know what they're talking about.

Can I have one of Easterbrook's jobs? I promise to be shallow, incurious, and incompetent, and I'll work for half his salary.

Labels: , , , ,