Get Your Favorite Anti-Evolutionist to Read This!

Written by Emma on November 8th, 2008

Hello again!
Well, this is a little long, but I’d definitely like to hear what’s to be said about it.

So there’s this thing in your genome. Well, maybe not yours, but plenty of people’s. It’s called the PMP-22 gene. I don’t know what it does. It’s not really important until later. What is important is what’s in front of it. A region called CMT1A repeat. Hey, guess what’s it’s called a repeat! Cuz there’s two of them! One in front of PMP-22, one behind it! Here, let me draw a picture:

DNA: —-Proximal CMT1A repeat——–PMP-22——–Distal CMT1A repeat—–

This might seem really happy, huh? Well, it’s not. Because as you might remember from whenever you last took biology, our chromosomes do this crazy thing called crossing over. That’s during meiosis, which you might remember, is how you form gametes (eggs or sperm, depending), since they only have 1/2 the DNA of other human cells (which is why it takes two to make offspring!).

So, during crossing-over, homologous chromosomes (ex: both of your number 17 chromosomes, one from your mom, one from your dad) line up next to each other like buddies, and then they do this crazy thing where they both break a section of their DNA off, and swap sections with the other chromosome! Obviously, they it’s important that both chromosomes break at the exact same place, otherwise you could end up missing some genes! Usually this goes down just fine, since the broken piece wouldn’t reattach well if it didn’t ‘match’ the other chromosome’s broken end.

However, if you’re one of those unlucky ones who have the two CMT1A repeats, this is a problem! Because your body does not know which one is distal and which one is proximal! So chromosome 17 #1 might break at the distal location, and chromosome 17 #2 might break at the proximal location…. oh no!

Now chromosome 17 #1 has two copies of PMP-22, and chromosome 17 #2 has NO copies of PMP-22!!!

Now while the CMT1A itself is just a repeat, not a gene, it has no function. It doesn’t really matter if you have it or not, the PMP-22 is definitely a gene, and it is definitely important.

If you end up with two copies of PMP-22, you get Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 1A. If you end up with ZERO PMP-22, you get neuropathy and palsies. Not fun!

So why do we have this repeat? Who put it here!?!? Well, it’s probably the old remnants of a ‘jumping gene’ – they copy themselves and reinsert themselves. They’re very random, though, so it’s very, very rare that they insert themselves into the exact same place in two different occurrences.

So why did God give us jumping genes? They’re kind of handy in evolution, but we all know God doesn’t believe in that, so why? They’re pretty dangerous – they can insert themselves right into the middle of a gene, rendering it useless! Dangerous!

Someone told me once that it was punishment for our sin. Ah, I see. Well, that’s a good Biblically correct answer. I know if someone I knew ate an apple when I told them not to I’d totally curse their children with genetic defects.

But wait, so, you’re saying that we have this repeat-crossing-over-problem with CMT1A because of our sins?

Well, I suggest you start preaching to chimpanzees and bonobos then, because they have the exact same defect.

That God, huh? Such a quirky guy!

*Bows*
Thank you, thank you! Have a wonderful evening everybody, and remember, evolution is real!

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A New Day Dawns in America Today

Written by Emma on November 5th, 2008

Everybody’s making their posts of one kind of another, so I figured I’d share mine as well. I don’t have much to say – I’m just so, so happy. And so, so hopeful.

Sean and I spent election night downtown at the Hilton, where the Democratic party gathered to watch the election. We didn’t even find out about it until 8, and headed over there at 9. Man, what a great decision! The atmosphere was electric, the people were smiling; everyone had on Obama shirts and stickers. The media were everywhere. It was so, so neat to be surrounded by Democrats in Texas!! When Virginia was announced and the huge screen (one of three) flashed up Obama as the President-Elect, I cannot even put into words how amazing it was. The cheers were deafening, a million American flags went up, everybody was hugging everyone else, tears were streaming. Truly, one of the most emotional and impressive experiences of my life.

It is a strange feeling to me to feel such hope for America. For most of my adult life it’s been Bush Bush Bush (actually, for most of my life, given that we got that story twice via father and son), and it’s been a long time of kind of waiting for the next stupid thing to happen. How much more debt can we rack up, how many more countries can we invade, how many more civil liberties can we tie up in misnomer acts like the “Patriot Act”.

I’m going to revel in the victory for a minute and reply to a few common sentiments I’ve seen expressed:

- “I hope everyone can be civil and imagine what it would be like if their candidate had lost.”
I don’t have to imagine, thanks very much. The last 8 years? Yea, not so hot for me. I remember it clearly. It’s not like Democrats have been ruling elite for 20 years and we’re still rubbing in Republican faces.

- “I’m moving to Canada!”
Now, I’ve said this myself, so the sentiment itself is fair enough at a time when you’re down about the country. But I’m a little confused. It makes sense for you to move to Canada because it’s totally more conservative than America…. no… wait.. that doesn’t sound right. In short – it makes sense for me to want to move to Canada, but not Republicans.

- “I’m watching history repeat itself, unfortunately.”
Uh, how? What recent Democratic candidate put America into such ruin? Somehow I think more tax cuts for the rich and more wars would be much more… repetitive, no?

- “Obama can pry my guns from my cold, dead hands!”
Right. No one is taking away your precious guns. Don’t worry. If you’re seriously afraid of this, you’re delusional.

- “I wasn’t using my civil liberties anyway.”
Because the last 8 years have been such a great example of how to protect civil liberties… oh, except for when it’s inconvenient for the government.

- “Have fun losing all your money to taxes!”
To everyone making more than $600,000 a year: I am really sorry your taxes are going to go up. I really hope it doesn’t put you out on the street. I know you must be worried about feeding your family and paying your bills.
Seriously, though. If you’re making that much money, you can afford to provide for the services we all enjoy, and especially for those much less fortunate than you. In short, you should give back to the country that helped you get so successful.
To everyone else: Have fun with your tax cuts or no change in taxes!

Well, I hope that answered some misconceptions about Obama. Also, he is not a terrorist, not a closet Muslim, and is an American citizen. Also, I am not either!

Emma/Svara ’12!

Also, in case you were wondering what main issues I’d be moaning about if McCain had won, it would be his apparent nonchalant attitude towards spending 100 years in Iraq, his dismissal of women’s “health,” trying to turn Roe v Wade back to states (which is totally stupid, for reasons I’ll discuss later), and his great idea of giving the biggest tax cuts to those that need them most…. those making more than $2.8 million. Problem is, he’s actually voiced all of those out loud, making it hard to believe it’s just fear and rumors.

Anyway, enough of the moaning. Change is coming now. The world has exhaled in thankfulness, and American can continue on down a hopefully much more peaceful, fiscally responsible, socially just, healthy, and environmentally friendly road.

GOBAMA!

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What makes me sad….

Written by Emma on September 23rd, 2008

Writing beautiful code or fixing some coding probem and not being able to run up to any friend at random and go ‘LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL CODE!’/'LOOK HOW I FIX!’ and have them share in my happiness. It’s like building a beautiful house that not everybody can see :(

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Think it Might be Fear of Reprisal?

Written by Emma on September 17th, 2008

Why I don’t like my criminal justice textbook (The Criminal Justice System – Burns):

Quote from page 5 (minus source citations):

“Other incident-specific factors such as fear of reprisal may influence victim reporting. (Skip one sentence.)
Fear of reprisal, or retaliation for reporting a crime, influences some reporting practices. Some crimes (particularly violent crime) are not reported out of a victim’s fear of reprisal. The reporting of domestic violence incidents is sometimes influenced by the victim’s economic dependence on the offender and fear of reprisal. (Skip one sentence.) Kidd and Chayet argue that the nonreporting of crime is the result of a combination of factors acting together, or alone, including victim fear of reprisal…”

Seriously? Was there no better way to word this?
Hey executive editor Frank Mortimer (no joke) – you fail.

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Evolution Revisited

Written by Emma on August 26th, 2008

As always, I continue to argue against creationism and show the overwhelming evidence that supports evolution. I am always looking around for new evidence and new examples – an ever-present lens I view the world through (which, to me, makes it so much more amazing through my eyes). I had an interesting thought last night that I thought should definitely be shared.

If evolution is false, then why do animals have mating rituals?

As a note, I have decided that the argument ‘because God wanted it that way’ just does not cut it when having a scientific discussion. It is forever deemed by me to be a non-answer, about a relevant as saying ‘I like tacos’. Think of all the hundreds of things we’ve deemed unexplainable in the past – rainbows, conception, whether the earth is the center of the universe, chemical reactions, gravity – that we explained away with ‘it is the will of God (or Allah, or whatever)’ that we now can explain with science and well-known scientific laws and facts. To believe that we’ve suddenly and mysteriously hit a ceiling where God’s workings are so mysterious we will never be able to see the forces working in the background is to bury one’s head in the sand in the face of reality. If you’re going to have a scientific argument, you’ve got to have some science in there – as many creationist arguments do, or attempt, at least.

Also, it makes God seem like a whiny three-year-old – ‘because I WANT IT’. And I don’t like to think of God like a three-year-old.

So why, then, do animals have mating rituals? Many mating rituals are dangerous – deer, rams, and others clash antlers/horns that can result in serious physical damage. Lions, sea lions, and some monkeys fight each other directly, causing injury and even death. Those that are not directly dangerous consume time and resources – peacocks make themselves a slow and flashy target for predators, birds waste time having elaborate displays and preparing collections of objects or nests when they could be gathering food, walruses stand for hours on beaches making a noisy display to attract females.

Certainly a better option would be to just mate with whoever is the closest member of the opposite sex, then return to normal life. After all, if evolution is false, it doesn’t really matter who you mate with – your species is safe, no matter who mates with whom. It will remain at exactly the same fitness level and will not become stronger or weaker. So with such security, why waste such resources??

I could only really think of two arguments.
1. Females like to pick the best mate.
Well, yea. But why do they like to do this? To ensure fitness of their offspring. Fitness only matters if evolution is true.

2. Males want to have lots of children by mating with lots of females (fighting off other males).
Well yea, but why do they want to have lots of children? These aren’t humans – they don’t actually love their kids – in most species, they won’t even help raise them. In many species, they’ll actually try and kill them if they run into them! So why would they want to have lots of kids? Oh right, to pass on genes. But that only matters if evolution is true.

So apart from the argument that God really loves watching lions, monkeys, and sea lions mauling each other to death on a seasonal basis (which, from reading the Bible, isn’t too hard to believe, actually…), I feel that mating rituals are a pretty good example that there’s obviously some reason why picking a good mate is worth the effort expended and risk induced. That reason is evolution.

Change in frequency of alleles in a population. Fitness.

Please do let me know if you have any other arguments, as I like to test all my theories and ideas to the limit to make sure they stand up. Otherwise, perhaps I must reconsider my stance.

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Interview with a Sibling!

Written by Emma on August 8th, 2008

Elizabeth, of The Spotted Ottoman Blog, recently interviewed her 14-year-old sister on her perspectives on a few things in life. I am shamelessly stealing her idea to interview my brother Kenneth (who is also 14) and my younger twin sisters, Alice and Heather (who are 10). I changed up the questions a bit, but I thought this might be some interesting insight. I am also considering a second post with my answers, my sister Elizabeth (Libby)’s answers (she is 19), and my dad’s answers! Stay tuned!

•  Kenneth

•  Heather

•  Alice

TO COMMENT: PLEASE GO BACK TO FACEBOOK! TRY THIS LINK: COMMENT

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A More Serious Note

Written by Emma on May 12th, 2008

Hello friends and family. I just wanted to let you all know what was going on in my life at the moment. I’ll tell the long version of the story. If you want the short version, scroll down to the part labelled as important.

Those of you whom I tagged in this post are just those I thought would want to hear the story most – I wanted to make sure you at least read the important part, so please do.

Yesterday Sean (that’s the new BF for those of you not in the know (or not paying attention to Facebook)) and I took his best friend, Nick (who is down from Idaho), to the Scarborough Faire. We entered the faire and unfortunately only made it along a few of the booths before we stopped at the glass blowing demonstration. My stomach was mildly hurting, but I didn’t think much of it. However, near the end of the exhibit I started to feel very tired and light-headed. Luckily the people in front of us got up and left, so I sat down and warned Sean that I was feeling very light-headed and that I might faint. Luckily he took that hint very seriously and stood behind me and held me up, as I soon blacked out.

According to Sean and Nick (who is a CNA (works in the medical field)), I had some small convulsions and then went limp when I was out, which lasted about 6 seconds. When I came to, I had had a dream, and was disoriented for a short time. Nick was sitting in front of me, but I didn’t know who he was or where I was. My whole body ached and I was confused and afraid. Things didn’t get better, however, as I was feeling nauseous and like I was going to black out again. Slowly my vision faded – it was like someone had turned a dimmer down on the world. All I could see was vague outlines and shapes – like I was in a dark room and my eyes had adjusted. My hearing was bad – it sounded like everything was far away.

I was extremely scared. I remember looking at Sean and barely being able to see his face. I remember him asking me how he could dial my mom, and looking at my phone and not being able to see the buttons. I honestly felt like it was a dream. I know people say that all the time, but it was the only way my brain could comprehend it. I looked at Sean and asked him to make it stop. I was seriously afraid of three things: 1) That I would die 2) That I would never see again 3) That I had a brain tumour.

Nick went and called the paramedics, and I put my head down on my lap as my vision and hearing slowly started to return. It was only for about 5 minutes that I was like that, but it felt like eternity. The paramedics came and thankfully by then I could see and hear, though I was still very confused and dizzy. They half carried me to the golf cart, where I sat down and they drove me to the paramedic tent thing. I was terrified, and wanted Sean to come, but they made him walk behind (it wasn’t that far). Sean said I gave him a look of absolute terror as we started to pull away, and I don’t doubt it.

When we got to the paramedic’s tent, they took my blood pressure (80/50 – incredibly low) and heart rate (56 – also incredibly low) and blood sugar (normal). They asked me a million questions and wouldn’t let Sean come in for forever. They had the air conditioning on full blast and I was freezing cold. Finally they told me that they didn’t know what had caused me, so they needed me to go to the ER. Sean gave Nick the keys and he pulled my car around, and I lay in the back with Sean while Nick drove me to the nearest hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I was admitted quickly. They had me give a urine sample, took blood for labs, gave me an IV for fluids (I was slightly dehydrated), gave me an EKG, CT scan, and chest x-rays. We were in the hospital until 8 (arrived at 3) waiting for preliminary results and discharge. I slowly was feeling better and better, and by the end, I was feeling fine. All the prelim results came back clear, and they said I could go, though they’d call us as soon as possible with the full results of the x-ray and CT scan readings.

They let me go, and my mom bought Sean, Nick, and I dinner (she’d driven down, of course) as thanks to Sean and Nick for taking care of me. I was told to drink lots of fluids and to take it easy. I couldn’t drive or be unsupervised for the next 24 hours. Luckily with Sean around that was no issue : ). (I have to say a huge thanks here to Sean and Nick, who handled the whole incident calmly and professionally and took absolutely incredible care of me through the whole thing, and even to now.)

Anyway, last night and today, apart from feeling a little tired and having a little bit of a sore stomach, I have been feeling fine.

IMPORTANT PART:
The ER PA who took care of me yesterday called me today at around 2:30pm. He told me he needed to talk to me, and told me that the final reading of my CT scan had come back.

They have found a 1.3cm cystic lesion in the medial left temporal lobe of my brain. They do not think it is solid, they don’t think it’s cancerous, and they don’t think it’s anything to be worried about. However, I’ve got to go get an MRI so they can get a better look and see a neurosurgeon. There’s a chance that it’s absolutely nothing and has nothing to do with my passing out – just one of those things they find while they were looking for something else. If it is causing trouble, it’s likely just because it’s pressing on something else, not anything more sinister. I do not know what kind of procedures or treatment might be required.

Obviously this news is very shocking to me, Nick, Sean, and my family, and I am not afraid to say that I am nervous about what is to come. I will keep you all updated as I find out what’s going on in my crazy brain.

That’s all. Let’s all hope, or pray, or meditate, or whatever you do, that it all turns out to be nothing and it’s a very boring story from this point out.

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One Hell of a Day

Written by Emma on April 30th, 2008

Well, 1pm might seem like a weird time to make a post about a ‘day’ since it’s obviously nowhere near over. However today has been so remarkably crazy already that I thought you all might enjoy hearing the story thus far.

Today I have:
1) Woken up at 5am to review for microbiology test
2) Bombed said micro test because I apparently completely misunderstood what we were supposed to know (and from the feeling in the room, I don’t think I’m alone on that)
3) Had a cell phone thrown and land about 2 feet from me and completely shatter. (And that is not the full story at all, but I’m not posting that here.)
4) Been diagnosed with salmonella (yes, no joke!)
5) Been given my last Gardasil injection, which is definitely not one of the low-pain vaccinations

And for those of you curious, I most likely got the salmonella from the Reata stand on Thursday during the Main St festival. I had the chicken tacos. So if you know anyone who ate the same thing on the same day and is having stomach troubles, tell them to go to the doctor or somehow get ahold of ciprofloxacin. (Ah, cipro! My guardian angel while in Ecuador! You have returned!)

Anyway, though I was pretty messed up earlier today, I’m doing absolutely fine now. Especially about the salmonella, since at least it’s easily treated. I was beginning to fear all my tests would come back negative and figuring out what was wrong with me would stretch far into the summer and mean going to a GI doctor and having who knows what kind of horrible tests done.

Also glad about Gardasil, since now I can go around sleeping with, like, everything that moves and be completely ok. Because that’s what the shot’s supposed to do, right? Reassure you that’s ok to be promiscuous? Oh wait, sorry, someone bumped on my ‘Conservative Christian’ button for a moment. Let’s try again: since now I can rest assured that whatever happens in life (including rape and a committed partner cheating), I am well-protected against cervical cancer.

I have more to write about Gardasil some other time – it’s a topic I’ve been stewing over for a few days now. But for now, I’m off to go pick up my micro lab test.

I hope the rest of you have significantly less eventful days than me – unless you too are hoping for a salmonella diagnosis, of course!

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Ad Songs & Me Rambling On

Written by Emma on April 7th, 2008

Well, I really should be working on my nutrition brochure that I just got assigned (I knew today would end my wonderful break!), but I’m a little pissed off. See, we’re supposed to be writing it to be at an 8th grade reading level (Word apparently can show you this – I didn’t know that!). Unfortunately, using the words “protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals” pushes my brochure’s reading level from 7.3 to 8.6 – 1.3 grades! How I am supposed to write a nutritional brochure without using “protein,” “fiber,” “vitamins,” or “minerals” is beyond me. I’ve emailed Dr.Hill about it – we’ll see what she says.

Anyway, in the meantime, I thought I’d be completely unproductive and write about music. I was talking to a friend the other day and realised that many of the songs I’ve purchased recently over iTunes (using up a $30 gift certificate, yey!) are songs from ads. And, according to the ‘popularity rating’ of the songs when I find them on iTunes, I’m not the only one doing this. I wonder when this trend began? I’m absolutely positive it’s due to the advent of being able to purchase one song immediately – I’d have maybe one of these songs if I had to go drive to a store and buy the album. Whether the song’s popularity has affected the effectiveness of the ad, I don’t know. I can’t say that I’ve purchased any of the products featured on these song’s ads since the ad’s premiere, but I do, for the most part, remember the product attached to each song.

Anyway, here is my list of ‘ad-songs’:

‘Remind Me (Radio Edit)’ by Royksopp – Featured in the ‘airport caveman’ Geico commercial. When he’s on the sidewalk. I like this ad so much I recorded it on my camera. More on that later.
‘Le Disko’ by Shiny Toy Guns – Featured on the ‘knife-fight on the subway’ Razr ad. I like how the phone stuck in the wall when it was thrown.
’1234′ by Feist – You all know this one – featured on the new iPod Nano commercial by Apple.
‘Never the Same’ by Supreme Beings of Leisure – Featured in a Christmas-time Johnny Walker Black Label ad. I was fond of this ad, as the whole screen was black except the outline of the label and the whiskey itself. Very artsy.
‘New Soul’ by Yael Naim – Another one you all know. Featured in the MacBook Air commercials.
‘I Melt With You’ by Modern English – Featured in the Taco Bell ‘cheesy beefy melt’ commerical.
‘Can’t Get It Right Today’ by Joe Purdy – This is the one exact product I don’t remember (I remember the ad but not the brand)… *goes to look it up.* Ah, featured in the Kia Spectra ad – where everyone’s pulling into the gas station and doesn’t remember which side the gas tank is on.
‘Sweet Pea’ by Amos Lee – Featured in the AT&T; ‘business trip dad/pictures of the monkey everywhere’ ad. Fond of this ad too – touching! I liked this song enough that I did end up going out and buying the whole album, which I’m glad I did.

So! The Royksopp song. I think it’s the song/ad combination that touches me so powerfully. The ad, if you don’t remember, is the caveman standing on a moving pavement in the airport and going past those lit-up wall-billboards, carrying bags, checking his ticket, obviously headed to the gate. The camera angle changes once at the end, where you can see that on the opposite wall there’s a window overlooking gangways and planes pulled up to gates. As simplistic as the scene is, it hits me with profound meaning. So much of my life is embodied right there – moving sidewalks in airports around the world, checking the ticket, looking for the gate. Heading to wherever it is I need to be, whatever family has it’s ‘turn’. I can’t really explain it, and don’t really expect anyone else to understand.

The song itself is meaningful as well. In the commercial, the only lyrics you hear are, ‘And everywhere I go, there’s always something to remind me, of another place and time’. I can relate to that, for sure. Maybe everyone can. Not a day go goes by, either here or in the UK, that I don’t think of something or someone in the other location and, even if for a fleeting second, wish I was there instead. That’s especially true when I think of Kenneth, Alice, and Heather. Or just climbing up to the top of the hill outside the cottage and standing in the cold, bracing wind until I forget whatever strains are on my mind. Obviously no matter which country I’m in I have that experience, so I don’t sit and pine (ok, well, maybe occasionally!), but it’s something I’ve dealt with for a long time.

In the radio edit of the song, the opening lyrics are:
“It’s only been a week,
The rush of being home in rapid fading.
Prevailing to recall
What I was missing, all that time in England

Has sent me aimlessly,
On foot or by the help of transportation,
To knock on windows where
A friend no longer lives, I had forgotten.”
Obviously, I often feel that’s fairly accurate. No matter where I am, I’m glaringly aware of what I’m missing out on wherever I’m not. And whenever I arrive, I have to catch up on whatever’s changed. I’ll have to interject at this point that I realise this is just the deal whenever you travel, or even if you’re doing something like going to college far from your home. It’s not like I sit around being miserable because I’m not in the US/UK, but I guess it might seem strange that it bothers me more than average Joe college student who rarely goes home. Perhaps just because I don’t know much else – from age 5 I’ve had that feeling. Or maybe that’s just part of Emma being Emma – who knows. I have more thoughts on that, but I’m probably starting to sound whiny and I’m running out of time before class. I’m just trying to share some lyrics that hit me, not depress you all – I swear! : )

So I’ll leave you with some last words from the Royksopp song:
“Brave men tell the truth,
A wise man’s tools are analogies and puzzles,
A woman holds her tongue,
Knowing silence will speak for her. “
; D

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Viva la Evolution!

Written by Emma on March 24th, 2008

Thankfully, most of the people I know accept that microevolution* is present in the world all around us. (I’m not really sure how people who don’t believe in microevolution explain drug-resistant bacteria and etc – perhaps witchcraft? I’ve never had the pleasure of discussing evolution with such a person.)

However, they still are not convinced about macroevolution. It can be hard for someone versed in evolution/biology to understand why someone could accept one and not the other, as this quote reflects:

Saying you believe in microevolution, but not macroevolution, is like saying you believe atoms exist but that you don’t believe you’re made out of them simply because you don’t see how something so small can be a part of something so much larger.
- (Credit to Patrick Hunter, in an evolution group on Facebook)

While the quote is humorous, and pretty true in my opinion, I believe there are two main reasons for why people balk at macroevolution:

1. Understanding ‘Species’ – There is a huge amount of controversy in the defining of what makes a ‘species,’ and how to differentiate species. Most people tend to take the species rules commonly used that they know at face value, without really questioning how obviously incomplete they are. We have classified animals as different species based on tiny differences in colouration, shape, or size, even when they can produce viable and fertile offspring. Yet they’re on different sides of a mountain, and don’t meet, and so don’t breed in nature, so we call them different species. Well, hey, before the Portuguese discovered Australia, Europeans certainly looked different from aborigines, and certainly didn’t interbreed. Different species? Of course we can’t say that, since it’s not politically correct – but it’s a good example of where our species rules have gotten us. Not to say that they aren’t damn good rules – it’s just that it’s hard to draw a line where there almost isn’t one (hint hint). Species are in the eyes of humans ONLY.
So, forgetting this, people tend to think of macroevolution in the largest possible terms – amoeba to fish, or multi-celled creature to man. When, really, if you can accept that a few changes in size, colour, and shape can stop some specimens from back-breeding with those who don’t have the changes, you have the foundation of macroevolution. Now it’s not far to see the mutations that accumulated to differentiate a King penguin from a Galapagos penguin. And from there, it’s not hard to see how penguins differentiated from sea-going (swimming) birds, and sea-going birds from land-going birds. Follow that on up, and you’re well on your way.

2. People Don’t Understand Genetics – Many people tell me they can’t accept macroevolution because ‘it just doesn’t make sense to me.’ To really understand evolution, one must understand genes. And mutation. And alleles. And frequency of alleles. And ‘fitness.’ And ‘relative fitness.’ And change in frequency of alleles. And natural selection. And heritability. Obviously, that’s a lot to ask, and a lot to learn, especially if your biology understanding is basic. Once you can get a picture of all of this in your head, evolution clears up quite a bit – better understanding the behaviour of genes alone (never mind really understanding what ‘fitness’ means) can make a huge difference in someone’s comprehension level of evolution.
But part of me wants to say that this isn’t really an excuse. Can we/should we believe what we don’t fully understand? In an ideal world the answer is no. But hey, this is reality. We believe things we don’t understand all the time. I don’t fully understand why really big things attract other things (gravity), but I believe it’s true – and I doubt anyone’s going to call me gullible for doing so. On the other hand, I don’t want to tell people to just ‘trust’ what I say when I tell them that evolution is real because I’m a biologist and I understand it. But, back to the other side, can ignorance really be claimed as a reason not to believe something? ‘I don’t understand it thus it can’t be true?’ If I really questioned the validity of gravity, I’d go out and try and find out more. I don’t think it’s asking too much for those who don’t believe in evolution to go learn some basic information so that they can better understand what ‘doesn’t make sense to them.’

I guess I do like the quote at the top more than I admitted at first. It’s true – just because you yourself can’t see how something fits in to the big picture doesn’t mean it isn’t the truth anyway. Even if it’s incredibly hard to picture (can you truly wrap your mind around the fact you’re made of itty-bitty tiny atoms whose properties are nothing like you?), it far from means it’s impossible.

So go out there, guys, and Viva la Evolution!

*I know these terms (microevolution/macroevolution) have some controversy about what they *exactly* mean, especially in the argument’s context, but whatever.

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