Are ‘The Darwin Awards’ Bad For Evolutionary Biology?

21 09 2009

Good tidings and well-wishes!

I sincerely apologise for my unannounced hiatus this past week, which was largely due to my Herculean recent effort to reconcile my rather difficult academic semester with certain extracurricular duties of mine. Having seen these tiresome few days to their end, I believe that I may have finally found a workable equilibrium and therefore, I can hopefully provide my blog with new posts on a semi-regular basis just as I had been doing previously.

Recently, Dr. Hungerbuehler and myself have been discussing a few of the more spectacular Darwin Award recipients, my personal favorite being an African nut-case who grew determined to rid his farm of a pesky local elephant herd by planting landmines for the intrusive proboscideans. However, he executed this idea by carrying several of the mines simultaneously by hand until one of them went off, triggering a massive explosion which blew his remains to kingdom come before a single elephant could be injured.

Yes, we all enjoy a hearty dose of schadenfreude. But at the risk of sounding like a buzz-kill, I can’t help but wonder how the opponents of evolutionary science might view these bizarre trophies. Creationists are notorious for spreading the hideous myth that evolution lies at the foundation of an “immoral worldview”. Therefore, wouldn’t the idea of associating Darwin’s name with an organization which locates and publicizes creative deaths provide them with more material to distort towards this end?

Back in the real world, many of us recognise that the Darwin Awards merely chronicle amusingly-eccentric demises and don’t provide any commentary on the theory of evolution itself, but I can’t shake the feeling that a large amount of sadly-influential loons will (if they don’t already) take them grossly out of context to serve as fodder for their radical bases which, by extension, will spread the slander amongst the greater population.

What do you think? Am I being unjustly paranoid here (this wouldn’t be the first time), or should ‘The Darwin Awards’ staff consider re-naming their operation?

May the fossil record continue to enchant us all!

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