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Darwinism as useless padding for news media prose

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Mom Genes

Our favorite photographer and philosopher Laszlo Bencze points to a (paywalled) review at Wall Street Journalby Emily Bobrow of the book, Mom’s Genes by Abigail Tucker, from which he picks out many phrases which are the classic Darwinian contribution to information on many topics — ballast, basically. For example:


Mammals, however, evolved to gestate embryos internally, which nicely shields youngsters from predators but also has “left females holding the diaper bag.”

…humans, unlike most other mammals, have evolved to be alloparental

Human fathers, who are among the 5% of mammal species in which dads chip in some care, are hardly immune to this evolutionary hack.


Bencze points out:


In the first quote “evolved to” can be excised with no change in meaning.

In the second quote “have evolved to be” can be replaced with “are”.

In the third quote, the “evolutionary hack” is this phrase from the previous paragraph: “the task of safely raising the next generation.” That is certainly an odd way of referring to parenting but, by alluding to evolution, the tone of the review rises to a more exalted scientific level thus confirming that reviewer Emily is no mere mommy but sort of a scientist herself.

And of course it’s getting the tone right that matters most and there’s no better way to achieve that than by sprinkling evolution words liberally in the mix like raisins in a cookie.


From a language perspective, those are not raisins in a cookie though. They are sand in the gears.

Only ridicule will drive that sort of thing from public life. We need to write a sitcom in 13 episodes…

2 Replies to “Darwinism as useless padding for news media prose

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    “Shields youngsters from predators” is just silly. No pattern or correlation at all.

    Many egg-laying animals shield their eggs. Some insects lay their eggs inside predators, and the larvae then eat the predator from inside. A newborn mammal still needs considerable protection.

  2. 2
    Laszlo says:

    Yes indeed. We, the unwashed masses, are to be astounded at the revelation that evolution has planted embryos in the womb to shield them from predators. Wow! Who would ever have guessed that without having knowledge of evolution? We might have thought it was merely so that the mother could feed and oxygenate the new life to a level of level of maturity far beyond anything that would ever be possible in an egg. Same goes for mares and cows who are also “left holding the diaper bag.” What’s most astounding is that such banalities are supposed to be understood as deep scientific thought on the order of Relativity theory.

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