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…