The Discoveroids Ain’t No Kin to No Swine

Most of you have heard about the bizarre article that appeared a couple of days ago in the Daily Mail, published in London. It produced a few chuckles on the blogosphere. Their headline was: ‘Humans evolved after a female chimpanzee mated with a pig’: Extraordinary claim made by American geneticist. The article said, with some bold font added by us:

The human species began as the hybrid offspring of a male pig and a female chimpanzee, an American geneticist has suggested. The startling claim has been made by Eugene McCarthy, who is also one of the world’s leading authorities on hybridisation in animals. He points out that while humans have many features in common with chimps, we also have a large number of distinguishing characteristics not found in any other primates.

Eugene McCarthy? Isn’t that the same guy who ran for U.S. President back in 1968? Well, maybe not. Anyway, the newspaper went on to say:

What’s more, he suggests, there is one animal that has all of the traits which distinguish humans from our primate cousins in the animal kingdom. ‘What is this other animal that has all these traits?’ he asks rhetorically. ‘The answer is Sus scrofa, the ordinary pig.’

Among the characteristics McCarthy thinks we inherited from our swinish ancestors are “hairless skin, a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, light-coloured eyes, protruding noses and heavy eyelashes,” which are “unmistakeably porcine.”

It’s quite a theory. We understand that McCarthy hasn’t been able to get it published in any reputable journal — despite being described as “one of the world’s leading authorities on hybridisation.” It appears only on McCarthy’s own website — in the tradition of other great pioneering ideas, like The Time Cube. Not only that, but we can’t find the guy listed among the faculty of the University of Georgia, where he’s supposed to be a big-time geneticist. But maybe he’s there and we couldn’t navigate their website properly.

Your Curmudgeon, being the universal standard of sanity, propriety and rectitude, ignored the story. But now we’ve become aware of an outfit that is taking it seriously. Who could that be?

Actually there are two creationist groups that have dealt with it. WorldNetDaily, which will publish virtually anything as long as it’s whacky, ran a story on it: Claim: Humans came from chimp mating a pig.

But what really got our attention was an article at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. It was written by Bruce Chapman, whom we affectionately call “Chappy.” He’s the founder and president of the Discovery Institute. Chappy is a big deal in the intellectually exciting world of intelligent design, and whenever he speaks, people listen.

Chappy’s article is: Meet Ma and Pa. He says, with bold font added by us:

As the Daily Mail and others are reporting, a geneticist in Georgia contends as a scientific proposition that man descended from pigs as well as chimp-like apes [link to the newspaper article].

No problems … yet. Then Chappy declares:

Since his is only a variation on Darwinian theory, not a repudiation of it, Dr. Eugene McCarthy’s notion is to be treated with professional respect. His work is to be covered seriously.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Doesn’t Chappy’s brain have the capacity to filter out obvious nonsense? Probably it does, but he may have a blind spot when the subject is evolution. There isn’t much more to his post. Here’s the rest of it:

Now, if his speculation were deeper and dealt with the increasingly daunting problems with Darwinian theory and with the growing evidence of intelligent design, he would have to be ignored or attacked for positions he does not hold.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. What does it mean? What is Chappy trying to say? The best guess we can come up with is that we’re getting close to the end of the year, and it’s time to request additional millions from his generous patrons. Chappy undoubtedly knows what they like, so perhaps what he wrote is aimed at them.

Seen in that context, Chappy’s post makes sense. If some billionaire thinks that creationism (ooops, we mean intelligent design) is the only way to save the world from believing that we’re related to apes — and now swine — then he’ll write a big check and give it to the Discoveroids. Nice work, Chappy!

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “The Discoveroids Ain’t No Kin to No Swine

  1. Chappy should be embracing McCarthy with open arms! Here’s what McCarthy says of himself on his own website, Eugene M. McCarthy, Director, Macroevolution.net:

    During my years at the genetics department, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the standard explanation of evolution. The more I read about fossils, the more convinced I became that Darwin’s account of the evolutionary process was fundamentally flawed. …

    [snip]

    I wrote successive versions of a paper explaining the problems I saw with standard evolutionary theory and presented my alternative explanation. These manuscripts, once submitted, would promptly arrive in the hands of anonymous reviewers who would recommend rejection, because, they said, my claims contradicted accepted tenets of standard theory. Well, yes, of course they did — because I was trying to present an alternative evolutionary theory that, if correct, would imply that Darwinian theory is mistaken at an axiomatic level.

    [snip]

    My evolving manuscript on evolution, repeatedly rejected, continued to grow and change as I revised it and passed it around to colleagues. Finally it became a book, which I submitted to Oxford University Press in the summer of 2007. After peer review, it was accepted for publication and we signed a contract.

    Click over to read the rest of his account of the fate of his book–but you really should be able to guess where this tale is going: yep, editors cancelled the contract. So McCarthy was ‘Expelled’!

    Really, his autobiography has all the features to qualify for a Discovery Institute Fellowship! What on earth is Chappy moaning about?!

  2. I was once having a conversation with a creationist who was using the aquatic ape “theory” to ridicule evolution. I pointed out it was an absurd idea, unsupported by most of the evidence and rejected by most of the scientific community. Their response was only “but its evolution, don’t you have to accept it.”

  3. Forgot to highlight that the multi-talented McCarthy is also a novelist, as he indicates on his website. Here’s the Amazon page for his Kindle novel, The Department

  4. Megalonyx explores the fascinating life of McCarthy. From what I’ve found (see A few personal comments), he was once “at” the University of Georgia, but not since 2007. He still lives in Athens, Georgia, but his employment is now limited to his website.

  5. Show a little respect, Curmy! McCarthy is the Director of his own website!

  6. Megalonyx points out: “McCarthy is the Director of his own website!”

    Oh yeah? Well, I’m the Imperator of this place, but I still get no respect.

  7. Christine Janis

    “hairless skin, a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, light-coloured eyes, protruding noses and heavy eyelashes,”

    Weren’t those the features used to argue for the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis?

  8. “Unmistakeably porcine”? Speak for yourself, McCarthy! Though I must admit to a fondness for truffles…

  9. linnetmoss scoffs: “Speak for yourself, McCarthy!”

    Hey! The newspaper described him as a “leading authority,” and the Discoveroids say we should take him seriously.

  10. Chappy, be happy! This whole thing reeks of intelligent design. The Grand Designer works in mysterious ways — take a little of this from a pig, a little of that from a chimp… voila! …the first human!

    Of course, though, Chappy is not happy because it is in direct contradiction of scripture. Can’t have that, now, can we?

  11. “hairless skin”
    But, but, isn’t that only true for the domesticated pig, while boar are quite hairy? Is this another bananas-are-perfectly-formed-by-God theory?

  12. Last time I looked, pigs had hair [bristles] 🙂

  13. I thought that Denyse O’Leary was the weirdest and dumbest poster at the DI, but then along comes Chappy . . . . . go figure.

  14. Douglas E says: “Last time I looked, pigs had hair”

    So we — well, except in a few places, like the lips, or maybe the palms of our hands. But you can’t deny the striking similarity of your nose and the pig’s snout.

  15. Ah yes it would also explain such peculiarities as calling a cannibalistic feast “long pork” along with the origin of Pig Latin (“Oinkway!”) Actually evolution does employ hybridization as a mode of speciation. It is actually quite prevalent in plants where you have individuals that are very long lived as some trees can be reproductive for hundreds of years allowing them to cross with their sub lethal mutant descendants. Pig-chimp hybrids is unlikely enough to be considered absurd. Creationists of course love him, evolutionist disagreeing is glorious proof they are right.

  16. The Whole truth

    Hmm, since the mating of a male pig and a female chimp allegedly, originally produced humans, the alleged mating could not have occurred after humans domesticated pigs. And since wild pigs (Sus Scrofa) don’t have hairless skin, and chimps don’t have hairless skin, and humans don’t have hairless skin, well, there goes the hairless skin claim.

    The “thick layer of subcutaneous fat, light-coloured eyes, protruding noses and heavy eyelashes” claims are just as ridiculous since none of those things are unique to pigs and humans.

    Also, Sus scrofa domesticus or Sus domesticus (domesticated pigs) can have very hairy skin, such as in the Hungarian breed Mangalica.

    Of course McCarthy’s claim is totally loony no matter what the traits of pigs are.

    Regarding chappy, I get the impression that he’s sarcastically bashing evolutionary theory by insinuating that the mating of pigs and chimps producing humans is no more absurd than actual evolutionary theory.

    And one more thing:

    “Your Curmudgeon, being the universal standard of sanity, propriety and rectitude…”.

    Yep, versus the IDiot universal standard of insanity, impropriety, and rectaltude.

  17. MY nose??!! Now we are getting personal 🙂 My wife routinely calls me pig-headed but never pig-snouted [I suppose it could be implied]

  18. So Gene McCarthy’s ad for his book on the link provided upthread says:

    Check out my kindle novel, The Department, a satire of academic life, which includes an pig-ape hybrid as one of its major characters.

    To me, his media stirring is just a subtle way to get people to buy his book.

  19. Well, the ‘roids (heh, heh) can take whatever position they want. If I must choose between having an ape and a pig as a grandfather (or mother), I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.

  20. I ham not surprised that Chappy doesn’t use science to pork holes in McCarthy’s hypothesis. Sow, I think this is just another fluff piece to satisfy his boared readers