Some Suggestions for the Intelligent Designer

Back when this humble blog was only one year old, we wrote Buffoon Award Winner — The Intelligent Designer, describing some of the many ghastly design flaws in our bodies. Today we found an even more ambitious article at a website called Mental Floss, which we never visited before. They say they have “more than 1 billion readers,” which is rather impressive.

Their article is titled This Scientist’s Idea of the ‘Perfect’ Human Body Is Kind of Terrifying. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The perfect human body has the legs of an ostrich, the heart of a dog, and the eyes of an octopus, according to anatomist Alice Roberts. And it’s utterly terrifying.

Alice Roberts has a write-up in Wikipedia. Mental Floss says:

With the help of anatomical artist Scott Eaton and special effects designer Sangeet Prabhaker, Roberts created a life-size replica of herself that fixes many design flaws inherent to the human body, Motherboard reports. Roberts unveiled the sculpture on April 23 at the Science Museum in London. On June 13, the BBC released a documentary about the project.

Impressive! The Mental Floss article has a few interesting pictures of that replica. They tell us:

Among the flaws Roberts’s sculpture corrects are humans’ inferior ears, spine, and lungs. Roberts borrowed anatomy from reptiles, birds, and other mammals to create a Frankenstein-esque creature straight from the island of Dr. Moreau.

The sculpture has legs like an ostrich because, as Roberts says on her website, the human knee is complex and prone to failure. Like humans, ostriches are bipedal, but they are far better runners. Bird-like lungs that keep air flowing in one direction, not two, make running and other aerobic activities easier for the perfect human to manage. And a chimpanzee’s sturdier spine and a dog’s heart (which has more connected arteries, leading to lower heart attack risk) make Roberts’s alternate self more resistant to injury and disease.

You have to be wondering: If Alice Roberts can spot all these design flaws and come up with corrections, then why can’t the Intelligent Designer make those same improvements — or better? As we said in our long ago post: “No other conclusion is possible except that the so-called Intelligent Designer is a boob. A dunce. A clown. Or, as we have now officially designated him, a buffoon.” But let’s get back to Alice Roberts. Mental Floss reports:

Roberts’s ideal human body also has skin like a frog that can change shades based on the environment, and large, bat-like ears that amplify sound. Roberts also fixed humans’ backwards retina, which produces a natural blind spot, by borrowing from octopus eye anatomy.

Some of that — like frog skin — is a bit creepy, but maybe we’d get used to it. Let’s read on:

Perhaps most disturbing of all is the baby head poking out of the sculpture’s marsupial pouch. Roberts says marsupial pregnancy would be far easier on the human body and more convenient for parents on the go.

That’s something your Curmudgeon never considered back when we were listing our design flaws. Anyway, here’s the end of the Mental Floss article:

“This could be a human fit for the future,” Roberts says at the end of a trailer for her BBC documentary.

She certainly has some good points. Whether you liked them all isn’t really important. The point is that the Intelligent Designer isn’t very good at his job. Maybe the Discoveroids should shop around for a better deity.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

17 responses to “Some Suggestions for the Intelligent Designer

  1. How does one specify the DNA which will end up with this body? If one does not have an answer to this kind of question, there is no reason to think of design as being responsible for a living body.

  2. Charley Horse X

    The male seahorse plays the part of the female kangaroo. I’m glad male humans don’t do that.

  3. TomS: I doubt one can assume that the suggested modifications are actually improvements. Octopus eyes might lack a blind spot, but they are for seeing underwater, not on a sunlit savannah. Ostriches certainly can run fast, but they can’t bend over or move on their knees or reach up high or climb trees. A long neck partially compensates for that, but creates engineering problems that affect the circulation system, and a canine heart might not be suited to that. Simple amplification of sound is not necessarily a good idea – what about loud noises damaging the ear? A sturdier spine might obviate back problems, but would be heavier and probably less flexible. Chimpanzees are not running bipeds, and they don’t have the torsive flexing of a running gait to deal with.

    Marsupials, like humans, are born in a very underdeveloped state, but humans have the additional problem that it will be at least five years before a human infant can be out of close adult supervision, even for a moment. Anybody who’s ever looked after a two-year-old knows for stone-cold certain that a toddler doesn’t know that fire is hot or water is wet or air doesn’t hold you up. If it was in a pouch, maybe it would be safer, but it still wouldn’t know those things – and they have to be known. And can a human carry a load like that for four or five years? We have trouble being obligate bipeds already, Every last-trimester pregnant woman I have ever known had backache. OK, so reinforce the skeleton; but that has to have mobility and flexibility problems.

    No. Perhaps what we have is a set of compromises necessary to a specific niche and economy. We are intelligent, toolmaking, social, running obligate bipeds. All of those traits are interdependent. Our bodies are not perfectly suited to any one of them, merely adequate at all. Suppose you had to design a dump truck to compete in the Monte Carlo rally? I guarantee that it would be neither an ideal dump truck nor a perfect rally car. Maybe we’re in much the same situation.

  4. But the Intelligent Designer already reuses old parts. Apparently it does a really crappy job at that too. Maybe go online for your parts, Intelligent Designer.

  5. Go online for your parts. Usually the typos are semi-coherent but this one needed a redo haha.

    [Voice from above]: All is well.

  6. @Dave Luckett
    I entirely agree with you. I would take as further problems the changes over time, the development of the “new improved adult body”,
    Let’s say that I were interviewing for a design job at a car manufacturer. The interviewer asks me how I would change their current model. I say, “I would design it with 6 wheels.” The interviewer is not impressed. That is not a practical suggestion. A real designer
    would point out how the manufacturing process could be changed to result in a change in the product.
    The analogy of design doesn’t deal with What a real designer does. Real designers show their skills in dealing with the the ways that components work together according to engineering principles, including how much time and money is needed. With life, there is something totally unlike any design that we are familiar with.

  7. Nail on the head, as often. We forget that evolution ‘designed’ us to be fit-for-purpose. What we have is good. Think always of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  8. We must remember when we criticise liars for saying we were “intelligently designed,” we’re not saying “design us better.” We’re saying WE’RE NOT DESIGNED. We evolved to be as we are and that is A-OK, it’s fine, it’s good.

  9. I watched the actual BBC programme. NOT serious science!

  10. @beeilderbeast
    Design is not up to the job of producing living things.
    The creationists often let that slip
    out when they point out that even the most ingenuous design that anyone’s has ever produced does not come close to the simplest of life. Life is not like a clock.

  11. Our Curmudgeon suggests

    Maybe the Discoveroids should shop around for a better deity.

    We of the Seventh Day Aardvarkists are infinitely forgiving and always welcoming of any lost sheep to our flock.

    And at the moment we’re running a Special Autumn Promotion! Convert now, and we’ll throw in a FREE bonus sighting of Braterman’s Unicorn!

    [Offer void where prohibited by law. CT residents, add 4% Sales Tax.]

  12. Being stuck primarily with the traits you have before you’re even born is a mug’s game. What you want is an organism that can swiftly adapt to suit its environment. This might take something other than DNA as its base but, well, that’s not really my problem, it’s the Designer’s.

  13. I wonder if Alice’s design fixed the silly crossing of the food and air pipes. I think that was the intelligent designer”s idea of a clever plan to make some of his dearly beloved to join him/her/it early by choking on steak.

  14. For some reason WP listed me as Anonymous above, possibly because I’m logged in with a different PIA server?

    [Fixed! Flapping of Aardvark wings can be heard …]

  15. TomS and Dave, As I’ve said a few times now, I think Ol Hambo is still wondering how the designer of the thermos bottle teach it to keep cold things cold and hot things hot. That’s a perplexing question that possibly Westie will have to answer for us.

  16. How did they get the peanut butter in the chocolate.

  17. I gave my brother a subscription to Mental Floss for his birthday one year. The magazine publishes articles designed to make you think. Some funny. Some thought pieces. That sort of thing. Nothing serious.