“At This Event, There’s Madness in the Scientific Method,” by Angela Chen, The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/2014. (Angela Chen? Was her mother Italian and her father Chinese?)
Evolution has shaped much of the world we know, as these examples illustrate:
We find bugs so disgusting because of evolution. As human populations increased, food sources became scarce, and bugs grew more disgusting to avoid being eaten. Look around. The tasty-looking bugs are all gone, correct?
Believe that one? How about this one: Babies are chubby and football-shaped because our ancient ancestors punted them from village to village to spread their genes. Skinny babies got caught in the tree branches.
No? Too much? How about: viruses and bacteria can sense when you are doing yoga. At the first sign of a yoga position, they go dormant, and people think they are healthy again, avoiding treatment with antibiotics which would destroy the pathogen population.
The reason why we yawn has always been a question, but now there is a theory: Flying insects gather at dusk and dawn, just when we are most likely to yawn. When we yawn, we open our mouths wide and shut our eyes, just what we should do to gather in that protean-rich food source. After we yawn, there is even a spike in our cortisone level, which is a mark of hunger.
These were entries at the pseudo-scientific Festival of Bad Ad-Hoc Hypotheses held at MIT. The entries were presented with graphs, slides, and displays. The winner was decided by an audience applause-meter (unusual for scientific presentations).
The winner this year was the theory that the ubiquitous belly-fat of seniors developed in prehistoric times as a flotation device to survive frequent floodings. Early cave art shows humans as stick figures, but we later came out of the caves, settled along rivers and lakes, and needed protection from drowning. All lifeguards know seniors with lots of body fat are perfectly safe paddling around in deep water, even if they fall off of their swim-noodles. They couldn’t sink if they wanted to. Lifeguards who lose their flotation tubes during a rescue are taught to grab onto a nearby senior as a substitute.
The first-place trophy was a small statue of Darwin.