Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Darwin, like it is . . .

OLIVIA JUDSON IS A NEW YORK TIMES columnist that I adore: she is so smart. Her bio paragraph states: "Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist, writes every Wednesday about the influence of science and biology on modern life. She is the author of “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex.” Ms. Judson has been a reporter for The Economist and has written for a number of other publications, including Nature, The Financial Times, The Atlantic and Natural History. She is a research fellow in biology at Imperial College London.

Works for me. Anyway, she has a review of a show by Baba Brinkman. The show's called “The Rap Guide to Evolution”. Who's Baba Brinkman? According to Olivia,

Brinkman, a burly Canadian from Vancouver, is a latter-day wandering minstrel, a self-styled “rap troubadour,” with a master’s degree in English and a history of tree-planting (according to his Web site, he has personally planted more than one million trees). 

And this was her reaction:

The lights go down. The room fills with music — a pulsating hip-hop rhythm. And then, over the music, you hear the voice of Richard Dawkins reading a passage from “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin: “Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction. For only thus can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed.”

So begins one of the most astonishing, and brilliant, lectures on evolution I’ve ever seen: “The Rap Guide to Evolution,” by Baba Brinkman.

SCIENCE MAGAZINE was impressed, too.

With lyrics that were sometimes sly, often hilarious, and always smart and thought-provoking, Brinkman married the fast, complex, literate delivery of Eminem with the evolutionary expertise and confrontational manner of Dawkins. His raps and rhymes intelligently covered altruism, group selection, and sexual selection; one on the latter noted peacock tails and that “the reason for some structures must be seduction.” And like Lebo, the artist spoke with eloquence about confronting fundamentalist relatives.

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