A meme about fish still being fish

fishapods meme

In one of the more infamous portions of Ray Comfort’s gut-wrenchingly bad film, “Evolution vs. God,” RayCo demands “observable evidence” of evolution from biologist P.Z. Myers. When Myers suggests that his interviewer check out Lenski’s experiments with bacteria or the significant changes that have been observed in isolated populations of sticklebacks, Banana Ray says that’s not good enough.

“They’re still fish,” he says. “There’s no change in kinds.”

“What do the bacteria become?” he wants to know.

This interchange prompted us to crown RayCo “the world’s worst scientist,” remarking that:

[T]his is why Comfort is a terrible scientist. While a real scientist analyzes the results of an experiment or a finding in the field to see what conclusions may be drawn from it, Comfort waves away historical evidence as irrelevant and contemporary evidence as meaningless. He, in fact, demands evidence that the theory in question never predicted would be found.

I’d hate for a laboratory seeking new medical breakthroughs to ever have someone like RayCo in charge. I can see it now: “Well yeah, the patient has been cured of cancer, but he’s still going to die at some point, for some reason or another. There’s no real change here. Back to the drawing board.”

In honor of RayCo’s brilliance, we edited the above picture (originally used by Wikipedia to illustrate the transition of the earliest known relatives of land-dwelling tetrapods) to bring it more in line with his views.

You see, despite the mind-numbing absurdity of this viewpoint, it appears to have become quite popular with Comfort’s legions of fans, who continue to echo his demand for “observable, repeatable, scientific evidence of evolution” across the nine realms of the Interwebs. I think this is the simplest way to respond to such a request: The theory of evolution predicts, and all the evidence confirms, that macroevolution (large-scale, genus-level changes) takes millions of years, so asking for evidence of it happening before your eyes in a few minutes is like asking to hear the color brown. It just doesn’t work that way. In fact, if we ever found an example of macroevolution occurring on an “observable” time scale, it would disprove Darwin’s theory of evolution once and for all.

As Myers said in the movie, the humble sticklebacks may still be fish, but “they’re distinctly different fish.” And they have evolution to thank for it.

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  • summers-lad

    By the same token, what is homo sapiens? Still an ape, I suppose.

    • H/T to P.Z. Myers: “When you see Ray Comfort and he denies that he is an ape, point out that by his ‘they’re still just X’ argument, he has scapulae and hair follicles and a liver and jaws and an autonomic nervous system just like a chimp, and if he’s going to deny the evolved differences, he’s still just a chimpanzee. He’s still got a spine, just like a fish, so he’s still just a fish. And he’s bilaterally symmetric, just like a worm, so he’s still just a worm.”

    • Renan Oliveira

      no we are not
      johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/phylogeny/taxonomy/humans-arent-apes-2012.html

      • Matthew Funke

        It seems to me that the author here is splitting hairs. When Jerry Coyne and others insist that humans are apes, they’re using “ape” colloquially to refer to hominoidea. They’re talking to a lay audience, and using the term as most lay people would use the term — to point out that we’re not as distinct as we might like to think. To point out that apes, in general discourse, are animals that exclude humans only highlights exactly what it is that these educators hope to accomplish, and why they would say that in spite of the English definition of the term.

        It’s much the same in that respect as when people, for example, talk about a DNS server translating web addresses into numbers “that a computer can understand”. It’s sloppy terminology by computer science standards, and potentially misleading once you get into the details, but for a lay audience, I think it illuminates more than it confuses or conflates.

        It would be nice to have them say so outright, of course, but I think it’s pretty clear from the way they’re talking about it what they’re trying to do.

  • Renan Oliveira

    I’m glad our early ancestors were never fish. So this doesn’t matter what he said, he was probably joking or whatever, only trying to make the christian guy mad.