1. AgnosticNews says

    AronRa has one of the best laymen-friendly video series on Youtube debunking creationism as well.

  2. says

    I continue to be impressed with the quality of his work. I looked re-watched his “Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism” play list the other day. It’s definitely worth checking out. Plus you get to play the “what is that clip from” game. It makes me happy every time I recognize a scene from H2G2 or Inherit the Wind.

  3. John Morales says

    Very interesting and informative.

    I’d rather the pacing had been less hectic in the narrative portions.

    (Not much of a criticsim, I know.)

  4. Invigilator says

    Wow, I remembered my Typekey identity; I don’t think I’ve used it since I was a monkey, or maybe a monkey’s uncle.

  5. 386sx says

    I’d rather the pacing had been less hectic in the narrative portions.

    Yeah that AronRa, he’s definitely a fast talker.

    Talk talk talk talk talk talk talk, run out of breath…

    Next sentence… talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk, run out of breath…

    Next sentence…

    Pretty cool actually.

  6. Jason Lambert says

    We’re not only monkeys, but we’re also reptiles, fish, and tunicates. While I can see how this is cladistically correct in a strict sense, I don’t see how this is supposed to be useful in any way.

    I would still argue that we are properly Catarrhines, not monkeys. When you try to mix scientific and common names for higher taxa, things just get too confusing.

  7. Ian A. A. Watson says

    #12: I actually like that about him. It means he’s packing as much into a video as possible. Very high density of information. And because it’s YouTube, if you miss something you can pause or go back. (:

  8. says

    I’m a big an of AronRa, and have ever since I first encountered him on evolution/creationism Message Boards ages back. Man needs his on Discovery Channel show.

  9. John Harshman says

    Nice. But if you aren’t a systematist I would imagine that several of the words he used would fly right past you (especially at that speed). How many of you folks know what a “synapomorphy” is?

  10. says

    There is a flaw.

    If OWM’s are X, Apes are Y, and NWMs are Z, there exists a common ancestor (A) of X,Y,Z and thus according to cladistic logic, X, Y and Z are forms of A. That part is correct.

    However, the features that make X and Z “monkeys” include a lot of convergences. The “basal” nature of various early populations require swapping around which traits are used to define the clades.

    In other words, there is not an argument, in my view, that says that all monkeys apes (and humans) are “by definition” monkeys that is any better than the argument that all monkeys, apes and humans are by definition apes.

  11. Temaskian says

    The only illustration I really understood was the one about Knight Rider. I loved watching that TV programme, as acted by David Hasselhoff, when I was a kid.

  12. JohnnieCanuck says

    Possibly not OT, how far back along our line of descent does our broken Vitamin C gene go?

  13. Fred the Hun says

    Jason Lambert @ 13,

    We’re not only monkeys, but we’re also reptiles, fish, and tunicates.

    So you’re saying my notochord somehow evolved into a prehensile tail, which I’ve now lost?
    Likely story, sounds a bit fishy to me.

    Then again, maybe it explains why so many of us have reverted to being sessile.

  14. Kele says

    Is this really as controversial as the author is claiming? I thought it was commonly accepted by scientists that humans are monkeys…

  15. says

    This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.

    Ah – anyone else getting that? (Guess I should have watched the first time I saw this post..)

  16. Joe says

    It’s not just this site. The video has been removed from youtube. I wasn’t able to see it. However, my gut instinct tells me that it was a it got flagged and DMCA’d by some bitter creationists.

  17. Toddahhhh says

    I watched it once, then followed the link back to it and it had been removed. I guess I used up the last view, sorry :(

  18. Treppenwitz says

    Know what would be great? Seed hosting for media posted on ScienceBlogs sites. Youtube is far too eager to placate creationists.

  19. Pascalle says

    This video is gone, i foAund more videos of him on another site though (but not this new one).

    I just watched one on evolution in which he managed to explain how it works (a lot of it) in 10 minutes.


    That was a kinda information overload.. need to watch that at least a few times again :)

  20. Ketsuban says

    #31: You’re forgetting to apply Hanlon’s razor. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    YouTube don’t “placate” creationists – they’re just incompetent.

  21. says

    I found the file in my cache and uploaded it to my server. Here’s hoping my server doesn’t bork from Pharyngulation ….

    Flash Video File.

    If it does start going nuts on me I’ll just break the link, but for now consider it a free-for-all. If you guys know the author’s copyright on the video, do consider that applied to this download. Sorry in advance for my not-so-awesome server speed. To play it, use Media Player Classic from or VLC player.

  22. says

    Gah! I’m glad I saw the video while it was still up. It was even more run-on-out-of-breath than his usual fare, but he had interesting points.

    Behind all the points, I most appreciated the sentiment that really, people seem quick to point out that human ancestors were never monkeys, perhaps in an attempt to deflate the “I’m no kin to a monkey” chestpuffing and to avoid offending or exasperating people by pointing it out.

    I’ve seen more than my share of people on forums try to rush to cover over such a comparison. I can understand that from the point of view of showing that we do not come from any extant monkeys, but not when it comes to playing word games about taxa to which our ancestors would have belonged.

    I do wish that the comments on YouTube were still accessible even when videos get pulled.

    Given that the video seemed to be in keeping with AronRa’s tradition of small, relevant and/or funny clips and that none of the 17 foundational falsehood videos (including the 2-part #14 and #15) seem to have been knocked offline, maybe it’s legitimate; one would have suspected a mouth-breathing holy script kiddie of making the attempt against others of the series.

    That said, with recent botting scandals on YouTube, we’re right to get our hackles up. If such is the case, perhaps we can help him mirror it around a bit.

    I do wish AronRa had his own non-YouTube spot for some of us to hang out and find out what’s going on.

    I want his whole damned series on DVDs for posterity, quite frankly, quite aside from needing to practice speaking our entire taxonomic lineage in one breath :)

  23. says

    It would be good if he could do like Potholer54 and release a free DVD to download. I’d grab it for sure.

  24. Andyo says

    “This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.”
    (Shouldn’t it be “a terms-of-use violation?)
    Censors at least should strive for good grammar if they wanna be taken seriously.

    Anyway, what’s up? Was this copyrighted material? That guy’s videos all seem produced under fair use.

  25. Pascalle says

    Thanks for putting that up philip.

    It was an interesting video.
    Maybe they did yank it for copyright, i don’t know how the rules are for small clips.
    He did use harry potter and red dwarf clips.

  26. Andyo says

    It seems the censors have been busy at youtube. Check out this video

    They took out the music! Ridiculous! (But still awesome).

  27. shonny says

    Posted by: Temaskian Author Profile Page | April 15, 2009 12:09 AM
    The only illustration I really understood was the one about Knight Rider. I loved watching that TV programme, as acted by David Hasselhoff, when I was a kid.

    ‘Acted’ and ‘David Hasselhoff’ oxymoron maketh! He was in the picture and had lines, but that was about it.

  28. Eidolon says

    Judging from the length of some of the clips, the issue may be copyright, getting the video pulled. If that’s the case, having been on the originator side, ’tis a good thing.

  29. bunnycatch3r says

    Thanks for posting this PZ. I watched it several times yesterday morning trying to decipher its meaning. Pharyngula is the best place IMO to get at the matter.

  30. Pascalle says

    I’m now watching more of this guys videos.
    They’re interesting.
    Overall i feel like due to this site and all the information that came from it i have “discovered” science. My brain feels like a big sponge, just sucking up everythign i read and see.

    It feels amazing.
    Thank you PZ for changing this 35 year old “girl’s” life :)

  31. BicycleRepairMan says

    #35 Thanks!, I’ve uploaded the video to my own YT account, so that might spare some of your bandwidth:

  32. says

    Near the beginning there was a breastfeeding baby. As ridiculous as it seems, YouTube considers that inappropriate and routinely removes videos that show breastfeeding.

  33. p1gnone says

    Thank-you very much Philip Khan. I had missed it. What of goading the censors by a mass re-uploading?

  34. Stever says

    Thanks to Philip and others for rescuing the clip. I’d be interested in what particular term of use was violated.

  35. BruceH says

    Hmm… I thought the narration a bit dense, and the narrator kept making the same point over and over. Namely, that since humans (and other apes) are descended from “monkeys”, humans may still be properly classified as monkeys. I don’t see why all the other exposition was necessary to make this point.

    Still, I did enjoy the video.

    On the terms of use violation, I didn’t see it. Every clip of copyrighted material in the video seems to conform to my understanding of fair use. While it is possible that some part or parts may actually violate fair use, despite my possibly flawed understanding, I give the benefit of doubt to the author. YouTube has been known in the past to repeatedly and falsely apply its Terms of Use to material that is merely objectionable to a subset of its users, and does not in reality violate any terms of use as defined by YouTube.

    P.S. — Yes, Thank you, Philip.

  36. chgo_liz says

    I’ll go watch right after I type this, but I wanted to mention that I might know the reason for the yank.

    Pascalle @ #40 says that there was a Harry Potter clip in it. Rowling is VERY protective of her brand. I mean, even more than Disney, Warner Bros., etc. She will yank, prosecute, whatever it takes.

    I’m not arguing either side WRT author’s rights issues, just saying that if there was anything HP in the video, I’ll bet that’s what caused the removal.

  37. ckitching says

    It used clips of copyrighted movies, so it was probably removed for that. Never mind that the clips were so short that they should’ve qualified as “fair use”

  38. bsa says

    Thanks, Bicycle Repair Man for hosting the file. I gotta take a class in cladistics one of these days.

  39. BicycleRepairMan says

    There are clips from lots of movies and tv-shows in there, but uses like this should be classified classified as “Fair Use”. it is oe thing to post movies in their entirety and quite another to use short clips, sometimes without sound, to illustrate a point

  40. Dr.Woody says

    #31: You’re forgetting to apply Hanlon’s razor. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    “hanlon” was/is a fool or a fool or both.

    I believe exactly the opposite: One should never try to excuse for stupidity what can, on the same evidence, be judged as malignity, because “they” have the money and guns and they ARE out to get us…

    Never doubt it.

  41. Emmet, OM says

    I think that if it were the result of a copyright claim or a DMCA takedown notice, it would be tagged by YouTube with “This video has been removed due to a copyright claim by a third party” rather than “due to terms of use violation”.

  42. Eidolon says

    Two quick points. First, “fair use” is tricky although the scholarly intent of this work ought to qualify. Rethinking the matter, this seems an over reaction by YT.

    Second, as any media becomes more widely used in society, it tends to move towards the lowest common denominator. This leads to self censorship to avoid any possible offense to the sensitivities of any organized group. We all know that religious groups get special deference as well. It does seem as if there has been some monkey business here.

  43. kingjoebob says

    In case you folks are not aware, for about 6 months now there has been a campaign to flag videos, vote down videos(aka votebot attacks), send DMCA take down notices(one example), and report videos for terms-of-use violations to youtube primarily by creationists against anti-religion/pro science channels. Youtube is aware of this problem but seems unable to fix the situation.

  44. Emmet, OM says

    for about 6 months now there has been a campaign to flag videos, vote down videos […], send DMCA take down notices […], and report videos for terms-of-use violations to youtube primarily by creationists against anti-religion/pro science channels.

    Yes, indeed, but I think they might be a little more careful about those DMCA take-down notices, in particular, after what PCS did to himself.

  45. Emmet, OM says

    Defunct URL.

    Really? Works for me. It’s not really important anyway, just making the point that Mike Edmondson’s Beware the Believers has been discussed here many, many times and at great length over the last year, including a few threads where Mike himself commented extensively (there was much mystery surrounding the authorship at first). If my Google-Fu and memory are right, this was where it started:

  46. Free Lunch says

    Youtube is aware of this problem but seems unable to fix the situation.

    Unable? or unwilling?

  47. says

    OT, but this thread doesn’t seem very on topic, and I find this interesting. David Klinghoffer, on DI’s blog:

    Dr. Le Fanu turns out to be a flaming Darwin doubter, too. He comes out with a vengeance in his new book, Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves,” which hammers scientific materialism to bits. It really is a book you shouldn’t miss buying and reading.

    What’s so notable? First of all, the man writes like an angel. Second, his book appears under the imprint of Pantheon, a very mainstream venue that I’ve never associated with conservative, religious, unconventional, or other dangerous types of authors. Third, while in his Acknowledgements, Le Fanu thanks a bunch of fellow writers who will be well known to readers of ENV — Michael Behe, Jeffrey Schwartz, Jonathan Wells, Phillip Johnson, and others — again, as far as I know his acquaintance with them was not personal but through reading their books and then thinking his own thoughts.

    Le Fanu doesn’t mention intelligent design or Discovery Institute

    So David’s all thrilled with this woomeister, linking to Amazon, which shows what a flaming idiot this medical doctor really is:

    “Scientists do not ‘do’ wonder,” he writes in his introduction. “Rather . . . they have interpreted the world through the prism of supposing there is nothing in principle that cannot be accounted for.” But Le Fanu argues that there is nothing so full of wonder as life itself. As revealed by recent scientific research, it is simply not possible to get from the monotonous sequence of genes strung out along the double helix to the infinite beauty and diversity of the living world, or from the electrical activity of the brain to the richness and abundant creativity of the human mind. Le Fanu’s exploration of these mysteries, and his analysis of where they might lead us in our thinking about the nature and purpose of human existence, form the impassioned and riveting heart of Why Us?

    Apparently not only is the brain almost superfluous, so are genes. Of course the buffoon is a “Darwin doubter,” he simply doesn’t believe in biological science.

    I hope that the DI pushes this rot, because it reveals how thoroughgoing their anti-science stance really is.

    Glen D

  48. knathon says

    Systematists can be somewhat annoying sometimes in their tirades. I am sure anyone that has listened to two of them go at it for a while knows this.
    “Cladistics has render terms like ‘fish’ and ‘reptile’ virtually meaningless because they are as inconsistent with phylogeny as things that are grey.”
    While I can see the usefulness is naming monophyletic groups for the purposes of taxonomy, there is a lot of usefulness in naming paraphyletic and polyphyletic groups that retain a suite of ancestral characters. The statement “Yesterday I caught a chordate” carries as much information in it as “Yesterday I caught a fish” within common language. This is is why we have common names for things (i.e. monkeys, fish, lizards, etc) that are distinct from taxon names. (P.S., @#13, we aren’t tunicates, tunicates are like a more derived group than would have included the chordate ancestor, so really we aren’t nested within them)
    Overall, I see and agree with his overall point. Most people don’t understand cladistics and the conventions of naming monophyletic groups in a nested hierarchy. We are all bacteria (or I guess now we are Archaea).

  49. Randomfactor says

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    Any sufficiently-advanced stupidity is indistiguishable from malice. Clarke’s Fourth Law.

  50. BicycleRepairMan says

    #75 I dont think the point of the video was to suggest a new naming scheme for all monkey/apes/hominids etc, but rather to point out that all these groups are so related and intertwined that even our most clever and complex attempts at classifying them in distinct groups are bound to break down at some level. we can safely call ourselves human, ape, monkey, or descended-from-apes or descended-from-monkeys, or apes with shared ancestry with both monkeys and apes. All of these definations are essentially true in some sense.

  51. Menyambal says

    I just checked my copy of _The_Ancestors_Tale by Richard Dawkins, and he makes the same point, although with less of a fuss. “Monkeys” isn’t a proper group. We are descended from Old World monkeys, just as it says in the video clip from the Monkey Trial–good evidence, I hope that this isn’t news.

    Sure, sure, we have a common ancestor with modern Old World monkeys, rather than being descended from a particular extant species of monkey. But a moment’s thought tells us that that ancestor would certainly have been a monkey, to any value of monkey.

    We are descended from monkeys. So what’s the fuss? It isn’t news. It only troubles those idiots who ask why there are still monkeys.

    We are apes, Old World monkeys, monkeys, primates, mammals and tetrapods. But we are a particular variety of all those things, the only one that sits on its ass commenting on YouTube videos.

  52. Oscar Zoalaster says

    It would seem that some genetic engineering would fall into the ‘this species had a mutation’, the same as when it simply was that a mutation ocurred and prospered. But other forms of genetic engineering would be more like the creation of an entirely ‘new’ clade….

  53. says

    Good god you’re all efficient — took only about 12 hours to Pharyngulize my bandwidth (out of 30 gigs!). Hopefully I can resolve this with my hosting company haha. Blegh, I might have to fork out a one-month plan upgrade.

    Thanks BicycleRepairMan, sammywol @48,58 — looks like my server does need some relief!

  54. Sili says

    Tunicate?! You’re a tunicate?!

    Bah! Kids these days! All so fancy!

    Nah. When I was young I was an ugly bag of mostly water. AND I WAS HAPPY ABOUT IT!

  55. Sili says

    And Jesus Christ, that guy sounds like Stephen Hawking on speed.

    I’ll have to read that video …

  56. Lord Zero says

    Still doesnt work i will need to
    lurk for it…
    Dang !, judging from the comments it looked
    like fun.

  57. twincats says

    Thank you, BicycleRepairMan!!

    Yes, the guy is a fast talker, and I should probably watch the video a few more times, but even seeing only once, I can tell it is SO full of win!!

    Red Dwarf AND Eddie Izzard references; be still my heart!

    Could the Terms of Use problem have anything at all to do with it being over 10 mins.?

  58. Will Von Wizzlepig says


    We crash their polls.

    They go over to youtube and violating the TOS of the site by falsely flagging videos as offensive.

    It’s ok to lie if you are religious, though, right?

  59. says

    It’s ok to lie if you are religious, though, right?

    As long as it’s not against the holy spirit…

  60. ElitistB says

    To #88, of course it is okay to lie if you are religious. You do whatever you want to if you can just rationalize it as being either beneficial or commanded by your god. I’ve heard in debates people claiming to be “good people” who also say “I would commit genocide if I thought my God commanded it” or “Abraham was a good person for attempting to sacrifice his son simply because a voice which later turned out to be a burning bush wanted him to.”

    It is insanity, simply put. A total disconnect with reality and society at many levels. Genocide, murder, etc are NEVER good. I won’t necessarily say that they might not be necessary, as maybe we’ll end up encountering a non-negotiating race of insectoid xenophobes in space that we will be forced to remove for all time, but it still isn’t a good thing.

  61. Drosera says

    A True ChristianTM should welcome the opportunity to commit genocide. Not only does his god approve of it, you are even allowed to spare the female virgins and to keep them for your own pleasure. Yes, Yahweh sure knows his followers.

    “No, no,” modern Christians will tell you, “those parts of the Bible are generally discarded. We follow Christ. After all, that’s why we call ourselves Christians. Strictly entre nous, the Old Testament is an embarrassment.”

    Fine, but your Christ introduced the concept of Hell. Not so nice, is it?

    “Oh, but we don’t believe in Hell anymore.”

    Right. So your ethics are actually better than what the Bible tells you. Doesn’t that show that your moral principles are not based on your religion? Couldn’t you have the same moral principles if you were an atheist?


  62. Mark says

    Link is down, due to “terms of use violation”. As I recall, this is a favorite tactic of the religulous in getting videos they object to taken off the site.


  63. David Marjanović, OM says


    Why does anyone confuse cladistics with nomenclature? Cladistics is the method to reconstruct phylogenetic hypotheses and test which ones are the most parsimonious. It has nothing to do with naming stuff.

    And no, you’re not a tunicate. Tunicata is monophyletic with respect to Craniata (it’s probably its sister-group).

    The statement “Yesterday I caught a chordate” carries as much information in it as “Yesterday I caught a fish” within common language.

    What you really caught was almost certainly a teleost, and certainly an actinopterygian. It wasn’t a chondrichthyan, lamprey or hagfish.

    It would actually be best if “fish” were restricted to “actinopterygian”. After all, that would merely continue the trend: jellyfish, cuttlefish and starfish are already not fish anymore…