It’s always a recipe for success to mix pirates and Darwin

Thanks to Jennifer Ouellette, I have learned that MIT offers a certificate in Pirate. I could have gone to MIT. Now, suddenly, in the midst of my remorseless, perfect life, I learn what regret is. Thanks, Jennifer. Thanks heaps.


  1. says

    If pirates had only raided the Beagle and derailed evolutionary theory (and Darwin was exposed as the scurvy dog-hating god, or god-hating dog, that he really was), Liberty University would insist that all of its graduates achieve pirate status.

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  2. ikesolem says

    Gosh Glen, to derail evolutionary theory would be rather difficult – raiding the Beagle wouldn’t do it. At the very least I think you’d have to go back and kill Darwin’s grandfather too, and about a hundred other nineteenth century scientists, and many thousands more in the 20th century:

    Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus believed life evolved from a single ancestor. “Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?” he wrote in “Zoonomia” in 1794. He just couldn’t figure out how.

    In any case Darwin only looked at part of the answer. He couldn’t figure out the source of biological variation, just a mechanism of selection of variants.

    Science doesn’t actually progress due to the efforts of a handful of idealized science heroes, even if that’s how many historians present things. It’s always a group effort – even Newton said so. Everyone stands on everyone’s shoulders.

  3. evilDoug says

    It seems entirely appropriate that MIT should do such a thing.
    Electrical engineers, in particular, are given to pirate talk.

    “Mister, give me a signal of one kilohertz!”
    “Beggin’ yer pardon, Captain, but the dial on this thing is in radians.”
    “Then dial up a 2000π rate, and be quick about it!”

  4. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’ve been sailing on the Charles River. It’s no big deal. Us Harvard folks even let the MIT pukes sail there. That’s noblesse oblige in action.

  5. says

    Petition for a D.Pir. Honoris Causa. They should give you that. Unis hand out honorary doctorates like candy at graduation, it’s the least they could do.

  6. theobromine says

    Hmm – I took sailing and fencing at MIT (but alas, not archery or pistol). Yaaaaaaaarrrrr anyway.

  7. cowalker says

    Does anyone else think that it would make a great movie to show Darwin being taken hostage from the Beagle by a beautiful female pirate captain, who falls in love with him, but who sets him free for no ransom because she understands that he will make an awesome contribution to science?

  8. DLC says

    Wait.. didn’t a previous article contain a conflation between Pirates and Lesbians ? Now I’m confused.
    Bi for now, be back later.

  9. LightningRose says

    Hell PZ, if you really fancy yourself a pirate, just steal the damned certificate!

  10. Jamie says

    Raiding the Beagle wouldn’t derail evolution, because as ikesolem @5 said

    Science doesn’t actually progress due to the efforts of a handful of idealized science heroes

    Don’t forget that Wallace also independently proposed evolution due to natural selection at the same time. So even with no Darwin, we’d still have evolution.