If Humans Evolved from Apes, Why Do Apes Still Exist? January 13, 2010

If Humans Evolved from Apes, Why Do Apes Still Exist?

Stephan Baldwin channels Ray Comfort and other evolution-deniers by asking a question that displays ignorance right off the bat.

Richard Dawkins answers it (and wins):

It’s both funny and sad when you realize the person who is the most ignorant about evolution is the person who appears to be the most confident in his knowledge of it.

(via Atheist Media Blog)


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  • I have heard that non-sense so many time I have lost track… it is sad that people come out of school with such ideas.

  • I honestly don’t know if I’m more amused or more embarrassed by looking at this… >_< I mean, Baldwin is intelligent enough to memorize a script, right? That's enough to understand evolution. Well, I thought it was.. O_o

  • Deltabob

    This statement, “It’s both funny and sad when you realize the person who is the most ignorant about evolution is the person who appears to be the most confident in his knowledge of it.” puts me in mind of an important lesson I learned once.
    When I was in college, I learned the difference between being sure and being right through a costly mistake on a theatre set build.
    Too many people, both theists and atheists, don’t seem to understand that being sure, being certain of something doesn’t necessarily mean it is an accurate view of reality.
    History gives us example after example of things that everyone “knew” were correct; e.g., the earth is flat; the earth is the center of the universe; no one could run a sub-four minute mile. Time and again those “truths” were proved false.
    I think embracing the notion that being sure doesn’t mean you are correct is something scary and dangerous to most theists, because faith is rather enmeshed with the idea that certainty=correctness.
    As atheists, most of us have a healthy skepticism, so it’s a bit easier to accept the notion that what we’re sure of today may be proved false tomorrow.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    If Stephen Baldwin was born after Alex Baldwin why does Alex Baldwin still exist? It’s the same question since as human and apes have a common ancestor so does Stephen and Alex Baldwin. And, like the Baldwin brothers’ parents, so can our common ancestor produce more than one lineage.

  • Aww no, it’s blocked in the UK by Channel 4. The sods!

  • bernerbits

    More and more I’m starting to think people without a lot of aptitude in science get to a point where they throw up their hands and go, “Well, I don’t understand this. So I’m just going to assume it’s not true and that way I won’t feel bad that I don’t get it.” In high school I had classmates who would deny everything from p-orbitals (how does the electron go through the nucleus?) to general relativity (how does time dilate/compress for both travelers?) because they didn’t understand it. The difference between those and evolution is people who deny evolution also have the weight of religious authority on their side.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Yo Baldwin: Since I am descended from Germans, why are there still Germans?

  • Anon

    “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
    – Bertrand Russell

    Thank you, Richard Dawkins, for being both correct AND certain — you rock.

  • jtradke

    Apes still exist because you don’t understand evolution.

  • muggle

    Does anyone not know this by now? Oh, yeah. Those who refuse to read and think for themselves.

    What an argument for better education re evolution in school. I know I didn’t learn it in school either. My education in school about evolution sucked. It was the internet that gave me more knowledge.

  • Siamang

    Alex Baldwin doesnt exist.

    There is an Alec Baldwin though.

  • Carrie

    I had a very nice and very smart roommate in college who was majoring in biology and who didn’t believe in evolution. I don’t understand that. I know some people might argue that she wasn’t smart, but she made great grades and worked as a tutor and later got a job in the lab.

  • Kris

    It’s quite embarrassing to think that Baldwin and Darwin share a surname syllable!

  • Matthias

    My dad’s the son of a high society banker, became a general physician, was married to a child psychiatrist, and grew up Anglican yet only half-heartedly believes in evolution (the rest of the family is fully creationist) and worse, denies the existence of ADD/ADHD. Which I, my mother, and my mother’s family all have.
    And, I suspect, so does my brother who desperately needs at least some therapy.

  • Claudia

    I had a very nice and very smart roommate in college who was majoring in biology and who didn’t believe in evolution. I don’t understand that. I know some people might argue that she wasn’t smart, but she made great grades and worked as a tutor and later got a job in the lab.

    Don’t count on her still having those beliefs today. Most people who enter college religious leave it less so, and there’s some evidence showing that biologists are the least religious of scientists, themselves the least religious in society. In addition if she works in a lab as a researcher she will be bombarded every day with the reality of evolution, so unless her cognitive dissonance is made of very thick titanium she’ll probably have at the very least accepted evolution and inserted a “but God guides it” for her own comfort.

  • You think modern genetics could have warned Mr. & Mrs. Baldwin that each child would be much less intelligent, handsome, and talented than the last?

  • Yeah, I used to hear that “argument” from my dad when I grew up, and mind you he wasn’t religious. He had the attitude: if he didn’t understand it, it must be BS.

    At the same time, he took me to the library from the time I was very young.

    Now-a-days, I simply refuse to talk to people who make such idiotic statements; I just don’t need the irritation. It is easy for me to isolate as I am in a university mathematics department. But among others, I mostly keep conversations at a “how about them Bears” level. If something like evolution comes up from someone else, I point out that this is what science departments and laboratories research and teach, and that creationism has yet to deliver a single discovery whereas science has delivered technology, medicine, etc. and just leave it at that.

  • Now I can’t enjoy Biodome anymore. Shit.

  • Eric

    The problem isn’t really about the difference between “descended from apes” and “descended from a common ancestor.” The problem is this: that the way people tend to understand evolution is by representing a species in their mind with a single individual.

    This is a standard method of operation for the human brain, and leads to things like scope insensitivity and other cognitive errors. So I don’t blame people for that particular fault.

    The proper explanation, I think, is to point out that there were hundreds or thousands of animals that were sort of like chimps and sort of like humans, and they weren’t all in the same place.

    I think this alone would subvert their original picture of things and help them understand, but you could continue and point out how (environmental or other) factors in one population caused animals who were born with chimpanzee-like traits to be more likely to reproduce, while factors in the other population caused animals who were born with human-like traits to be more likely to reproduce.

    It’s not an easy jump to make from “evolution means an animal changes during its lifetime from something into something else” to the proper understanding (and I’d say even most people who believe in evolution are still representing it in their mind with the improper explanation), but I believe that’s the issue here.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    Alex Baldwin doesnt exist.

    There is an Alec Baldwin though.

    D’oh! Although I’m sure that an Alex Baldwin does indeed exist somewhere in the world, for that sake of this argument you’re right.

  • SL8ofhand

    It is amusing that the initial post closed with the statement:
    “It’s both funny and sad when you realize the person who is the most ignorant about evolution is the person who appears to be the most confident in his knowledge of it.”

    I guess if they are so (voluntarily?) ignorant of Darwin, they might not have been familiar with his most appropriate (and personal favorite) quote for these situations:

    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” – Charles Darwin

  • AxeGrrl

    Judging by his brother Daniel’s reaction in this clip, he feels the same way about Stephen that we do!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L04QjFPSvIA

  • ursulamajor

    Tyler, you can still enjoy Biodome. It’s just that now, you have to realize that at least for Stephen, he wasn’t acting. He really is that stooopid. Sad to believe that Pauly Shore might be a genius in that duo!

  • So if Americans come from Europeans why are there still Australians?

  • The funny thing is, AiG even says not to use that argument. Notwithstanding the other half-truths and idiocy on that webpage, it’s pretty telling when a Creationist society has the knowledge ‘yeah, we don’t use that argument anymore.’

  • If Christianity came out of Judaism, why is there still Judaism?

  • I’m alive, so why do my cousins still exist?!?!

    I like the way some of the other people in the clip do agree with him, but seem uncomfortable and confused because they know he’s an idiot.

  • Benoit

    Slap Shot 2, need I say more?

  • redstripe

    PYGMIES + DWARFS, people…PYGMIES + DWARFS.

  • Spurs Fan

    If Stephen Baldwin’s movies are terrible, why does “The Usual Suspects” still exist?

  • heironymous

    Actually the thing that amused me the most was the “Meet Atheist Singles Now” ad at the bottom of the video.

  • Fentwin

    If American colonists came from England why are there still Englishmen?

    Its the same vacuous logic.

  • CG

    It’s both funny and sad when you realize the person who is the most ignorant about evolution is the person who appears to be the most confident in his knowledge of it.

    I’ve found that Dunning-Kruger explains this all too well – re: evolution or indeed almost anything.

    D-K is summed up in the Wikipedia article thusly: “people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it”.

    Put otherwise: people are too incompetent to realize they’re incompetent.

    (D-K also leads to the perverse effect whereby the least competent persons are most confident in their belief, as originally quoted.)

  • Pitabred

    This is a research paper that I often refer to in cases like this:

    http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/unskilled.html

    The gist of it is that the less skilled you are, the less able you are to tell that you are unskilled. You don’t have the metacognition required to recognize that you’re an idiot 😉

  • Edmond

    If god exists everywhere, why does everything else still exist?

  • Richard Wade

    Baldwin is not stupid, he is poorly educated. He has been let down by an inadequate school system and a culture that does not give education the value it deserves. We should approach people with his misconceptions with patience and a caring attitude. Not condescending, but knowing that it’s not their fault and sincerely wanting to help.

    If, in our frustration when faced with this kind of ignorance, we dismiss someone as stupid, we make it nearly impossible to help them understand. They sense our disdain and they become just as disdainful in return. Learning is not going to happen in such an atmosphere. We then become part of the problem.

    I have been able to successfully correct the exact same misconception as Baldwin’s when people approach me after one of my lectures. The chart that Dawkins used would have helped, but I have been able to explain it verbally by using their own cousins as an example, and expanding the idea from there. With practice, it usually only takes a few minutes.

    If you want to do this, it just requires two things: The person has to be asking a genuine information-seeking question rather than a rhetorical question, and you have to set aside your feelings of superiority.

    We can curse them for stumbling around in the dark, or we can light a candle.

  • Tony

    So if Americans come from Europeans why are there still Australians?

    This actually sums it up better than anything else I’ve read.

  • CatBallou

    Heironymus, I was seeing ads for Christian dating sites!

  • @ Siamang and Darwin’s Dagger, according to howmanyofme.com, there are approximately 53 Alex Baldwins in the United States, just fyi. 🙂

  • Baldwin is not stupid, he is poorly educated.

    I’m not so sure of that.

  • Siamang

    If smart comes from stupid, how come there’s still stupid?

  • flawedprefect

    Wow. He got fat. Y’know what sucks about being a Baldwin? Nothin’. Ignorance is bliss! lol

  • Dessertschef

    Stephen Baldwin is a Born Again Christian, closed minded, ignorant, uneducated and stupid. What else is there to say on this subject?

  • This has put me in a right quandary. I really want to know if any of the other (so called) celebrity house mates are intelligent enough to teach Mr Baldwin the reality of evolution. But I absolutely hate Big Brother, and refuse to watch it in any way shape or form. AAArrgh!

  • Ed

    If Humans Evolved from Apes, Why Do Apes Still Exist?

    For the same reason someone as smart as Stephen Hawking and someone as ignorant as Stephen Baldwin still exist.

  • Jay

    Unfrotunately, the answer probably went over most theists heads.

    A simpler response might have been something like:

    “You descended from your parents, why do they still exist?” (Or even the asker’s grandparents, assuming they are still living)

    Unfortunately, too many evolution-deniers seem to think that evolution means that one species just magically turns into another. Pointing out that evolution is simply differences between one generation and the next, might be helpful. And species changes are the result of groups of a species becoming separated from one another, and then evolving differently (over *many* generations) due to different environments.

  • I’m going to say “metacognitive” to a believer and watch his head implode. 😉