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Media Matters reports that talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said on his May 31st, 2016 show

By the way, you know there’s another factor in this, Snerdley? A lot of people think that all of us used to be apes. Don’t doubt me on this. A lot of people think that all of us used to be gorillas. And they’re looking for the missing link out there. The evolution crowd. They think we were originally apes. I’ve always – if we were the original apes, then how come Harambe is still an ape, and how come he didn’t become one of us?

This was also a topic on Huffington Post.

Well, this was covered in detail years ago right here on The Thumb - Why are there still Monkeys? February 25th, 2005.

Folks, this is just another example: if creationists evolve at all, it’s very, very slowly.


Are men idiots?


That is, are male members of the species Homo sapiens idiots? No, but according to a recent article, they are more likely to be idiots than women are.

The only thing surprising about this conclusion is that it is so unsurprising. For years now, whenever my daughter or I see a bicyclist dash madly across 4 lanes of traffic, we announce to each other, “Another male trying to improve the gene pool.” We are uncertain who said it first, but my daughter somewhat sheepishly thinks it was she. Which, of course, makes me think that we brought her up right.

The study that drew the unsurprising conclusion looked at the recipients of the Darwin Awards over the past 20 years. To qualify for a Darwin Award, you have to remove yourself from the gene pool, generally by killing yourself, but I suppose that castration would do about as well.

After the usual mutterings about selection bias and noting that the study was retrospective (double-blind would have been kind of tricky), the authors conclude that ~90 % of Darwin Award winners were male. They propose a Male Idiot Theory, which to my mind is at least as good as Molière’s diagnosis, she is mute because she has lost her speech.

NPR reported on the article here. Some of the comments are interesting, and some suggest a sociobiological explanation, which I will leave to your imagination – suffice it to say that among our early ancestors, only the men had to take the risk of hunting elephants. Or whatever.

The authors of the original article assure us that they plan an observational study and even now are scheduling holiday parties, both with and without alcohol.


Credit: Abnormal Interests. Creative Commons copyright CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.

Kang Lee, a 2014 Ig Nobel Prize* winner, asks, “Have you ever seen the face of Jesus on toast? No? … Your brain is completely normal if you see nonexistent faces in everyday objects. In fact, if you don’t, your brain may actually lack the essential ingredients for a vivid imagination.”

The research was actually mildly interesting, if unsurprising. I could not read the original article, which was published in a proprietary journal, but I found synopses here and here. The gist, at any rate, seems to have been that when observers think they see a face, even in random noise, the face-recognition area in their brain lights up.

OK, it is normal to see patterns where none exist. More-imaginative people see more patterns. Fine.

But too many people who ought to know better think that such patterns are real.

*The Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded in September, but I did not catch up with them till a broadcast on NPR the other day. Dr. Lee added, by the way, “And I have some good news for you, for those without a good imagination, I just found out, you can buy a Jesus toaster on eBay .…” You may see him at about 19 min into the tape. For the record, seeing patterns where none exist is known as pareidolia.

Joe Sonka reported the other day in Insider Louisville that Ken Ham has now attacked his old friend, Steve Beshear, the governor of Kentucky. As Mr. Sonka puts it, Mr. Ham “penned a fundraising letter last week claiming the governor is launching a ‘massive attack’ on their religious freedom and persecuting his organization ‘because of our Christian message.’” Mr. Ham blames atheists and “secularists” for putting pressure on state government officials and avers that “our freedom of speech and freedom of religion … are now under attack.”

In the simplest possible terms,

  1. Nonprofit religious organizations, such as Mr. Ham’s own Answers in Genesis, may legally discriminate in hiring on the basis of religious belief.
  2. For-profit organizations, such as Mr. Ham’s own Ark Encounter, may not legally discriminate in hiring on the basis of religious belief.
  3. You may not try to get around (2) by hiring people to work at Ark Encounter and pretending that they are employees of Answers in Genesis.
  4. If you try to get around (2) in that manner, then Kentucky’s Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet will ask you to pledge in writing that Ark Encounter will not discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion before they will reinstate your tax incentives.

In other words, Ark Encounter’s tax incentives will be restored, if only they pledge in writing that they will not discriminate in employment. Ark Encounter has so far declined to give such assurance, which makes a body speculate that they just might be thinking of laundering all Ark Encounter employment through Answers in Genesis in order to circumvent the law.

Is it any wonder that the Freedom from Religion Foundation has petitioned the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the nonprofit status of Answers in Genesis and its affiliate the Creation “Museum”?

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A reader asks weather anyone knows what book this page comes from or not:


I say, wind, shmind, the whether on the moon was stormy that day or not. Anyway, how do they know weather there is wind on the moon – were they there (or not)? Read and understand.…

Submitted by the Whether Underground.

My old friend, the Alert Reader, sent me a cartoon that he claimed had appeared on Ken Ham’s Facebook page. Captioned “Famous sayings of Ken Ham,” the cartoon shows a caricature of Ham and three balloons, including this one:

It’s designed to do what it does do.

What it does do it does do well.

Doesn’t it?

Yes, it does.

I think it does.

Do you? I do.

Hope you do, too. Do you?

I found it hard to believe that the cartoon was not a parody and wondered why it is found on Ham’s own Facebook page. The Alert Reader responded with the following, also reportedly from Ham’s Facebook page:

The egg came first


I have been saying it for years: The transition from dinosaur (figuratively speaking) to chicken was gradual, but at some time we stopped calling it a dinosaur and started calling it a chicken. Or would have if we had been there. The chicken therefore emerged from an egg laid by a dinosaur. Hence, the egg came first. See Robert Krulwich’s article on NPR and the splendid video he links to if you do not believe me.

Acknowledgement. Thanks to Dave Carlson, who asks, “Which came first, the panda or the panda’s thumb?” for the link.

Can William Lane Craig feel pain?


I haven’t the foggiest idea, but I recently saw a video, which you may link to here, in which Mr. Craig, a Christian apologist, argues that (nonhuman) animals cannot feel pain but only responses to stimuli. Or if they can feel pain, then they do not know it is pain. And if they can feel pain but do not know it is pain then it is not pain. Or something.

My unsolicited advice to Mr. Craig: Study today’s (Nov. 16) Non Sequitur cartoon very, very carefully.

Ark falls off edge of earth


According to the cartoonist Wiley, there were two Arks, and the one that carried the dinosaurs accidentally fell off the edge of the earth.

The ducks are gonna get you


Some poor young girl, deeply miseducated and misled, wrote into a newspaper with a letter trying to denounce homosexuality with a bad historical and biological argument. She's only 14, and her brain has already been poisoned by the cranks and liars in her own family…it's very sad. Here's the letter — I will say, it's a very creative argument that would be far more entertaining if it weren't wrong in every particular.

I've transcribed it below. I couldn't help myself, though, and had to, um, annotate it a bit.

Journal of Universal Rejection


It’s here. Not only does this journal have the highest rejection rate of any journal; it has no page charges. You may submit your manuscript with no anxiety, since you know it will be rejected. Unfortunately, as a colleague of mine has pointed out, if the paper is rejected immediately, you may not leave it on your resume for long; it would be better if they held your paper under review forever.

You may buy a T-shirt at their store: they claim that they will not reject your money.

Finally, if you submit a paper to a journal that will never publish it, have you created any information?

Thanks to John Scales of the Colorado School of Mines for the link.

Read alla bout it! Radical Muslim organization Answers in Koran opens theme park in Kentucky. In rare display of ecumenism, governor promises additional theme parks dedicated to Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, and Scientology:

Gov. Beshear [says] that even though he might not agree with the religious message of the park, the economic benefits of Koran Kountry make it worthy of his administration’s support.

“I wasn’t elected to debate religion,” Beshear said. “I was elected to create jobs.”

Thanks again to Dan Phelps for the link.

The coastline of Kentucky


Williamstown, Kentucky, a city that is apparently near the fantasied location of the Ark Park (or is that the location of the fantasied Ark Park?) Is apparently letting that fantasy go to its corporate head, according to this article. The funniest line in the article? I am glad you asked:

The plans are based on the needs of the city and not the needs of the Ark Encounter, said [spokesman for the Kentucky League of Cities Tad] Long.

Inspired (I think) by that article, reader Dan Phelps sent us the following proposal to develop a coastline to spur economic development in Kentucky.


Can Ken Ham be far behind?


…is probably this one.

Waaay OT: For Donald Westlake fans


Barnes & Noble is bringing out a slew of Westlake books for the Nook late this month. Westlake, who died nearly three years ago, was the creator of John Archibald Dortmunder, one of the great comic criminals in the genre, and it looks like a bunch of the Dortmunder books are among those being published for the Nook.

Looks like the cartoonist Wiley Miller has started a series of strips on teaching the “controversy.” He’s got the age of the dinosaurs wrong, and carbon dating does not work that far back anyway, but, hell, the strip is called Non Sequitur. The money quote so far is, “Um, just as an F.Y.I., saying ‘facts’ would be a lot less offensive if you used air-quotes.”

Wanna demonstrate how evolution and scaffolding can produce irreducibly complex structures at your next ivory tower wine and cheese party or evil atheist conspiracy kitten roast? Just repeat the demonstration seen in this clip.

(HT: Nick Matzke.)

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