So I like to keep an eye (on behalf of us all) on what's going on over at the disturbingly absorbing richarddawkins.net, and this week it has thrown several treats in our direction.
We begin with a quote from Prof. Bright himself, featured on the front page:
"Leon Lederman, the physicist and Nobel laureate, once half-jokingly remarked that the real goal of physics was to come up with an equation that could explain the universe but still be small enough to fit on a T-shirt. In that spirit, Dawkins offered up his own T-shirt slogan for the ongoing evolution revolution:
Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators."
Aside from the way he curiously refers to himself in the third person, you have to say that the first thing that comes to mind is that Dawkins hasn't quite got a handle on how t-shirt slogans work, nor indeed of the requirements of the initial challenge.
Firstly, it says that the equation should be "small enough to fit on a t-shirt", and our freethinking friend has taken this a bit too literally. Yes, "Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators" fits on a t-shirt, but only in the sense that anything will fit if you write it small enough. You could squeeze the entire works of Shakespeare on, without going into the armpits, if you had a big enough t-shirt, small enough writing, and weren't too fussed about being able to read it at the end. But t-shirt slogans are supposed to be snappy and witty (my favourite: There are 10 types of people in the world - those who understand binary, and those who don't), and this is neither, and should therefore be disqualified.
Secondly, it was supposed to be an equation. Any half-decent GCSE student will tell you that an equation has one essential component: the equals sign. Without this, it is simply not an equation. So, for example, "x=y+z" is an equation, but "octopus" is not. So, and I don't want to put too much of a dampener on things, Dawkins' suggestion again does not qualify.
Finally, it doesn't exactly "explain the universe". If I'm going to buy a t-shirt that explains the universe, I want to be able to see at a glance where antimatter comes into it, dammit. Call me nit-picking if you will, but I have questions and I want them answered.
Anyway, perhaps Dawkins' foray into the world of fashion has been disrupted by another little delight upon which my attention landed: this (bear with it, it takes a couple of minutes to get going). A brief explanation for those who can't access YouTube or who can't be bothered sitting through it: the clip shows Dawkins and Friends (Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennet, a lady called Eugenie whose surname I've forgotten, Charles Darwin, and sundry others) performing a particularly splendid rap in honour of Dawkins, the King of the Atheists himself. The chorus is especially good:
Yeah he's the Dick to the Dawk to the PhD
He's smarter than you, he's got a science degree.
Dick to the Dawk to the PhD
He's smarter than you, he studies biology.
and has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it. There is an accompanying dance, but you'll have to watch it if you want that.
Now this little marvel has been brought to the attention of the good people on Dawkins' website, and they have been rather exercised in mind over it: is it by 'us' or 'them'? Is it for us or against us? Are we allowed to laugh or not? Does it advocate atheism, or is it secret creationist propaganda? Are creationists even clever enough to do something like this, and if so, should we be worried? Do the people who made it realise that Dawkins doesn't actually have a PhD? (and so onto a tangent - why does no one know the difference between a PhD and a DPhil these days, don't these people go to Oxford? - or are they letting any old riff-raff onto the web now?) And what does Dawkins himself think?
To this final question, we get an answer, for the Bright One descends to the site and leaves his thoughts behind him:
If anyone can understand a single word of this, don't bother to translate, just tell me whose side it's on. I get the feeling (same with South Park) that there are people out there who assume that something that is obviously MEANT to be funny therefore must BE funny, and they immediately shower it with accolades such as "Wow", "Hilarious", "Awesome" and, most side-splitting of all, "LOL".
Sorry, I seem to be showing my age. Enjoy yourselves LOLling away.
Thank you, Richard, we shall.