Just when I thought it couldn’t get any stupider, along comes the BBC.

I honestly, and obviously naively, thought that I had seen the stupidest speculation passed off as science news with the LiveScience “report” that humans will be marrying robots within 45 years (at least in Massachusetts) [The story that caused me to stop reading LiveScience].

But I stand corrected — or, rather, sit dumbfounded — by a story on the BBC website entitled Human species ‘may split in two’. This time we are served some predictions by a Dr. Oliver Curry, described as an “evolutionary theorist at the London School of Economics”. Here are some highlights:

“Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said.”

The human race would peak in the year 3000, he said – before a decline due to dependence on technology.”

In the nearer future, humans will evolve in 1,000 years into giants between 6ft and 7ft tall, he predicts, while life-spans will have extended to 120 years, Dr Curry claims.”

“Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve, he says, while men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.”

Chins would recede, as a result of having to chew less on processed food.”

One of two things is happening here. Either Dr. Curry is the so-bad-it-hurts-my-head, absolute worst evolutionary theorist I have ever encountered, or the BBC is distorting the heck out of what he said to make it sound as though he is the worst evolutionary theorist I have ever encountered.

At this point, I was prepared to enter into a tirade about people who know nothing about evolution talking entirely out of their posteriors, but something told me that no self-respecting evolutionary theorist could say anything this silly and not mean it as a parody or an April Fool’s joke. And guess what? Dr. Curry wasn’t this silly. Not by a long shot.

This BBC story is one of many to have picked up these “expert predictions” as though they had merit. However, these were not predictions at all, but intentionally amusing speculations written in a short piece for a television station. As Dr. Curry put it on his website, “The Bravo Evolution Report was a brief ‘think piece’, commissioned by Bravo Television to celebrate their 21st anniversary. Writing about the future of evolution for Bravo seemed to offer a fun, ‘sci fi’ way to introduce some evolutionary principles to a popular audience.”

As Dr. Curry notes in a remarkably restrained understatement, “Unfortunately, when filtered through headlines and talkshows, the coverage did not faithfully reflect the aim and scope of the original piece”.

Instead of commenting further, I invite you to read the BBC story — then go and read what Dr. Curry actually wrote, also remembering the context in which it was written.

My head hurts, and it’s the BBC’s fault.

3 thoughts on “Just when I thought it couldn’t get any stupider, along comes the BBC.

  1. This guy seems to pop up almost every year these days with variations on this idea. As an anthro prof, I get the occasional student who is interested in micro-evolution asking me about this. What he is getting at (in his non-science writer filtered paper) is a hypothetical socio-economic divide (if I remember correctly). Certainly, we have seen the biology of poverty emerge in anthropology as a huge area of study and one that invites speculation in terms of divisions between socio-economic classes–the biocultural evolution approach to modern populations. As far as two species, well, that is the stuff of poorly written science fiction (although the good stuff often points to the future–e.g., Snowcrash most notably and foremost on the mind as the cyber space mapping world just keeps getting cooler and cooler).

  2. crazy it is, I find it little bit interesting, conisdering hte name of the Doc is curry , I would pass it of as bit spicy news item , rather than an intellignet piece, nevertheless we wont be around during AD 3000, so this can be passed as such

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