Eloi vs Morlock vs Dr Oliver Curry of LSE

October 17th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories" | 57 Comments »

This from the wires. I could pick out a quote, but it just zings along from beginning to end in one big galloping rampage of joy. Can’t wait to see if the newspapers pick it up, it feels excellently 1950s and is doubtless much more exciting and important science news than this kind of dreary old nonsense. The Darwin@LSE department, apart from the name (to which the years will not be kind) is quite a sound outfit producing mostly great work. Ho hum. I mean, maybe it’s not that bad. Go, Dr Oliver Curry of LSE!

Embargoed to 0001 Tuesday October 17
HUMANS `MIGHT SPLIT INTO TWO SPECIES’
By John von Radowitz, PA Science Correspondent
Social division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now
– just as HG Wells predicted.
The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy,
attractive, intelligent, and creative.
They would be a far cry from the “underclass” humans who will have evolved
into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.
The forecast was made by evolution expert Dr Oliver Curry, who spent two
months investigating the ascent and descent of Man over the next 100 millennia.
Novelist HG Wells predicted a similar gloomy outcome for humanity in his novel
The Time Machine.
He envisaged a race of frail privileged beings, the Eloi, who lived above
ground in a futuristic ruined city.
They were prey for the cannibalistic ape-like Morlocks, who toiled underground
and whose ancestors were the downtrodden workers of today.

According to Dr Curry, the human race is likely to peak in the year 3,000,
before collapsing into technology-driven decline.
Within a thousand years, humans will evolve into coffee-coloured giants
between six and seven feet tall, he predicts. Improved nutrition and medical
science will see people growing taller and fitter, while life-spans are extended
to 120 years.
Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will
improve.
Men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer
jaws, deeper voices – and bigger penises.
Women on the other hand will develop lighter skin, large clear eyes, pert
breasts, glossy hair, even features and smooth hairless skin.

Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform
race of coffee-coloured people.
But the golden age of the beautiful people will not last forever, warns Dr
Curry.
In 10,000 years time humans may have paid a genetic price for relying on
technology. Spoiled by gadgets designed to meet their every need, they could
come to resemble domesticated animals.
Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be
lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect.
Humans would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.
Physically, they would start to appear more juvenile. Chins would recede, as a
result of having to chew less on processed food.
There could also be health problems caused, paradoxically, by reliance on
medicine. Weak immune systems might be one result. Preventing deaths would also
help to preserve the genetic defects that cause cancer.
Humans might improve themselves by using genetic engineering to replace faulty
stretches of DNA, says Dr Curry.
Much further into the future, sexual selection – being choosy about one’s
partner – was likely to create more and more genetic inequality.
The logical outcome would be two sub-species, “gracile” and “robust”
humans representing the rich and poor from long ago in history.

Dr Curry, from the Darwin@LSE research centre at the London School of
Economics, was commissioned to carry out the study by the men’s satellite TV
channel Bravo.
He said: “The Bravo Evolution Report suggests that the future of man will be
a story of the good, the bad and the ugly.
“While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat
for humanity over the next millennium, there is a possibility of a monumental
genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on
technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved
ability to get along with each other.
“After that, things could get ugly, with the possible emergence of genetic
`haves’ and `have-nots’.”
Bravo asked Dr Curry to make his forecast to mark the channel’s 21st
anniversary.
Director of programmes Johnny Webb said: “It is amazing to think that in just
one thousand years time away everything will be so different.”
end

161028 OCT 06


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57 Responses



  1. le canard noir said,

    October 17, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Peering over someones shoulder on the tube this evening, I am sure this was in one of these free London Mail-lite papers. I had to move to another seat I was so frightened.

  2. Ben Goldacre said,

    October 17, 2006 at 12:41 am

    i’d be surprised if they felt the need to break the embargo and get the scoop on this one. looking forward to sightings tomorrow though.

  3. imagineyoung said,

    October 17, 2006 at 1:05 am

    I hope I’d have the balls and the humor to write (?) this for for Bravo if I was in that field – if this don’t spark the imagination, then nothing will.

  4. Dean Pentcheff said,

    October 17, 2006 at 6:39 am

    Oliver Curry (according to his bio at Darwin@LSE) earned a Ph.D. “…on the evolution of human moral sentiments — in the Government Department of the LSE.” Perhaps his degree work was a bit shy on the evolutionary genetics that would be part of a Ph.D. in evolution from a biology department. If humans were to diverge into two species through standard evolutionary means, it would be a remarkable instance of “sympatric” speciation: speciation in a population without significant physical barriers to cut off gene flow. That only occurs under very unusual circumstances. But that aspect of his “forecast” isn’t even the main problem.

    No biological evolutionary biologist expects human evolution to be driven by natural selection any longer. We can now modify our genes directly rather than waiting for selection to do it (for a quick tour, try googling “human genetic modification silver” — that last word to pull in work by Lee Silver). Does that eliminate effects of natural selecton? Of course not. Does it utterly swamp them? Definitely. If he thinks it will take 10,000 years before we begin significantly meddling with human genes, he’s got the ultimate gradualist view of human behavior.

  5. Ken Zetie said,

    October 17, 2006 at 7:10 am

    My wife and I have both specualted along these lines in the past – a division of the human race in the the superior (highly intelligent, scientific, and scoring off-the-sclae on the autistic spectrum tests) and the dullards who put social interaction and chit chat above understanding things and systems and owning dazzling electronic goods. Like tends to attract like in this instance (let’s face it, who are geeks going to marry but other geeks..? Unless they are incredibly rich of course) so Dr Curry’s prediction might already be coming true. Well, apart from the bit about tall coffee-coloured men with large pensises and beautiful Scandinavian blonds with pert breasts – that bit is just a little too close to fantasy.

    Ken

  6. Michael Harman said,

    October 17, 2006 at 8:30 am

    Never mind that boring old stuff about human evolution over many centuries – I want to know more about “the evolution of human moral sentiments — in the Government Department of the LSE.”

  7. CB said,

    October 17, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Maybe Dr Curry is related to Tim Curry from the Rocky Horror Show – which might explain a lot.

  8. Andrew Clegg said,

    October 17, 2006 at 8:52 am

    The last sentence is a bit of a con, it reads like they’ve put that in there so that the inattentive reader will think the predictions in the rest of the article are supposed to reflect 1,000 years from now, rather than 100,000. Whereas in fact Johnny Bravo seems to be referring to a completely different set of predictions in his own head.

    Oh, Ben, “dead girls boobs” deserve an apostrophe somewhere. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    Andrew.

  9. Elmer Phudd said,

    October 17, 2006 at 9:05 am

    The story is in the Metro (London tube rag) on page 3 no less, with a full-frontal picture of…. Gollum.

  10. le canard noir said,

    October 17, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Well I see the BBC have hook-line-and-sinkered it. They are now running their banner BREAKING NEWS with it on their website. It is obviously so important we need to stop eating our cornflakes and prepare to evolve.

    Right, everyone, into two groups – tall and pert breasted over there. The rest in the corner.

  11. Despard said,

    October 17, 2006 at 9:23 am

    “Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform
    race of coffee-coloured people.”

    Possibly not…

    scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2006/09/can_you_tell_if_youre_black_or.php

  12. Mojo said,

    October 17, 2006 at 9:54 am

    See also Cyril M. Kornbluth: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marching_Morons

  13. Evil Kao Chiu said,

    October 17, 2006 at 10:03 am

    “Much further into the future, sexual selection – being choosy about one’s
    partner – was likely to create more and more genetic inequality.”

    He should try hanging out around the some of the estates near me (unless he values his car/wallet/life). I don’t see ‘being choosy’ as a key factor in our future genetic makeup.

  14. Kells said,

    October 17, 2006 at 10:16 am

    Top drawer!
    I’m glad to see Dr Curry spent a full 2 months investigating this – he is very precise with his predictions. I reckon he spent his grant on booze and had to come up with something last second. Or maybe he watched too much Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place.

    At 6’2″ I am already well on the way to becoming a coffee colured giant, beware.

  15. cath having fun said,

    October 17, 2006 at 10:17 am

    “The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy,
    attractive, intelligent, and creative. They would be a far cry from the “underclass” humans who will have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures”
    er
    don’t we have that already?
    Dr Curry must have been hanging around Tooting Broadway underground station….

  16. kate a said,

    October 17, 2006 at 10:50 am

    Perhaps the key sentence in that story is …

    “Dr Curry … was commissioned to carry out the study by the men’s satellite TV
    channel Bravo.”

    ?

  17. stever said,

    October 17, 2006 at 11:01 am

    This was in METRO this morning. In the ‘news’ section.

  18. stever said,

    October 17, 2006 at 11:02 am

    “In 10,000 years time humans may have paid a genetic price for relying on technology. Spoiled by gadgets designed to meet their every need, they could come to resemble domesticated animals. Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. Humans would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.”

    hasnt this already happened?

  19. cp said,

    October 17, 2006 at 11:21 am

    The Today Programme woke me up with this at about 6:45. There was an interview with Dr. Curry (I think – I was still half-asleep at the time). I’m sure it will be available on ‘listen again’ on the Radio 4 site.

  20. Delster said,

    October 17, 2006 at 11:37 am

    Evil Kao Chiu, post 13

    Beware… the people on those estates are the beginings of the morlock race…. get worried if they start digging cellars!

    Seriously though there are places where you can sort of see this happening already.

    There are a few places around here (Dublin) where you can see these low income areas with the kids pairing off and having children of their own at 17 (often younger)
    People in these areas show a tendancy to be shorter than average (diet?) and less well educated as they leave school as soon as possible. Also they pair off with others from the same area / background and the process repeats. There also seems to be a higher than normal occurance of genetic problems.

    It’s not evolution as such but works more like a breeding program where you would mate those with the desired characterists repeatedly to the same genetic line to fix traits.

  21. doctormonkey said,

    October 17, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    i suspect that we will not end up as two seperate “species” but rather like two (or more) breeds of humans, still able to interbreed but choosing not to – as happens with pedegree dogs, cows, etc

  22. Tom P said,

    October 17, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Gah. So greater social mobility, global travel and interbreeding between populations makes a speciation event more likely? A greater ability to modify genotypes is more likely to lock in genetic advantage to one population group? What what what?

  23. ceec said,

    October 17, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Brilliant. Why publish in Nature when you have Bravo men’s channel (what is a men’s channel by the way? and does it have anything to do with pertness?)

  24. Dr Aust said,

    October 17, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    I’m amazed at your restraint in not highlighting the following, Ben:

    “”Men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices – and bigger penises.

    Women on the other hand will develop lighter skin, large clear eyes, pert
    breasts, glossy hair, even features and smooth hairless skin.”

    Sounds like Nirvana for Bravo viewers – who (demographically) I imagine to be lardy kebab-guzzling belching beer-monster blokes.

  25. jj_hankinson said,

    October 17, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    Unfortunately I can’t decide if I’m on the beautiful, clever giant-side or the ugly, stupid dwarf-side of the genetic dividing line – which in turns mean I don’t know who I should be breeding with in order to fulfill this excellent prophecy.

    Answers on a postcard to:
    YOU’RE AN UGLY, STUPID DWARF
    PO Box 13
    London

  26. Mithent said,

    October 17, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    It’s currently the Most Emailed story on the BBC News site as well.

    I would say it was surprising that one person’s random speculation is such big news (it’s not as if anyone’s an expert in future human evolution, it can hardly be studied), but it probably isn’t.

  27. eponerd said,

    October 17, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    I see: first, men will be 7-foot hunks with 12 inch/0.3m* dicks, but (much) later, we hear: ‘Chins would recede…’

    Sounds like Eton is one gigantic genetic experiment… except they missed out the ‘squarer jaws, deeper voices – and bigger penises’ stage. David Cameron, eat your heart out.

    I might have a small penis, but at least my chin is still intact…

    All this, we hear, was predicted by H.G. Wells, erstwhile socialist, eugenicist and Stalin apologist, who wrote many a book, but few were any good. Whether his chin receded or not is hard to say: look at his wikipedia entry:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells

    By the way, I was watching the Spice Channel the other day. It seems to depict a world populated by tallish men with large penises and pert-breasted women with blonde hair. Is this a science fiction channel? Does Dr. Curry have an interest in it? We demand answers.

    And for you conspiracy theorists out there, the source of the new Morlocks will obviously be… Russia (not Millwall)! According to an article in today’s Guardian G2, the bespoke, newly-dug basement is becoming the new loft extension:

    “Simon Mason, who recently added a basement to his Victorian terrace in Tufnell Park, north London, has another explanation for the growth of the industry that none of the professionals would really like to acknowledge. “It’s because London is full of cheap labour,” he says. “It’s sheer physical brute labour with a pick and shovel in a confined space, with tonnes and tonnes of London clay. And who’s doing that? You’re not going to get a bunch of English kids digging out basements. Mine was done by Russians. All of these houses around here were originally built with Irish immigrant labour, now they’re being refurbished with eastern European immigrant labour.”

    Say no more. Even the Irish won’t dig your basement these days. Well, they would, but the Russians will do if for half the price and a couple of bottles of Moskovskaya. Just goes to show that Hitler, Ronald Reagan and many other distinguished world leaders were right about the Russkies: nuke the lot, before they invade our basements.

    www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1923963,00.html

    By the way, Ben I see from the Guardian today that Omega-3 fatty acids are going to eradicate criminality as well as make the kids smarter…

    www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,,1924119,00.html

    “Blair tells MPs: EyeQ to close prisons in New Year.”

    On other pages: Garlic shortage threatens vampire resurgence…**

    Regards,

    Alan.

    * ok, I made that bit up. Inches to metres conversion to 1 significant figure. Pretty significant in any unit, I’d say…

    **ok, made that up, too.

  28. three tigers said,

    October 17, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    My thoughts exactly doctormonkey (post 21). They would be different breeds (like dogs/cats/cows/horses etc) NOT different species.

    Cross-species hybrids which can occur (horse/donkey, tiger/lion) are normally infertile aren’t they?

  29. Kells said,

    October 17, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    The press is loving it – Its in the Mail and Express (natch) and I have just heard a 20 min discussion on five -live (at about 1.30) where Curry was interviewed along with 2 ‘experts’ and the BBC science correspondent who gave a very interesting explanation of evolution (apparently it happens after great disasters – screw Darwin).

    Of course nobody was on the “this is bollox” side of the argument. Expect A full story on the evening news….

  30. ACH said,

    October 17, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    Oh, what fun (and important science stories) am I missing back in blighty!

    It’s the evolution of the pert breasts that I wonder about. Are we going to start evolving with silicone ALREADY implanted, or just develop a “propensity to want to rush out and have cosmetic surgery” gene?

    And why was this not a plenary lecture at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting last week? Would have livened things up no end.

  31. Malcolm the Lurker said,

    October 17, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    There’s a whole thread on this in Comment is Free!

    Ben, have a word with your paymasters at the Grauniad

    Please

  32. Ben Goldacre said,

    October 17, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    thats nothing, i think the guardian got off rather lightly. check this crop from google news:

    Bleak outlook for inhumane race
    Daily Telegraph, Australia – 3 hours ago
    By Fiona Macrae. IT IS the stuff of science fiction. The human race split into two species: a god-like upper class and a goblin-like underclass. …

    Coffee-coloured race to take over planet
    Times of India, India – 3 hours ago
    LONDON: Racial profiling will be a thing of the past – not soon, but only in the year 3000 – when a coffee-coloured population, split into two sub-species …

    Human master race is on way
    NEWS.com.au, Australia – 3 hours ago
    By John von Radowitz. SOCIAL division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now – just as British author HG …

    Welcome to the year 3000 and a brave new world
    The Age, Australia – 4 hours ago
    HUMANS will grow to an average of two metres, live to the age of 120 and all have brown skin by 3000, an evolutionary expert says. …

    Is humanity evolving?
    Guardian Unlimited, UK – 6 hours ago
    According to a new study (funded, admittedly, by TV channel Bravo) humankind is doomed to bifurcate into separate species, along much the same lines as those …

    Human species ‘may split in two’
    BBC News, UK – 9 hours ago
    Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said. Evolutionary theorist …

    We can expect things to be bigger, more pert
    Independent Online, South Africa – 8 hours ago
    Men’s willies will be bigger and women’s boobs will be more pert – by the year 3000. New research predicts some humans will be 1 …

    The future ascent (and descent) of man
    Times Online, UK – 9 hours ago
    By Mark Henderson, Science Editor. HUMANITY could evolve into two sub-species within 100,000 years as social divisions produce a …

    Beauties and beasts predicted
    Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia – 15 hours ago
    SOCIAL division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now – just as British author HG Wells predicted more than a century ago. …

    The shape of things to come for mankind
    Unison.ie, Ireland – 14 hours ago
    SOCIAL division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now – just as HG Wells predicted. The descendants of …

    Humans ‘could evolve into two species’
    The Australian, Australia – 15 hours ago
    HUMANS could evolve into two sub-species within 100,000 years as social divisions produce a genetic underclass. The mating preferences …

    shape of things to come for mankind
    Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom – 17 hours ago
    By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent. Humans will grow to an average of 6ft 6in, live to the age of 120 and all have brown skin …

    Time Machine vision may come true
    Scotsman, United Kingdom – 18 hours ago
    SOCIAL division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now – one tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and the other …

    GOOD, BAD AND UGLY OF THE FUTURE Experts predict chinless …
    Glasgow Daily Record, UK – 13 hours ago
    By Mike Swain. THIS is what scientists think we will look like in the future – chinless wonders with coffee-coloured skin. Within …

    All men will have big willies
    The Sun, UK – 15 hours ago
    By CAROLINE IGGULDEN. BY the year 3000, the average human will be 6½ft tall, have coffee-coloured skin and live for 120 years, new research predicts. …

    Beauty and brains a start, but story of our lives might not have …
    Sydney Morning Herald, Australia – 4 hours ago
    Humans will grow to an average height of 2 metres, live to the age of 120 and all have brown skin by the year 3000, an evolutionary expert has suggested. …

    THE RISE AND FALL OF MAN
    Glasgow Daily Record, UK – 6 hours ago
    By Mike Swain. SCIENTESTS have announced what they think we will look like in the future – chinless wonders with coffee-coloured skin. …

    I believe the goblins are our future
    Metro, UK – 9 hours ago
    … Dr Oliver Curry, of the Darwin @LSE Centre at the London School of Economics, says the Gollums will be part of a genetic ‘underclass’, while an ‘upper class …

    Evolution could lead to split-species
    Manchester Evening News

    Humanity faces species split
    The Australian, Australia – 3 hours ago
    … Oliver Curry, a research associate in the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science of the London School of Economics, has speculated that privileged …

    Humanity to evolve ‘goblin’ underclass
    ITV.com, UK – 6 hours ago
    Mankind’s future will be split between a beautiful ‘genetic elite’ and an underclass of ‘goblin’ creatures, an expert has predicted.

    In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 19 already displayed.
    If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

  33. Ben Goldacre said,

    October 17, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    Dr Oliver Curry of Darwin@LSE must be extremely proud of the phenomenal media coverage his important piece of research has generated, and the extent to which it has enlightened the people of the world.

    I’m a bit surprised that he hasn’t replied to my emails asking for further details, this must have been quite a day for him with all this excellent media coverage, and I sent them yesterday evening (that was the 16th October, 2006, if you’re reading this from the fuuuuuture).

  34. Dr Aust said,

    October 17, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    I wonder if the Science Correspondents and Science Editors ever have a twinge of Dr Faustus-style “Good Grief – what sort of bargain with the devil have I struck…?” when they have to crank out this sort of shite to keep the editor happy?

    Just once you’d like to think they woudl say:

    ” A ridiculous theory was launched today, based on extrapolation way beyond anything reasonable, funded by a Satellite TV channel as a publicity stunt and tailored to garner the maximum possible “wacky science” coverage. Dr Oliver Curry, who used the money to buy a nice new computer and a nifty flat screen TV for his office, thought the whole thing up in the bath after a rather good bottle of red wine and is hoping to appear on lots of TV shows. Both Dr Curry and Bravo are delighted with the numer of times this load of cobblers has been mentioned in newspapers, on radio and on TV “

  35. Michael Harman said,

    October 17, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    Do you think that Dr Currie could be any relation to Edwina Bad-Eggs Currie?

  36. jdc325 said,

    October 18, 2006 at 8:58 am

    Re the story on nutrition in prisons referred to in #27 – could this be an opportunity for “Jamie’s Prison Dinners”? One thing about media reporting of science is the lack of references – they quote the Aylesbury study as being favourable with regards supplementation of prisoners’ diets but don’t tell you where you can find it (B Gesch, 2002, Influence of Supplementary Vitamins, Minerals and Fatty Acids on the Antisocial Behaviour of Young Prisoners, Brit J Psychiatry, vol 181, 2002, pp 22-28).

    Re Morlocks and Eloi: It was probably just me, but when I read it all I could think about was the Eloi/Morlock battle that must go on between Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney in the England dressing room. And that, if Ollie Currie believes that racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, then he hasn’t had the misfortune of meeting the dyed-in-the-wool racists who seem to inhabit every pub I go into (not to mention phone-ins on the local radio).

  37. CB said,

    October 18, 2006 at 9:02 am

    In the interviews I’ve heard Dr Curry sounds like he’s just waiting for somebody to ask -‘but this is a load of old bollocks isn’t it?’ so that he can reply ‘yes of course it is’. Nobody has asked that yet.

    In the piece on 5live (post 29) the two experts were actually quite critical of the work so that the Science Correspondent had to pretty much justify why the fuck they were running the story at the end.

  38. apothecary said,

    October 18, 2006 at 10:07 am

    You couldn’t make it up, could you – the predictions that sound like they came from an after-the-pubs-turn-out-type “discussion”, the media response – the Sun’s headline in 32 is just perfect (you know the old one about the Guardian being read by people who run the country, the FT by the people who own it….). Well perhaps Dr Curry could.

    To put in my totally uninformed point of view and Have My Say (snigger) – If we’re going to predict the future on the basis of 20th Century SF and dystopian classics, I think Brave New World is much closer to the mark. Soma for all, a high consumption economy (with epsilon minuses to do the recycling – and be happy doing it) and people conditioned to be happy where they are in society – “the Alpha plus in his castle, the Delta at his gate, Our Ford made them high and lowly and orders their conditioning”. Doesn’t quite scan as well as Mrs CF Alexander’s original, but there we go, that’s progress

  39. Scooby said,

    October 18, 2006 at 10:43 am

    So someone recycles elements of HG Wells and Joe Haldeman, the tendancy towards ‘coffee coloured skin’ over time was mentioned in ‘The Forever War’, and it’s a major news story.

    Is there any science what so ever here?

  40. simongates said,

    October 18, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Speaking of Soma (post 38) and reducing the intellectual level of the discussion still further; I’m convinced that I saw in an episode of Postman Pat a couple of years ago, a box on a shelf in the shop (behind Mrs Goggins or some other character)labelled “Soma”. Despite watching as much Postman Pat as possible since then I haven’t seen it again. Was I hallucinating? or can anyone confirm that it really was there? If it’s true it could explain a lot about Greendale.

  41. jdc325 said,

    October 18, 2006 at 11:23 am

    There’s a company called Soma Trading Limited that makes “creative toys” – maybe they got some free advertising courtesy of Postman Pat? Or maybe it is Huxley’s soma and the people behind Pat were making some kind of point?

  42. Dr Aust said,

    October 18, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    “So someone recycles elements of HG Wells and Joe Haldeman, the tendancy towards ‘coffee coloured skin’ over time was mentioned in ‘The Forever War’, and it’s a major news story.

    Is there any science what so ever here?”

    Well, er, no.

    As highlighted here and there in the thread, what we are really seeing is the elasticity of what newspaper editors see as a “science story” and what their Science Editors will therefore cover (with their fingers crossed?) as a “science story”.

    I find it VERY difficult to imagine a water-cooler piss-take like this getting this sort of media exposure in the serious newspapers and on TV/radio in Germany, France, or even the US.

    Comes back to the point about the UK media (even the serious bits of it) being increasingly (and undisguisedly) in the entertainment business. The only subjects they make a major attempt to cover seriously are the Palace of Westminster pissing contest (until you’re totally sick of it) and sport. Everything else is mostly a variety of glossy-itis. If you don’t believe me, go to a newspaper “morgue” at your local library, dig out a copy of your paper of choice from the mid-70s and compare the amount of pages devoted (either directly or in the guise of Fashion / lifestyle etc) to what Celebs do / wear / eat / buy, then and now.

    Soma indeed.

  43. apothecary said,

    October 18, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    Re 42 – “Comes back to the point about the UK media (even the serious bits of it) being increasingly (and undisguisedly) in the entertainment business.”

    To develop my hypothesis first outlined here www.badscience.net/?p=313, post 13, there are only five general news stories – death, foreign death, money, sport and whimsical bits (I’m pretty sure that bit’s someone else’s work plaigiarised, but I can’t remember where I read it). Westminster stories fall into those categories – eg Iran/Iraq/N korea = foreign death and celebs = subset of “money.”

    OK, its probably a load of half thought out rubbish but, hey, if I could get a satellite channel to commission me to write it up and pay me lots to do so, I’d be made!

  44. kim said,

    October 18, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    Dr Aust – agree with you entirely about the media’s tendency to trivialise science by giving publicity to nonsensical stories like this one, but don’t you think that in this case, the scientist himself must hold some of the responsibility? What business does a proper scientist have spreading nonsense like this? It just gives the rest of you a bad name.

  45. Dr Aust said,

    October 18, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Hi kim

    I think its another one of those Dr Faustus sup-with-the-devil things…

    As apothecary says

    “hey, if I could get a satellite channel to commission me to write it up and pay me lots to do so, I’d be made!”

    And which of us wouldn’t say that…?

    Speaking for myself, if I could write a Michael Crichton-style bestseller about gene therapy-gone-tragically- wrong and make a million quid it would be Goodbye to the day job in under 7 seconds…. …you wouldn’t see me for dust.

  46. Tony Jackson said,

    October 18, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    The Science bloggers think it’s crap. No surprises there.

    scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/10/utter_nonsense.php

    johnhawks.net/weblog/2006/10/18#curry_morlock_future_2006

    scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2006/10/question_the_experts_sometimes.php#commentsArea

  47. simongates said,

    October 18, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    I wonder how Dr Curry’s academic career will develop after all this “interesting” media exposure. Or maybe this is his bid for media stardom and he’s planning on having his own TV show in a year or two so he doesn’t care. It’s said there’s no such thing as bad publicity but I can’t imagine many professors of evolutionary biology rushing to headhunt people who produce “research” like this.

    I’d like to think that this was a bit of a stunt on Dr Curry’s part that has backfired a bit.

  48. kim said,

    October 19, 2006 at 9:11 am

    The thing that worries me about it is that in the battle between the forces of reason (evolutionists) and the forces of unreason (creationists) it doesn’t help at all if someone supposedly on the side of reason comes up with something this ridiculous. It just gives more ammunition to the other lot.

  49. amoebic vodka said,

    October 19, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    on #38

    If we’re going to predict the future on the basis of 20th Century SF and dystopian classics, I think Brave New World is much closer to the mark.

    We’d go for 1984. We’re getting scarily close to it in terms of doublespeak already.

    We particularly like the Lamarkisms in there. Women will get less hairy because they shave or wax bits of their body? Shinier hair because they use conditioner? Tee hee.

  50. abahachi said,

    October 19, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    To paraphrase Saki: I prefer to leave this sort of thing to the professional writers of fiction, who do it so much better. It’s remarkable how this is being presented as “Curry’s independent research confirms Wells’ vision” when it’s clear that Wells’ book constitutes the paradigm within which this ‘research’ was developed. And as for the use of the term ‘expert’ in the media reports… Could I have some Soma to deal with this feeling of overwhelming depression?

  51. Delster said,

    October 19, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Kells, post 29

    Disaster is a huge help to evolution, imagine 90% of a population suddenly being wiped out with only the fittest surviving. That would have a big impact in evolutionary terms although this is not to say it doesn’t happen the rest of the time as well.

    Amoebic Vodka, post 49

    Wait till they force through the tracker system on every vehicle they are talking about in the uk, they would be able to tell when you got in the car and where you went in it via what route and at what speed every inch of the way…. all in the name of preventing terrorism of course….. roll on the police state

  52. DrGlenn said,

    October 19, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    …well, after reading some of the comments about Dr Curry from the scientific intelligensia who set themselves up as the guardians of knowledge he may well be right about some aspects of the future! Namely that “social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with….respect.”

    While it is fine to be criticial of others work based on reasoned criticism, sarcastic and arrogant know it all comments that show a lack of respect and social skills are the work of a scientific community that is unware of its own politics, social and and political history and its’ social failings, dismissing everything that can’t be measured using ‘objective’ criteria.

    Since even the best ‘hard’ science has a nice little history of getting things wrong because of a lack of social awareness, I wouldn’t be too quick to jump on others’ more quirky conclusions. As for those who commented on who funded Dr Curry, is the politics of funding by the Bravo channel any different to those funded by the big pharma in the name of ‘objective’ science!? I think not.

    Of course he is not right on one point. We won’t be around 100, 000 years from now because all that technology created by those wonderful hard scientists who always thought we could address social issues through ever increasing technological fixes will have caused all that global warming. Now that is badscience.

  53. terry hamblin said,

    October 19, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    In my experience all the really clever men look like Woody Allen or Bernard Levin and all the tall Scandinavian girls with pert breasts are dumb blondes.

    Still I bet Dr Curry got paid for his fantasy a little better than Herbert George did for his.

  54. coracle said,

    October 20, 2006 at 9:24 am

    Terry (#53),

    Must disagree re tall scandinavian blondes, met one at a cell biology and she was very intelligent. Didn’t get the opportunity to assess pertness though…

  55. coracle said,

    October 20, 2006 at 9:26 am

    re 54, cell biology conference that is…

  56. Delster said,

    October 20, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    DrGlenn,

    Don’t worry… we also comment on big pharma…. have a look at the last few articles re fish oil supplements.

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