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quinta-feira, 17 de março de 2011

Do you want 6 trillion dollars?

Adnan Oktar, also known by Harun Yahya, one of the names he likes to use when he writes, was the one who offered this prize to someone who present a fossil which can prove the theory of evolution, what he calls a “transitional fossil”.

Before you get to excited and go out doing a lot of crazy shit believing very soon you gonna be very rich, you should know that this was a public challenge, presented in 2008 and many tried, but no one succeeded in provide what he wanted. If you have some knowledge in Biology you probably know that there are many fossil which can be aligned to show a evolutional path, maybe the most famous is the one about humans evolving from monkeys, so why nobody got the prize? The problem is in his concept of what is “transitional fossil”, the pictures bellow are from his website:


His interpretation is that if fishes evolved into reptiles, it only could happen the way the first image shows. The same way, if a starfish could evolve into a fish, that is he only way it can happen. He wants the fossil of this “transitional creatures”. Honestly, I think that is the vision of many people has about the theory of evolution, when they hear about mutation and how it can change a species they think about this deformed creatures.

I don’t want to give a very long explanation about the theory o evolution, but since it is relevant to what I’m talking about here, basically mutation happens every time a living creature reproduces, it is a natural part of the process, when the copy of the genetic material is made to be passed forward. The copy is never exactly the same compared to the original and among this variations may come up some characteristics which will give some advantage to the offspring in some aspect of its environment and then this advantage may give a better reproduction ratio to this offspring, so the genetic modification may go to the next generation. The more advantageous is the new characteristic the bigger will be its impact in some population. Just remembering I want to make it short, a fish evolve into a reptile is not something happening like suddenly a fish with a leg of a frog hanging over his body is born (like the image suggests), a mutation related to a evolution process is much more subtle and much more slowly. A flipper turn into a frog leg needs a lot of time and the middle of the way the existence of many species. This is not like a fast and magic process like one mutation, one new species, so relax your soon won’t be a ET, the difference between the genetic material which had mutation in comparison with the original is very small and it will have some have an impact only after many generations, or maybe it never will. It is important to remember that when we talk about evolution we are talking about we are talking about millions of years and just to give a context we are at the year 2011 after christ, with some more let’s say 8 thousand years before christ that we now something about our species, it means we have knowledge about the ourselves for around 10 thousand years, what is very small in evolution terms.

Now, let’s continue. At first I though this guy was only a bad informed and sensationalist person, we have a lot of these ones around. But doing a further search I found out it was not the case. He is a religious leader, he was even in picked in one of those lists of religious people with great influence, has many published books and also hosted his own TV show (I could not find if he still has one).

He became more famous when he sent around 10 thousand copies to schools and universities of his book “Atlas of Creation”. This book is basically a set of pictures of fossils and animals of our time put together to defend the idea that animals never changed in the last I-don’t-know-how-many-years, and that every animal together with everything that exist was created at the same time by superior being in some moment.

By his definition of what would be a “transitional fossil” we already know he doesn’t have many knowledge about what is the theory of evolution, but when we look to this book, the “Atlas of Creation”, the pictures he uses to justify his ideas have many errors of concept and lack of information. We can say that because, as an example, he compares a picture of a fossil that is well known as being a worm and say it is a modern snake, or a plant and a starfish, among many others. The most absurd one is this one bellow:

Do you see there is something wrong with the insect? Do you see it has a hook attached to his belly as if it was a fishing bait? Look again. Well, it happens because, it is a fishing bait indeed! Yeah and the image comes directly of a fishing bait website, he only changed the colors and the background, click here and take a look. So, the guy not only has little interest in find out what the theory of evolution talks about, but he don’t have any care either when he is defending his own theory. Can you feel your billions going away?

I still wanted more, so I went looking information about his other books and I tried to find interviews. About the books he is the author of books denying the holocaust, books about world wide ultra powered secret societies ruled by jews, books defending ultra nationalism, books blaming Darwin for the creation of Nazism and things like that. About the interviews, the one I found more interesting is one he gave to Al Jazeera news channel, in this one by what he says you can definitely see how wise, polite and coherent he actually is. If you wanna check this interview (the link is the end of this text) make sure you pay attention on how he criticizes what he is and what he does.

So, if you started reading all happy believing your day to be a trillionaire has arrived, you can end very pissed of because this dude is not only not giving you any money, but he has great influence in many countries of this world defending these and other ideas much more connected to a choice than to a logic analysis right in the face of the age of the information and, after all that, he also has a website for kids (!). I think is very peculiar to see all this posture not only because he does not show any interest in know for real what he is criticizing, but he either has interest to know what he is defending. I think it is very complicated to see that even with the internet and the things and possibilities we have today of new ideas and concepts, at the same time we se people still defending a blind and influential ignorance, so easily. C’mon, it is almost surreal.

If you want to know more
His official website
His official website for kids
His page in wikipedia
The interview to Al Jazeera in their channel in YouTube