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Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Jos Gibbons

I too find Gervais's description of evolution annoying. The possibility that "by accident" simply means "unintentionally" as opposed to "without nonrandom aspects leaning towards adaptation, such as natural selection" is encouraging, but is it viable? He typically tries to explain evolution to Karl Pilkington with reference to the infinite monkey theorem, which tells us that chance will get the result eventually. However, in Horizon episode The Blind Watchmaker (as well as the original book), Richard Dawkins illustrated how much slower genuine chance is than natural selection. That good mutations being out there, somewhere in genome space, allows them to be found does owe something to the issue Gervais highlights, but he'd do better to point out natural selection cuts down the time by not requiring the improvements to be simultaneous. All the same, I suspect that, deep down, he knows more than he sounds like he does.

Dara O'Briain's discussion of evolution is imperfect too, but I think it's for comic effect; with Gervais, it's probably for brevity, which helps comedy in the sense of skipping "boring" bits. O'Briain is "a bit of a nerd", so he is bound to know the details he seems to get wrong. With Gervais, I'm guessing he does, but I'm not so confident.

My favourite Gervais quotation on religion is "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and if you believe in God - you're wrong." Like so many "aggressive" (i.e. impolite to the sensitive) comments against religion it has to be understood in its context; he was discussing how outright people are with the opinions to which they are entitled, however little you may want that, if you happen to be famous. He was, in particular, responding to a critic of his stand-up that was biased by the whole religion thing. Actually, maybe my real favourite is his response to the accusation that his deconstructing the bible is lazy as it's too easy. He points out it shouldn't be if it's sincere doctrine: "You can't do that with a maths book. ... "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line." What c*** wrote that?"

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 07:12:00 UTC | #432951