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NOVA | Becoming Human | Preview | PBS - Comments

kram50's Avatar Comment 1 by kram50

Just can't get enough of great stuff like this!!!

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 17:34:00 UTC | #411157

Netsrak's Avatar Comment 2 by Netsrak

Looks awesome, cant wait.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 17:45:00 UTC | #411162

bujin's Avatar Comment 3 by bujin

Looks like an interesting documentary. If I had one minor gripe about that preview, though, it's that asking the question "how did we get to this (pic of human) from this (pic of chimpanzee)?" could cause some confusion, because of course, we didn't evolve from chimpanzees.

But yeah, I'll keep an eye out for that on British TV. It's bound to make the documentary channels sooner or later.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 17:51:00 UTC | #411164

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 4 by TIKI AL

I was unsuccessful in my attempt to go back in time and catch the first episode which aired yesterday.

However, after much scientific manipulation of Lord TIVO, the repeat and next episodes are set to record.

Thanks for the almost timely heads up.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 17:55:00 UTC | #411167

Quine's Avatar Comment 5 by Quine

I saw it last night. You can watch it on line at:

It is discussed at Pharyngula:

For me, the best thing about it is that they always stated the human decent from other apes as a fact. They did not mention "theory" at all and fuzzy phrases like "some scientists think that ..." to dodge the fact of Evolution. It was so clearly "in your face" to the Creationists that it had to have been intentional.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 18:29:00 UTC | #411176

Mango's Avatar Comment 6 by Mango

Narrator: "What set us on the path from ape to human?"

Umm... we ARE apes! It's no wonder the public is so abysmally misinformed about humanity's origins and its place in the animal kingdom...

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 18:33:00 UTC | #411178

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 7 by rod-the-farmer

It IS nice to hear the imaginary slap in the face, done to evolution deniers. Keep up the good work. I may have to scrape the budget a bit and donate to the nearest PBS station.

EDIT. At the moment, the PBS link is not available to people "in my region". That would be, Canada ? I watched much of it last night, but fell asleep. I promise to try harder tonight.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 18:36:00 UTC | #411180

MAJORPAIN's Avatar Comment 8 by MAJORPAIN

I hope it isn't blacked out in my neck of the woods. The last time something like this was on PBS had "technical difficults" for the entire hour of the show being broadcast.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 18:44:00 UTC | #411181

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 9 by Jos Gibbons

From ape to human? But ... we're apes. Man this is full of holes.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 18:49:00 UTC | #411183

reverendted's Avatar Comment 10 by reverendted

My partner and I watched this last night. We're big fans of Nova, but this was disappointing. The program made many reckless statements, such as implying over and over again that humans evolved from chimpanzees rather than sharing a common ancestor. It only mentioned Ardipithecus in passing, despite that Ardi strongly suggests that Chimpanzees may be quite different from our common ancestor. We tried to consider that the narration was taking shortcuts for simplification, but there were too many ways in which it simply got things wrong. Ultimately, we found the best part of the program was limited to the short interview snippets and the explanation of how forensic techniques have been applied in paleontology.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 19:16:00 UTC | #411194

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 11 by glenister_m

Much as I enjoy NOVA's programs, as a teacher I find them of limited use in the classroom. A one-hour program, let alone a 3 hour miniseries, is too long for use in school - both for kids attention spans and classroom time used up so that other topics have to be rushed through. Only occasionally is a program suitable for showing small clips without losing too much information.

Unlike Bill Nye, who had it right with the 1/2 hour format, NOVA/Day the Universe Changed/some of the Connections Series/Cosmos/etc. were excellent educational programs but only if you could get the students to watch them at home.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 19:38:00 UTC | #411201

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 12 by Sally Luxmoore

Boo - not available in the UK.

Any YouTube links gratefully received.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 23:01:00 UTC | #411249

DRogers1082's Avatar Comment 13 by DRogers1082


Wed, 04 Nov 2009 23:18:00 UTC | #411256

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 14 by mordacious1

12. Comment #429558 by Sally Luxmoore

Boo - not available in the UK.

'Tis only fair, since the UK can't learn to share their TV with the rest of the world.

Ps. I went to pbs and saw an ad for Alan Alda's "The Human Spark". Sounds like a good show.

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 23:33:00 UTC | #411259

chuckg's Avatar Comment 15 by chuckg

I found it somewhat interesting and I'm encouraged that human or any kind of evolution based shows make it to TV. I'm not sure if our local PBS affiliate here in Texas actually aired the show; I missed it's airing and had to watch it on line. I wouldn't be surprised if the local station censored it. On the other hand, in light of the info that was contained in the recent Ardi articles, I found it lacking a bit. The show kind of glossed over that they didn't have very good info on the transition to bipedalism. Obviously the huge avalanche of information from the Ardi articles wasn't available when this show was put together, and they didn't try to incorporate it at the last minute. Ardi showed that bipedalism went through an awkward toe-thumb stage, with the foot pushing off the second toe. This occurred in a completely forested situation. The two things that kicked up the need for bipedalism are the male-female cooperation hinted at by the reduced male canines, which implied less male fighting for females for sex, probably due to (number two)the females being receptive for sex at nearly all times, or what is called cryptic ovulation. The way this stimulated bipedalism is that the males needed an efficient way to carry food to the females, to gain their favor for sex. Its been the same ever since. The later parts of the show present an interesting hypothesis about rapid climate fluctuations causing the rapid increase of brain size that marked the change from Australopithecus to the genus Homo. At the end, I was wondering if Fox news got involved in the last editorializing about Man's ability to adapt to rapid climate change.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 02:07:00 UTC | #411299

Dow's Avatar Comment 18 by Dow

Ooh I missed the first one! I won't miss the other two..

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 08:35:00 UTC | #411327

Manson's Avatar Comment 19 by Manson

Yes, bujin, the chimpanzee clip made me cringe as well.

Richard, perhaps you could contact the PBS NOVA folks and let them know of the error and ask them replace the chimpanzee clip with a correct rendering of a shared ancestor before the series goes to air.

The misconception is terribly widespread and NOVA is the last group that should be furthering the misunderstanding.

EDIT: I missed the air dates in the text above... too late. Too bad.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 09:39:00 UTC | #411332

sittingbourne_hatter's Avatar Comment 20 by sittingbourne_hatter

BBC viewers were recently treated to the admirablly well-adapted Dr Alice Roberts covering a similar subject (the migration of Homo Sapiens out of Africa) in 'The Incredible Human Journey'

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 11:26:00 UTC | #411343

dhudson0001's Avatar Comment 21 by dhudson0001

I have yet to see the series, but if the above comments are accurate about the misrepresentation of the common ancestor, this must be extremely frustrating to the entire community of evolutionary biologists.
If the people at NOVA can't get it right, how can we expect the layperson to get it straight?

(of course, I'm a layperson myself, so maybe there is hope)

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 13:45:00 UTC | #411357

Bolland's Avatar Comment 22 by Bolland

I just saw the first episode thanks to the link provided by Quine (see above). Overall I would give it an A for effort and compelling viewing. Often enough they cite the concept of a common ancestor with other apes. The only possible confusion is the artifice of showing modern chimpanzees with (the unspoken) inference that that is what the MCA may have looked like. I think this was unintended. Clearly both branches of the tree have evolved seperately since that time, but this series is about human evolution and not that of other apes, for which almost no fossil record exists. Perhaps a qualifying sentence or two would have been worthwhile but overall it sure beat watching reruns of 'Laverne and Shirley'.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 15:01:00 UTC | #411364

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 23 by glenister_m

A bit off topic, but something that crossed my mind recently was the discussion that evolution has only favoured intelligence as a trait "once" in our species lineage. In other words large brains have not seemed to be a major evolutionary advantage most species in the history of life.

There is currently a series on tv right now looking at what evidence there would be of our civilization over time, if we all suddenly died out today. The short answer is that after just a couple of hundred years, almost nothing would be left, and after a couple of thousand years no evidence of an advanced civilization.

I'm not suggesting there were other advanced civilizations or species, but for the sake of argument, if a "dinosaur" lineage had developed high intelligence/technology we would likely find no evidence of it.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 18:26:00 UTC | #411428

bamafreethinker's Avatar Comment 24 by bamafreethinker

Comment #429738 by glenister_m

Surely we would have found an 8 GB dIno-pod or a lava powered dino-cycle by now...

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 18:55:00 UTC | #411438

imokyrok's Avatar Comment 25 by imokyrok

I really enjoyed that programme. A lot of food for thought. It was hard to find as it's not available outside the US so here's where I managed to download it from.

Fri, 06 Nov 2009 22:23:00 UTC | #411772