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← Bang Goes The Theory: Richard Dawkins on Eye Evolution

Bang Goes The Theory: Richard Dawkins on Eye Evolution - Comments

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 1 by TheRationalizer

Excellent video, I really enjoyed "seeing" the examples of organisms with different developmental stages of eyes.

I think it would make an interesting educational video to show a whole line of creatures, what they see, and how their eyes differ; all the way from basic light senses up to a complex eye. There's an idea of the next RDFtv educational video series :)

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 10:41:47 UTC | #527056

Southpaw's Avatar Comment 2 by Southpaw

Good to see this explanation on mainstream TV; it's such an excellent example of how natural selection, in all its simplicity, can lead to complicated structures.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 10:51:06 UTC | #527059

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 3 by Stafford Gordon

Wow! I mean, wow.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 10:56:11 UTC | #527065

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 4 by rsharvey

"and he signed my selfish gene!" dirty bitch ;)

But seriously, although I don't really like this show - it has that dumbed down, kids-show-for-grownups style of presentation - this was the best demonstration I've seen Richard give of the evolution of eyes. Such simple effective explanations. Really glad I watched it

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 10:59:57 UTC | #527067

kscally's Avatar Comment 5 by kscally

I'd give my right eye to live in a faith-free world.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:01:55 UTC | #527069

sisko7's Avatar Comment 6 by sisko7

For anybody who wonders about the type of vision you get with a pinhole camera, it is like the vision we get under water. That's because the eye lenses doesn't 'work' submerged in water, that is due to the liquid density and the light refraction.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:10:33 UTC | #527071

Mr_Paolo's Avatar Comment 7 by Mr_Paolo

Great video which explains the theory on a fundamental level with loads of great examples - it's very difficult to argue against such a simple and concise rationale.

My eyes seem to like Liz Bonnin!

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:17:04 UTC | #527075

sheepscarer's Avatar Comment 8 by sheepscarer

I like this show - yes the presentation style is a bit 'gee-wizardry' but at its heart it is packed with very good science and I find that this is not dumbed down but clearly explained for a lay audience.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:19:06 UTC | #527076

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 9 by InYourFaceNewYorker

This never ceases to amaze me.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:22:02 UTC | #527077

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 10 by Steve Zara

Comment 4 by rsharvey

That's interesting. I like the show because it seems not to be dumbed down to me. Liz Bonnin (who met Richard) has a science degree. I learned things from this video. I think this is excellent science-educational programming.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:28:21 UTC | #527079

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 11 by Mark Jones

Yes, I thought this was an excellent item; well made and demonstrated. Perhaps a bit pop science, but it's a prime time program - it's got to be like that, I think.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:38:47 UTC | #527086

Anvil's Avatar Comment 12 by Anvil

Yeah, brilliant! Think I first read about the (theoretical) potential of the rapid evolution of the eye (within half a million years or so) in Andrew Parker's interesting book ('In the Blink of an Eye') on the causes of the Cambrian explosion. For Parker it's the evolution of the eye that starts a massive 5 million year arms race leading to all those 'endless forms'.


Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:40:09 UTC | #527089

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 13 by SomersetJohn

I'm rather pleased to say I learned nothing new from this video. It's all stuff I have already learned.

Having said that, it explained, in under 10 minutes, as much as I learned in many weeks of on-off study when I first became interested in the subject. I really wish it had been around about 3 years ago when I started looking at this.


Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:46:15 UTC | #527091

kshaw's Avatar Comment 14 by kshaw

Complex and incredibly complex was said four times,our eye even comes with a protective cover,the top eye surgeons cant make an eye that comes close and yet the presenter said lucky,no I don't think so ,it calls for a designer that couples the signal to the brain.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:00:28 UTC | #527096

Anvil's Avatar Comment 15 by Anvil

Comment 14 by kshaw :

Complex and incredibly complex was said four times,our eye even comes with a protective cover,the top eye surgeons cant make an eye that comes close and yet the presenter said lucky,no I don't think so ,it calls for a designer that couples the signal to the brain.

Yes, and to create all those wonderful things to look at, too.


Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:06:49 UTC | #527101

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 16 by RichardofYork

Underwater the human eye can work if you squint, and its very light with good visibility .I found this out having had my mask kicked off by my dive buddy many years ago

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:19:54 UTC | #527109

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 17 by AtheistEgbert

"Wow you got to meet Richard Dawkins!"

When I was a kid, we had a show very similar to this with a scientist called Magnus Pyke. At one point, he was so popular that he appeared in a pop video (Thomas Dolby's She Blinded me with Science) but has sadly disappeared into obscurity.

This was during the golden age of eccentric scientists and boffins that would appear on our screens and tell us the wonders of science and nature.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:23:19 UTC | #527112

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 18 by phil rimmer

Brilliantly efficient and engaging education. Just imagine if all school science lessons could be like this. Concentrated, convincing, memorable. Like Steve Zara said this was not in any way dumbed down.

As for the slick youthful style, this is only to be applauded IMO. My clever kids (but, of course) are sometimes restrained in their outward behaviours by not wishing to appear uncool. "No one likes a clever clogs!" I genuinely detect a change here. Whilst we can't say (yet) "Clever is the new Cool", it is certainly getting cooler.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:24:18 UTC | #527113

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 19 by rsharvey

@ sheepscarer & Steve Zara

Hmm, yeah. From what I've seen, its not the content but the presentation style that just completely turns me off.

But your right, 'Dumbed down' wasn't right. And its definitely educational.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:25:31 UTC | #527114

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 20 by Mark Jones

Comment 14 by kshaw calls for a designer that couples the signal to the brain.

And yet the designer of this thing that 'calls for a designer' doesn't call for a designer of it? Hmmm, I think we've been here before.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:26:01 UTC | #527115

Paul42's Avatar Comment 21 by Paul42

Comment 14 by kshaw...

The eye, as a piece of design, is shockingly inefficient.

The light receptor cells are back to front, the optic nerve gets in the way, etc...

I am wearing glasses to type this as I have an astigmatism in my right eye.

The human eye isn't even the "best" one in nature...

Some design...


Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:32:29 UTC | #527118

Anvil's Avatar Comment 22 by Anvil

Comment 20 by Mark Jones

Hmmm, I think we've been here before.

Our Eyes have seen the Glory...


[EDIT] I was going to say 'Deja Woo'.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:32:42 UTC | #527119

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 23 by Dr Doctor

I prefer to phrase the intelligent designer vs evolution argument thus:

What is more likely?

  • That there is a hugely complex entity outside of our Universe that somehow reaches in and shapes each one of us and all our flaws for its own ends.

  • Or that there are people on Earth too ignorant and/or stupid to understand the theory of evolution and how it could over geological time be the causation of relatively simple organisms.

  • Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:36:19 UTC | #527120

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 24 by Alan4discussion

    There will always be those who have eyes, but cannot see.

    Comment 14 by kshaw

    Complex and incredibly complex was said four times,our eye even comes with a protective cover,the top eye surgeons cant make an eye that comes close and yet the presenter said lucky,no I don't think so ,it calls for a designer that couples the signal to the brain.

    Those actually examining the aquatic/sea creatures will see the evolution of the links to the brain along side the evolving "camera". - Personal incredulity once again!

    Having explained this in the earlier thread on dodgy creationist side-bars for Marine Biology textbooks, (see below) I have gone back to that thread to put in a link to the video. Hopefully we will not have to keep explaining this over and over again.

    Comment 54 by Alan4discussion

    This sidebar even has the rubbish diputing the evolution of the eye, which must be ironic in a book on Marine Science, given that present day marine creatures such as shellfish display the full range of evolved features of eyes, from light sensitive patches onward.

    Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:37:04 UTC | #527122

    God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 25 by God fearing Atheist

    Comment 14 by kshaw :

    Complex and incredibly complex was said four times,our eye even comes with a protective cover,the top eye surgeons cant make an eye that comes close and yet the presenter said lucky,no I don't think so ,it calls for a designer that couples the signal to the brain.

    I haven't seen the video yet - my ISP isn't giving me the bps atm - but I assume it went like this:-

    First there was a photosensitive skin cell Then there was two ... Then there was a patch ... Then they formed a pit ... Then they formed a pit with a pin hole Then there was a mucus plug in the pin hole ...

    Well, it should have been something like this...

    First there was a photosensitive skin cell connected by a neuron to a cluster of neurons which connected to other neurons which caused cells to twitch.

    Then there was a patch of photoreceptors connected by a nerve fibre to a primative brain that was connected to muscle cells which caused the creature to swim away from bright light.

    Then there was a pin hole camera connected by an optic nerve to a brain that was capable of working out from the image if it should bite what was in front of it, or swim away.

    Then there was a creationist who either refused to see all the evidence or refused to think about it.

    Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:39:06 UTC | #527123

    sirmailbox's Avatar Comment 26 by sirmailbox

    The Holocaust accounts for millions of missing Jews, hundreds (or possibly thousands) of eye witness testimonies, the rhetoric of Nazi leaders, and much more, as you all know. But as Holocaust deniers will tell you, sometimes the testimonies conflict with one another, and some of the alleged gas chambers are missing locks on the doors. Should the Holocaust explanation be thrown out? Of course not. The sum total of explanatory power is so great that we can live with some ambiguity and unresolved questions. Indeed, although the theories of Holocaust deniers may account for that small number of flaws, they utterly fail to explain the overwhelming amount of supporting evidence. Trading Holocaust affirmation for denial, then, would reduce our understanding by several orders of magnitude, and leave us with far less explained than before.

    Evolution is much the same way, as is every successful scientific theory--even in physics. When looking at a structure whose evolutionary history we cannot reconstruct, in an effort to understand that ONE structure, we may be tempted to throw evolutionary theory out. In doing so, we might solve a small handful of unresolved questions. But then the overwhelming majority of biology becomes utterly mysterious. The net effect is a tremendous decrease in understanding.

    Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable (and even wholly expected) for a major theoretical framework to have unresolved issues. Reconstructions of evolutionary history such as the one portrayed in this video, then, are just icing on the cake. They aren't even necessary strictly speaking. But there it is, another question answered, the case made even stronger than it needs to be.

    Thu, 30 Sep 2010 13:14:56 UTC | #527137

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 27 by Alan4discussion

    The only slight criticism of the video, is that it does not give quite enough credit for the working of a pin-hole camera.

    Because of weight restraints, early in the space program, a black tube with a photocell at one end and open at the other was used as a camera. The only moving parts were the trajectory and spin of the probe. This recorded light levels as the spinning probe tracked its tube camera across strips of planets it was passing producing TV pictures. It even had flip-in colour filters.

    Engineers have copied many devices from evolved systems, so it is perhaps not surprising that the backwards thinking of theology has reversed this into ID!

    Thu, 30 Sep 2010 13:43:41 UTC | #527153

    Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 28 by Alan4discussion

    If anyone is wanting to teach kids about this:

  • get a card box 20 or 30 cm wide with 2 parts so one slides inside the other.
  • Cut most of the bottom out of the inner box, and stretch + glue a translucent screen (such as greaseproof paper) over the gap.
  • The open end of both boxes should be towards the back.
  • Make a small (not quite pin) hole in the outer box at the front.
  • Put a thick cloth over the person and box top to keep it dark and move screen back till a slightly blurred inverted picture can be seen. You now have a pin-hole camera.
  • Make the hole bigger and tape a hand lens in front of the hole, to convert it to a camera with a lens.
  • Discard the cloth and watch the (inverted) picture on the sceen. Move the inner box (and screen) back or forwards to focus.
  • Let 6 year olds play film stars with the "box" camera
  • Don't leave it in the sun. The focussed heat may set it on fire!
  • Thu, 30 Sep 2010 14:09:54 UTC | #527173

    Bala's Avatar Comment 29 by Bala

    when I read this in climbing mount improbable, it just blew me away that I deliberately missed my stop while on the bus so that I could finish the section about Haley's comet. Getting off the bus, felt enlightened by the forty fold path.

    Thu, 30 Sep 2010 14:17:02 UTC | #527177

    Correct me if I'm wrong's Avatar Comment 30 by Correct me if I'm wrong

    I stick up for Bang the same way I stick up for Mythbusters. If you want serious academic study you can get it elsewhere. It is good to watch people pissing about with stuff and explaining the ideas along the way, and Bang crams in a fair amount of solid, if basic, science.

    I think they need a new theme tune though.

    Thu, 30 Sep 2010 14:21:29 UTC | #527182