Evolution in 120 seconds… contest!

By Phil Plait | April 28, 2009 12:03 pm

Do you know evolution is true? Of course you do! Unless you’re someone who blindly follows dogma, ignores all evidence, denies reality, and wants to stick your fingers in you ears and go LALALALALALALALALA!

So I’m happy to let you know that our very own Hive Overmind — Discover Magazine, that is — is sponsoring a contest for readers to create a two-minute video about evolution! This is a very cool idea; it forces you to be brief, pithy, and cover something quickly and, perhaps, virally.

For some reason, they picked some squid as one of the judges, but don’t let that stop you. Just include something like this to make him happy and you’re a shoo-in, guaranteed!*

The deadline is noon Eastern time on June 1, 2009, so get cracking! Or Kraken.

* Not a guarantee.


Comments (51)

  1. Richard

    Of course, if you happen to post it to YouTube, it’ll either be flagged or visited by vote-bots that’ll sink the rating faster than you can say “Croco-duck.”

    Good luck to any contestants, though. We do need virals on evolution to counter what’s out there now.

  2. Ismael

    Haha, this should be a riot- watching how many different ways ignorant people can get an arrogant idea wrong! Or was it arrogant people getting an ignorant idea wrong? … it’s so hard these human semantics, seminal antics, seemingly antique, and other portmanteaus.

  3. Sure they don’t mean 140 characters or less? 😉

  4. Haha, this should be a riot- watching how many different ways ignorant people can get an arrogant idea wrong! Or was it arrogant people getting an ignorant idea wrong?

    I think we’ve already had enough of the “riot” of Cretinism, thank you. Science FTW.

  5. How about this one!

  6. Ad Hominid

    On a related note, the opposition to creationist nutbaggery is evolving rapidly in Texas. State board chair and notorious YEC Don McLeroy has an opponent for his local school board seat in College Station, Dr. Joel Walker PhD.

    Joel teaches physics and planetary astronomy at Sam Houston State. His announcement takes dead aim at McLeroy’s anti-science:

    Several members of the State Board of Education have recently argued for teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of the standard understanding of these topics. This innocuously phrased mandate may even sound the ring of science in the ear of many citizens. However, imposing false ambiguity on hard-won knowledge is not valid scientific skepticism. Skepticism in the face of a preponderance of evidence is only unreasonable doubt.

  7. Murff

    [quote]Haha, this should be a riot- watching how many different ways ignorant people can get an arrogant idea wrong! Or was it arrogant people getting an ignorant idea wrong? … it’s so hard these human semantics, seminal antics, seemingly antique, and other portmanteaus.[/quote]

    You bring your idea and proof to the table and I’ll bring mine…I hope you show up with more than just 1 book in your hand.

  8. Murff

    apparently I don’t know how to use Quote’s here, sorry.


  9. Hopkirk (Deceased)

    “Eligibility: To submit a video for consideration in the “Evolution in Two Minutes or Less” Video Contest, (the “Contest”) you must be a legal resident of the United States or a legal resident of Canada (excluding Quebec).”

    Blast. No chance for an extension to the rest of the world? We’re not just a figment of your imagination.

  10. Richard

    You can point to the mountain of evidence for evolution all you want. It’s just that the creationists and IDers will proclaim, “Hah! It’s not a mountain, it’s half an inch under being a mountain. Nice try. Now, see, my mountain is tall enough to be a mountain.”

    “But, that’s just a tent. Look at the gauze-like fabric and the plastic structure holding it up. You have a tent, and a flimsy one at that.”

    “At least it’s as tall as mountain.”

    Which, if you think about it, is pretty much the way the conversation turns out.

  11. I love contests like this, but the prize here is a little on the “under-evolved” side:

    “….whoever wins the contest will be paid in appreciation from the great contingent of the Internet that believes in the importance of understanding evolution.”

    My mother & my wife already appreciate me, so I certainly don’t need any more appreciation.

    Still, it’s tempting just because I like producing stuff like this for myself, if no one else.

  12. Hoonser

    I always rag on these contests when they come out. I won’t this time though.

  13. IVAN3MAN, do you have your “Todd W. Version” evolution post done yet? 😉

  14. Really?

    I’m all for promoting real science over mythology, but there is absolutely no reason Discover should ask its readers to submit creative content and require them to grant “an exclusive, royalty-free and irrevocable right and license to edit, reproduce, publish, display, broadcast, stream or otherwise use your video entry, in whole or in part, for any purpose and in any manner or media (including, without limitation, the Internet) throughout the world in perpetuity, and to license others to do so, without limitation or further compensation.”

    As a person who creates creative content, I get fed up by these kinds of rights grabs. Why do they need exclusivity? Exclusivity means I can’t even put my video on my blog, or upload it to YouTube, etc. And why do they need to license it to others without further compensation? Is Discover planning on putting together a DVD of all these videos that it can sell for profit? Come on. These kinds of things have no place in a contest like this.

    Do you have any sway with legal?

  15. Obvious troll bait, but I’ll bite, just because I’ve been itching for a fight lately.

    Which is more arrogant, Ismael — that we can somehow know, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, that a single entity created the vast expanse of the cosmos a mere six thousand years ago simply for our edification and tailored it expressly for us, or that this universe is incredibly vast and we just happen to be a very insignificantly small part of it that happens to be the interim result (not END result) of a very long chain reaction of chemicals interacting with one another through wholly natural and comprehensible means?

    Here’s a hint, if you’re stumped. One way claims to know the truth without evidence, invented from whole cloth, and the other actually looks around at all the proof that’s right there to be examined forensically. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

  16. Rev. JeffroBodean

    “Haha, this should be a riot- watching how many different ways ignorant people can get an arrogant idea wrong! Or was it arrogant people getting an ignorant idea wrong? … it’s so hard these human semantics, seminal antics, seemingly antique, and other portmanteaus”

    Uh-Oh, looks like Ted Haggard is on the Crystal meth again!

  17. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and for those anti-evos who are so proud of their observation that life couldn’t possibly have risen spontaneously, check this link:


    It’s all about first life and synthetic biology,,,at the rate we’re going, we’ll have the first life links delineated before I croak,,,So fraking COOL!!!

    GAry 7

  18. @ Jason Thibeault:

    It’s pointless, really. See the Texas March Madness or Evolution is True threads for evidence.

    Creationist dimwits should invest in mirrors. The knucklewalkers they’d see staring back at them would be proof enough of human devolution.

    What continues to be most fascinating, however, and what so many here have joked about already, is how consistently repetitive and predictable all these crank arguments are and will be, regardless of whether they are presented to suport a belief in gods, or flying saucers, or ghosts, or…whatever.

    To summarize:

    •Science is false, my belief is true.
    •Your evidence means nothing. I can say this despite the fact I have no idea what it even means.
    •I have no evidence but it doesn’t matter because…(I have faith, the government is hiding it, it’s beyond the powers of science to reveal, etc.).
    •I only came here to see if anyone had an open mind.
    •My own closed mind doesn’t count.
    •People who don’t believe as I do are arrogant jerks.
    •I guess no one here wants to know the truth.
    •Good bye.

    Now if only they’d reach that last step a little more quickly.

  19. Davidlpf

    @kuhnigget, you could expand that list
    to most woo-woo’s.

  20. IVAN3MAN

    @ Larian LeQuella,

    Err… I’m working on it… I don’t want to do it half-assed! 😉

  21. @ Davidlpf:

    My point, exactly, and routinely witnessed by every regular of Dr. BA’s blog.

  22. It’s okay, we haven’t get everything in place yet, but I want to have a start for folks to be able to link to soon.

  23. Davidlpf

    @Ivan3man, doing it half-assed is my department.

  24. @kuhnigget, love your summary! :) May I “borrow” it?

  25. Borrow away, LLQ. Tho I suspect Ivan is coming up with a more detailed version.

  26. Ad Hominid

    Great news from the Lone Star State!

    We have an actual scientist; an astronomer no less, going after the liar, er, lion, in his very den. Dr. Joel Walker of Sam Houston State is challenging arch-creationist Don McLeroy for McLeroy’s seat on the local school board in College Station Texas. A defeat would not directly remove McLeroy as chairman of the state board of education, but the loss of credibility would probably make his retention on the state board untenable for Governor Goodhair.

    (I posted this earlier but I included Joel’s website url, which means automatic moderation. The site is the same as his name, joelwalker, with a {dot} net suffix.)

  27. IVAN3MAN


    … doing it half-assed is my department.

    Just get US citizenship and you can be a Senator! :-)

  28. Davidlpf

    Well played sir.

  29. Davidlpf

    From politicians doing the work for comediens department. From PZ Myers website, Sen Michele Bachmann said the following.

    “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter, and I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”
    If you can elected after such stupid things maybe I should try for the Senate.

  30. Davidlpf

    The smart rats just know when to jump ship. But getting back to main idea here, Ivan3man hurry on thet website.

  31. Video?

    I have a face for radio (or podcast, now) and a voice for Morse Code (or print). And those are my assets (well maybe also a wheelbarrow and a Holocaust Cloak laying around somewhere).

  32. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    So now it is two minutes of fame? But considering it will be a real effort I guess that is quite enough. [/lazy idol dreams]

    Reflecting on the Sagan video, wonder how many is tempted to include or concentrate on abiogenesis? It isn’t evolution proper, the theory about evolution as a process is independent of it, but it could well make or break the contest.

    [The rules don’t say, so I assume the way to bet is to include it in case the judges wants it in there.]

    Then again, Sagan’s video was never about explaining evolution as a process on populations, or showing how we know it’s a fact or the theory describing it is correct. It was simply to showcase one specific branch by showing a few type exemplars. Good for a beaten to death way of framing the science (in a slightly distorted way, as all framing), and he did it exceedingly well, but not so good for communicating the science convincingly.

    looks like Ted Haggard is on the Crystal meth again!

    … and here I thought he was channeling QUASAR, the Bad Troller.

  33. Steve

    I think you’d be hard-pressed to beat this (admit to a little bias since I live in Ireland);

    And all in less than a minute to boot. Unfortunately, it already won last year’s contest :-

  34. Gary Ansorge

    Torbjörn Larsson, OM:

    Most of the faithful believe life is too complex to arise w/o,,,”purposeful”,,,intervention. The most complete abiogenesis research of which I am aware is contained in the following link,( in which I dropped the http so it would avoid the monitor).
    Wonder if a short extract of this could provoke comment in the faithful community?


    GAry 7

  35. Gary Ansorge

    The article is quite long and complex, so perhaps it’s way beyond explaining anything in a simple sound bite. Too bad science requires thinking,,,

    GAry 7

  36. T.E.L.

    If the prize for winning is nothing more than appreciation from the great contingent, then why enter my video at all? By not submitting my video to the Discover contest, I immediately grant myself extra degrees of freedom. I can then make it any length, post it wherever I choose, and can even sell it. At the very least, I’ll still have the contingents’ appreciation, and I won’t even have to produce the winning entry. The smart move seems to be to ignore this contest altogether.

    I mean, even the Society of Physics Students is offering a $1,000 grand prize for the Toy Box Physics video contest. Surely Discover has deeper pockets than the SPS.

  37. Ismael

    The issue is- I have a great imagination.

    All of you, who say things like ‘creationists’ and ‘IDers’, or whatever schoolyard name calling you can come up with, are rocks. You are rocks that notice the ocean has scratched your surfaces, that you’ve shed and/or gained your layers, and that is that- PROVEN! No further exploration or examination is necessary. Plug your ears, say “Lalalala…” ad infinitum.

    (The speed of light in a vacuum is a constant! We’ll never be able to approach it! DOES NOT COMPUTE, BLEEP BOP WHOOP SHKUNK…) I propose to you thus- Light, oh! Glorious Light, and all the information stored within it is but a tiny fraction of our experience, and one day science will have the balls to show that! Don’t worry- I’ll not rub it in yer faces when it does grow a pair.

    I create the reality within which I find myself, I don’t find it that hard to do. I am Allah, and Odin, all the rest too. I’m Ismael and Gilgamesh, Achilles all the same. Everything changes differently, like science and languij… There are no real answers, you gonna keep finding new questions on your quest, noble or not. There ARE approximations, so I’d say it’s pretty arrogant that people parade around saying this IS and this ISN’T. On both sides of the coin.

    To those of you whom I address- you’re rocks. Your cold, hard factoid surfaces can barely reflect information, let alone store it within.

  38. T.E.L.

    Yes, Ismael, you have imagination. But do you have a definitive experiment?

  39. Ismael

    Is not that experiment, life?

  40. Pieter Kok

    I agree with “Really?” and “T.E.L.”: a bit of a shister move on Discover’s part, those terms and conditions.

    PS. don’t feed the trolls.

  41. T.E.L.

    Ismael Said:

    “Is not that experiment, life?”

    A meaningless, evasive response. You put your imagination to no better use here than to berate people about which you have no understanding. How much imagination do you suppose it took for Darwin to hit upon the principle of selection? It took quite a lot, because it was a new and powerful hypothesis. You are misinformed if you think that scientists are a buttload of arrogant, imagination-free losers. The best scientists in the world are the ones with strong imaginations. The trick is to put the cart behind the horse where it belongs. In science, imagination is a tool. It is not the goal. The goal is to cultivate understanding of the world in which we find ourselves. Presumably this world lives by its own rules, and in the act of cultivating understanding it’d be foolish not to actually pay Nature some attention. Not all things which you can imagine correspond to the way things are seen to behave. As Feynman once said to his audience, the name of the game is “imagination, in a tight straight jacket.” Discipline is called for. Harry Potter is a lot of imaginitive fun, but the task at-hand in science isn’t to wright fantasy.

    I must also take this opportunity to point out that, even if scientists are arrogant, that’s hardly the issue. If I were to bombastically insist that the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning, would my arrogance prompt you expect it to rise in, shall we say, the South? Arrogance is a personality issue, not a scientific one. In science questions about the real world are settled by real-world experiments, not by dismissing people for their lack of tact.

  42. unquiet_mind

    Shane says:
    Seems that not all Republican senators can put up with it any more…

    I think I can, maybe, finally, forgive Spector for Anita Hill now…

    (Not like I hold grudges or anything ;-P)

  43. Mark

    The video wants to know “how it’s done”. I think the entries should focus on the how; replication+inheritance+mutation+selection = evolution. Explain each of those steps and fit it into time limit.

    Sorry – I don’t have the skill or time to participate, but I look forward to seeing the entries!

  44. Nigel Depledge

    Mark said:

    I think the entries should focus on the how; replication+inheritance+mutation+selection = evolution. Explain each of those steps and fit it into time limit.

    Hmmm . . . tricky.

    Because there’s quite a bit more to evolution than simple replication + inheritance + mutation + selection.

    For a start, there is the variation brought about by recombination. Then there is hybridisation as a mechanism of speciation (particularly in plants, but there is plenty of evidence that it has happened in Animalia lineages). Then there is genetic drift. Then there are non-random aspects to mutation (there is increasing evidence that evolvability is itself a trait that can evolve, and so some parts of an organism’s genome tend to undergo more frequent mutations than other parts). There is also the Malthusian aspect of the theory, that each generation produces far more offspring than can themselves survive to reproduce.

    2 minutes is not a lot.

  45. Gary Ansorge

    Evolution: The observation that the forest changes as the environment changes.

    Speciation, hybridization, genetic drift, etc, is the observation of the mechanisms of change of individual trees.

    We need both points of view to understand the how, why, etc of evolution, but evolution as its most basic is merely a statement that species change,,,and it’s all because of environment.

    Gary 7

  46. I protest! I am not that easily swayed by a mere picture.

    Especially not of kitties. Mammals leave me cold. Make sure it’s molluscan, at least.

  47. I’m submitting my video! ^_^

    *Notices PZ Myers as previous poster*


  48. Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)

    Late-breaking update: The contest is now open to people in any country on any planet anywhere. We originally stipulated you had to be a resident of the U.S. or Canada *except for Quebec*. No offense to Quebecois or any other people — it was just that our legal brains said that our really very innocuous contest might somehow violate some weirdo obscure laws in some random country, despite passing legal muster in the U.S. and Canada. [Anglophone Canada, that is; don’t ask me why.]

    Anywho, after checking back in with the legal brains and pushing the point, they did agree that the legal risks are pretty remote, so we’ve opened it up to everyone. Apols for our previous provincialism. Yay for globalism — and evolution!

  49. Hal Laspe'

    Dear PZ Myers,
    Discover this: I invested in submitting your requested evolution-in-120-seconds video prior to the required deadline a month and a half ago. If the contest is failed I need to know so that I may recover my legal rights to my submitted work. — Hal Laspe’ hlaspe@hughes.net 636-222-4928


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