Creationism, Mr. Nye, and Dr Pepper


Recently, Dr Pepper posted a picture to its Facebook page showing a mock evolution graphic — a “pre-Pepper” chimp morphing into an upright “post-Pepper” human. There are many such humorous adaptations of this classic monkey-to-man “march of progress” graphic, and the Mad Men working for Dr Pepper probably had no reason to think that their ad would elicit unusual controversy.

Wrong. Immediately after its posting, enraged commenters descended upon the site, ranting against Dr Pepper’s tacit endorsement of well-established science taught in every high school biology classroom. Some of their proclamations:

“Well, there goes my support for this company.”

“I ain’t no freaking chimp. No more Dr Pepper for my household.”

“This is showing the theory of men evolving from apes. I have lost all respect for Dr Pepper and if Dr Pepper wants business from thousands of people they will need to apologize.”

And this ominous observation: “Dr. Pepper wasn’t served until 1885… 3 years AFTER the death of Darwin! Sounds like a conspiracy if you asked me!”

Evolution should not — in the year 2012, after a century and a half of scientific verification from multiple independent lines of evidence — be the subject of controversy. Historians of science note that among the community of practicing scientists, serious doubts about evolution faded by the 1870s.

And yet in the United States and a handful of other countries, the topic of evolution provokes a fierce, emotional response from some sectors. This social (not scientific) controversy is especially true when human evolution is taught in public schools. For example, the 1925 Butler Act — the law under which John Scopes was tried and convicted — did not technically ban evolution wholesale but criminalized teaching “that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” The Tennessee legislature of the 1920s simply was unwilling to accept the reality of common descent with modification for all organisms, including humans, from earlier ancestors.

And there hasn’t been a lot of progress since. Science communicator Bill Nye, the “Science Guy,” recently found out just how controversial talking about evolution can be.

Written By: Steven Newton
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  1. So, Bill Nye “the science guy” knows nothing about science… Hell, maybe his name isn’t even Bill, and maybe he isn’t a “guy” at all! And since when is he a “The”???

  2. It catches the breath; shocking ignorance.

    I’m sure that everyone who contributes comments here is aware of it, but I think it’s worth repeating: ” Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

    Theodosius Dobzhhansky ( Nobel Laureate Biologist) 

  3. Speaking of chimps, the other day I saw a billboard that had a photo of a chimp with the caption “stop monkeying around…”.  
    The driver thought I was being too nit-picky when I complained out loud.  Sigh.

  4.  Uh, no.

    Dobzhansky was awarded a Nation Medal, but not the Nobel. I think the quote is accurate enough. ( some debate here also; Ernst Mayr is credited here too )

  5. Well, I guess it devolves on me to say the obvious.

    If I see that inaccurate, linearly progressive nonsense on human evolution again I will be forced to have a conniption.

    Who cares about what nut bags will do here? Their response was predictable to the nth degree. The way to fight them is with lots and lots of ridicule. Seeing themselves as objects of scorn will soon deplete their ranks of youth and they, older creationists, will die off, slowly, it is hoped.

    But that erroneous representation of evolutionary ” progress ” in humans must die now!

  6.  @OP:twitter   AiG released videos attacking Nye, with its president, Ken Ham, declaring that Nye “doesn’t really understand science,” and instead promotes “an agenda to teach children not to believe in God.” The real problem, according to Ham, is “people like Bill Nye [who] are damaging kids” by promoting evolution.

    A Ham act is a ham act! A posing ignoramus is a posing ignoramus!  –

      ” its president, Ken Ham, declaring that Nye “doesn’t really understand science,”

    Ha! ha! ha! Spoken like a true Muppet and science illiterate!

  7. Dr Pepper got evolution right!  Maybe they can work on the issue of recycling bottles and reducing the sugar content in soft drinks next.

  8. They never show the guy completely at the end of the line, where the discovery of beer has reduced him to a crawl again…

  9. Dr. Pepper should apologise for making a reference to reality? These are the people who put their hands up in sex-ed classes, asking when the stork is going to make an appearance.

    I ain’t come from no monkeh! [sic]

  10. But that erroneous representation of evolutionary ” progress ” in humans must die now!

    Is it such an erroneous representation though?

    Professor Dawkins used the analogy of a long line of photographs – first a picture of you, then one of your father, followed by one of your grandfather, then great grandfather, etc…, stretching back a million or so generations. This “monkey to man” picture we see so often, I interpret as a visual representation if what Dawkins was describing – that as we examine our line of ancestors they gradually become more apelike. Of course, the common interpretation of “monkeys turning into people” is certainly mistaken.

  11. No it is not.

    The photos could have been no more than snapshot representations of populations in transition. This linear representation before us is bad evolutionary biology as it depicts anagenesis in a organism that underwent phylogenesis.  I am sure professor Dawkins would know this as I have seen him before a branching diagram showing how we and apes are cousins of one another.

    That is the other thing this diagram wrongly represents. That we are the ancestors of what appears to be a modern ape!

  12. For once, a product’s advertising jingle is actually appropriate.
    “Dr. Pepper, so misunderstood”.
    Mind you, the religious may have a point about the evil posed by Dr. Pepper; I’ve tasted it exactly once and thought I was drinking Satan’s piss.

  13. The best reason to NOT drink Dr. Pepper is because It has way too much sugar and will rot your teeth. Not for making references to well established science.

    But I’ll still drink it.

  14. “Satan’s Piss”, I think I’ll use that. I call Mt. Dew, “The Nectar Of The Gods”, At least when I was in High school.

  15. What you’re describing is exactly what I meant when I said “the common interpretation” – I apologize that I wasn’t clear (I really need to learn to refrain from commenting when I’m in a hurry). The picture does not necessarily represent anagenesis.

    You’re looking first at the thing resembling a chimpanzee and going forward, whereas I look at the human first and go backward. Referring back to Dawkins’s analogy – imagine that, instead of a line of photographs, we had a picture of you and your direct ancestors all walking in a single-file line – each person with his father walking before him. You’ll get exactly the same picture (although, it is unfortunate that the ape-like thing appears too much like a modern chimp).

    Of course, I suppose it does need to be tossed after all, considering that our parents / teachers have been teaching us the wrong interpretation.

    * I really hate that the “Remember Me” checkbox still doesn’t work.

  16. Found this awesome comment at
    “They cut out the last 2 images. The next is the guy put down the Dr.
    Pepper and started reading a bible and the one image after that he
    turned into a sheep.”

    Laugh!  Did I ever!  There should be a campaign to keep this going.

    …and the next image is a priest doing the sheep.

  17. I sometimes bother to shave the back of my hand.
    That is all proof I need for evolution!

  18.  “Edited by author”.

    But you didn’t notice you said “ancestors” when you meant “descendents”.

  19. Some of the comments on the HufPo article need to be seen to be believed. We are doomed as a species if we can’t get this nonsense nipped in the bud…and soon.

    I did learn something though… Theofatalism…. 


    Some interesting ideas in there.

  20. There will always be controversy for as long as there are people who seriously believe they’re so special they just couldn’t be cousins with apes (and mosquitoes, and hagfish, and germs too!)

  21. I have been a loyal Dr. Pepper drinker for 35+ years and now I think I like it even more.

  22. as a rational feline being i would like to complain about the red bull adverts that suggest one may at some point in the future, grow wings and fly. it goes against everything i hold to be true in biology and for that reason i shall think twice about drinking red bull in future.

    think twice, that is. not get all hysterical

  23. I think DrP could go further with this, using their slogan “Dr Pepper, so misunderstood”

  24. or a shot of satan welcoming a new batch of sinners who believe in evolution with crate of Dr Pepper: “Dr Pepper, what’s the worst that could happen?”

  25. If anyone wants to see a genuinely creepy soft drink advertisement, check out this one for Pepsi Max from a couple of years ago in which a guy, with the aid of his buddies, tricks a girl into sleeping with him by convincing her that the world is about to end.

  26. But that erroneous representation of evolutionary ” progress ” in humans must die now!

    Ahem! Have you noticed the banner at the head of this page?

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