Seven Dirty Words Redux

Back in 2005, Nat Torkington stirred up a storm of comment with a video in which his young children did their version of George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” routine, in which the seventh dirty word was “evolution.” Whatever you think about Nat’s use of his kids to make a political point (something about which many commenters had serious reservations), his political statement seemed eerily prescient when I read [via slashdot] about the PLoS article, Evolution By Any Other Name:

The increase in resistance of human pathogens to antimicrobial agents is one of the best-documented examples of evolution in action at the present time, and because it has direct life-and-death consequences, it provides the strongest rationale for teaching evolutionary biology as a rigorous science in high school biology curricula, universities, and medical schools. In spite of the importance of antimicrobial resistance, we show that the actual word “evolution” is rarely used in the papers describing this research. Instead, antimicrobial resistance is said to “emerge,” “arise,” or “spread” rather than “evolve.” Moreover, we show that the failure to use the word “evolution” by the scientific community may have a direct impact on the public perception of the importance of evolutionary biology in our everyday lives.

They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Here, the story appeared the other way around, first as farce, and then as tragedy.