Friday, May 29, 2009

So how did it go?

The interview turned out to be quite long after all, and rather enjoyable, although these type of things always make me nervous. We were a panel of three: a catholic preist (whose name I didn't catch due to my hyped up state before the interview)and Jens Franzen, the lead author on the Darwinius paper. Straight off the bat the religious aspect was deflated by the priest stating categorically that the church accepted evolution as the correct mechanistic explanation for the diversity of life and that this was an unguided naturalistic process (I must admit I was surprised to hear a member of the clergy accepting an unguided evolutionary process), as long as god was the creator of the whole show. I was then asked whether or not Darwinius was 'the missing link' urggh! So I attacked the idea of 'missing links' as a valuable concept at all and explained that Darwinius was a primate, like us, but simultaneously quite ancient and distant from us as far as primates go. Towards the end of my little speech I mentioned that its real significance was that it may have been a bit more closely related to anthropoids (monkeys, apes and humans) than to lemurs and thus may have been a very early member of the haplorhine branch of the primate family tree. I was quite equivocal about wether this was a firmly established scientific case. This may have antagonised Jens Franzen a little who went into quite a long discussion about why it was a haplorhine and not a lemur relative. The interview was rapidly in danger of becoming much like a technical question and answer session at a palaeontological conference (mores the pity that it didn't) so the topic was changed and Jens was asked many things about the discovery of Darwinius and its dating. This part of the interview was very informative. Of course the produces wanted more of the religion angle so we were asked our opinion of 'intelligent design'. The prist denounced it saying that it required an intervenionist god to create each lifeform sepparately which is flatly at odds with the evidence. I joined in with some fairly scathing remarks along the lines that it was a scam cooked up by the young earth creationists to get their particular narrow literal biblical interpretation taught as science in American schools. It of course isn't science and it failed in court.
And that is about it. I was told afterwards by several people that I came across clearly and confidently - which is great because I certainly didn't feel it.

UPDATE. Yes there is an MP3, you can download it from here.
I need to say three things here. 1) The preist was Father Anthony Egan - my apologies for not remembering.
2) My voice is not so clear, probably because I was on a cell phone at home.
3) the faint cries heard in the background was Matthew, who decided he wanted milk urgently, sometime during the middle of the interview.


Christian said...

G'Day Adam. The topic of this blog entry reminds me of a particular conversation we had many years ago in the transportable at the top of BPHS. Seems like yesterday. BTW just found this blog. Cheers Christian

Adam Yates said...

Good God!

How are you mate! Very long time and no see. Hope all is well with you. Drop me an email on yatesam at that popular webmail site run by google.