Friday, June 3, 2011


I thought I had gotten away from the uber religious people when I left Arkansas. For a person like me, growing up in the bible belt wasn't a fun thing. Most religious people don't bother me. You believe what you want. I'll believe what I want. Unless you are a teabagger trying to take away my rights, I just don't care what you believe. When you start to push YOUR religious beliefs on ME, whatever it is, then I will care, loudly.

When I started grad school, I was in many classes where we had some very good debates, I could share my views, and others could too, in a very healthy way. We are all adults. No one picked a fight. No one acted offended. It was very refreshing for this Southern girl. Psychology is a science. And one of my favorite things about science is that there are very specific ways things have to be proven, over and over, repeatedly.

But something happened last night that had the whole class, all ten of us, plus the professor, completely dumbfounded. I'm in a Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior class taught by a women with a PhD in neuropsychology. We've met twice so far and I LOVE this class. I could totally be a neuropsychologist. It's just fascinating. In true grad school (read: nerd) fashion, when we come into the class, we start talking about the chapters even before the professor comes in the room. I walked into a conversation from a few people, one being someone we will call John. "When I became a Christian, I said to myself, John, you can't be having sex with everyone you meet." I sat down and the conversation continued. This particular male has been in two of my other classes. His specialty is sex addiction. He talks about it ALL the time. Every presentation he gives, every example he cites, and apparently he once had a problem with it himself. So as the class is filling in, and the professor starts to set up her laptop, she asks the class what we thought of the reading. And John says he found a "fault" in the text. I read the chapters and didn't find any typos or missteps, so I was quite curious about what I could have missed while I was reading. So John quotes from the book: "Evolution has encased the brain in a rock-hard vault of bone, wrapped it in layers of tough membrane, and cushioned it in a viscous bath of cerebral spinal fluid..." (the full quote is located at the bottom of this blog). And we all wait for the punch line. And John doesn't let us down. He asks the class... "So before evolution, did people have soft skulls? That makes no sense at all. The book is just wrong about this one."

And the whole class just stared at him. Even the professor. What do you say to someone that obviously has NO grasp of what "evolution" really is?? John goes on to say that the Cro-Magnon man had a hard skull, so that once again proves the book wrong. And that Adam and Eve didn't need evolution and neither does he, he just doesn't "buy" into it. The professor is an older woman, probably 55 to 60 years old, and very German, her accent rocks. The look on her face was humor, as I'm sure she thought he was joking for a moment, then shock and finally a blank stare, a poker face if you will, something good psychologists have honed as to not offend or give anything way to their patients. She finally says that the fallacy he is stuck in is that we -- the planet, humans, animals, plants, etc --have evolved over billions of years... not only 6000. And that he needs to think of the evolution of the brain from when it started.... billions of years ago. Well, this really pissed John off. He mumbled some inaudible things and the class started.

How does one get to be a grown man without taking a basic science class? I was a biochem major for 3 years as an undergrad and had many religious classmates that still believed in evolution. The woman that works in my apartment complex office asked me a few weeks ago if I believed in evolution. When I told her yes, um.. of course I do, she told me I needed to take another look. These people confuse the shit out of me. What do you MEAN you dont believe in evolution? You REALLY think that poof... Adam and Eve appeared, looking just like we do now? REALLY??

Here's a link to a video one of my friends posted the other day. You HAVE to go watch this video. I cant get it to embed in this post, so I'll post the link instead.

"Evolution has encased the brain in a rock-hard vault of bone, wrapped it in layers of tough membrane, and cushioned it in a viscous bath of cerebral spinal fluid. These protective shields post particularly difficult challenges for scientists who would like to observe human brain activity directly." - Gordon Bower


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