Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld’: Chapter 35

In the thirty-fifth chapter of The Science of Discworld, the wizards are disappointed by the Project, right up until it surprises them. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Oh, wizard logic. Actually, it’s such a distinct thing that I feel it needs to be properly capitalized, like: Wizard Logic.™ It’s so fun to take a moment and figure out how one of the wizards arrived at their absurd conclusions. And by gods, they have so many of them. This chapter features one that also deals with a common misconception about have evolution and natural selection works. See, the wizards are completely lost as to why there are still creatures living in the ocean if some evolved to live on land. The mistake here is that this is a zero sum game, that once evolution happens, the “original” species has to die off and abandon everything that made them what they are. But I’ve learned (through this book!) that this isn’t remotely what’s happened. It’s not like the amphibians willingly thought, “Hey, I need to go live on land!” They evolved features – most likely through genetic mutations – that allowed them to live out of the water. And because they were well-suited to both of these environments, they thrived. That meant that they started procreating and passing on the genetic material and the instinct that helped future generations survive in these conditions.

What this doesn’t mean is that the species that lived in the ocean that the new one evolved from suddenly drops dead en masse because OH NO, OUR RELATIVES FOUND A NEW WAY TO LIVE. I mean, that would be pretty dramatic, first of all, and I have no idea if the fish in this Project are dramatic enough for that. They might be!!! But one species doesn’t inherently “lose” if another gains some feature or quality that allows them to survive better in a specific habitat, you know? On top of that, the wizards are dealing with an accelerated timetable, so they’re not appreciating how slow this actually would have transpired. Even the massive eruption in this chapter happens pretty much instantaneously, and they’re able to move themselves out from under the ocean through magic. Evolution takes a long, long time, which is how it’s possible that the creature at the end of this chapter can exist after 70,000 years.


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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