In a Recent Lecture in March 2009, Richard Dawkins Cited a Moose Mounting a Bison Statue as an Example of an Evolutionary Bait & Switch Akin to Human Uses of Pornography and Birth Control. But Do Such Moose-Copulating-with-a-Statue Images Actually Exist?

According to Snopes.com, the images are authentic. See them here.

And here’s how Dawkins made use of one of the Moose-statue images. He gave a lecture at Michigan State University in early March, 2009, and Wesley Elsberry took notes and posted them on the Internet.

Here’s a part of Elsberry’s notes in which Dawkins talked about the moose-statue encounter as an example of how one evolutionary purpose that evolved in one context might be, in a different context, hijacked or tricked for other purposes or different results:

Dawkins named a number of archi-purposes that provided “subversion fodder”: hunger, sex, parental care, kinship, filial obedience, and others. We evolved under conditions where sugar and fat marked high-quality food sources, and poor food availability meant we tended to eat obsessively when food sources were available. But today for western culture, food is always available, and we do damage to our teeth and our health via over-indulgence. For the subversion of sex, Dawkins showed a photograph of a moose mounting a statue of a bison. Once the audience had gotten a laugh out of that, the next slide showed a scantily clad human female model, and Dawkins said, “At least the bison statue was in 3D.” Contraception forms a subversion of the archi-purpose of sex. Notes Steven Pinker’s quote, “My genes can go jump in the lake.” We adopt kittens and puppies.

Filial obedience is subverted as in “God the father”, and the elevation of other father-figures.

To put it in different terms: Dawkins is suggesting that the statue mounting moose, the eater at McDonalds, the masturbator to pornography, and the religious worshiper of God as a “father” are all like the bee who worries the wallpaper flower. They are all salivating to “idols” standing in for the “real.”

Perhaps the moose might even be aptly named “Pygmalion” (after the character in Ovid’s Metamorphosis).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to In a Recent Lecture in March 2009, Richard Dawkins Cited a Moose Mounting a Bison Statue as an Example of an Evolutionary Bait & Switch Akin to Human Uses of Pornography and Birth Control. But Do Such Moose-Copulating-with-a-Statue Images Actually Exist?

  1. fivthbeatle says:

    Haha, I went to that talk in Norman, it was hilarious. I’m glad to see it being talked about!

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