Last night, accompanied by davegodfrey
, I went to the Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People
at the Bloomsbury. I missed this celebration last year due to the arrival of Abby, but it was definitely worth going this time.
I could have done without the one or two barbed comments directed towards religion and religious people, but they weren't the point. The point was a celebration of life the the world from an atheist, humanist point of view. Brian Cox
showed breathtaking pictures of Earth from varying distances (including the Pale Blue D
). Ben Goldacre
told us about the nocebo effect
- in which placebos also cause the unwanted, yet expected, side effects of the drug they are emulating. And Alan Moore
(Yes, that Alan Moore) explained why he worships a second century snake god.
It was also the first time I genuinely wanted to heckle a comedy performance, when Chris Addison claimed a dinosaur had bee carbon dated. On checking this morning, I see that Paolo
was as well last night, and tweeted his mistake
(Paolo later corrected his own mistake
) . Oh, and Alan Moore later rolled out the old "centaurs are insects" chestnut, as if hexpody was a more important character than a bony endoskeleton. But that's another post.
The star of the show for me, though, was Baba Brinkman
; a hip hop artist whose back catalogue
(Spotify Link) is loaded with literary references. He performed a couple of songs from his Rap Guide to Evolution
, which I then had to pick up in the foyer, and which delightfully sports a label saying
For Educational Use Only
. The project was commissioned by Mark Pallen at Birmingham University, who also reviewed the lyrics, making this, in Baba's words:
The only Hip Hop album to be peer reviewed
. Anyway, it reminded me how much I can like Hip Hop when it's saying what I want to hear
. Baba may have read what he needed to know just for the project, but he really gets evolution - from group selection and altruism to artificial selection, sexual selection and the important and useful application of evolutionary psychology (Survival of the Fittest
). Yeah, he seems to operate under the ev.psych assumption that human differences are innate an dismisses memes with one line - but the he continues to illustrate and prove memetics with a couple of his songs, but specifically Performance, Feedback, Revision