Re: Fwd: Unexpected Evolution of a Fish Out of Water

Date: Sat 15 Feb 2003 - 22:00:58 GMT

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    > Unexpected Evolution of a Fish Out of Water
    > 11FISH.html?pagewanted=print&position=top
    > It all began on that fateful day when one fish evolved legs. Suddenly
    > transformed from a silver swimmer into a bold pioneer, this creature
    > stood on the threshold of what would become an explosion of
    > evolutionary diversification. But this flowering of forms would be
    > played out, not in the muck of primordial seashores, but on
    > automobiles.
    > This is the story of two small, plastic, adhesive plaques and all that
    > came forth and multiplied after them: the Jesus fish and the Darwin
    > fish.
    > Familiar to drivers everywhere, car fish and their spawn are the
    > soldiers in an evolutionary arms race that has given rise to a host of
    > strange new creatures and what some say is an entirely new form of
    > self-expression.
    > This menagerie is not only diverse, but highly prolific — and
    > profitable. Taxonomists of car fish say that the Darwin fish alone
    > reproduces at a rate of some 75,000 new fish a year, worth nearly half
    > a million dollars, retail.
    > The fish has long been a Christian symbol. Long before there were
    > automobiles, legend has it, the fish was scratched in the sand by
    > persecuted first-century Christians as a secret sign.
    > Different explanations are offered for why the fish became such a
    > widespread Christian symbol. One is that the first letters of the
    > Greek words for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior," form an acrostic
    > that is the Greek word for fish.
    > The mists of history may obscure exactly when and where car fish first
    > appeared, but in the modern era it is clear that by the 1980's a fish
    > drawn simply with two curved lines containing the word "Jesus" had
    > colonized numerous cars as a symbol of Christian belief.
    > By the late 1980's, however, a new generation had emerged in mutant
    > form. At first glance, the new fish appeared the same, until one
    > looked closer and saw that the fish said Darwin inside and had two
    > feet sticking out from below, apparently trumpeting the car owner's
    > belief in evolution.
    > The response to the new fish was swift and sure. A Truth fish could
    > soon be seen devouring a Darwin fish. Or sometimes a Darwin fish could
    > be spotted upside down on a car, its little legs poking into the air,
    > dead.
    They forgot to mention the Evolutionists' responses; an Evolution fish screwing a Christian fish, and a Science fish eating one. These and many more can be seen at:
    > Evolution, whether natural or otherwise, is notoriously difficult to
    > stop. Eventually car fish radiation produced the Evolve fish, which is
    > a tool-user (holding a wrench), the Gefilte fish, the Hindu fish
    > (with an udder), the Pagan fish (ideal for the pagans who insist that
    > the fish was stolen from them by the Christians, who are still fuming
    > that the Darwin-enthusiasts stole it from them). There is even a
    > flaming Satan fish.
    > Some say they've spotted a shark that says Lawyer, a Rasta fish
    > smoking a pipe and Lutefisk fish (a kind of cod soaked in lye — the
    > haggis of Norway) as well as increasingly diverse and enigmatic car
    > organisms like dolphins, dead fish, aliens and chili peppers.
    > Aliens and hot peppers may not seem to have any direct connection to
    > fish, but when it comes to plaques on cars evolution proceeds in leaps
    > that are completely unpredictable, perhaps because of the kind of
    > selective pressure at work.
    > While natural selection drives biological change, the evolution of car
    > fish seems to have been driven by ideological one-upsmanship at
    > first, and then by market forces and irrepressible silliness. The
    > newest species is the Sushi fish, a truly odd symbolic development in
    > which the fish actually represents a fish.
    > "We finally made one after thousands of people asked for it," said
    > Gary Betchan, who is a co-owner of EvolveFISH, a Web site that sells
    > an elaborate array of the creatures. "People are always coming up
    > with a new twist. If we think we can sell them, we make it."
    > Mr. Betchan, whose Web site also offers Nunzilla, a wind-up
    > fire-breathing nun and a Wash Away Your Sins soap, says he is pursuing
    > the car fish business for more than the money.
    > "We are out to change the world," he said. "We want to make it a
    > better place."
    > So what exactly are people thinking when they stick these things on
    > their cars?
    > Dr. Tom Lessl may be the only one who knows.
    > Dr. Lessl, who studies the use of symbols, is a professor in the
    > speech communication department at the University of Georgia. He has
    > undertaken a study of car fish, and wore out two pairs of shoes
    > walking the nation's parking lots in search of them.
    > Every time he found a Darwin fish, he left a survey form on the car.
    > "There are two views," he said of the Darwin fish camp. "One group was
    > openly hostile to traditional religious beliefs," he said, and the
    > other seemed to believe in peaceful symbolic coexistence.
    > Dr. Lessl said some Darwin fish owners had so much to say that some
    > went well beyond the single page provided for answers to as many as
    > three single-spaced typed pages. Some described the fish as a kind of
    > defense, a way for persecuted atheists to fight back against the
    > onslaught of religion, something like its first use by persecuted
    > Christians.
    > But, he said, he found many people who said they displayed the Darwin
    > fish as a symbol of the harmonious coexistence of Darwinian ideas and
    > religion.
    > Dr. Lessl says such marriages of science and religion have been a
    > familiar refrain since the days of the Enlightenment, one continuous
    > intellectual movement that has led through the writings of Francis
    > Bacon in the 17th century on up to plastic fish.
    > Not surprisingly, the Darwin fish has stirred controversy around the
    > question of the creator, specifically its creator.
    > What agreement there is about who created the Darwin fish, a question
    > that has been muddled by lawsuits, points to Chris Gilman, president
    > of Global Effects Inc., which makes costumes and props for Hollywood.
    > Mr. Gilman said he came up with the idea in the early 1980's when he
    > was talking with some friends about how to promote evolution the way
    > that religion promotes itself.
    > "So I said you put feet on the Jesus fish," he said, "and people said,
    > `Ha ha, that's funny.' People kept bugging me about making them for
    > years."
    > Eventually, Mr. Gilman had the fish manufactured and handed the whole
    > enterprise off to a friend, Daphne Bianchi, president of Evolution
    > Design Inc., which trademarked the Darwin fish.
    > The rest is evolution.
    > Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

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