Well, here’s a note for the culture wars: Evolution sells.
Or, at least it seems that recognizable bits of cultural iconography associated with evolutionary biology do not, in the minds of advertising types, raise a red flag for at least one segment of conservative culture.
In the February 2006 issue of the National Rifle Association’s American Hunter magazine, there is a two-page spread advertisement for Elcan’s “DigitalHunter” riflescope. This adds digital still and video capability to a scope, with an LCD on top for review of images. I can only recall one time in my youth when I went deer hunting with a rifle, and I don’t know precisely what the process of sighting something, snapping a picture, and then bringing the rifle into an upright position to review the image is supposed to do. Perhaps it’s meant to settle those old arguments: “I swear, he had ten points if he had a nubbin!” Perhaps the next craze in fishing will be a digital video/still camera that would capture images of whatever comes near the hook.
I digress. The real reason that I am discussing this ad at all is the artwork that goes with it. Click on the image for a larger version.
That’s right, it’s a derivative of the famous “March of Progress” painting. The message seems to be that if you are a hunter, anything but Elcan’s DigitalHunter riflescope is hopelessly primitive.
The other message, as I mentioned above, is that evolution, for all that the US polls show substantial numbers of the populace taking issue with it, seems to be just peachy as a way to draw positive attention to a product. There have been indications that the conservatism of hunters on the issue of firearm ownership and access to public lands has been put at odds with the current administration over the reduction in available public land because of development, and over policies that seem to be more in line with “pillaging” resources than “managing” them. It’s a conundrum, because a liberal administration would tend to do better protection of natural resources, but also put the firearm ownership and use at risk. (Well, the NRA sees no conundrum, and continues to advise supporting the politicians who say that gun ownership is fine, but may soon obviate any need for the things as far as intra-US hunting opportunities go.) In any case, I think that natural resource conservation is one issue that hunters and “green” groups can usefully work together upon.
And for something completely different, there is a new simulation game called “Spore” that uses the notion of deep time and evolutionary change — with “designer” intervention, where the “designer” is each player. It will feature a network repository of “creatures”, so the results of multitudes of rounds of the game will be available. It is hard to tell what the reaction of the ID advocates might be to this. While it does involve intervention, it also derives things via its own programming, giving an overall view of evolutionary time as something that only at long intervals might have an intervention event. The notion that evolutionary processes are adequate for almost everything in the game may be too subversive for ID advocate tastes.
Final comment: A cover story blurb on the American Hunter reads, “Brushes With Death: A Wildlife Artist’s Close Encounters”. Just tell me that the film will not star Kevin Costner.