Darwin in Pop Culture

Darwin in Pop Culture


darwin book signing

Unlike most academics of times gone by, Darwin is alive and well in Pop Culture today.  He makes himself at home on the internet through memes, demotivational posters, and the absolutely hilarious Darwin Awards.  Even if they never studied the Theory of Evolution in school, most people have a least a passing familiarity with it, and when it is mentioned Darwin is the name that most people associate with it.


survival of the dumbest

Memes are everywhere.  They appear on nearly every social media site.  They can be found taped to office doors and breakroom walls.  Memes are used as a way of sharing an ‘in-joke’ with complete strangers on the internet.  What the “Darwin Facepalm” lacks in popularity he makes up for with sass.


natural selectionI like my memes as much as the next gal, but I find demotivational posters to be much more entertaining.  The best Darwin-themed demotivational posters I’ve found involve the Darwin Awards.  There’s the cliché of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ and a demotivational poster can tell a short story.


darwin award nose drill

Don’t deny it – we all like to indulge in a bit of schadenfreude from time to time.  One of my favorite ways to do so is by visiting the Darwin Awards website. (http://www.darwinawards.com) The site describes the Awards as “Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool – by removing themselves from it.”  The awards are bestowed upon men and women whose stupidity got them killed.  There are also ‘Dis-Honorable Mentions’ given to ‘At-Risk Survivors.’  Natural selection isn’t as much “survival of the fittest” as it is “the ability of the fittest to darwin award gunreproduce successfully.”  With that in mind, it is unfortunate that the Darwin Awards don’t always help the process of natural selection because some of the ‘winners’ had children before receiving their Award.





flying spaghetti monsterAnother accidental contribution of Charles Darwin to Pop Culture today was the formation of a new religion.  For a while, in the early 2000’s there was talk about teaching “Intelligent Design” in biology classes instead of evolution.  In response, Bobby Henderson wrote a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education saying that if they were going to teach children about Intelligent Design, then it would only be fair if they were taught about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  The letter was obviously satirical and meant to discourage the teaching of religious vs scientific theories, but in the way that all things on the internet happen, it went viral.  Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster refer to themselves as ‘Pastafarians,’ and the religion is recognized in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

{For more information: (www.venganza.org) or (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster#Internet_phenomenon)}

Image Citations (In Order):



And The Darwin Award Goes To… (20 PICTURES)




4 thoughts on “Darwin in Pop Culture

  1. Isn’t it wild how popular Darwin is for a “boring old dead guy”? I love a good ‘survival of the fittest’ joke as much as the next guy but it’s also a little daunting how heavily some people rely on the actual argument of “survival of the fittest” while completely misunderstanding what it actually means. I’m torn between finding social Darwinist jokes amusing and also find it scary how many people take them for actual factual evidence. Unfortunately you tend to find a lot of that in pop culture and memes. It’s kind of similar to how we’re learning about how anthropological theory is great for theorizing but when people take theory for absolute fact it gets sketchy. I often wonder how we can solve problems of things that are amusing quips becoming tools of misinformation over time.

  2. Isn’t it funny how we have the Darwin Awards, which celebrates people removing themselves from the gene pool, yet it seems more awards are given away the longer it exists? It seems like “stupid” may actually be the fittest survival mechanism the human race has going for it right now, which would seem at odds to those of us who don’t need a label to know not to use an electric appliance in the bath. It makes you wonder what is about to happen in our world that having a lack of intelligence/common sense is going to be make you more adaptable, thus more likely to survive it then having intelligence/common sense.
    (by the way, really enjoyed your post and the meme’s are great)

  3. I find it very interesting that while Darwin’s theory of evolution was initially heavily based on the idea of “fighting” for survival, it somehow today has become synonymous with the idea of stupidity and killing yourself off. Does this mean that people are interpretting Darwin wrong in the social media age?

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