The Latest Conservative Outrage Is About Duck Penis


The $16 muffin ain’t got nothing on duck penis.

On Monday afternoon, FoxNews.com posted this poll to its opinion section:

duck penis study poll fox news

The Yale animal behavior study, titled “Conflict, Social Behavior and Evolution,” is headed by Dr. Richard Prum and Dr. Patricia Brennan. FoxNews.com

News of Duckpenisgate was broken to a shocked and outraged nation by CNSnews.com, a conservative news site run by the Media Research Center, an organization dedicated to raging against secularism and the mainstream media. From there, Fox Nation and Fox News radio host Todd Starnes picked up on the duck penis/federal waste exposé. The duck penis news easily found its way onto other conservative outlets such as Human Events and birther website WorldNetDaily.

If you think that less than $400,000 spent on a scientific study is a prime example of waste, it’s worth noting that that’s roughly 0.0000001 percent of what the federal budget is likely to be in 2013. Also, the study, funded by the National Science Foundation (a government agency responsible for assigning billions of dollars to research and education), is not actually a waste of tax dollars. Science writer Carl Zimmer explains:

Studying animals is also a way for us to look in the evolutionary mirror. We share a common ancestor with other animals, and the same kinds of evolutionary processes play out in both us and them. Now, you may wonder what ducks—with gigantic cork-screw-shaped penises and a gigantic cork-screw-shaped reproductive tracts—could possibly have to do with us. The manifestation of sex evolution may be different in different species. But the process is similar.

As in many other species, the evolution of ducks has been driven in part by something call[ed] sexual conflict…Other scientists first explored sexual conflict in many other species first—species including ducks. That’s just how science works, no matter what culture warriors may claim.

(For related reality checks, click here, here, and here.)

There’s really no reason whatsoever for any of the right wing’s snarky outrage, no matter how ridiculous federally abetted duck-penis research may sound.

But hey, things could always be worse. It’s not like we’re all freaking out over how much it cost for the vice president to stay at a hotel in Europe, right?

Right?

 

UPDATE: My colleague Kate Sheppard reminds us why Republicans (particularly Todd Akin) should love duck penis.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.