"At first I took on "The Rap Guide to Evolution" as a job, when a scientist hired me to help him celebrate Darwin Day with a rap performance. I was a novice, so I set myself the task of reading nothing but evolution books for one year. Soon I became so immersed in the literature that evolution transformed my entire worldview. I saw the process of natural selection all around me, in family relationships and consumer choices, in violent conflicts and flirtation, and everywhere in between. I came to realize that this view of life is not only scientifically accurate, it’s inspiring, fascinating and empowering as well.
It was surreal to go from an amateur to a science communicator in just a few years, but the transformation was only possible because of the mentors who took an interest in my show and offered to “peer review” my lyrics. Steven Pinker, David Sloan Wilson, Mark Pallen, Olivia Judson, Sarah Hardy, Jonathan Haidt, Christopher Chabris and Martin Daly all started as science writers I admired and all became my friends and correspondents thanks to “The Rap Guide to Evolution”.
Of course, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for evolutionary thinking. Most of my performances have been staged in places like England, Canada, Australia, New York and California, places where evolution is mostly accepted and celebrated. But a few times I was booked to perform in the American South, and those were always the most memorable shows, because of the conversations I would get into with creationists afterwards. Some of them told me “I don’t believe in evolution, but that sure was a fascinating show!” This sparked in me the desire to learn: what makes a person reject evolution? What is the true source of this conflict? And what’s the best way to break through the barriers to understanding and acceptance?
In “The Origin of Species”, Charles Darwin writes “Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable, will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction, for only thus will the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed, be removed.” These are my marching orders. I want to make a difference, to “do good service,” so I’m going to the places with the greatest antievolution prejudice to “conscientiously express my conviction.”
I will also entertainingly, seductively, hilariously and unflinchingly express my conviction, and that’s how I hope to remove the prejudice, and spread the love of science and learning that inspires and motivates me. I hope “Darwin’s America” can help answer some of my questions, and kindle a new evolutionary curiosity in Americans. If only a few people evolve their worldview as a result, it will be enough.”
- Baba Brinkman, “Darwin’s America”