Is the human mind like a skunk butt?

Why Evolution Is True

In a Philadelpha Inquirer piece on whether Catholics really accept the scientific notion of evolution, columnist Faye Flam interviewed me about the supposed evolutionary “specialness” of humans:

Many biologists are not religious, and few see any evidence that the human mind is any less a product of evolution than anything else, said Chicago’s Coyne. Other animals have traits that set them apart, he said. A skunk has a special ability to squirt a caustic-smelling chemical from its anal glands.

Our special thing, in contrast, is intelligence, he said, and it came about through the same mechanism as the skunk’s odoriferous defense.

I wasn’t really trying to be provocative here: I did have a pet skunk for several years, and it was the first thing that came to mind.  But as soon as I said this, I knew that comparing the human mind to a skunk butt would tick people off.

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