Science

Sex, Ego, and Birthdays

Quick, what prominent early 18th century figure shocked the pantaloons off polite society by declaring that not only do plants do the nasty, but they enjoy it, too?

Answer: the adorably egotistical biologist Carl Linnaeus, whose zombie corpse turns 300 today. Happy birthday, zombie Carl!

Carl is the delightful fellow who classified the world, declaring that “deus creavit, Linnaeus disposuit” — God creates, Linnaeus arranges. As you can tell from the above plant-nookie reference, he was obsessed with sex in a way that is refreshing when compared to his peers, insisting that every animal on the planet feels sexual urges, and helpfully pointing out that humans are animals. Seriously, how much fun would he have been at parties?

Carl also tried his hand at categorizing human races, an effort which has been exploited by latter day racists since the characteristics he applied to each race tended to be more flattering on the euro-honky end of the spectrum.

He did a lot of other things in his lifetime, but I’ll just mention one more: Carl brought Europeans the humble banana. Why not stop by the fruit stand after work today, and as you peel back the skin on that most phallic of fruits, think of Carl and his oh-so-sexy view of the natural world.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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12 Comments

  1. I think I love you forever for use of the term "euro-honky". Also, I am deeply disappointed that my name, which used to be fairly freakish, is now so common, especially across the pond, and has already been taken here. Damn you/me Joshua damn yooooooouuuuuuu/me!

  2. Let us not forget what Mr. Linnaeus had to say about our amphibian* friends:

    "These foul and loathsome animals are abhorrent because of their cold body, pale color, cartilaginous skeleton, filthy skin, fierce aspect, calculating eye, offensive smell, harsh voice, squalid habitation, and terrible venom; and so their Creator has not exerted his powers to make many of them.

    He may have been carrying quite a banana in his pants, but he was a bigot towards the amphibians*! Please…help stamp out anti-amphibian HATE SPEECH! (Paid for by the Friends of Kermit)

    *Some sources say Linnaeus's remarks were directed towards reptiles and not amphibians…in which case, this message is also brought to you by the Friends of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile*

  3. "Of course, what Rebecca doesn’t mention is that Carl brought the banana back to Europe in his pants."

    And all this time I thought he was just really happy to see me.

    I'm so disillusioned now.

    ~Kelly~

  4. You know, maw, I never really considered the etymology of the phrase "do the nasty." I can tell you my favorite use: Fry from Futurama admitting he slept with his own grandmother while time traveling: "Yep, I did do the nasty in the past-y."

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