Follow-up - July 2009

Contest Results

Why is it taking so long to pick a winner?

As we told you in our last newsletter, Discover magazine sponsored a contest to find the best video that explains the theory of evolution in two minutes or less. Appropriately, the contest began on April 1 (Darwin Day ). It was scheduled to end at noon on June 1, but the deadline was extended. The deadline is now closed, but the five finalists have not yet been announced.

There isnít any prize for winning (other than bragging rights), so it doesnít really matter who wins. We entered the contest just for fun. Our video presented the theory of evolution in all its foolishness, knowing it would be totally unacceptable, and would not make it into the top five. We have been waiting for our notification of loss for six weeks, now.

We canít help but wonder why it is taking so long for Discover to announce the results. Could it be that there were so many excellent entries they are having difficulty choosing? We doubt it.

Editors of a science magazine should have someone on-staff who knows enough computer science to know about the ďinsertion sort.Ē Using that method, they could easily have decided the best five entries by June 2.

It isnít necessary to wait until the contest is over to start judging. If you are playing cards, you donít have to wait until the dealer finishes before you pick up your hand and start sorting the cards. You can pick up each card as dealt and insert it in the proper place in your hand. Discover could have ranked each video as it was received.

Furthermore, after many entries have been received, the top five entries should all be pretty good, so a new entry isnít likely to be better than the fifth best. Therefore, a new entry can often be discarded after a single comparison with the fifth best entry.

This isnít the first two-minute video contest Discover magazine has sponsored. They previously held a contest to find the best two-minute video predicting the future of energy. The five finalists in that contest were submitted by students who really didnít know anything about energy, but made slick presentations based on propaganda they had heard in school or on television. Seriously! What high school student really knows enough about nuclear fusion to evaluate its potential compared to solar power? The fact that there are students who think they know that much is frightening!

We were really looking forward to seeing what uninformed people think they know about evolution. We really expected all five finalists to be embarrassingly naÔve. Thatís probably why Discover magazine has delayed showing them.

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