MSNBC loves to promote the view that humans evolved from anthropoid ancestors (see here or here for a couple examples). Now MSNBC has created an online exhibit (and accompanying article) entitled “Before and After Humans” that not only promotes standard views of humans evolution, but also supports transhumanism: the view that humans will evolve into a new, higher species. MSNBC’s “possible futur[e]” for the human species goes something like this: Within one million years, global gene mixing eliminates the races and the “Unihumans” develop a global “monoculture.” That sounds reasonable enough. Next some global catastrophe kills off large portions of humanity, and the “Survivalistians” must adapt to extreme conditions, evolving “night-vision” and “radiation-shielding skin.” If that sounds a little weird, wait until our next stage of evolution. 2 million years from now, humans turn into Dr. Strangelove-like beings who genetically engineer new “mini-species” of humans. This results in war between the “naturals” and the “Numans.” At 3 million years, the Matrix apparently becomes reality, where we become “Cyborgs” and compete with our robotic creations in an evolutionary fight for survival. The organic beings must win, because at 4-million years, the “Cyborgs” evolve into “Astrans,” who bear a strangely close resemblance to Coneheads, but with ears like a Vulcan (see the picture at right). The “Astrans” supposedly travel the stars to impregnate the universe with our “Astran” way of life. Yes, that’s right: Dan Aykroyd’s famous (and funny) Saturday Night Live “Coneheads” sketch apparently predicted the pinnacle of human evolution.
It’s tough to tell if this exhibit is stealing pages from Star Trek, a New Age / transhumanism manifesto, or an evolutionary anthropologist’s armchair speculation. One thing is for sure, MSNBC didn’t get its ideas from Saturday Night Live, because there is no evidence that any of this is to be taken as a joke. Given recent admissions from paleoanthropologists that we know very little about how humans evolved from ape-like species (for example, see here and here), it does not seem unreasonable to regard the claim that humans evolved from ape-like species to be a bit of unwarranted speculation. But MSNBC’s foray into New Age and Transhumanist philosophy in the “Before and After Humans” exhibit is pure science fiction. I love science-fiction, so if you take the “Before and After Humans” exhibit as such, it’s all good fun. But this is being promoted with a half-serious tone on one of the internet’s largest news websites. Perhaps MSNBC’s editors could benefit from watching a few SNL reruns.