Richard Dawkins – one of the world’s most influential evolutionary biologists and authors – probably often finds that his posts on social media, notably, Twitter, often inspire a different kind of discussion than the ones he’s used to having.
Dawkins was formerly a professor at the University of Oxford, and is a well known public figure. He’s courted controversy in the past for his views on religion, particularly as he’s an outspoken atheist, and has devoted much of his professional life towards promoting scientific thought and scientific reason. He joined Twitter in late 2013, and has since been a figurehead on the platform, particularly as many of his musings have attracted public criticism, with over 2.9 million followers.
Earlier this week, he posted a bizarre question on his Twitter.
In it, he asked,
'“If lions were discovered weaving antelope-catching nets ten lion-lengths wide, it would be headline news.“
Yet spiders weave intricate insect-catching nets hugely bigger than themselves, and we treat it as commonplace. What’s the difference?”
“Spider webs seem remarkable because they involve externally visible behaviour.
“But is web-weaving really any more remarkable than the unseen weaving of cells in embryology?
“Web-weaving is Extended Phenotype embryology: just another amazing route by which DNA weaves phenotypes.”
It’s not entirely clear where this thought came from – or even if he was looking for genuine answers. But it did lead to a lively discussion on Twitter.
Some people tried to answer it seriously.
Of course, it’s not the most controversial thing that he’s tweeted – or even the funniest.