We have grown accustomed to rapid progress. A product — let’s call it the Kumquat Phone 27G — is barely out of the box when its software needs updating.  

People doubt science in times of rapid progress, partly because the word “science” gets tossed about so loosely. Scholarly reports just happen to support the health benefits of the major donors’ product. Real science has always had its detractors. Through the miracle of newsprint we take you now to ancient times. No, not ancient Athens, Rome or Tulsa, but to earlier civilizations, where scientific progress is just beginning.

Glurg: “Eureka!”

Zuk: “You don’t smell so good yourself!”

Glurg: “I was saying that I found it! I have invented a stick that allows me to throw another, pointier stick a much greater distance than with just my arm.”

Zuk: “That’s crazy talk. If you throw the pointy stick with all your might, that’s as hard as you can throw it. It stands to reason.” 

Glurg: “The throwing stick has a notch at the end for the pointy stick. It’s like my arm being twice as long.” 

Zuk: “OK, let’s see you do it.”

(Glurg puts the sharp stick in the notch of the throwing stick. He reaches back with his throwing arm, takes a step forward with the opposite leg, and throws with all his might. The pointy stick goes much farther than even Zuk, who’s very strong, has ever thrown it.)

Glurg: “Amazing, isn’t it? I called this principle ‘leverage’ and the drawing stick is an ‘atlatl.’ You give it a try, Zuk. I’ve got an extra pointy stick.“

Zuk: “Sure thing.”

(Zuk takes the atlatl and the second pointy stick, but fails to connect the stick to the atlatl’s notch. The pointy stick falls straight down, impaling Zuk’s foot. Zuk yells many coarse phrases, unfit to print in a family newspaper. Here is the part that can be printed.)

Zuk: “This thing is defective! You never do anything practical! Alphonse and I have to do all the hunting and gathering, while you work on your stupid projects in your stupid little cave …”

Glurg: “That’s my laboratory! Don’t be so unevolved.” 

Zuk: “Unevolved? You’ve still got a tail.”

Glurg: “They’re coming back. You’re such a moron.” 

Zuk: “We’re all morons! It’s our tribe’s name!” (He breaks the atlatl across his knee, pulls the pointy stick from his foot and throws it at Glorg, ending the discussion and setting the discovery of the atlatl back by 1,200 years.)

louie@hmbreview.com notes that an atlatl is similar to a ‘Chuck-It’ dog ball throwing stick. Zuk was eaten the next day, not having an atlatl when a saber tooth cat leapt at him. On Twitter: @louiecastoria

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