The Devolutionary Oath is revealed in Devo's 1976 film, In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution. It is now known as the text:
- wear gaudy colors or avoid display
- lay a million eggs or give birth to one
- the fittest shall survive yet the unfit may live
- be like your ancestors or be different
- we must repeat!
Numbers one through four are taken from a chapter of Dr. B.H. Shadduck's sarcastic 1924 anti-evolution tract, Jocko-Homo Heavenbound titled: "TRICK RULES". These rules were intended to mock what Shadduck saw as the arbitrary nature of the laws of evolution.
- I. Be like your ancestors or be different.
- II. The fittest shall survive and the unfit may live.
- III. Grow big or stay little; either will help you survive or not.
- IV. That your family may survive, lay a million eggs or give birth to one.
- V. Unused organs shall disappear or persist.
- VI. Rudimentary organs are what you have had or what you will have.
- VII. Win a mate by combat or not; it will help the family survive, or not.
- VIII. Polygamy will help survival, unless you prefer to mate in pairs.
- IX. Fight your neighbors or unite with them; one way or the other will help.
- X. Wear gaudy clothes or avoid display, so shall your family survive.
- XI. Develop legs, wings, tail, horns, shells or not; they will help, or not.
- XII. Remember, it's a THEORY. Don't let any man see you MAKING wings out of warts or Adams out of apes.
The Oath has made multi-media appearances including Devo films, lyrics, packaging, and on the Club Devo membership card.
- The fifth rule, "We must repeat", refers to Devo's genetic imperative to spread the truth about De-evolution. It is included as the repeated refrain from the song Jocko Homo, which echoes Shadduck's cynicism.
- The third and first rules are the opening lines from the song Wiggly World - "They say the fittest shall survive Yet the unfit may live Let 'em wear gaudy colors Or avoid display".
- The members of DEVO recite the Devolutionary Oath after the "Secret Agent Man" sequence in the home video "The Men Who Make the Music", which was made in 1979 and released by Warner Bros. in 1981.
- The Oath appeared on various printed material, including the label of the CD release of "Dev-O Live" and in the "Total DEVO" release.
- ↑ B.H. Shadduck. . [bhshadduck.tripod.com/]. http://bhshadduck.tripod.com/index/id10.html. Retrieved 2008-01-26.