Re: Reply to Jim Moore

J. Moore (
Sat, 5 Aug 95 14:53:00 -0500

El> I sais we seem to have no consensus on which nonhuman mammls weep
El> psychic tears so anecdotes about them can't be evidence. You say "then
El> why did you present it as such in Scars?"

El> The only statements on non-human psychic weeping concern cows and
El> chimps.

*The Scars of Evolution*, pg. 97: "The connection between weeping
to excrete salt and weeping from emotion is not easy to
understand, but it is an ancient one. There are accounts of
copious nasal dripping in seagulls in situations of aggresssive
confrontation, and weeping in sea otters when distressed or
frustrated. The stimulating hormone prolactin, which appears to
be involved in human weeping, is released in response to emotional

Here you see that Morgan, despite her claim to the contrary, did indeed
present statements on the alleged emotional ("psychic") weeping of
nonhuman animals in *The Scars of Evolution*. In fact, even her
statement above, that she mentioned "cows and chimps" in this
regard is untrue -- *The Scars of Evolution* does not have
statements about emotional weeping in either cows or chimps. Once
again Morgan shows herself to be apparently ignorant of the
statements she herself made in her own books -- incredible!

El> You remind me evolution does't have a purpose. You know that I know
El> that. I could rephrase the question: "Why would natural selection favour
El> the ejection of water from the eyes as an accompaniment to sorrow?" You
El> may say it doesn't have to be natural selection..well, we've had that
El> argument.

Yes, and your lack of understanding of evolution would not be an
issue at all if you didn't insist on writing about it and
criticising those whose understanding you could learn from.

El> You say I believe in some genetic drift affecting Momo and some seagulls
El> and sea otters. No, no, no. I believe in convergent evolution: that
El> like causes produce like effects even in totally unrelated species.

For instance the parallel evolution seen in all marine mammals in
response to the problem of excess salt; each group taking the same
sensible route of elaborating the main bodily system used by all
mammals to produce salt and water balance. In cetaceans,
pinnipeds (which apparently evolved from two different land-based
ancestors themselves), and sea otters we see the same method used:
extremely large and heavily lobulated kidneys, in stark contrast
to the not terribly large and smoothly rounded kidneys of humans.

Here we see at least 4 different land-to-sea transitions (the
various whales may also have evolved from 2 different land-based
ancestors, so it may be 5 transitions) in which each time the same
entirely sensible modification of the existing system to handle
the problem. In humans you claim, however, that they didn't
undergo this obvious modification, but instead evolved an entirely
new system to match that of sea birds and marine (and some other)
reptiles. And that humans evolved incredibly salty tears (even
though the tears we have can irritate our eyes; these ancient
tears apparently didn't) then lost that adaptation. Why were
humans the "odd man out" among marine mammals? Why did they alone
go the route of reptiles and birds instead of evolving as their
mammalian heritage would suggest? (Cautionary note: a basic
understanding of evolution, not apparent in your recent posts,
would be helpful in answering these questions.)

El> You ask if I think our aquatic ancestors commonly dove from a few
El> hundred feet up. No. The image in my own mind is of swimming forward
El> underwater, and the water being deflected to either side of the nose,

If that was "the image in [your] own mind", why on earth did you
present a completely different image in your statement: "If they dived
into water from a few hundred feet up as proboscis monkeys do they would
need a bit more protection. And the proboscis has got it." Elaine
Morgan post of 23 July 95)

El> Do the proboscis monkeys dive head first? This was hard to check.
El> Verbal accounts don't specify. I finally found a blurred photograph of
El> one leaving the trees and you are quite right. Feet first. You win.

Meaning that their nose shape tends to force water up their
nostrils when they jump into the water (which I've heard is from
"up to 50 feet up" not "a few hundred feet"). Not a very good
adaptation, that is, if it actually was, as you claimed, for
diving. Of course, anyone familiar with evolutionary theory would
see the highly sexual dimorphic nature of the proboscis's nose
(the males having much larger and more bulbous noses) as being
evidence of this feature not being due simply to natural
selection, but rather due to sexual selection (just as with the
differences between the sexes in human body hair). The fact that
it seems to be used, in the male, during their "honking" calls
would make that use more likely as a reason for its being there
than any putative benefit it might give while swimming or diving.
This is especially so when you consider that the crab-eating
macaque, which spends a great deal of its time swimming and diving
doesn't have any such feature.

El> Having compared my "reporting of Dennet's work on salt to hs actual
El> work" you don't trust me. I've met Denton since "Scars" and he didn't
El> feel he'd been misrepresented. Trust? Quite right. Trust nobodY. check
El> everything. Best policy.
El> Elaine

Seeing as in this post, and in several posts before it, I've shown
that you can't even be trusted to provide accurate information about
what's contained in your *own* books, I'll continue to take any of
your statements with more than a grain of salt. As for the fact that
you did misrepresent Denton's work, I'll write up a post on that
subject and post it later.

Jim Moore (

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