Re: What does AAT mean?

Troy Kelley (
Wed, 28 Dec 1994 17:32:11 GMT

Subject: Re: What does AAT mean?
From: Phil Nicholls,
Date: 28 Dec 1994 13:44:14 GMT
In article <3drq3e$> Phil Nicholls, writes:

>The anthropological community does not discuss the theory more because
>it is one of the many "pop-science" verging of pseudoscience "theories"

As a psychologist I know all about "pop-science". AAT is not
"pop-science". Here's how I would characterize "pop-science", especially
in the field of psychology. Pop-science is ususally characterized by
people, or non-scientists, putting forth theories that have no formal
training in the field of psychology.

AAT was first proposed by a scientist, albeit not an anthropologist, but
nevertheless he was a respected scientist (biologist) with formal
training in science. Ususally in psychology people will write books about
psychology, without a background in psychology.

Other "pop-science" occurences in psychology are usually in the form of
new complexes. "Peter Pan" complex, "Nepolean" complex, "Cinderalla"
complex. Nothing wrong with this. Everyone is intitled to an opinion.
Even "respected" psychologists can come up with some crazy theories (i.e.
Freud). Either these theories make it into mainstream psychology, or they

But really "pop-science" means "popular science" or science that has
been made available to the masses. I see nothing wrong with this.
Stephen Hawkins and Carl Sagan both have made a career out of bringing
simplified science to the masses.

1) AAT is not popular. Very few people, especially average non-scientific
people, have ever heard of it.

2) I suggest everyone pick up "Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction" which is
essentially a conference proceeding publication by SCIENTISTS who discuss
the pro's and the con's of AAT.
You would not find a conference of psychologists discussing the "Peter
Pan" complex, at least I have not heard of any.

>You see, part of the problem with the AA "theory" (aside from the
>fact that it isn't really a theory at all) is that like all pop-science
>and pseudoscience explanations it offers a "quick fix" to questions
>that have very complex solutions. Why bother reading a 400+ page text
>on human evolution when you can get the TRUTH from a slim, poorly
>referenced paperback (I refer to Morgan's _Scars of Evolution_, which
>I have now acquired and read).
>Yes, there are differences between humans and the great apes. There
>are actually more of these differences than the AAH can explain, many
>more. However, we didn't evolve from the living African apes. We
>share a common ancestor and one thing that happens when a lineage
>splits is that the species diverge. It's called divergent evolution.
>It is not necessary to explain all of the differences or even most of
>them as following from a single adaptation because that again is not
>how evolution works.
>Consistent with the way proponents of "pop-science" and pseudoscience
>work is the claim that it is bias in the scientific community that
>prevents their idea from being accepted. The way new ideas get
>accepted in science is for individuals to propose them and defend
>them from criticism -- not in the popular press, but in the places
>where scientific debate is engaged.

Again, Phil, pick up "Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction". This is EXACTLY what
happened in sweeden in the late eighties. Scientists got together for a
scientific debate.

New ideas will be subjected
>to criticism. Troy mentions Dart and this is a good example. Few
>believed Raymond Dart had discovered a homind in South African in
>1925. Two who did, Robert Bloom and J.T. Robinson, combed South
>African and came up with MORE fossils. Dart, Bloom and Robinson
>continued to argue their case and eventually won acceptance.
>The "savannah theory" is a creation of the AAH people. Most theories
>of early human evolution have incorporated the savannah because that
>is the environment in which most early hominid fossils are found.
>Recently, a new fossil has been presented that lived in a woodland
>and as a result we are seeing more people look to the forest as the
>place where bipedalism was perfected.
>You see, people follow the evidence. Maybe not at first, but if you
>have evidence eventually you can force them to consider it. The
>problem with the AAH is that it really doesn't have supporting evidence.

I don't understand why you say AAH has no supporting evidence. If it
didn't have any supporting evidence, why would so many people be
interested in it?

Troy Kelley