Re: Are we "special"?

Paul Crowley (
Mon, 02 Dec 96 19:39:40 GMT

In article <01bbe064$0bf86440$LocalHost@dan-pc> "Rohinton Collins" writes:

> Paul Crowley <> wrote in article
> > The following is NOT a subjective question:
> > "Is H.s.s. so unusual that it stands outside the normal range
> > of species to the extent that aspects of its evolution require
> > explanations of a unique character?"
> It is a non-sensical question however.

You are not worth replying to, Roh, because you mistake
assertions for arguments. You have not learnt how to give
reasons to back up what you want to say. For example, why
is the above question non-sensical? It is not good enough
simply to assert. Try to show that it contains an error in
logic or fact.

> A feature of hominids may be a *relatively* complex CNS, but this
> does not make us *special*. This word has no place in scientific
> argument or this newsgroup.

Why? Is this assertion based on some superstition?

> Is a dog *special* because its sense of smell is 400 times (or
> whatever) more discerning than our own? Is an eagle *special*
> because it can detect movement at several hundred metres? Is an
> owl *special* because it can see in almost complete darkness?

We are able to explain the evolution of a dog's sense of smell,
or an eagle's or an owl's eyesight. We can dissect the organs,
study them in detail and compare then with other similar species.
We have no difficulty about outlining the probable evolution of
the organ and its probable causes.

OTOH, we gain little by dissecting our CNS or by making any
other physical study; there is not much point in comparing it
with other species; we have not begun to outline its probable
evolution or the reasons for that evolution.

> Just because we have a relatively complex CNS, this makes us no
> more special than the next species.

It's more than "a relatively complex CNS". The dog's nose or the
eagle's eyes don't facilitate this internet thingy -- or anything
*remotely* of that dimension. You are clearly determined to keep
your own CNS deeply buried in the sand. Try asking some ordinary
people: "Do humans have anything special that distinguishes them
from all other animals?". Expect some funny looks, and don't push
it, or you'll be prescribed mood-altering pills.

Scientists must begin to worry when they find that some doctrine
or philosophical belief or tradition has detached them from what
is understood as plain common sense or from any real connection
with the rest of the community on an important issue.

Let's try some focussed Yes/No questions:
1) Do you accept that selection operated in the CNS over
millions of years on millions of mutations to produce the
distinctive H.s.s. characteristics?

2) Do you accept that no account of human evolution can begin to
be satisfactory unless it addresses the process and cause of
these mutations?