Re: Are we "special"?

Paul Crowley (
Fri, 06 Dec 96 15:45:43 GMT

In article <583uds$> "Bill Burnett" writes:

> >What is your educational background Paul? The reason I ask is because this
> >is a very religious-sounding point of view.
> You're wasting your time, Roh, this has been pointed out to Paul
> previously. He doesn't want to accept the scientific alternative to his
> anthropocentric reasoning, and I doubt he ever will.

What has been pointed out to me previously? What is anthropo-
centric about my reasoning? If you have the slightest pretence
at being scientific you are obliged (a) to give reasons for your
statements and (b) to avoid ad-hominen remarks.

> >We are only the dominant species on the earth from our point of view Paul.
> >Ask the ant or the beetle, or the dolphin or whale who they think is the
> >dominant species (or genera).

I've asked some ants and some beetles but did not get a reply.
What do they tell you? Somehow I don't believe that dophins
or whales have thought this matter through. But I'm sure
you'd say I was being speciesist. Is it still legal?

> Note Paul's use of inverted commas around "special". Replace "special"
> with most complex/advanced/most highly evolved (what anthropocentrists
> really mean) and you're back in an argument from a year ago.

The quote marks came from Phillip Bigelow who used it quite
rightly, as all species are special by definition; we're using
it in a particular sense, which I have explained: "Is H.s.s.
off the scale in relation to other species?" or "Has H.s.s. such
remarkable features that its evolution requires a type
explanation of a different nature from other species?"

> One of the pitfalls of talking to Paul is that you don't necessarily get
> the answers you *want*. *Wanting* something to be true has very little
> bearing on reality. The answer to this question will therefore be "no".

Science is about explaining nature. Paleoanthropology has been
a dismal failure up to now. One reason could be that it has
made invalid assumptions; and one of those could be that H.s.s.
is much like any other species. The possibility that the
evolution of _intelligent_ life is _astronomically_ unlikely
should at least be considered. It is a scientific proposition
and just saying "it's not science" or "I don't like it" or
degenerating into ad hominen abuse is not a rational way to deal
with the difficult issues involved.

What is the problem with you guys? Are you so under attack
from the Creationists, or so unsure of yourself, that you
cannot handle anything that is not clearly and unambiguously
in a Reductionist mould? Actually what makes it worse is
that you both have UK addresses; I might understand it if
you were Yanks. Perhaps you are.