Re: Are we "special"?

Noel Dickover (
Mon, 9 Dec 1996 10:04:13 -0500

In article <>, says...

> Humans as a species are no more unique than any other
> defined species. Nor are humans any less unique than any other
> defined species. And within our own primate clade, humans are
> much more similar to chimpazees than are humming birds to ostriches.

OK, how about this for an analysis of "special". To my knowledge, H.S.S.
is the only living species (excepting for the possibility of some whale
species) whose primary survival mechanism is a flexible, changing
language and social structure. This has allowed H.S.S. to adapt to more
varied types of environments and habitats than any other species. This
evolutionary survival mechanism has more recently led to the development
of what we call societies, involving new forms or transportation and new,
evolving, patterns of communication.

Whole (somewhat) scientific fields of study have been developed to look
at these phenomena.

> It amazes me how so many people are unable to distinguish their
> religious views (or, alternatively, philosophies) from
> any conclusions that must be derived from the scientific method.
> <pb>

Whether you care to believe this or not, science is a philosophy.
Nothing more, nothing less. You can never really know anything outside
of your internal reality. You will never see anything outside of the
images formed in your head, which are severely filtered through your
senses. It is "scientifically proven" that well over 90% of what you
"see" is internally constructed. Science is a socially constructed
philosophy, embedded in language, that has specific methods for
collecting and analyzing data about the outside world. Data is then
subjectively interpreted in a socially agreed upon format to produce
repeatable knowlege. It is in no way an objective, philosophy free

Usually, there is difficulty in seeing this when looking at the "hard"
sciences like physics in chemistry, but I would think this would be more
apparent in this newsgroup. All you are doing is creating stories based
on known findings, and then testing these stories over time. This, of
course guides the type of observations and the type and methodology for
producing repeatable fieldwork.

I think its a far cry to say that because someone would like to
critically examine a question like "what makes us special", this means
they are a religious nut (Just for the record, I'm not a Christian or any
other type of organized religios group). There are types of useful
knowledge other than scientifically proven knowledge. I think most of
what anthropology and paleontology does falls into this category. As
does my main field, Cybernetics.


Noel Dickover