Re: Morg/Nich. Seriously, now

Phillip Bigelow (
Sun, 15 Jan 1995 19:43:45 GMT

Phil (Chris) Nicholls writes:
>> The force of your arguments is inversely proportional
>to the expertise of the person reading your book.

Elaine Morgan responds:
>Elegantly phrased but unworthy of you. You persist in
>implying that a positive attitude to AAT can only be the
>result of scientific illiteracy. Westenhofer was an
>eminent professor of anthropology. The other originator
>of the theory, Hardy, ended up with a string of
>academic honours as long as your arm.
It may be unworthy of Chris to raise the issue, but, as has been noted on
this newsgroup before, it is on my level. The problem with
developing a theory or hypothesis in a popular book, rather than in the
scientific press, is that you are writing to the wrong audience. The effect
of this is to throw an idea out to the public (regardless of, and
independent of, the individual reader's expertise), before the hypothesis
has been thoroughly gone over and checked for errors or mis-interpretations
by the scientific community (hence, the value of peer-review). A large
number of your non-professional supporters exclusively quote _you_, when
they are discussing sweating, hairlessness, bipedalism. Therefore, they are
getting a substantial amount of information only from your book. Some also
assume that, because any given book is published, it must be pretty
accurate, otherwise, why would it have been published? ...
Peer-review has flaws of it's own, but it imparts one "filter" to any new
idea that popular books don't impart; that of a skeptical going-over. The
"scientific illiteracy" of some of your readers isn't the issue here. A lack
of a good, sound thrashing by physical anthropologists _prior_ to publication
is the issue.