Re: pseudoscience and fossils

Pat Dooley (
15 Jan 1995 21:03:21 -0500

>I think the original point had to do with general trends in
>pseudoscience and while the details of each case are similar
>the end result is the same. You end up with lots of followers
>with a fanatically devotion to their theory. In the case of
>V., that devotion extended to the author as well.

Morgan has received a sympathetic hearing from a few
scientists, such as Desmond Morris. The theory was
originally proposed by a very well respected and qualified
zoologist, Sir Alister Hardy. He wasn't an anthropologist,
of course, but that makes him better qualified to judge
some aspects of the AAH than any anthropologist.

>If I had to pick a parallel, it would be with Robert Ardrey.
>Ardrey also was not a biologist or anthropologist but had
>written a number of plays and was therefore a "keen observer
>of human behavior. He based his "killer ape" ideas on
>some of Raymond Dart's speculations about tool use in early
>Australopithecines. His thesis was a rather typical essay
>in biological determinism -- humans are killers by nature
>because we evolved from "killer apes."

Ardrey's work established the savannah theory in the public's
mind and it became the standard assumption of the professionals.

>There is a good deal of biological determinism in the aah
>also. Human cultures that drive their living from the sea
>have women who can swim and dive with great skill NOT because
>they are trained to do this from an early age but because
>they evolved from aquatic apes and are able to put old
>genetic baggage to use.

Humans cannot do what they are not equipped to do, no matter
how well they train. No human can run faster than a gazelle.
No human can fly, unassisted. No human can crush large
animal bones in their jaws.

The basic engineering limitations apply to other species.
No Bonobo is ever going to be able to dive to 80 feet and
hold its breath for 3 minutes. No Bonobo is ever going to run
a four minute mile on two legs.

You are quite happily attribute the latter comparison to
the evolution of efficient bipedalism but you simply
won't deal with the former comparison. It is no use
attributing one to training and the other to evolution;
it won't wash.

So far your side has not presented a single satisfactory
reason why humans physiology and anatomy equip them
to perform aquatic feats quite beyond those achievable
by any other primate.

<< deletion>>

>Ardrey never developed much of a following and until recently
>neither had Morgan. Then again, Ardrey didn't have internet.

Ardrey was quite popular in his time, as was/is Desmond Morris.
I suspect you overstimate the reach of the Internet. There are,
perhaps, a dozen people participating in this debate and
maybe a hundred more reading this newsgoup.

Pat Dooley