re: fossils and pseudoscience

Phil Nicholls (
18 Jan 1995 13:37:44 GMT

In article <3ffg17$> (Pat Dooley) writes:

>>> 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.
>>I see. So those experts that agree with you are obviously
>>more qualified than those experts who disagree with you.
>>This sort of "dueling experts" is typical of pseudoscience and
>>those who try to defend it.
> One was merely making the point that the AAT actually has
> some respectable scientists supporting it and others willing to
> give it air-time until more evidence comes in.

And the part about there being better qualified than any
anthropologist was "merely making" what point exactly?

I can give you one other name if you like. Willian Calvin, a
neurobiologist at the University of Washington, mentions the
AAH in a favorable way in his book _The River That Flows
Uphill_. The point is "so what?" Dean Kenyon, a biology
professor at San Francisco State University, has written a
book supporting scientific creationism. Duane Gish, head of
the Institute of Creation Research, is a biochemist.

Now I do not claim that the AAH is as "out there" as
creationism or Velikovsky. I do want to call attention to the
use of similar tactics and arguments so you can AVOID them if
you are serious about presenting the AAH as a scientific

>>There is no such thing as the savanna theory.
> So all this stuff about early hominds leaving the forests and
> growing bipedal on the plains doesn't deserve a simple label?

Well, you could call it storytelling or "scenerio building" if
you would like. Hominids did leave the forest and occupy the
savanna. That's not a theory, it's a fact. There are several
hypotheses about how bipedalism or hairlessness might be
adaptive on a savanna but there are also several hypotheses
about how they might have developed in the forest. Many are
untestable. Wheeler is testing his, which is why he gets much
more attention. The point is there is no "savanna theory."

>>Ardrey's work was no more respected by anthropologists than
>>Morgan's is now, perhaps less so. It's affect on the "public
>>mind" is unimportant because scientific issues are not
>>resolved by popular vote.
> The issues aren't; the funding may be; and what gets researched
> often has more to do with security of tenure than pure science.

And this conclusion is based on ....?

Again, you echo arguments made by creationists.

> Still, I just glanced through Leakey and Johanson's popular
> books and they discuss the idea that we are descended from
> hunting apes with a strong (male) urge to hunt.

I think this is your problem. If you are really interested in
human evolution you have to do more than just "glace" through
popular works.

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Philip "Chris" Nicholls Department of Anthropology
Institute for Hydrohominoid Studies SUNY Albany
University of Ediacara
"Semper Alouatta"