Re: pseudoscience and fossils

Phil Nicholls (
14 Jan 1995 04:24:46 GMT

In article <3f6g2b$>,
Scott H Mullins <> wrote:
>In article <3f5t1d$> (Phil Nicholls) writes:
>>In article <3f3pmg$>,
>>Scott H Mullins <> wrote:
>>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.
>I may well be guilty of being out of touch with anthropological
>fanatics, but I don't see anything like the same result from
>the aah _yet_. I know you're familiar with the V'ist crowd
>over on t.o so you might be able to understand the point I'm
>trying to make (even if I'm wrong).

I have found one or two who are verging it, though I don't want
to name names. The worst one no longer partipates. What I
personally find annoying is individuals who read _Scars of
Evolution_ suddenly becomming experts on mammalian physiology.
I can't tell you how easy it was to dig up that information on
sweating. It took me a single afternoon. I took Wheeler's
articles and looked through the bibliographies.

>Perhaps I should point out that I am spectacularly unconvinced
>by the aah, as I am with most biological "just-so" stories.
>However, I reached that opinion mostly through your (Phil Nicholls)
>factual critiques of the aah (the recent sweat gland post was
>especially good), not through mud-slinging and guilt-by-association
>rhetorical ploys. I can't view Mr. Bigelow's post to which I
>responded in any other light. Such attacks, as contrasted with
>Mr. Bigelow's more recent tool-use post (ungentle though it is),
>only benefit the proponents of the aah.

There is actually very little mud-slinging on this newsgroup,
to the point that bringing it up when it slips out makes it
worse. Unless you are personally wronged it is best to let
the offended person respond.

>>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 like fish NOT because they
>>have an opportunity to eat fish that other primates lack
>>(thought I know of several species that do eat seafoods) but
>>because of their aquatic ancestry.
>I agree that there could be an element of politics involved
>in the support for the aah.

I'm not talking about politics at all. I am talking about
ingrained notions about nature vs nuture.

>>Ardrey never developed much of a following and until recently
>>neither had Morgan. Then again, Ardrey didn't have internet.
>IMO it is unproductive to fight political intrusions into
>science with political counter-attacks. If a hypothesis is
>wrong or misguided it is not because of its political or
>social ramifications.

I am not talking politics. I am making a comparison with another
popular work about human evolution.

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