Re: pseudoscience and fossils

Phil Nicholls (
13 Jan 1995 12:51:57 GMT

In article <3f3pmg$>,
Scott H Mullins <> wrote:

>Not really. I should say, not yet. The AAT hypotheses does not,
>so far as I know, contradict the laws of physics. There are no AAT
>supporters arguing that the whole of modern science must be
>overturned to support some mythological interpretations.
>The real question that I wanted to ask, Mr. Bigelow, was this:
>is it really necessary that you act like such an ass? Really,
>the attempt to paint the AAT with Velikovskian paint is a weak
>and unctuous rhetorical ploy. You're not a lawyer, are you?

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.

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."

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.

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

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