Re: Morgan and creationists

Phillip Bigelow (
Tue, 02 Jul 1996 17:03:56 -0700

> Phillip Bigelow ( wrote:
> : HARRY R. ERWIN wrote:
> : > The following null hypothesis is
> : > probably testable:
> : >
> : > "The lineage leading to H. sapiens experienced a phase extending over
> : > three chronospecies during which it was adapted to aquatic foraging
> : > behavior."

> Please read two words I wrote: "null hypothesis." A null hypothesis is a
> probably false statement relevant to the question at hand.

I didn't ignore those words when I formed my response. Indeed, they are
the very foundation of going further with the test.

>Figuring out
> how to falsify it and then conducting the experiment is the essence of
> science. An aquatic foraging phase of 2-5 MYrs (which is what I'm talking
> about) is probably long enough that skeletal adaptations can be found and
> preferred biomes assessed.

Provided that a rigorous definition of "foraging behavior" is formed. So
far, NO rigorous definition, accepted by both the scientific community
(and especially, the AAT supporters as well), exists. Harry, for
christs sake; one has to have the game *rules* down on paper before one
tries to play the game! :-)

> Shorter than 1-2 MYr can't be ruled out because
> you can then have behavioral adaptation without noticeable skeletal
> changes.

No, it certainly IS ruled out (at least within the realm of science),
because morphologic changes must be part of the test. Elaine Morgan,
herself, claims that morphological change occurred (to bipedalism), but,
as has been repeatedly pointed out here, such a morphology-relationship
is ambiguous when it relates to aquatic niches.

> : It may be testable if the following criteria are met:
> : 1) That a *rigorous* zoological/ecological definition for "aquatic
> : foraging" amongst animals (in general) is proposed and is accepted by the
> : scientific community.

> Food found below the surface of the water. Not in the intertidal zone.

That is the ecology of the *food*. It says NOTHING at all about the
so-called "foraging behavior" that you claim is testable. Exactly WHAT
type of "foraging behavior" are researchers supposed to test for in the
fossil record? For further clarification of this big stumbling-block,
see my other comments, above.

> : 2) That a set of unambiguous character traits, found *only* in undisputed
> : aquatic-foragers is defined. And after the predicted aquatic traits are
> : defined in the hypothesis, THEY ARE HELD TO (in other words, no
> : back-tracking should be allowed).

> Sensory systems adapted to working below the air/water interface.
> Swimming.

What sensory systems? Echo-location? Or something more subtile (read,
"more ambiguous").

As far as the ability to swim is concerned, nearly all mammals have such
ability. Again, this constitutes fuzzy evidence, and will draw the
researchers into ambiguous conclusions. The end result, of course, is
that nothing was successfully "tested".
I must reiterate that I am not claiming that your original thesis isn't
testable; rather, I am claiming that the criteria that you use as the
ground-rules of the test are not rigorous enough to make the test

> : 3) That such predicted unambiguous "aquatic-foraging" character traits
> : (relating to said behavior) are potentially fossilizable.

> That's why you need a period long enough that behavior is supplemented by
> physical character changes.

Irrelevant. Such "apologizing for the hypothesis" is not part of the
process of testability. Who cares how long someone dreams that this
"aquatic" phase lasted? Really...who cares? All that matters is that
there is unambiguous "aquatic foraging" fossil *evidence* available. The
actual rate of such evolution isn't considered a part of the original
test. It is a totally separate problem that can be set aside and answered
(by testing) at another time.