Re: AAT Theory

Gerrit Hanenburg (
Mon, 2 Oct 1995 16:50:27 GMT (H. M. Hubey) wrote:

>And of course, the mainstream theories have "testable" rock-solid

>What is proof?

Sigh! I'm getting a bit tired of your sophist approach.
You should know that in empirical science nothing is ever proved.There is
proof in logic and mathematics (reasoning which demonstrates that a certain
proposition follows from the axioms/definitions).In empirical science there
is (if we are lucky) evidence,either falsifying are corroborating.
Evidence in this sense are observable facts/events which confirm/disconfirm
predictions made by a theory.

In this sense a descended larynx is no evidence for an aquatic past and
neither is a large number of eccrine sweat glands.
They are the kind of "evidence" to which Karl Popper points when he
writes:"It is easy to obtain confirmations,or verifications,for nearly
every theory--if we look for confirmations."(Conjectures and

>What part of anthropology is testable?

Charles Darwin "predicted" that the enlarged brain and bipedal walking
evolved in concert:"The gradually increasing weight of the brain and skull
in man must have influenced the development of the supporting spinal
column,more especially whilst he was becoming erect."(Darwin,C.1871,p.146)
His prediction has been thoroughly falsified by the fossil record.
(early hominids were bipedal but had small ape-like brains)

He also "predicted" that the origin of man was in Africa:"It is therefore
probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes closely allied
to the gorilla and chimpanzee;and as these two species are now man's
nearest allies,it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors
lived on the African continent than elsewhere."(Darwin,C.1871,p.199)
So far this prediction has not been falsified but instead there is
corroborating evidence from the fossil record.(the earliest bipedal
hominids are found in Africa)

Reference:Darwin,C._The Descent of Man,and selection in relation to sex._
These are two rather historical examples of testability in anthropology to
show you how easy it is to find instances of testability if you take the
effort to look for them in the literature.(but it seems you don't)

A more recent example is the origin of bipedalism in the open savanna.
In relation to the fossils of A.ramidus,Tattersall (1995,p.233 footnote)
writes:"Perhaps most telling is that the sediments which yielded these
fossils were reportedly laid down in a fairly densely wooded environment;if
this is the case,then these hominids were not necessarily (or even at all)
savanna dwellers.

If it is made clear that A.ramidus was bipedal then this finding may
falsify the idea that the adoption of bipedalism was related to the
expansion of savanna conditions at the expense of forests.

Reference:Tattersall,I._The Fossil Trail_ Oxford Univ.Press,1995.

Gerrit. Signing off.