Re: AAT Theory

Alex Duncan (
5 Oct 1995 22:58:50 GMT

In article <450jm9$> Thomas Clarke, writes:

>> >> If you are unaware of other explanations, then my working assumption must
>> >> be that you've never actually read anything in the paleoanthropological
>> >> literature. You should strap a sign to your back that says "ignorant."
>I can't figure out who's who in the above riposte, but it is an
>example of a problem I see a lot on s.a.p. One person (an amateur?)
>is arguing in a literary mode, saying things like "there's only one" as a
>shorthand for "the AAT is in my belief the only theory that offers a
>satisfactory explanation". Then the responsder (a professional?) takes
>the words literally, "there IS only ONE", and is so incensed that
>an inadvertant ad hominem results.

The ad hominem was not inadvertant.

>Maybe there is no way to bridge this apparent gap between Snow's two
>cultures, but do try to remember that s.a.p is not a peer reveiwed
>journal nor is it a literary magazine.
>> Have you read Darwin, Dart, Jolly, Tuttle, McHenry, Zihlman, Hunt,
>> Wheeler, etc. etc.? ... For you to qualify this
>> material (which you obviously haven't read) as "vague mutterings" is
>> ridiculous and ignorant.
>Another example of the literary/scientific style clash.

Are you suggesting that ignorance should be excused?

>> Ms. Morgan's ideas have been frequently compared to creationism.

Noting the fact that AAT has been compared to creationism is a cheap
shot? I assure you it has, and not just by me.

>> it appears that most
>> of Ms. Morgan's supporters in this newsgroup may have read one or two of
>> her works, and have not read anything by mainstream anthropologists (and,
>> in fact, seem to know next to nothing about basic mammalian anatomy and
>> physiology).
>More literary/scientist style clashing.

I don't understand the so-called clash you're referring to here. I
expect that if people are going to get on this newsgroup and argue about
something, they will be well informed. Mr. Crowley obviously is not
well-informed, but nonetheless makes incorrect and arrogant statements
and presents them as fact.

>I really do not understand the aquaphobia of the professionals.
>If Morgan's literary style so anathema to them, that they must eschew
>any possibility that water played a role in hominid evolution in
>order to avoid all possible reference to Morgan's literary works?

Some of the best writing in the world (IMO) is science that has been
"watered down" for the layman reader. It is there that professionals are
forced to express their arguments most clearly and concisely. I haven't
read Ms. Morgan in many years, so I can't speak to her style, but her
hypotheses are not validated by observations of modern mammals or the
fossil record.

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086