Re: AAT Theory

H. M. Hubey (
6 Oct 1995 01:40:36 -0400 (David L Burkhead ) writes:

> Assigning a number does not make it any more valid than any of
>your other claims. You can _assign_ any number you want. It's,
>essentially, meaningless.

It's not meaningless. AT least we can stop arguing whether an
animal is "pawing", "grasping", "manipulating", "tool-making"
blah blah blah..

> This may come as a shock to you, but science is _not_ determined
>by "majority rule." Voting is a worthless method for determining
>scientific issues.

It may come as a shock to you, but it's exactly in such half-scientific
or pre-scientific fields such as yours that voting does make a
difference, and makes it more scientific. Have you heard of fuzzy
logic and some of its uses, and what it was originally intended
for by L. Zadeh. Here's a simple problem some people who've never
gone beyond can't comprehend; What's a fruit?

Some people think giving a latin name to someting makes it
science. The problems occur when we try to define such every
day words. One of the ways in which these problems (of definition
and the ensuing verbiage fights) is simply to get people to assign
numbers to them. If that doesn't work, one can simply be asked to
provide a definition via examples. Suppose we ask subjects to
define "fruit" by asking the "degree of fruitness" of various
fruits. We might get results like this".

Apple 10
pear 9
melon 6

So it is by voting. Language is defined just in such a way, and
it's only when people start to argue about meanings of words
without even being aware of it and even start to think that they
are doing science or arguing something really scientific does
it become obvious that they are arguing about words when such
simple techniques are used.

HOw long did I read this group watching people argue about
what "aquatic" means. Is it "wading"? Is it swimming? or
ducking or diving. How about hopping on one foot in water?
How about if you stand up to your chest instead of your mouth?
And what if it's higher than your mouth, and only eyes
protrude most of the time? How much is "most"?
blah blah...

> Size cannot be an issue, since wolves _do_ bring down full grown
>elk and caribou--both of which are larger than a human.

Size is certainly an issue since I'd doubt that they'd attack
elephants; even lions won't.

It's probably getting used to hunting the animal that's more

> Also, animals wolves _are_ known to take (such as domestic
>livestock) are animals that they would not be "used to hunting" when
>introduced into an area, yet they are quickly added to lupine diets.

They look like steak :-)..

>predators, but then so is a lone, unarmed chimpanzee. But in groups,
>with weapons available (even if those weapons are only sticks and
>rocks) the situation changes drastically. Predators _don't_ mess with
>chimpanzee groupings any more than they mess with human groupings

There's an easy way to test this.

I'll give you and your like-minded colleagues all the sticks you
want if you are willing to spend one year out in the wild
plains with the lion prides, and hyena packs without modern


Regards, Mark