Re: Refs, please... was... Re: AAT Theory

David L Burkhead (
9 Oct 1995 19:31:25 GMT

In article <> (H. M. Hubey) writes:
> (David L Burkhead ) writes:
>> No. It doesn't take "time." It takes _data_. Good data, and
>>theories that explain the data well, are generally quickly accepted.
>I guess Quantum Theory wasn't accepted because there wasn't
>enough data????

Quantum theory _was_ accepted. With remarkable speed. It had a
few, very vocal opponents, but in general was swiftly accepted.

The illusion of long waits for acceptance arise from the fact
that QT was developed piecemiel. Einstein wrote his paper on the
photoelectric effect thereby quantifying the photon. DeBroglie
extended the connection between energy and wavelength to things we
normally consider particles sometime later. At yet another date, Bohr
proposed that the angular momentum of an electron in an atom must be
an integral multiple of a constant. At yet some other time, Dirac
proposed that certain "negative energy" states that fell out of the
mass had a physical meaning (predicting the existence of the positron
in the process). At still another time Pauli proposed that two
particles of a type called "fermions" (because they obeyed Fermi-Dirac
statistics) could not have the same quantum state at the same time
(predicting, incidentally, an undiscovered at that time quantum
number--which we have since discovered: spin). At still another time
Schroedinger formulated _his_ basic equation. At still another time
Feynman developed his sum over histories approach and QED. All told
several decades was involved (and the process continues today), but
each step swiftly moved into the "mainstream" because they fit the
data and made testable predictions. The only one that _was_ sluggish
was DeBroglie's contribution--because it was entirely theoretical at
the time (no data required it) and did not make any predictions that
could be tested at the time (although they have since been).

>>In my own field, claims are usually made about the difficulty
>>relativity and quantum theory had in getting accepted. These claims
>>are almost completely wrong.
>I guess you have to ask <name> [I can't remember his name now
>it might have been Planck] why he said something like:
>"It's a mistake to think that.... what usually happens is that
>a younger generation grows up familiar with it and..."
>I'll get the exact quote and author when I get to the office.

So? That somebody said it doesn't make it so. And name dropping
isn't particularly strong support either. Albert Einstein eventually
bowed out of quantum theory because he could not accept the
conclusions of the field he had helped create--but that doesn't mean
it was not quickly accepted in general.

>> That's rubbish too, as I've explained before. Definitions are
>>made by the people who find them useful. These people make sure to
>>clearly outline their definition (when it's different from a standard
>>one), and if others find it useful, they will use it. No "voting" is
>>involved. You can use nearly any definition you _want_ so long as you
>>can explain it clearly.
>WEll, since you find it so easy to keep arguing, I can't stop
>now :-).. Definitions are already there. Check any dictionary.
>The "scientific definitions" sometimes are out of operationalism,
>sometimes forced by people who think that they are necessary and
>sometimes not even clear.

"The definitions are already there?" Ah, but where did those
definitions come from? Do you suppose they were handed down from on
high by an archangel? Nope. They came from people making up sounds
to go with certain meanings and using them.

And "scientific definitions" come from the need to be clear on
what you are talking about. If they are "not even clear" then they
are not scientific definitions. Now, you _may_ have to actually
_know_ something about the subject before they are clear, so I can see
why you would think they are unclear.

>> But since voting in science is meaningless, your "votes" are
>>likewise meaningless. How about coming up with references instead?
>You have missed the point entirely. IT's exactly because they're
>is no agreement that most of the verbal arguments that people
>are having are not coming to any conclusions. One group defends
>the status quo rather vociferously but there is no clear cut
>data/evidence that supports that view, certainly no more than
>the AAT. They keep changing things, and then claim that AAT'ers

The reason there is no agreement is because people keep using
terms with changing definitions without clearly delineating what those
definitions are. It's the AATers who keep changing the definitions.
Just what do you mean by "aquatic" by "ape" and by the compound
"aquatic ape"? We've had swimmers, waders, cliff-divers,
occassionally-visits-the-shore-ers, and I'm expecting
occassionaly-comes-within-sight-of-water-ers. We've had hairlessness
is aquatic trait/hairlessness is not aquatic trait. The same lables
keep being attached to so many different things without explanation
that they are virtually meaningless.

If you want to come up with a well-defined hypothesis, we can
argue it on its merits. If you want to keep changing your hypothesis
to suit the whim of the moment, well, that's your prerogative. But
don't expect anyone in science to take you seriously.

>change things and it disqualifies them but not the SST'ers.
>So it's pointless to ask for references. It's meaningless.

Convenient that. It provides you with a wonderful excuse to
avoid reading the references that are provided, and from providing any
of your own. It elevates your own whimsy to the same level as the
results of a very great deal of hard work and research.

Unfortunately, it's also where you cross the line into
crackpottery. The only thing missing is lots of words in all caps.
(cf: John Baez's "Crackpot index.")

>>Or about about a methodology which defines those numbers. If the
>>numbers are just based on your subjective "gut feeling" then they are
>>no better than the words they replace, and are probably worse since
>>they provide the impression of precision where none actually exists.
>Here we are again. What you call "gut feeling" I called
>skeleton-eye-balling; and another called bone-gazing. All I
>wanted to do was to put the real argument in perspective by
>asking people to give numbers. We can then discuss why one says
>it should be, say 5, and another 6.

"Skeleton-eye-balling"--another term for "gut feeling." Numbers
"assigned" that way are meaningless. They are no better than the
words they replace. Worse, since it produces the illusion of
precision where none exists.

Numbers only have value if they are the result of measurements,
repeatable, objective measurements. That cannot come from "voting"
and it most certainly cannot come from "skeleton-eye-balling." All you
are doing is exchanging one set of words for another set. At most it
can tell people how you rank things relative to one another, but since
you provide no criteria for that ranking it's no more informative
than if you come right out and say "I rate this as higher than that,
but lower than that over there." At least in the latter case you
wouldn't be pretending to a precision you don't have.

>> No, you're just big on deriding scientists period.
>I have great respect for scientists. I hope to be one someday.
>(Some probably think I already am one.) But I am great on
>deriding pompous and obnoxious asses.

Since you consistently refuse to learn anything about the
sciences on which you discourse, I must take this claim with more than
a grain of salt. As for "some probably think I already am one" well,
I suppose there are some folk deluded enough to think you actually
know something about science. I have seen no evidence for it in these

>> Oodles of reasons have been produced for it. You just don't seem
>>to want to listen to them.
>None of them better in any way than the one that's got the
>water in it, and most of them worse.

As I said, you refuse to listen to them. You simply do not know
enough to judge the validity of any of the reasons, as you demonstrate
every time you set fingers to keyboard.

>> A: How cold did it get at night? How cold does it actually get
>>in the savannah?
>It could reach near zero in the desert. It might even reach zero.
>If the "savannah" was "hot and dry" that for sure means that it
>would be colder at night than if it was moist. I've been in
>dry weather in the middle of the summer in which it was impossible
>to stand in sunlight during the day but I had to use a blanket at
>night to stay warm. Under these conditions there must have been
>a particularly good reason to lose the fur. Now if the humanoids
>did not need to lose their fur in the hot and moist forest
>then why would they start to lose it in dry savannah?

Who said anything about "desert"? How cold it gets in the desert
is irrelevant. (And can you provide a reference for that temperature
BTW--Oh, that's right, you don't believe in references). And you're
"gut reaction" about savannah is likely as accurate as all your other
"gut reactions" i.e. not at all.

Oh, and I lived in the desert for a while. I don't recall it
_ever_ getting "near zero." But then, perhaps you're using a
non-standard temperature scale, perhaps one determined by something
analogous to "skeleton eye balling"?

>>together when it _does_ get cold (an established human custom in many
>>cold climes) to conserve/share body heat?
>If you already don't have fur, you can huddle all you want.
>The question is the conditions that led to its loss.

Explained already. You just choose to ignore the explanations.

In this case, however, the statement was not a reason _for_
hairlessness, but a demonstration that your reason _against_ it was invalid.

>> A: Explain why tree-dwellers would have an advantage in the
>>water with their erzatz-Titanic swimming stroke and pathetic wading
>>hydrodynamics. They'd be neither man nor fish. (_Far_ more apropos
>>here than when you used it.)
>Because, once again
>1) It would be easier for them to adopt the erect stand since
>the water would support them. Chimps don't have their hips directly
>underneath them. It's harder for them to stand up erect and their
>muscles would tire sooner. It would be hell for them to carry
>anything bipedally. This would not happen in water.

But chimps _do_ stand erect, and they _do_ carry things. That it
is difficult is a _reason_ to force change (if they start doing it
more regularly). That such problems would not occur in water
_reduces_ the pressure to change. Ergo, an aquatic environment would
harm, rather than help, the development of bipedalism from this case.

>2) It would free their arms to carry things around in water and
>manipulate them.

Standing upright frees their arms to carry things, whether it
happens in the water or on land. Thus, this argument does not offer
any specific support for aquatic development.

>3) The survival value of long legs has been told already.

And has been demonstrated to be wrong already. As I said before,
you might want to learn some fluid dynamics.

>4) The soft flat feet seems ideal for sand walking. Check the
>camel's feet.

Soft, flat feet seems ideal for walking on the savannah. Check
the elephant's foot. Also, since wet sand does not have the same
texture as dry sand, as anybody who'd ever spent any time walking in
either would know, arguments based on desert sands (and, BTW, most
deserts, including the Sahara and Arabian, are _not_ predominately
sand. The Arabian desert is the sandiest desert in the world and only
about 30% of its area is sand--you might try learning some geology.)
have no bearing on beach sands.

>5) It would be easier to defend themselves since their arms
>would be free and the predators would be at a disadvantage.
>The stick swinging would work much better here than in the
>open land.

Ever try to swing a stick at an aquatic predator? It doesn't
work? Ever try to bluff a croc? It doesn't work. Also, in _every_
case of croc attack in the wild I've come across the first warning was
the feel of teeth on one's body. You don't see them coming as you
frequently can land predators.

Also, there are serious water hazards that don't even involve
"predators" as such. Ever been stung by a conch shell? It can kill
you even _with_ modern medicine. How about jellyfish? Sea snake?
Octopus bites? Aquatic toxins tend to be particularly nasty in
humans. If we spent an evolutionarily significant time in the water
why don't we have some kind of defense against them?

>6) There's be no reason to have grasping feet and hence
>no loss of survival value if the grasping toe disappeared.

Nor would there be any reason to have grasping feet if one's
habitat has changed from tree to primarily land. If one's main
operating mode is standing/walking in grassland there's no loss of
survival value (or no more than in an aquatic existance) from loss of
grasping toe.

But all of that is by way of intellectual exercise. None of
these explain why they went into the water in the first place, or how
they survived there. If you are going to ask this kind of "why" for
one side, you should be prepared to answer it for yours. That you
duck the issue (which is no surprise) weakens your already untenable

[ 8< ]

>> B: Who said there were no trees? Are we back to the treeless,
>>waterless savannah strawman that others have tried to bring up?
>Fine. Bring the trees. Bring the significant tree-climbing too.
>They why the long legs and why bipedalism?

Already discussed before. That you ignore the discussion is
typical. If one spends most of ones time on the ground, then there
are advantages to both of these adaptations. And the long legs
developed more recently than any aquatic phase _could_ have happened
so they cannot be a result of an aquatic lifestyle since we did _not_
have them when we came out of the water (if we did, which I don't for
a moment believe).

>>level of bipedalism, therefore there is no advantage to being able to
>>stand more upright (immediately gaining some mechanical advantage),
>OF course it's real. Nobody claims that they beat lions with the
>sticks. Who was it who was claiming threatening gestures and
>screaming? Was it you? Did you or anyone claim that they made
>spears and killed lions? No! Wanna change your mind?

??? I guess you are now down to making up arguments? This bit
has no bearing whatever on the issue which I was addressing.

>>being able to walk longer periods in an upright position (and carrying
>>stick/stone/baby/whatever with them), expending less energy in bipedal
>>locomotion (from a more efficient gate), and being able to spend more
>>time with their head poked above the high savannah grasses to see what
>>might be coming at them?
>They could not have carried things too far nor would they have
>had to if you claim they were in the forest. IF so, then there
>should be no chimps etc. Why would they have to walk far? Are
>you saying that they ran from one tree to another in the
>savannah? And how far did they run to the waterhole? As for
>looking over the tall savannah grasses, one of them would have
>screamed others would have been warned. Unless of course, you
>want to contend that they were smart enough not to scream and
>they used stealth. Even then the advantage of being tall is not
>that great. They could have stood on top of mounds like the
>prairie dogs or they could have climbed trees. After all, in
>your savannah, they'd have to hang around trees so they
>could scamper up to escape predators.

One of them could have screamed? Sure. And if something comes
from a direction that one didn't happen to be looking? I guess you
don't think having more pairs of eyes looking is an advantage. And
standing on tops of mounds is useful if there's a mound where you
happen to be. If there isn't (and there won't be at least some of the
time) then those who can see predators better is an advantage that
leads to more offspring than those who don't see as well. Last time I
was in a military exercise we always wanted _several_ people on
lookout since one can see what others miss. And when on the move
_everybody_ kept their eyes peeled since that provided the best chance
of spotting trouble before it got you.

>> This is, quite simply, wrong. Postulating that traits we _see_,
>>behaviors we _know_ exist, and environments we _know_ were inhabited
>>could combine to produce the results we see are _not_ in the same
>>category as making up whole new environments out of whole cloth and
>>postulating that traits that _no one_ has ever seen come out of that
>>environment as being caused by it.
>It might not be the same. But it could be even a higher order
>of thinking. After all, what brought about QM ? What kind
>of revolutionary thinking led to it? Besides, it's not necessary
>to see some animal do things to think that it could be done.
>There are two reasons why we use it. One is that analogical
>thinking is ingrained in us. It's a kind of a monkey-see,
>monkey-do. The other is that it's easier than being creative.
>When we see things we can't imagine, we no longer have to try
>to imagine it. It's easier. If we don't see it, then our
>task is more difficult; we have to imagine it.

What brought about QM? Explanations for _observed phenomena_.
But you know that, don't you? Sheesh, have you ever considered the
idea of going into the scarecrow business? If you are going to build
all these straw men you ought to be paid for it.

You simply do not know what you are talking about--once again.

>Think about languages. If you only speak a single language,
>start to think about what other things would you like to
>see in English. After that read about some of the strange
>and exotic things languages do, and if you are honest you
>will see that they do things which you couldn't even imagine
>could be done in a language. After seeing some languages, then
>you might start to think about what other strange things
>languages might have but yet haven't found in any language.
>Could those things exist in a real language?

And this has . . . what . . . to do with science? Sounds like
you're champing more at being a science fiction writer than a

David L. Burkhead

Spacecub - The Artemis Project - Artemis Magazine

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