Re: tree-climbing hominids

chris brochu (
7 Oct 1995 23:33:57 GMT

In article <> H. M. Hubey, writes:
>I'd like to ask you for a favor. How about telling us which ones
>make some progress toward resolving the difficulty instead of
>carrying on with verbiage?

I should probably let Alex have the kill on this one, but as a natural
scientist, I find myself offended beyond belief by your entire statement.
In a few paragraphs, you have stated that, without reading a single
article offered, they aren't worth reading.

You label paleontologists of all types as "bone gazers." WIthout
discussing the offense such generalization would give to plant or
invertebrate specialists, this shows how precious little you really know
about this subject. I *dare* you to pick up a recent issue of Journal of
Vertebrate Paleontology, Palaeontology, Journal of Human Evolution,
Evolution, or Systematic Biology and tell me they are mere 'verbiage and
pictures." That they may contradict some of your beliefs does not render
them irrelevant and worthless. I *dare* you.

This is why we compare AAS to creationism. This is probably not fair,
since some other supporters of AAS come across as reasonable, and in this
light, Mr/Dr Hubey must be seen as an embarrassment to the entire
concept. Still, when one states "it's just verbiage" without really
reading it, one ceases to be a scientist. Creationists do precisely the
same thing.

The hallmark of a scientist is not quantifiability, Mr/Dr Hubey. Numbers
are a good thing, and the ability to quantify something is to be pursued.
But science isn't all numbers. It's a way of addressing issues.
Testable hypotheses are formulated based on patterns of repeatable
observations; if nothing refutes them, our confidence increases. This is
true regardless of our ability to quantify them.

Evolution has been criticized as "unscientific" because it is
unrepeatable. If we shave a chimp and tie his hands behind his back, we
are not likely to repeat the evolution of hominids. But the
repeatablility is at the level of the observation, not the process. The
Battle of Gettysburg is not repeatable - we are unlikely to recreate it,
even with the proper mix of pissed-off northerners and southerners with
muskets. However, anyone with a metal detector and shovel should be able
to confirm the occurrance of a battle roughly 130 years ago in that part
of Pennsylvania.

By the same token, different researchers with the same bones and sediment
samples should make the same observations. We cannot repeat hominid
evolution, but the observations that lead to its reconstruction should be
repeatable. That's why those papers Alex cited are so bloody important -
they are observations that, if you were to look at the bones yourself,
you should be able to repeat. Differences of interpretation exist, but I
find it enlightening that not one credible observer has concluded that
hominids evolved directly from semiaquatic primates. The repeatable
observations simply do not support it.

I no longer consider Mr/Dr Hubey's comments worth response. I am sorry,
but his posts reveal a closed mind.