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

David L Burkhead (
9 Oct 1995 03:23:34 GMT

In article <> (H. M. Hubey) writes:
> (J. Moore) writes:
>>Science doesn't work by voting; it works by giving references for
>>one's statements.
>Science does work by voting. You have to convince enough people
>of the right kind, and it takes time. Remember the comments
>about having to wait for the old professors to die and for the
>young who have grown up with certain ideas to mature and take over?

No. It doesn't take "time." It takes _data_. Good data, and
theories that explain the data well, are generally quickly accepted.
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.

Those "comments about having to wait for the old professors to
die and for the young who have grown up with certain ideas to mature
and take over" are mostly wishful thinknig by crackpots. It's simply
not the general case in science.

>Besides we're discussing definitions; and they most certainly
>work by voting (of the implicit kind as in the implicit Social

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.

>>Why don't you start giving references for your statements, beginning
>>with your references showing how you come up with the numerical
>>values you assigned above.
>Those were my votes. Feel free to vote :-)..
>(PS. I already forgot what it was. Was it bipedalism or grasping/manipulating?)

But since voting in science is meaningless, your "votes" are
likewise meaningless. How about coming up with references instead?
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.

>>You're very big on deriding scientists for not doing things the
>>way you want them done, with little apparent knowledge of what
>Not really. I am not even big on deriding those who think
>they do great science :-)..

No, you're just big on deriding scientists period.

>>currently espouse, supposed to be given this special "no refs
>>required" treatment?
>We're still discussing the loss of fur. So far nobody can
>produce a reason for it. And the case for bipedalism in
>the old days was something like:

Oodles of reasons have been produced for it. You just don't seem
to want to listen to them.

>1) use of tools (which leads to)
>2) bigger brain and bipedalism
>I suppose it's OK for the standard savannah theory SST, to
>change its ideas to fit evidence but not for AAT?

Please tell me what you think the "standard savannah theory" is?
I suspect it's yet another of the strawmen that AAH proponents dredge
up--a "theory" that nobody espouses but is _so_ much easier to knock
down than what people actually _do_ espouse.

>1) Explain the loss of fur in a dry climate when it gets cold
>at night.

A: How cold did it get at night? How cold does it actually get
in the savannah?

B: For a diurnal _social_ creature, what's wrong with huddling
together when it _does_ get cold (an established human custom in many
cold climes) to conserve/share body heat?

>2) Explain why tree-dwellers would have an advantage on land
>with their lame-duck like walk. They'd be neither man nor fish.
>They couldn't run, they couldn't climb (no trees). Maybe
>they burrowed! And why would they grow longer legs if they
>could run faster on all fours?

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.)

B: Who said there were no trees? Are we back to the treeless,
waterless savannah strawman that others have tried to bring up?

>So the whole thing boils down to:
>They did it to use tools! How! OH, they brought some sticks from
>the forests with them and they threatened the big cats by
>waving them around. So they had to stand up erect in order to
>be able to swing the stick to threaten the cats and dogs. Why
>would they do that? Chimps can swing sticks without standing
>up any more erect than they do now?

Is this for real? Chimps can swing sticks with their current
level of bipedalism, therefore there is no advantage to being able to
stand more upright (immediately gaining some mechanical advantage),
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?

That one animal is suited to its niche does not mean that that's
the only niche available, or that further evolution might not _better_
equip them for the niche.

>This is the same kind of simplification and ridicule that
>some heap on AAT. What's fair is fair,and this scenario is
>even more funny than the swimming ape... excuse me "wading
>ape". Now if I change it to "splashing ape" we'll get
>another long round of arguments :-)..

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.

David L. Burkhead

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