Re: AAT Theory

Phil Nicholls (
Mon, 09 Oct 1995 05:00:09 GMT (Gerrit Hanenburg) graced us with the following

> (H. M. Hubey) wrote:

>>And of course, the mainstream theories have "testable" rock-solid

>>What is proof?

>Sigh! I'm getting a bit tired of your sophist approach.
>You should know that in empirical science nothing is ever proved.There is
>proof in logic and mathematics (reasoning which demonstrates that a certain
>proposition follows from the axioms/definitions).In empirical science there
>is (if we are lucky) evidence,either falsifying are corroborating.
>Evidence in this sense are observable facts/events which confirm/disconfirm
>predictions made by a theory.

Well said!

>In this sense a descended larynx is no evidence for an aquatic past and
>neither is a large number of eccrine sweat glands.

It is also somewhat likely that a descended larynx is a relatively
recent (within the least 200,000 years) change.

As to sweat glands I posted an article not long ago the showed that
eccrine sweat glands are a PRIMATE trend -- primates do not use
apocrine glands for sweating because apocrine glands release large
amounts of secretion all at once while eccrine glands provide smaller
amounts of secretion and can be more effectively regulated.

>They are the kind of "evidence" to which Karl Popper points when he
>writes:"It is easy to obtain confirmations,or verifications,for nearly
>every theory--if we look for confirmations."(Conjectures and

Yes indeed. The truth lies in asking what would provide
disconfirmation -- the ability to make a predictive statement.

>>What part of anthropology is testable?
>Charles Darwin "predicted" that the enlarged brain and bipedal walking
>evolved in concert:"The gradually increasing weight of the brain and skull
>in man must have influenced the development of the supporting spinal
>column,more especially whilst he was becoming erect."(Darwin,C.1871,p.146)
>His prediction has been thoroughly falsified by the fossil record.
>(early hominids were bipedal but had small ape-like brains)

>He also "predicted" that the origin of man was in Africa:"It is therefore
>probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes closely allied
>to the gorilla and chimpanzee;and as these two species are now man's
>nearest allies,it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors
>lived on the African continent than elsewhere."(Darwin,C.1871,p.199)
>So far this prediction has not been falsified but instead there is
>corroborating evidence from the fossil record.(the earliest bipedal
>hominids are found in Africa)

>Reference:Darwin,C._The Descent of Man,and selection in relation to sex._
> London,1871)
>These are two rather historical examples of testability in anthropology to
>show you how easy it is to find instances of testability if you take the
>effort to look for them in the literature.(but it seems you don't)

Excellent points!

>A more recent example is the origin of bipedalism in the open savanna.
>In relation to the fossils of A.ramidus,Tattersall (1995,p.233 footnote)
>writes:"Perhaps most telling is that the sediments which yielded these
>fossils were reportedly laid down in a fairly densely wooded environment;if
>this is the case,then these hominids were not necessarily (or even at all)
>savanna dwellers.

>If it is made clear that A.ramidus was bipedal then this finding may
>falsify the idea that the adoption of bipedalism was related to the
>expansion of savanna conditions at the expense of forests.

>Reference:Tattersall,I._The Fossil Trail_ Oxford Univ.Press,1995.

>Gerrit. Signing off.

The important thing is that Morgan and others try to create this
monolithic "savannah theory" that they can contrast against the AAH.
There is no monolith. Most hypotheses make use of the savannah in
human evolution but each scenerio places hominids in a different

Good post.

Phil Nicholls
"To ask a question you must first know most of the answer"
-Robert Sheckley