does hubey have a point?

Alex Duncan (
8 Oct 1995 19:20:38 GMT

In article <> H. M. Hubey, writes:

>It's the misfortune of this field that so much of it is
>based on not much more than bone-gazing and making up latin
>names that it invites everyone to become one.

Hubey never tires of demonstrating his ignorance.

>Sheesh. AFter you've taken out math, DNA, chemistry, physics,
>then what's left? Bone-gazing! So here we are again.

You just listed most of the major aspects of paleoanthropology. To treat
as subsidiary issues is another demonstration that you are ignorant.

>Let me ask you a simple question.
>Why is the taxonomy such that it produces seven levels and not
>six? Why not eight? There are ways of classifying things in
>hierarchical order in other fields too but the dividing lines
>are not very clear. Are you of the opinion that the present
>method of classification (which I'm sure you've memorized along
>with all the latin names of the critters) is "THE" only
>possible way and why?

>Answer the above question with some thinking. And tell us
>if the thought that went into producing these classes is
>something like solid, gas, liquid, which can naturally be
>described by reference to measurements i.e. stresses,
>shear stresses, and compressibility.

I once suggested to Paul Crowley that he should wear a sign on his back
that reads "ignorant". I suggest that Hubey should staple his to his

The Linnaean hierarchy w/ its "seven levels" was abandoned shortly after
its birth, and hangs on today only in depts. run by 80 yr. old men who
are about as ignorant as hubey. In fact, I would say that the fact of
the abandonment of the Linnaean hierarchy (and the reasons for doing so)
are basic knowledge aquired by most students who take introductory
biology or paleontology courses.

The sign that you staple to your head should be in red neon.

>>Yeah sure, just like you read all of Alex Duncan's articles on the
>>australopithecine foot. Oh, excuse me, I am sorry, they weren't worth
>Excuse me. All I could see was more bone-gazing and more guesses
>based on some fuzzy thinking. Does this foot look more like this
>foot or that foot? Could this foot have been used for climbing
>or not? Is this a half-climbing-foot or a 1/3_climbing foot?

A challenge for hubey:

1) Demonstrate that you read any of the papers I referenced.

2) Tell us how you would do it better.

I'm especially interested in item 2. If you can't provide concise
critiques and perhaps a little insight into our shortcomings, then you
ought to pipe down.

>>> Besides, the problems are more complicated. We need to know
>>> the temperature of the earth, the size of the ice caps, the
>>> water temperature, the humidity of the region etc before some
>>> of the arguments for or against could be discussed clearly.
>>Funny thing. We actually know alot of this information. Look in any
>>geochemistry book or read some recent articles in geosciences (Geology,
>>GSA Bulletin, Paleo-cubed(Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology,
>Don't be a dingbat. None of this is known with the same kind of
>precision and certainty say like some physical constant. It's
>all derived info. Even much more rigorous fields in physics
>like the beginning (i.e. big bang) etc are argued about. YOu are
>now delving into a field in which things as complex as weather
>figure prominently. And yes, I do know a little about the
>fields you wrote above, because I happen to know about what
>they are based on. As long as lots of what seem to be
>independent lines of research point in the same direction
>we can keep believing it.

Again, hubey, I say put up or shut up. We know we don't know things with
the precision we'd like. Your constant harping on the point leaves me
with the distinct impression you don't have anything else to say. How
can it be done better?

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086