Re: The straw man.

Elaine Morgan (
Tue, 17 Oct 1995 22:34:33 GMT

In article: <45k2q8$> (Phillip
Bigelow) writes:
> >In article <>
> >>
> >>The other is the charge that AAT constructs a "straw man" in the
> >>of the late savannah theory and attacks it because it is easier to
> >>demolish than the more solid and unassailable scenario which has
> >>replaced it. Rubbish.
> >>
> (David L Burkhead ) responded:
> > Perhaps you can explain just what this "savannah theory as
> >presented in the 50's and 60's" was? Provide references
> >please--complete references, you know, with page numbers and
> >everything? It might help if we know exactly what it is that you
> >_are_ refuting.
> I'll second what David Burkhead wrote. It is time to put your cards on
> table, Elaine.
> Exactly WHO are these researchers that you have claimed have named
> transition from arboreal to terrestrial the "savannah theory"? There
> be a passel of them, as you infer that it is the dominant paradygm in
> paleoanthropology.
> Please list your journal references for these researchers, Elaine
> refs. with page numbers as where the quote "savannah THERORY" is found
> the journal article). And you can be sure that some of us will most
> certainly check up on your response...
> <pb>
I have given references with page numbers to texts (a) stating that our
ancestors moved from the trees to the savannah and (b) suggesting this
was the reason they became bipedal. I am always sure that some of you
will check up on any response I make and welcome that fact. I cannot
give quotes in which they called it "the savannah theory". They did not
think of it as a theory. They thought of it as a self-evident truth. If
you wish to impose narrow limits to the definition of a "theory" - okay,
do you object to "hypothesis"? Is there any etymological distinction
between a hypothesis and a speculation?

Whatever you call it - if it gets people het up, I will try to remember
to move to AAH - it does not effect my contention that it is a guess, a
construct, an explanation, a suggestion on exactly the same level as -
(no, not the savannah theory, but) the late lamented savannah non-theory-
that bipedalism arose as a consequence either of staying in the trees or
moving to the grassland or commuting between one and the other.

And it does not affect my contention that the recent adjustments in the
ecological scenario have led to less rather than more consensus among the
non-AAH speculators than they displayed in the old days. They have not
moved onto stronger ground. AAH would gain nothing by choosing to
resurrect the earlier reconstructioons on the grounds that they were more
vulnerable. They were not.

Elaine Morgan