Re: chimps on the savanna? Nooooo.....

chris brochu (
26 Oct 1995 01:32:10 GMT

In article <> H. M. Hubey, writes:
>I'm suggesting that you don't even know what shows
>up in an encyclopedia of human evolution, and certainly
>there are going to be no surprises there.
>Naturally people who write in it will be middle-of-the-road
>authors writing already well-established ideas.

Actually, that's not the problem at all. The problem is that popular
books and programs, like the CEHE, are dumbed down to the point of being
minimally informative, and it is dangerous to judge an entire field of
research based on them.

(Indeed, they are sometimes so watered down as to be misleading. If any
of you saw the first season of "PaleoWorld," you know what I mean - that
was perhaps the worst science program ever televised. The second season
is better so far, but I'm still sore over the first season. These
"well-established ideas" are sometimes so badly described that they bear
little resemblence to the real thing.)

I'm much more familiar with the popular dinosaur literature than I am
with CEHE, but the situation is the same - you take a complex and, in
many cases, quantified field and filter it down for a math-phobic public
who only cares for certain pet topics. Reading the dino books, you'd
think the average paleontologist spends his or her time worrying about
"what killed the dinosaurs" or "was it punctuated or gradualistic" or
"could we clone Velociraptor." The real meat-and-potatoes science, like
systematics and stratigraphy, is overlooked.

Paleontology and paleoanthropology have their numerical sides, but you'd
never know it by reading the popular literature. This is why we gripe
when you refuse to read the primary literature - your view seems to have
been created by a sit-com version of paleoanthropology, and a little
research would clarify things.