Re: AAT Theory

Elaine Morgan (
Fri, 01 Sep 1995 20:43:50 GMT

Reply to D.L. Burkhead

D.L.B has come up with a new one-line formula which purports to
demolish AAT and obviate the need to read the books about it or answer
the questions it raises:

"The AAT folk have as much as admitted that fossil proof or disproof of
their theory is impossible."

As one of the AAT folk I would like to amend his verb. I did not
"admit" it: I asserted it. And it will be great day for science
when the savannah folk have the grace to "as much as admit" that fossil
proof or disproof of their own ideas is equally impossible. In the past
they have made no predictions that have not turned out to be wrong,
but that has done nothing to shake their confidence.

At first they predicted that when the earliest hominids were found they
would be tool-makers. Not. Later they were convinced that bipedalism
arose as a consequence of - and therefore subsequent to - the
emergence of savannah conditions. Not. They were confident that for
an ape, life in the open must be more conducive to bipedalism than
life in the trees. Not. They felt sure that the earliest hominids would
prove to have lived in the open and not among the trees.

Except among the untypical faunal assemblages at Laetoli, no traces
have ever been found of hominids that died on the savannah. This has
not prevented the experts from believing that nevertheless the
creatures spent all their lives out there, though the terrain was
unfortunately not conducive to the preservation of their bones. It might
even be true, who knows? but this ad hoc assumption makes their claims
unfalsifiable. Hardly, as you say, the earmark of a scientific theory.

As for their successors the savannah/mosaic folk, they are a newer
breed and if they are making predictions I am unaware of them. My
impression is that they are much more cautious nowadays; some of them
appear to be tentative about even the hyphenated savannah, and show
some signs of turning into arboreal folk.

They remain united however on four propositions:

(1) We cannot decide what caused bipedalism but it cannot have been
wading behaviour. We do not have to give reasons why it cannot -
we know it in our bones.

(2) If we are not convinced by AAT arguments, it is because the
arguments are faulty.

(3) If other people are not convinced by our arguments, it is
because those other people are stupid.

(4) Fossil evidence good; anatomical evidence bad (however much of it
there is, and however consistently it all points in one direction).

D.L.B: "The AAT people have shown a remarkable lack of willingness
to respond meaningfully to criticisms of AAT"

I take it you are a newcomer to this thread. Look up the archives for
the last 3 or 4 months.