Re: AAT Theory

J. Moore (
Wed, 30 Aug 95 18:58:00 -0500

Mike Reid <> writes:

MR> Why is there such vehemence against the Aquatic Ape Theory?
MR> It's true that it's far out and lacks strong fossil evidence to
MR> support it, but that does not mean that it's wrong!

It doesn't lack "strong fossil evidence"; it lacks *any* fossil
evidence. In fact, it has been specifically stated online by
Elaine Morgan that she considers no fossil evidence, no matter
what it is, can possibly ever disprove the AAT, which essentially
means that to her fossil evidence is considered irrelevant.
An odd attitude, certainly.

Now to get on with the several errors involved in accepting
Morgan's view that she's the next Wegener...

MR> In the early years
MR> of this century, Wegner proposed the idea of continental drift based
MR> solely on his observation that the Earth's continents, if rearranged,
MR> could fit together like a jig-saw puzzle.

His idea was not "based solely on his observation that the Earth's
continents, if rearranged, could fit together like a jig-saw
puzzle", which you would know if you read a little about the
theory of continental drift. Besides the basic outlines of
continents, there were geodetic measurements from Greenland
showing apparent large-scale land movements, the patterns of late
Paleozoic climate changes from fossil evidence, and the
distribution of fossil and living flora and fauna. Wegener,
unlike Morgan, certainly did not consider fossil evidence to
be non-data.

MR> This was purely
MR> circumstantial evidence. Most Earth scientists of that time dismissed
MR> his idea as foolish and far out. It was not until the 1960's when
MR> seafloor spreading was discovered that Wegner's idea was born out.
MR> Today, scarcely anyone doubts the truth of continental drift.

There are two particularly interesting aspects of Morgan's
use of Wegener's theory of continental drift to try to make her
own position seem to be that of a misunderstood genius. One is
that it contains a common logical flaw, one that I call the
"Fulton's Folly Flaw", which arises when the "misunderstood"
person cries: "They laughed at Fulton, and they laughed at me;
therefore I am a great inventor!"

The second is that Morgan could hardly have picked a worse theory
to compare hers with. The AAT claims that hominids evolved from
an hominoid ancestor through the mechanism of an extended period
of aquatic living. Paleoanthropology has also always suggested
that hominids evolved from an hominoid ancestor, but rejects the
mechanism of an aquatic past (well, except for the aquatic past all
life on earth shares). In other words, the theoretical difference
isn't in *what happened* (hominids evolving from an hominoid
ancestor), but in the *mechanism* for it.

The problem for Morgan and the AAT here is that Wegener was correct
only in the initial part of his claim -- the part about *what
happened*. He was dead wrong, almost laughably so, about *the
mechanism*. His mechanism, a combination of pole-fleeing force and
the tidal attraction of the sun and moon, was far far less powerful
than would be necessary, and Wegener admitted this himself in the
4th edition of his book.

So the history of Wegener's exposition of the theory of continental
drift is anything but a pallitive for supporters of the AAT. The
problem with the AAT is not the *what happened* part; both the AAT
and the rest of paleoanthropology agree that hominids evolved from
a hominoid ancestor. The AAT is not offering a new idea there.
The new idea the AAT offers is in the *mechanism* for this
evolution, and it's in the mechanism that the AAT, like just
Wegener's theory, falls flat.

MR> Until
MR> more fossil evidence is discovered, I doubt that it will be possible
MR> to either prove or disprove the AAT. Until such time, why can't more
MR> "mainstream" scientists at least view it as a plausible theory
MR> worthy of respect, whether they agree with it or not?
MR> Mike Reid

As has been stated, "more fossil evidence" is considered irrelevant
by AATers. As for viewing it as a theory worthy of respect, there
are several people here in this newsgroup who have been doing just
that for many months, including me. We've been providing evidence
that contradicts it and asking the same sorts of questions the
AATers ask of conventional paleoanthro, as well as the sorts of
questions that must be answered by any theory of human origins.
In return we get silence, obfuscation, and abuse.

We start with a writer who refuses to give references for most of
her claims, whose refs, the few times given, can rarely be tied to
statements made in the text (unlike any standard practice), and
which are generally devoid of page numbers -- all of this making
it extremely time-consuming and difficult, and at times virtually
impossible, to check their accuracy -- who alters quotes and cites
people as being in support of claims their work contradicts, who
claims she didn't write things she did in fact write. We go from
there... does this sound like a "theory worthy of respect"?

If it does to you, I ask you: Why does the AAT, alone amongst
theories of hominid divergence, deserve this preferential treatment?

Jim Moore (

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