Friday, August 31, 2007

AAH argument.

Just a letter transcript. To Kuliukas...

>>I was surprised that YouTube allows someone to delete someone else's comment, aren't you?

Nah, creationists delete my comments all the time.

>>It took over 30 years for enough people to begin to doubt the authority of those who'd just given a knee-jerk thumbs up to it when it was discovered.

They were very much expecting to find a fossil just like Piltdown man. There was a fairly good movement against it as soon as we found more fossils, they just didn't seem to mesh. And finally the scientific field rejected it. With AAH we don't have any evidence, just a rather silly claim. It's a lot like claiming to be Galileo. For every real Galileo oppressed by the powers that be, there are a thousand crackpots with really silly ideas. Rather than making claims like "Oh they use to think Tectonic Plates was hogwash too..." -- It's better to have actual evidence (the guy who proved tectonic plates did and Galileo).

>>You're completely wrong if you think recent evidence is increasingly making it look more odd than it used to.

Human evolution is looking more and more par for the course. Larger brain benefits outstrip the costs of running this monster brain. In fact, after humans were bipedal for a million years or so, we still weren't that different than chimps. Lucy would look like a chimp, hairy, small, biped chimp... pretty much no real major advantage.

>>Quite the contrary. Before 1997 there were no observed instances of ape bipedalism in water. Today it's accepted that apes are at their most bipedal in water.

I suggest you watch Monkey Life. You could get a copy off some torrent sites. It's about an ape rescue center. Most of the chimps run around on two legs for pretty much any reason at all. There's nothing about water that makes full time bipedalism worthwhile. And bipedalism takes no time to evolve, apes are already partially bipedal. Shallow water would be one reason among hundreds why apes walk on two feet. It wouldn't evolve them onto two legs, just give them yet another reason to use their bipedalism.

>>Before 1974 the prevailing view was that early hominids had evolved in open habitats. Increasingly we now know that they were wooded and very wet if not swampy.

More trees, yeah... the previous idea was that they evolved bipedalism slowly rather than just started to use it full time. Though, since 1974 we've learned a lot about human evolution.

>>In 1960 Hardy was the only AAH proponent and his view was very much that the idea might fill a gap in the fossil record between 10 and 4 million years ago.

So why aren't chimps hairless and running around on two legs? They split off after that time period. Hell, Gorillas split off about 8 million years back. Ideas aren't evidence.

>>Since then several bits of evidence have shown this to be unlikey but other proponents have published similar ideas suggesting that coastal phases happenned much more recently.

Yes, AAH folks love switching the time periods involved. It's one of the reasons it ain't science.

>>I, for example, think we were at our most aquatic (and even then not much) at around the time of the Homo sapiens speciation event.

There's no such thing. It's all just a progression. Draw a line anywhere you want. We draw the line at 20k or 100k or whatever else we'd like. We're the same species as our parents as far as we go back.

>>Before the 1990s little was known about the biochemical basis of brain nutrition but recently it has become increasingly clear that the marine food chain supplies most of the key nutrients needed for encephalisation.

People get along fine without seafood. And people hunt seafood just fine without going into the water. Is the theory getting more wishy-washy again... now it's down to "we eat fish." Soon it will be that "we like water" then "humans evolved head hair for babies to grab on".

>>Who has not heard of the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet and their abundance in oily fish? I could list more examples showing that the AAH is stronger today than it has ever been.

By eating antelope and other animals, we'd have plenty of omega-3. If they feed on grass, they end up with omega-3. We tend to eat animals fed large amounts of grain (not grass) and thusly lacking in omega-3. Taking our diet today and suggesting that it needs more Omega-3 and "hey fish have omega-3" is silly. You might as well argue that since humans like salt and kissing is said to be a way to remove salt from other people's lips that kissing is evidence for an aquatic origin.

>>I'm pinning my hopes to evidence-based reasoning and rationality eventually overriding peer pressure and cow towing to authority.

Kowtowing! Cow towing? Tow that cow! "Hey Jimmy, I've been towing this damned cow to the administrator." - "Stop Cow Towing to authority!" Lol.

I think you should pin your hopes on a brutal dictatorship and being installed by force as science like Lysenko, because frankly you don't have any evidence. One bit of evidence is worth a million half-baked arguments. The evidence isn't there. Human ancestors may have fished and may have grabbed some food here and there. However, the litany of things attributed to AAH is just absurd. We're opportunists, give me a fish and I'll eat it.

However, from there you're not going to get bipedalism and nakedness... this or that or the other. There's no more aquatic influence in human evolution in the past than today.

>>It's people who do the opposite who are being religious.

As an atheist, I love that "religious" has become an insult. However, those who oppose AAH aren't pinning their hopes on evidenced-based reasonings. They are pinning their beliefs on the evidence itself. If AAH were where the evidence leads us... sure, but it's not, nowhere close.

>>The essential difference between science and religion is that we are allowed to - no, that's wrong - we are *expected to* criticise orthodoxy. It's odd that you don't seem to like this.

I think you misunderstand science. Science isn't about criticizing orthodoxy, it's about disproving incorrect theories and proposing theories to get shot down. The idea that early hominids were killer apes with tools and meat, hunting and being all around awesome, is certainly a theory one could draw from the evidence. It isn't orthodoxy, it's just a theory. Then it gets crushed by the evidence. Well done on both parts. Theory proposed, theory demolished... that's science.

The teeth marks show that it was the prey, the animal that killed the little guy was tracked down, the evidence was against the "killer ape" theory, and so the theory was disregarded. Nobody in the science thinks that the proposal of the theory was wrong, just the theory was wrong. Science is about subjecting ideas to repeated scrutiny. Putting up a definite idea of exactly how and why something is the way it is, then subjecting it to the full brunt of scientific attack. If it survives... fantastic.

However, this is why AAH isn't a theory and isn't even science. There's no definite claim. Nobody says 5 million years ago, bipedalism was evolved in a freshwater aquatic environment in NE Africa. Rather we get a bunch of traits, a bunch of different times, different water sources, different everything and nothing is on the line. When one problem is proposed the theory switches. If you point out that humans can't drink seawater, then they evolved in freshwater. If you note that sweating is worthless in the water they switch and say that sweating was to get rid of the extra salt from the sea.

Science is fantastic, but it isn't criticizing orthodoxy. If you can show that the evidence suggests that some long standing idea is actually wrong... that's huge points in the scientific community. Just saying that you have this theory that vaguely includes humans and water in some mixture and it's hetrodox and thus real good science is the absurd to the highest power.

>>Whenever I read people like yourself, spouting the usual ignorant dogma against this theory, it reminds me more of religious fundamentalists than anything else.

I argue with religious fundamentalists all the time. They say a lot of stuff, one thing they don't tend to say is you have no evidence and in fact, X, Y, and Z studies are pretty sound refutations of your entire position. I hear this same sort of dogma argument spouted by creationists that evolution is just like a religion. Really, without strong evidence I'm not going to your side of an argument, and such things... the strong arguments are with mainstream science.

>>If you need some kind of academic assurance before you are likely to be persuaded (although you shouldn't) I'm doing a PhD on this subject at UWA, Perth, Australia and I passed my masters on the same topic with a distinction from UCL, London.

Good for you. It doesn't make it science. It's a silly idea without any evidence to back it up. And beyond that mainstream anthropology's cup runneth over with evidence, fossils, credible ideas and scientific theories.

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