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Post 0

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 6:06amSanction this postReply
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Robert, no ill will, but when does this end? 

Brevity is the soul of wit.
William Shakespeare




Post 1

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 10:20amSanction this postReply
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Robert M, forgive me, but I was thinking the same thing as Robert D... :-)

Perhaps including links like this one   or this one (which describes - in brief the various theories behind our species ascent)  would allow you to review the topic in a more concise fashion.

To me the crucial point in the evolution argument is how life actually got here. Once the first self-replicating organism arrived the rest is inevitable. The evidence for the way life evolves into more complex forms under natural selection is found in the comparison of genes, and in fossil records etc.

And it is the explanation of how that self-replicating organism came to be that the "intelligent designers" are attacking. In essence, they are implying that it impossible for self-replicating organisms to be created by the accumulation of products from random chemical reactions. They think that some outside intervention was required because they can't imagine how elementary chemicals can react to give more and more complex ones.

Which isn't to say that there aren't wrinkles in the scientific theory that have to be ironed out. But at least the explanation doesn't involve an all-powerful, ethereal, intelligence which cannot be understood or detected by the faithless individual.



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Post 2

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 1:44pmSanction this postReply
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For an extended critique of the Aquatic Ape Theory, look here.

I posted here mainly because I wanted to gatecrash this all Robert conference.



Post 3

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 3:19pmSanction this postReply
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Num++,

How do we know your real name isn't Robert eh????

BTW thanks for the link.




Post 4

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 3:35pmSanction this postReply
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Oh my gawd, I've been found out! Gotta swim outta here!!!



Post 5

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 5:08pmSanction this postReply
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Fat chance - am in Tampa - doubt any others near here..... and as my love in Germany can attest, am anything but num......



Post 6

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 8:52pmSanction this postReply
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Robert, I am sorry but I have to say I am finding the critique num++ linked to a hell of a lot more informative and convincing than this series of articles.  Article #2 made almost no sense at all, and both the "plasma" and "aquatic ape" theories, while interesting, look pretty bad when held under close scrutiny - in other words they look like pretty fringe ideas.



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Post 7

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 10:41pmSanction this postReply
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I confess to being guilty of skimming Robert's 4 essays on the topic. It started off making the point that evolution is merely a manifestation of the dynamic-nature of the universe. But somehow it has mutated into a defence of the little known and rather shaky aquatic ape theory. This appears to have more holes in it than a good Gruyere, but I learnt something from the thread so I am grateful to Robert M for posting his thoughts.

Indeed, Jim Moore's site was excellent. I had never heard of the aquatic ape theory prior to this. This isn't surprising, the books came out prior to my entering High School. So thank you again num++. (and could we have your real name? Pretty please?)

I am a little worried about Robert's statement that "I am going to take the scientific viewpoint of proceeding by observation and extrapolation." (see Post 1, 2nd line of the final paragraph.)  

My PhD supervisor had several mottos. One of them was: "assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups." When you extrapolate you are assuming that the trend you have observed thus far will continue to cover the period you are wanting to make predictions about. Scientists (including myself) tend to be very conservative with their extrapolations, often out of bitter experience. More so, it seems, than Ms Morgan and her allies have been.

Robert M, if your intent is to sing the praises of  Ms Morgan's pet-theory then I'm afraid that you are going to have to provide verifiable evidence as to its voracity - in spite of your professed reluctance to do so (see Post 2, paragraph 2, line 1.)




Post 8

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 6:55amSanction this postReply
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Kurt wrote:

I am finding the critique num++ linked to a hell of a lot more informative and convincing
I have the same response to that site, a lack of brevity.  He does go on and on about the theory of theories, his qualifications, ad homonym attacks on Morgan, etc., and then mischaracterizes the hair argument entirely and at excruciating length.  It is not a lack of hair that AAT's point to, it is the hair distribution *pattern* which is not simian, but cetacian.




Post 9

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 8:57amSanction this postReply
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For an extended critique of the Aquatic Ape Theory, look here.


And in fairness, look here for a rebuttal of that critique.



Post 10

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 6:39amSanction this postReply
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The same Darwin said that evolution is a very unlikely theory.

Evolution is not proved at all: the fossil record goes increasingly against that theory.

To defend evolution is an act of faith.




Post 11

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 2:19pmSanction this postReply
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To a Pragmatist, perhaps that would seem so - but an Objectivist sees more than bunches of trees - see principles involved [see part 2], and recognises these principles apply across the universe, the difference being only orders of magnitude... there is no faith involved, but recognition of identity in the action of the dymanicness of the universe....




Post 12

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 7:10pmSanction this postReply
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Are there any serious academics that are doing work on this Aquatic Ape theory?  I am just not sure if this is valid or not. 

Joel, you appear to be a religious person.  However, I would ask you something that is undisputed in the fossil record:

1.  Species existed and flourished on the Earth, and they no longer live. 

2.  Other species, not seen before, and often very similar, appeared later.

3.  How, then, did these new species appear?

If not via a process of Evolution, they must have simply what?  Appeared in a puff of smoke?  If so, how did they come to be?  Why do we not see this happen now?  After all, some species have become extinct.  Where are their replacements, shouldn't they appear now?  Even if you assume it doesn't happen often, you are still left with no possible explanation for a new species to appear out of nothing. 

Therefore, there is no "faith" involved, what is involved is discovering how one species changed in some fashion into a new one.




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Post 13

Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 8:23pmSanction this postReply
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Fat chance - am in Tampa - doubt any others near here..... and as my love in Germany can attest, am anything but num...
Why, I've never felt so insulted in my entire life! Me... pretending to be "Robert Malcom"? Blasphemy! Heresy! Aquatic Apery!

[Just kidding Robert M. I think you're a good sport... you are, aren't you? Now call off these soaking wet apes on my patio, they ruin the view.]

Robert D.: I have the same response to that site, a lack of brevity... ad homonym attacks on Morgan...
I did say extended critique. I also haven't read any inflaming poetry on the site. Seriously, scientists (amateur and what not) are not above ad hominem attacks. Attention-seeking, tenure-jostling, and grant-begging will see to that. Their stated positions have to be judged on their own objective merits, just like everybody else's.

___________________

My take on AAT? Interesting ideas, but far from deserving the same standing as the standard model. If you would go to 'the' definition page of AAT* in RiverApes.com (the same site Nature L. linked to), you'll find "five falsifiable hypotheses":

1) The Hominid Bipedalism from Wading Hypothesis
2) The Nakedness for Drag Reduction Hypothesis
3) The Adipocity for Buoyancy Hypothesis
4) The Dip-Sweat Cooling Hypothesis
5) The Dental Reduction for Fish-Eating Hypothesis

Of the five given, only the second one can be said to be aquatic in the proper sense of the word 'aquatic'("The Nakedness for Drag Reduction Hypothesis"). And the given "falsifiable prediction" for this is ridiculous: "Shaving body hair off competitive swimmers should...". The same "falsifiable prediction" can be used for dogs.

Number 5 does not need the AAT. A reduction in molar dentition can be expected from a meat diet, it does not have to be fish and shellfish. Since hominid man hunted and slaughtered prey with tools, not with their jaws, expect no equivalent size augmentation of the canines.

Numbers 1,3, and 4 are just as easily explained by living near water. Hardly aquatic.

It has to be made clear: The current mainstream explanations for the evolution of man does not, in any case, preclude anyone from stating that living near water had an effect on our physiology. The problem starts when someone claims to be refuting established science (RiverApes claims to be "a different story about human evolution"), and then, when the claims are analyzed, they don't turn out to be refutations at all. Most of the time, they backtrack, their ideas are scanned, the valid ones are added to the 'canon' [like there is one], and business goes on as usual.

Wait... Did I just say "Most of the time"? Yep, this kind of brouhaha over little stuff has happened before. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Edredge put forth the idea of "punctuated equilibrium", where they show evolution of a species can reach a stable, unchanging plateau at some time (when there is no selection pressure), but then speciate rapidly (paleontologically speaking) when the environment changes. A ruckus started when this idea was presented as the end of Darwinian 'gradualism'. Well, let's have Darwin himself take the floor
Many species once formed never undergo any further change.... and the periods, during which species have undergone modification, though long as measured by years, have probably been short in comparison with the periods during which they retain the same form.

-Origin of Species
To cut a long story short, 'punctuated equilibrium' did not turn out to revolutionary at all, and this story would at most raise a yawn if presented again in a scientists' conference.

Moral Lesson generically addressed #1: Many people, perhaps including you, aspire to make some great discovery that would change the world. However, it would be to the benefit of everyone concerned (and to your reputation), if the proper distinction be made between a revolutionary finding and a supplemental contribution.

Evolution is the revolutionary finding, AAT is the supplemental contribution [when verified]. May each take their proper place in science.

___________________

Robert W:
My PhD supervisor had several mottos. One of them was: "assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups."
ROTFL!!!

Funny as that is, it actually touches on an essential issue here, already mentioned by Dr. Machan. That of "logical possibility".

From the RiverApe page I linked to above, you'll see this at the bottom:
Further sub-hypotheses will be added as time permits.
The writer, Algis Kuliukas, has also authored a paper on Hominid Hybridization Theory. This sentence from the abstract caught me:
It is postulated that the most plausible scenario that could have resulted in a sufficient number of viable individuals with this new chromosomal arrangement is a hybridisation of two populations of hominids at the most 3.7 million years ago but possibly as recent as 200,000 years before present.
I have no problem with people having original contributions to science. By necessity, originality will entail assumptions. However, there is a big problem on stacking unverified assumptions on top of one another. Here, he assumes the unvarnished truth of AAT, postulates 'hybridization' of two populations of hominids, and gives the time frame of this happening a span of 3.5 million years!

Not all logical possibilities can be explored. There is only a finite amount of brain power and time that can be devoted on various problems on science. As large as the enterprise is, there are already numerous avenues to be explored, each requiring years of specialized education and experience to pursue. For example, Michael Marotta's** offhand comment to the effect that "Gondwanaland was shattered into Africa and South America by an impact of a meteorite or asteroid" consists of only so many words. It is easy enough to disprove with physics and materials engineering references in concept. But I [if I chose to], have to do the following in practice:

1) Take the values of the ultimate strength of basalt [this rock underlies most of the crust], the thickness of the continental crust, and the length of the continental break. Questions... what if it's not all basalt? Just what is the average thickness over there? And by 'length', do I have to measure every zig and zag of the borders?

2) Calculate the necessary amount of energy to break the continent. Oops, can't use the formula for a rectangular block here, this is for a hollow sphere. Also, what is the coefficient of restitution to use, if any? How much of the energy is absorbed percentage-wise? Do I have to take into account the shockwaves resonating all across the lithosphere? Does this disturb the core? Does this disturbance affect my calculation? What about crack propagation?

3) Compare the energy from #2 with the kinetic energy of an object of particular mass moving at a particular velocity. What is the size of it? Is this a plausible size? What density did I assume? What speed? Oh, I forgot to test for different trajectories, silly me...

Actually, #2 and the last part of #3 would require the use of supercomputers. After all that, I still have no explanation of why the continents separated the way they did. I just broke them, remember? Ah well... another afternoon wasted.

Imagine I actually did all that, harassing Sandia Labs to get supercomputer time, sorted all the practical difficulties, and submitted them to Michael. I stentorially declare "Michael, you are wrong, and here are the calculations to prove it!". Then he replies, "Oh, what if the Moon actually grazed the Earth sometime in the past, and that broke Gondwanaland?".

Moral Lesson generically addressed #2:Assumptions do not have equal standing with verified theory. If it were, science would be a wild goose chase all over "possibility-space". No one is obligated to prove anyone else's free-ranging speculations. If you have to gripe that the 'scientific community' is not paying your ideas sufficient attention, they may be off doing their own work. Their work could be more relevant than your idea. Do your own work.

We don't have to believe in six impossible things before breakfast just in order to advance science. After all is said and done, we could all be hybridized aquatic apes. But I'm not going to hold my breath and dive waiting for the proof... of a potential supplemental contribution.

______________________

* Morgan calls it AA Theory, Kuliukas calls it AA Hypothesis.
** Not picking on you man, just a handy example from what recently transpired.



Post 14

Friday, May 13, 2005 - 3:07amSanction this postReply
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One interesting point - Ardrey has come over to her view....



Post 15

Friday, May 13, 2005 - 5:46amSanction this postReply
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Num,

  

Much of what has been said here is nonsense, we agree.  But, every so often something meaningful appears: 

 

A few mammals, such as the anteater and some rodents, have evolved special limbs for digging and teeth for a diet feasting on just a few types of abundant social insects. Established theory tells us these mammals appeared in the Paleocene, about 30 to 40 million years ago.

  

A fossil has now been found of a similarly specialized mammal that appeared about 150 million years ago and appears to

represent a new, but now extinct, line of basal mammals. The fossil, Fruitafossor windscheffelia, has large forelimbs, specialized for digging, and hollow teeth, probably used for feeding on termites.  This Week in Science 308 (5718)

 

This ought to put, at least, a tiny crimp in someone's theory, busy or not, don't you think?

  

You wrote:

 

If you have to gripe that the 'scientific community' is not paying your ideas sufficient attention, they may be off doing their own work. Their work could be more relevant than your idea. Do your own work

which is reasonable.   

 

What is not reasonable is for 'science' to dismiss new theory out of hand.  If they don't have the time or interest in pursuing the issue, they should withhold opinion.

  

Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the history of science has laughed at the actics of one of the most influencial and famous scientists of his day Lavosier.  A political and social liberal, Lavoisier took an active part in the events leading to the French Revolution.  In reaction to reports of meteors and meteorites, he quipped to  the Academie des Sciences, 'Gentlemen, stones cannot fall from the sky, because there are no stones in the sky.', and for at least a century they did not.  It is ironic that the same revolution he supported separated him from his head. As Pericles said, “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”! 

  

The institution called Science has a scary, nefarious side.  In 2001, PBS aired a seven-part series, titled "Evolution". the program was presented as objective, but was merely a perpetuation of the view that the theory of evolution is  science fact accepted by all the reputable scientists in the world, not a theory that has weaknesses and strong scientific critics. In response, a group of 100 dissenting scientists issued a press release, "A Scientific Dissent on Darwinism", on the day the first program was scheduled to air.

  

http://www.reviewevolution.com/press/pressRelease_100Scientists.php

  

"The numbers of scientists who question Darwinism is a minority, but it is growing fast," said Stephen Meyer, a Cambridge-educated philosopher of science who directs the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. "This is happening in the face of fierce attempts to intimidate and suppress legitimate dissent. Young scientists are threatened with deprivation of tenure. Others have seen a consistent pattern of answering scientific arguments with ad hominem attacks. In particular, the series' attempt to stigmatize all critics--including scientists--as religious 'creationists' is an excellent example of viewpoint discrimination."

  

Jed Macosko, a young research molecular biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a statement signer, said, "It is time for defenders of Darwin to engage in serious dialogue and debate with their scientific critics. Science can't grow where institutional gatekeepers try to prevent new challengers from being heard."

  

Nobel nominee Henry "Fritz" Schaefer was among the dissenters. He says,  “ Some defenders of Darwinism embrace standards of evidence for evolution that as scientists they would never accept in other circumstances.”  We have seen this same "unscientific" approach applied to archaeology and anthropology, where "scientists" simply refuse to prove their theories yet appoint themselves as the final arbiters of "the facts".

 

 





Post 16

Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 12:19pmSanction this postReply
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Robert D.:
[after citing an 'earlier' mole-like specie]
This ought to put, at least, a tiny crimp in someone's theory, busy or not, don't you think?
Nope, no crimping. Not even a thud will register on Darwinian Evolution with this finding, which is well within Moral Lesson #1 above (supplemental contribution).

If you would think of speciation as a tree, with dead branches repesenting extinct lineages, and each leaf a living specie - evolution describes the tree. Branches can be rearranged with each new finding in paleontology, but it still does not affect the existence of the tree, so evolution is not "crimped" by any new findings of this sort. It actually gets stronger as the paleontological records get more accurate.

Actually, the finding you posted above is pretty much run of the mill as far as published paleontological findings are concerned.
What is not reasonable is for 'science' to dismiss new theory out of hand. If they don't have the time or interest in pursuing the issue, they should withhold opinion.
This could be viewed from a 'free speech' perspective - if person X wants has theory A he wishes scientist Y to listen to, person X has to listen to criticism ¬A from scientist Y.

There are stronger reasons to levy criticism than just free speech, as science has a high measure of operative competence. One is sheer far-fetchedness as I alluded to above. Another is logical inconsistency, a flaw that is fundamental to 'Intelligent Design'. I'll repost the refutation here (its third appearance).
Fundamental Flaw in "Intelligent Design Theory"

'Intelligent Design' logically implies that intelligence is intelligently designed.

Before the reader types a hasty refutation, I suggest they adjust the scope of their counter-argument to encompass the infinite regress. If the reader does not understand the previous sentence, I suggest they reconsider typing.
Far-fetchedness can be remedied by amassing evidence to support the propounded case and supplying strong arguments that the explanation provided is the simplest among all possible explanations ("Ockham's Razor"). Logical inconsistency, however, is fatal. It has to be summarily dismissed since no amount of evidence will prove a self-falsifying hypothesis.

Just as with any other theory in science, Darwinian Evolution stands on its own objective merits. Merely having a number of scientists protest the political treatment their own pet theories receive does not invalidate Darwinian Evolution.


PS: My apologies for the lateness of the reply.



Post 17

Monday, May 16, 2005 - 8:54amSanction this postReply
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Num

If rodents appear 5 times as early as previously thought does not shake things up, they can not be shaken.

We will have to agree to disagree.  Stones do, indeed, fall from the sky.

w




Post 18

Monday, May 16, 2005 - 12:42pmSanction this postReply
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Robert Davidson, what is your position then regarding how species come to be?  No one has yet provided me with an alternative to one evolving into another (in some fashion).  There is still plenty of debate on the exact mechanisms, but what, then, is your proposal of a mechanism? - or anyone, for that manner?



Post 19

Monday, May 16, 2005 - 2:20pmSanction this postReply
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Kurt,

I have none.  Nor does anyone else.  Serious questions arise when these plausible sounding explanations are stacked up against the actual evidence.  There are too many anomolies.  All I am expecting from 'science' to for it to say this is what we theorize, but we don't really know.

(Edited by Robert Davison on 5/16, 2:39pm)




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