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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

EXCERPT: Do We Need God to be Good

An excerpt from anthropologist Dr. Hallpike's conclusive demolition of evolutionary psychology, among other things, DO WE NEED GOD TO BE GOOD?

‘Evolutionary psychologists’, who claim that our human abilities and traits are very specific adaptations to the problems of pre-historic life on the savannah in East Africa, have not faced up to the fact that we know virtually nothing about what this life involved, about the social relations and organisation of our ancestors in those remote epochs, and still less about their mental capacities. If we are going to use the theory of natural selection to explain the characteristics of any species, it is obviously essential to have a detailed knowledge of their behaviour in relation to their environment. In the case of a social species it is particularly important to observe the relations between individuals, and modern studies of chimpanzees and gorillas are obvious examples of how this should be done.

But while it is reasonable to assume that our ancestors in this remote period lived in very small groups of gatherers and scavenger/hunters, and to deduce from this that we must have been an innately sociable species for a very long time, and that some of the well-established gender differences seem to be adaptations to this way of life, it is difficult to be sure about much else. Normal science proceeds from the known to the unknown, but evolutionary psychology tries to do it the other way round.

Language is central to human culture, but we do not even know when our ancestors were first able to utter sentences like ‘Shall we go hunting tomorrow?’, and it is quite possible that they only achieved this level of linguistic ability well within the last 100,000 years or so. But without language there would have been no way of referring to the future or the past, no means of conveying information, no group planning, no way of communicating group norms and ideas of sharing and cheating, and no discussion of technology and other problems of survival. We cannot even imagine what a pre-linguistic human society might have been like. It cannot be sufficiently emphasized, therefore, that our profound ignorance about early humans is quite incompatible with any informed discussion of possible adaptations.

Even in the case of the earliest Homo sapiens sapiens from around 200,000 years ago we do not know what sort of things they might have said to each other, (or if they could have said much at all), what made them laugh, or even if they laughed, what they quarrelled about or how they organised sharing within the group. Nor do we have any idea when they first had personal names, or when they could form the ideas of ‘grandfather’, or ‘mother’s brother’, or when they developed the idea of some sort of official union between adult men and women, or if they exchanged women between bands, or how hunting co-operation was organized, or what sort of leadership existed. Nor do we know when humans first had ideas of magic and symbolism, gods, ghosts, and spirits, or when or why they first performed religious rituals and disposed of the dead in a more than merely physical manner.

Ignoring these drastic limitations on our knowledge has meant that many so-called ‘adaptive explanations’ are merely pseudo-scientific ‘Just So Stories’, often made up without any anthropological knowledge, that have increasingly brought evolutionary psychology into disrepute. For example, it has been claimed (in the Proceedings of the Royal Society no less) that more than a million years ago, early humans lost their body hair because it was full of nasty parasites, and potential mates therefore preferred partners with the least amount of hair so that it was eliminated by sexual selection. Instead of body hair, humans took to wearing clothes: ‘clothes, unlike fur, can be changed and cleaned’. We know nothing whatsoever about the sexual preferences of our ancestors a million years ago, but at least we know they could not possibly have had clothes, because these have only been around for a few thousand years since the introduction of farming and weaving. Another example of an adaptive theory, recently published in New Scientist , is obviously based on the author’s experience of living in London rather than on any anthropological knowledge about hunter-gatherers. ‘The first, and most ancient function of manners is to solve the problem of how to be social without getting sick [from other people’s germs].’ No it isn’t. If there was a ‘first and most ancient function of manners’ it would have been to reduce social friction among small groups of people who have to live and get along with one another, and a hunter-gatherer band was, in any case, the environment where one had the least chance in human history of catching a disease from someone else.

Some years previously, New Scientist also published an evolutionary explanation of nightmares: ‘In the ancestral environment human life was short and full of threats’, so that ‘A dream-production mechanism that tends to select threatening events, and to simulate them over and over again in various combinations, would have been valuable for the development of threat-avoiding skills’. Since most people wake up screaming when the threat comes, however, nightmares seem a most unpromising educational tool. And as I write, yet another evolutionary knee-slapper has appeared, in Biological Reviews, this time maintaining that men’s faces and jaws are more robust than women’s because for millions of years men have engaged in fist fights. The problem here is that we know from anthropological studies that hunter-gatherers are not recorded as engaging in fist fights but in physical conflicts typically use weapons like clubs, spears, or rocks because they are so much more effective than trying to use one’s bare hands. Boxing as such is a skill that has to be deliberately taught and is only found in a small minority of societies which makes it extremely unlikely that it was an important form of human combat for millions of years.

The second problem is that if our ancestors were so closely adapted to the environment of prehistoric East Africa, this should be able to tell us a great deal about their subsequent behaviour, especially during the last 10,000 years of maximal social and cultural change. For example, we would expect humans, in their expansion all over the globe, to have chosen environments with a discernible resemblance to the savannah of East Africa, and to have avoided those that differed markedly from it, like rain-forests, deserts, the Arctic, islands in the Pacific Ocean, and high mountain ranges. We would also expect them, after millions of years of simple, egalitarian hunter-gatherer existence in small groups, to have been strongly resistant to the formation of large-scale, highly stratified societies, and again to have had great difficulty in mastering mathematics, science, and modern electronic technology, just to mention a few glaring examples of major cultural change.

Yet we know very well that in these and innumerable other respects, human habitats, social organisation, culture, technology and modes of thought have diverged in wildly different ways from the simple model of Man in his prehistoric environment, so that evolutionary psychology has no predictive value at all in these essential respects. This alone makes it very unlikely that human abilities and dispositions were ever closely adapted to particular ancestral conditions. ‘Among the multitude of animals which scamper, fly, burrow and swim around us, man is the only one who is not locked into his environment. His imagination, his reason, his emotional subtlety and toughness, make it possible for him not to accept the environment but to change it.’

Thirdly, Man’s extraordinary intellectual abilities, in particular, raise the problem that in Darwinian theory biological adaptations can only be to existing circumstances, never to those that might be encountered in the future. We did not acquire our mathematical abilities, for example, so that thousands of years later we could be good with computers. This fundamental point about human abilities was first made by A.R. Wallace, Darwin’s co-formulator of the theory of natural selection, who had extensive first-hand acquaintance with hunter-gatherers of the Amazon and south-east Asia. He noted that on the one hand their mode of life made only very limited intellectual demands on them, and did not require abstract concepts of number and geometry, space, time, music, and advanced ethical principles, yet as individuals they were potentially capable of mastering the highly demanding cognitive skills of modern industrial civilisation if they were given the chance to acquire them. Since, as noted, natural selection can only produce traits that are adapted to existing, and not future, conditions, it ‘could only have endowed savage man with a brain a little superior to that of an ape, where he actually possesses one little inferior to that of a philosopher’.

This is particularly obvious in the case of mathematics, where even today many simple cultures, especially hunter-gatherers but including some shifting cultivators may only have words for single, pair, and many. The Tauade of Papua New Guinea with whom I lived were like this, and indeed, the hunter-gatherer Piraha of South America are described as having no number words at all, not even the grammatical distinction between singular and plural. We can get a good idea why this should be so from the example of a Cree hunter from eastern Canada: he was asked in a court case involving land how many rivers there were in his hunting territory, and did not know:

The hunter knew every river in his territory individually and therefore had no need to know how many there were. Indeed, he would know each stretch of each river as an individual thing and therefore had no need to know in numerical terms how long the rivers were. The point of the story is that we count things when we are ignorant of their individual identity—this can arise when we don’t have enough experience of the objects, when there are too many of them to know individually, or when they are all the same, none of which conditions obtain very often for a hunter. If he has several knives they will be known individually by their different sizes, shapes, and specialized uses. If he has several pairs of moccasins they will be worn to different degrees, having been made at different times, and may be of different materials and design.

What needs to be emphasised here, therefore, is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors could easily have survived without the need for verbal numerals or for any counting at all, and that consequently there could have been no selective pressure for arithmetical skills to evolve in the specific conditions of the Pleistocene of East Africa. As we all know, mathematics has only flowered in the last few centuries, and among a tiny minority of people, far too brief a time-span for natural selection to have had the least effect. The mathematician Keith Devlin very reasonably concludes: ‘Whatever features of our brain enable (some of) us to do mathematics must have been present long before we had any mathematics. Those crucial features, therefore, must have evolved to fulfil some other purpose’(my emphasis). Because we have no idea what that ‘other purpose’ might have been we are obviously not going to discover the origin of the mathematical features of the human brain from anything we suppose our ancestors might have been doing in pre-history.

Mathematics is only one particularly glaring example of a whole range of advanced human thought in logic, philosophy, and science, of a type known as ‘formal operations’, which has only emerged in literate civilisations, and is never found among hunter-gatherers. This general type of thought must therefore be the result, like mathematics, of the brain using its faculties in novel ways, which therefore cannot be traced back to African prehistory.

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45 Comments:

Blogger pyrrhus May 08, 2018 8:11 PM  

Another problem with these simplistic arguments is that much of humanity, and its immediate predecessors, left Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago. Denisovans, one of our immediate predecessors, apparently reached some Pacific islands more than 600,000 years ago.https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/05/05/luzon-sulwawesi-flores/
Hence an enormous amount of evolution must have occurred since life on the African savannahs, and indeed, as Cochran and Harpending argue, has occurred in the last 10,000 years...And it didn't take long, as the ancient Greeks were already becoming quite proficient in mathematics.

Blogger Beau May 08, 2018 8:19 PM  

Normal science proceeds from the known to the unknown, but evolutionary psychology tries to do it the other way round.

Perhaps this statement is enough to prompt the audience to look at the man behind the curtain and draw appropriate conclusions.

Blogger Mr. Deficient May 08, 2018 8:32 PM  

Not only is this book 1 of the best that I have read , it is also highly relevant to the Jordan Peterson critique . His entire moral argument is based on evolutionary claims those claims can be shown to be false and everything else just kind of falls apart . Many of the arguments that Hallpike uses against traditional evolutionary biologist can also be used against Peterson . Like the above, or the fact that hunter gatherers do not have chimp like dominance hierarchies.

Blogger Daniel May 08, 2018 8:47 PM  

So well written, so persuasive. Have to read this book.

Blogger Lovekraft May 08, 2018 8:58 PM  

It would be interesting to see him address man's history in terms of host/parasite dynamic. Although we romanticize much of human history to be one of simple struggle for food, there were likely many stages in which strong groups were met with internal dilution, thus allowing for outsiders to infiltrate/exploit them, use them up, then move on.

Blogger Cash May 08, 2018 9:14 PM  

An interesting read for the rest of us who never understood what the evo bio people were talking about.

Why, if everything we do today can be explained by living in a jungle a million years ago, then what good is selection? How long did it take for the monkey men to adapt to not being eaten by some large animal? If it takes so long to adapt wouldn't they all have been eaten and man extinct?

The behavior of dog breeds change radically in a few generations (see Dalmatians after 101 Dalmatians) so why can't humans?

Hell, look how fast families change in behavior once a member becomes rich, a la the Vanderbilts.

Blogger MLGunner May 08, 2018 9:25 PM  

I wanted to buy the book to read it, but your link went to a corgi on amazon that told me I was out of luck.

Blogger VD May 08, 2018 9:27 PM  

Fixed, thanks.

Blogger Bobiojimbo May 08, 2018 9:38 PM  

The implications of this post are nice, very nice. Thank you, Vox.

Blogger OGRE May 08, 2018 9:44 PM  

Excellent read, thanks for that.

I'd add that it makes the whole "morality is a product of evolution" position extremely implausible. We have humans that have no conception of numbers, yet we are to believe they developed the very nuanced concepts involved in ethics? All at the same time and at the same pace yet in distinct and unconnected locations, to the point that these ideas are inescapable emotional feelings, ingrained into our consciousness. And that this is a result somehow of sex selection?? Judging what we do know about human mating behaviors it seems far more believable that those without a sense of morality would be more likely to breed successfully. The males who are most aggressive and who amass the most property breed far more than the others, yet they are the ones who exhibit the least evidence of operating under a moral system. If anything the humans who might have developed with ethical feelings would have been bred out of existence.

The same can be applied to the 'religion is a product of evolution' position as well.

Blogger pyrrhus May 08, 2018 9:50 PM  

@5 What actually happened, according to the genetic composition of the current populations, is that stronger groups conquered weaker groups, killed all the men, and took some of the women as concubines...This, of course, horrifies all the leftist anthropologists, who have been spinning tales of kumbaya for a century.

Blogger MendoScot May 08, 2018 9:54 PM  

A large part of our mathematical brain is superimposed, regionally, upon our linguistic brain.

But functionally our risk-benefit analysis, where careful multi-dimensional quantitative comparisons must be made for survival, is buried in a deeper, more instinctive part of the brain.

These structures are ancient, by any civilizational measure. They could not possibly have evolved, in any modern sense, within the anthropocene period.

So what happened?

Blogger nswhorse May 08, 2018 10:03 PM  

I've always thought evolutionary psychology has plainly been nothing but empty speculation and storytelling masquerading as science, and is popular only because it tells people what they wish to hear. There is literally zero data, as thoughts don't fossilise.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 08, 2018 10:09 PM  

pyrrhus wrote:What actually happened, according to the genetic composition of the current populations, is that stronger groups conquered weaker groups, killed all the men, and took some of the women as concubines...This, of course, horrifies all the leftist anthropologists, who have been spinning tales of kumbaya for a century.

They only kept the younger, hotter, tighter ones. That's the part that really horrifies all the feminists, who know they would have been part of the massacre, never part of the rape.

Blogger Didas Kalos May 08, 2018 10:09 PM  

It's simple if you believe the Bible. God created man. He didn't evolve from anything. He, Adam, actually named all the animals. Move away from. This truth and all sorts of errors arise.

Blogger Solaire Of Astora May 08, 2018 10:30 PM  

I started reading this a week ago and the examples of stretches made by evolutionary psychologists were cute. I'd noticed a few evolutionary psychologists defending their field by brow beating legitimate critics (this is such a good tell for bs) and trying to conflate them with SJWs for easy points. I didn't need to see that to know the field is a bunch of unfalsifiable crap but that and this book pounded a few more nails in the coffin.

Blogger Damaris Tighe May 08, 2018 10:39 PM  

i'm finding that alt-right thought and political theory is riddled with the is-ought fallacy. just because we do things is not a moral argument for doing them. we need to look beyond the genome for our morality.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine May 08, 2018 10:52 PM  

"It would be interesting to see him address man's history in terms of host/parasite dynamic."

I suspect it works much like rot or pests in grain.

Any society that is able to produce in excess -- and that does -- will acquire parasites to expend said excess.

Things like dark or damp (let's say weak moral-societal structure, or addictive-prone genetics) just make it happen sooner.

Anonymous Anonymous May 08, 2018 11:42 PM  

Evolution is little more than trying to explain the existence of man absent God. Since there is no good answer for the things that make man unique without God, the bright dividing line is blurred by assuming that somewhere in the mists of time non-men became men through a very gradual process. The differences took eons to occur rather than having been there since the beginning.

It never gets around to addressing why non-men would have become men at all, and why there are no other creatures observably on the path to becoming men. It also fails to explain why, if men are so adaptable to so many things quickly in life, it should take thousands of years to pass on the adaptations.

Blogger Ian Stein May 08, 2018 11:51 PM  

Theoretical Evolutionary Psychology.
Get back to me when you you have something solid.

Blogger Robert Paxton May 08, 2018 11:51 PM  

The entire excerpt was thought-provoking, especially since I have always bought into the evo-psych school of thought. However, the point about mathematics really blew me away. That one will keep me awake tonight.

Blogger Starboard May 08, 2018 11:59 PM  

The clarity of the writing compared to JBP is remarkable. "Do We Need God to be Good" just jumped up the reading list.

Blogger bob kek mando - ( your mom always did like me best ) May 09, 2018 12:14 AM  

And it didn't take long, as the ancient Greeks were already becoming quite proficient in mathematics.


Babylonians were doing quadratics in base60. and the ancient Egyptian and Indian temple builders had to have a pretty good grasp as well.

Blogger Mr. Deficient May 09, 2018 12:36 AM  

@23

We know nothing of their language or symbols, but since every house in Harapa had indoor plumbing circa 2000 BC, I wpuld say their grasp would have to be outstanding.

Blogger Iamblichus May 09, 2018 12:50 AM  


Vox, is Holy Rome back and based in Moscow?

https://www.facebook.com/RTnews/videos/10156727836804411/

Blogger Wallace Beamfire May 09, 2018 1:14 AM  

The problem with evolutionary psychology is the same problem with evolutionary biology. Naked speculation aping as knowledge. What a disaster for the body of science, generations of wasted work.

Blogger S'mon May 09, 2018 2:06 AM  

"we know they could not possibly have had clothes, because these have only been around for a few thousand years since the introduction of farming and weaving"

He thinks hunter gatherers don't wear clothes? No way to put on animal furs & skins? In reality all it needs to skin an animal is some sharp flint.

There is a good point here about evo-psych speculations, but it's massively overstated. We do know a lot about hunter gatherer groups and how they operate.

One point Cochrane & Harpending make, and that evo-psych people often get wrong, is that a lot of human evolution (certainly, natural selection within existing variation) is recent, within an agricultural and now urban environment. It tends to be a left-wing trope that human evolution stopped 50,000 years ago as we became better able to influence our environment; this is entirely inaccurate. All evolution needs to work is natural selection via different reproductive success.

Blogger S'mon May 09, 2018 2:09 AM  

"Among the multitude of animals which scamper, fly, burrow and swim around us, man is the only one who is not locked into his environment."

Rats?

Blogger Don't Call Me Len May 09, 2018 4:34 AM  

"Another example of an adaptive theory, recently published in New Scientist , is obviously based on the author’s experience of living in London rather than on any anthropological knowledge about hunter-gatherers."

This is also true of many advocates of the power of sexual selection, at least in relation to early homo sapiens: they have views based on the very modern form of free and wide sexual selection, especially in urban areas. Through most of human history, especially before the agricultural revolution, the possible mating options were pretty small, often so small as to offer no choice at all.

And let us not forget, very often the ones doing the mating weren't actually the ones doing the choosing, a tradition that still lives on today.

Blogger James Jones May 09, 2018 5:52 AM  

Will this be available on Kindle in the UK?

Blogger Michael Maier May 09, 2018 7:27 AM  

Wakandans had de maths long time ago.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 09, 2018 8:54 AM  

Michael Maier wrote:Wakandans had de maths long time ago.

Dat be maff. Get yo ebonics righ', yo!

Blogger John rockwell May 09, 2018 9:14 AM  

When Man who is imago dei ceases to be connected with God. Man ceases to be Man.

When man is connected to God his actions shall be based on Divine and Natural Law.

Blogger CM May 09, 2018 9:21 AM  

How much of this development of language, mathematics, and philosophy is just a byproduct of resource management?

In the creation of man, were we created with the potential for these things but the need to survive in East Africa suppressed these developments?

Surely, the hunter/gatherer needs to know more readily the landscape and animals, how to track, kill, and determine if he has enough food until the next time he hunts.

After dispersement, the needs in the north and winter would necessitate a deeper knowledge in astronomy, resource management, mass food accumulation and storage.

I would figure the advancements in agriculture that could feed more people with less work freed men to pursue more thinking-type advancements like philosophy and mathematics. Their thoughts are no longer consumed with day-to-day survival.

Regional peoples then develop genetic traits that distinguish themselves from other groups based on the necessities of their environment - more sun, more melanin, lower Vitamin D conversion; less sun, less melanin, higher vitamin D conversion. Higher IQ in agricultural societies than in hunter/gather societies.

Does this make sense, or am I just repackaging evolutionary psychology?

Anonymous Anonymous May 09, 2018 10:01 AM  

There's some very studied evasion and obtuseness in this excerpt.  Evolutionary psychology is closely related to game theory, IIUC.  You don't have to have a fossil of a strategy to be able to analyze how it would work.  If certain brain features are required in order to be able to execute a given strategy or sustain a social structure, this gives a hint as to when they might have arisen.  The lactase-persistence gene in the Indo-Europeans is an example of a novel feature carrying an evolutionary advantage (it enabled a cultural and technological shift).

Blogger Bogey May 09, 2018 10:34 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Aaron May 09, 2018 10:40 AM  

Any idea how long it will be for a paperback edition?

Blogger select star May 09, 2018 10:52 AM  

"Normal science proceeds from the known to the unknown, but evolutionary psychology tries to do it the other way round."

"Perhaps this statement is enough to prompt the audience to look at the man behind the curtain and draw appropriate conclusions."


It's always amusing to see the leftard try to use sophistry to explain why the house they see precludes the existence of a carpenter.

Blogger SB Wright May 09, 2018 11:21 AM  

There have been a couple of posted excerpts from this book, and previous ones perked my interest. This one makes me less inclined to read it. Perhaps I wasn't paying close attention before, but as others have noted above, there are some questionable assertions here.

[@27 S'Mon: "we know they could not possibly have had clothes, because these have only been around for a few thousand years since the introduction of farming and weaving"

He thinks hunter gatherers don't wear clothes? No way to put on animal furs & skins? In reality all it needs to skin an animal is some sharp flint.]

That was my thought as well. Is he saying that absent plant fibers no one has clothes? Is that how he defines clothes in the book? Or this:

"Language is central to human culture, but we do not even know when our ancestors were first able to utter sentences like ‘Shall we go hunting tomorrow?’, and it is quite possible that they only achieved this level of linguistic ability well within the last 100,000 years or so. But without language there would have been no way of referring to the future or the past, no means of conveying information, no group planning, no way of communicating group norms and ideas of sharing and cheating, and no discussion of technology and other problems of survival."

I have no idea where he gets the 100K figure for that level of language (was that the age of the oldest AMH fossil at the time this was written?), but this passage conflates the ability to communicate on the level of group agreement on future plans with "ability to convey information". Dogs do not communicate on the agreement-about-future level, but they can certainly convey information. Many birds and mammals can convey information without having advanced language. Aren't there other mammals that share resources as well?

The paragraph beginning: "Thirdly, Man’s extraordinary intellectual abilities, in particular, raise the problem that in Darwinian theory biological adaptations can only be to existing circumstances, never to those that might be encountered in the future." Maybe I am completely missing the point, because his examples here don't make the case. True, we didn't acquire math ability 10K years ago so I could use a computer today, but so what? We also didn't acquire excellent visio-spacial ability over 10K years ago so that I can drive a car today. But it isn't a refutation of evolution that some abilities in one area (hunting) cross over to another (driving a car). Or future time orientation and planning in order to survive lean times and math. And we do see differences in mean group ability on quantitative tests, even if some individuals from Amazon tribes could learn geometry.

There are other eyebrow-raisers in this excerpt. If one of the author's main points is that Evo-psych is oversold, he'll get no argument from me, but I hope that the rest of the book has tighter arguments/definitions than this.

Blogger wreckage May 09, 2018 1:12 PM  

Regarding clothes, please re-read. This is very specifically about the difference between furs and woven cloth.

With regard to language, he's talking about group planning. Dogs coordinate in real time, and birds pass on cultural assumptions, but neither has the capacity to plan a move from and to particular regions so as to time the herd migrations but also cross paths with that other tribe in order to trade.

Nor is his argument intended to "disprove evolution"; it's a commentary on the fact, noted by many, that human evolution takes a very odd turn with our intelligence: we're absurdly, uselessly smart from a point in our conventionally mapped evolution where it serves no purpose whatsoever apart from consuming resources, making reproduction more difficult, and leaving us vulnerable to a wide range of injuries and diseases.

Human intelligence looks like a very hard won, extremely strongly selected-for survival trait, but emerges in the conventionally acknowledged timeline before those demands exist, which is a fascinating puzzle if you just open your mind to it.

Blogger tkatchev May 09, 2018 2:42 PM  

Denisovans, one of our immediate predecessors, apparently reached some Pacific islands more than 600,000 years ago.

All such dates are highly suspect, to put it very mildly.

For two reasons:

a) Dating methods are not science, they're estimates based on very fluid and informal reasoning.

b) Nobody ever got a grant or a high-profile paper for dates in the near past. If you want grants and papers, you need to keep pushing the envelope further and further into the past.

Blogger tkatchev May 09, 2018 2:48 PM  

S'mon wrote:We do know a lot about hunter gatherer groups and how they operate.

No, we do not. The ancient hunters and gatherers were very smart people who quickly went on to invent writing, sail around the world, build cathedrals and find God.

The hunters and gatherers who inhabit the Earth in the year 2018 are the ones that were left behind, because there was something seriously wrong with their culture or heredity.

Might as well study a junkie tent city in California to find clues about the ancient Indo-Europeans, makes as little sense.

Blogger SB Wright May 09, 2018 3:04 PM  

@39 wreckage:

Where do you see that he is specifically talking about furs versus woven cloth?

"For example, it has been claimed (in the Proceedings of the Royal Society no less) that more than a million years ago, early humans lost their body hair because it was full of nasty parasites, and potential mates therefore preferred partners with the least amount of hair so that it was eliminated by sexual selection. Instead of body hair, humans took to wearing clothes: ‘clothes, unlike fur, can be changed and cleaned’. We know nothing whatsoever about the sexual preferences of our ancestors a million years ago, but at least we know they could not possibly have had clothes, because these have only been around for a few thousand years since the introduction of farming and weaving."

I agree that this sounds like he is defining clothes as being woven cloth, without specifically saying "fur garments don't count as clothes". But how would that help his point? He'd have to demonstrate that 'nasty parasites' would still infest the garments, and that cleaning them was improbable or ineffective. Otherwise the fur garments could still lead to the loss of body hair in ancient hominids, and the person saying "clothes couldn't do that because fur garments aren't clothes, only woven cloth is, and woven cloth didn't exist" sounds like someone who is trying to use verbal gymnastics to disprove a claim he doesn't like by excluding a valid definition of "clothes".

"With regard to language, he's talking about group planning."

Re-reading what he wrote: "But without language there would have been no way of referring to the future or the past, no means of conveying information, no group planning, no way of communicating group norms and ideas of sharing and cheating, and no discussion of technology and other problems of survival."

He doesn't say "no way of conveying information about the future or past", or "about it", he says "no way of conveying information". I read that as a saying humans needed a fairly sophisticated level of language to convey information or to share resources, which would not be correct. Given the context, your interpretation is reasonable.

"Nor is his argument intended to "disprove evolution""

Yes, this was incorrectly worded on my part. I meant that if humans' ability to do something today utilizes skills/abilities gained in the past, then it doesn't matter that evolution would not have selected for the current use. If having basic ability "B" (good hand-eye coordination and spacial understanding) makes one able to do activity "C" (drive a car), then since selection pushed our ancestors to acquire or improve "B", we can drive today, even though "driving ability" was not directly selected for in the past. I was wondering if math, etc. abilities, are related enough to the planning for the future, etc. demands, that early humans had to do that this could explain this. And Hallpike correctly states that we don't know a lot about day-to-day life and conditions in the distant past. So how much confidence do we have in how much more intelligence than simians is needed (" it (evolution)‘could only have endowed savage man with a brain a little superior to that of an ape, where he actually possesses one little inferior to that of a philosopher’"?

Blogger select star May 09, 2018 3:28 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Lovekraft May 09, 2018 7:06 PM  

This sermon by Pastor Warren Wiersbe is on prayer, the holy spirit and how it serves as a filter to better prayer.

Could the mark of intelligence be one's path from selfish grasping and envy to one of true harmony with God and our fellow men, and could prayer be the primary method of getting there?

https://ia800307.us.archive.org/25/items/SERMONINDEX_SID17611/SID17611.mp3

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