Discussion:L'Origine de la Vie
The Origin of Life - Five questions asking is an illustrated brochure printed and published by Jehovah's Witnesses via the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania in Wallkill, New York, and branch offices around the world. This brochure was released during the summer of 2010 at the convention in the same time of another creationist brochure Was Life Created?. The two works present various criticisms of the evidence supporting biological evolution and argue that the origin and diversity of life is better explained by a supernatural creator god, specifically the God of the Bible.
PurposeThe stated purpose of this brochure is claimed page 3:
This brochure is not designed to support the efforts of religious groups who want to have creation taught in schools. The purpose of this brochure is to examine claims made by those who teach that life appeared spontaneously and assert that the Bible's account of creation is a myth.
In many ways, the case presented will be familiar to those who have read earlier religiously motivated writings targeting the theory of evolution. Included are standard creationist tropes like the assertions that life is too complex and wonderful to be explained by natural processes, that the emergence of novel species is impossible, and that “true” religion and “actual” science are fully reconcilable.
However, there are some unique features of the material that should be noted. For example, the editors clearly avoid any politically charged language. Absent is the phrase ‘intelligent design’ and even terms like ‘creationist’ and ‘creationism’ are used very sparingly. Attempts by other religious groups to force creationism into the public school science curriculum are dismissed. So-called “fundamentalists” are ridiculed as much for their disregard of scientific evidence as for their “incorrect” interpretation of Scripture. Additionally, an effort was made to increase the transparency of the sources and quotations cited. Many of the scientific claims reference a bibliography, and several quotes from biologists feature an asterisk and the caveat that the person mentioned actually accepts evolution.
Despite this fact, there are numerous misquoted scientists in this brochure.
The scientists misquoted
(in order of appearance)
- Alexandre Meinesz
- Robert Shapiro
- Hubert P.Yockey
- Dr Carol Cleland
- Radu Popa
- Francis Crick
- Malcolm S.Gordon
- Eric Bapteste & Michael Rose
- David M.Raup
- Stuart Newman
- Henry Gee
- Matt Cartmill & Fred H.Smith
- Charles E.Oxnard
- Robin Derricourt
- Gen Suwa, Reiko T. Kono, Shigehiro Kaioh. Berhane Asfaw and Yonas Beyene
- Gyula Gyenis
- Chris Bead
- James Randerson
- C.N. Stephan
- Ralph L. Holloway. Douglas C. Broadfield. and Michael S. Yuan
- Ursula Dicke and Gerhard Roth
- Milford H. Wolpoff
- G. A. Clark and C M. Willermel
|page||Endnote n°||Watchtower Quote||The Source|
|4, 9||1, 10||What do many scientists claim? Many who believe in evolution would tell you that billions of years ago, life began on the edge of an ancient tidal pool or deep in the ocean. They feel that in some such location, chemicals spontaneously assembled into bubblelike structures, formed complex molecules, and began replicating. They believe that all life on earth originated by accident from one or more of these "simple" original cells.
Other equally respected scientists who also support evolution disagree. They speculate that the first cells or at least their major components arrived on earth from outer space. Why? Because, despite their best efforts, scientists have been unable to prove that life can spring from nonliving molecules. In 2008, Professor of Biology Alexandre Meinesz highlighted the dilemma. He stated that over the last 50 years, "no empirical evidence supports the hypotheses of the spontaneous appearance of life on Earth from nothing but a molecular soup, and no significant advance in scientific knowledge leads in this direction."
| Professeur Meinesz contacted by email 24/08/2010 5:31 pm (French Hour) |
* Did you authorize the Watchtower to make reference to your book ? Of course, not !
|5||2, 3 & 4|| "Some writers." says Robert Shapiro, professor emeritus of chemistry at New York University, "have presumed that all life's building blocks could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites. This is not the case.
Consider the RNA molecule. It is constructed of smaller molecules called nu-cleotides. A nucleotide is a different molecule from an amino acid and is only slightly more complex. Shapiro says that "no nucleolides of any kind have been reported as products of spark-discharge experiments or in studies of meteorites."-1 He further states that the probability of a self-replicating RNA molecule randomly assembling from a pool of chemical building blocks "is so vanishingly small that its happening even once anywhere in the visible universe would count as a piece of exceptional good luck.
Source: Scientific American, "A Simpler Origin Tor Life." by Robert Shapiro. June 2007. p. 48.49-50
| The opposing model of abiogenesis, the ‘metabolism first’ idea, attempts to avoid complicated RNA formation and polymerization and instead focuses on energy production. A prominent advocate of this theory is Robert Shapiro of New York University. .He is also a vocal critic of ‘genes first’. In this capacity, TOL exploits his quotes to attempt to tear down ‘genes first’ while failing to explain the model he does support. In ‘metabolism first’, a particular mineral like iron disulfide catalyzes certain key biochemical reactions. This mineral is commonly found in deep sea vents. These vents also release gases that can be broken down by certain chemical processes to release energy. The metabolism of these gases produces organic compounds that could serve to further increase the efficiency of the original reaction. A possible clue to this ancient process is the presence of iron sulfide in several important enzymes used in cells today. From there, a cell membrane can be formed in a similar manner to that mentioned above. The introduction of RNA and genetic replication happens at a later stage after metabolizing units with a vesicle exist. This last step may end up including ideas from the competing ‘genes first’ hypothesis. Advocates of this model claim that the development of catalytic networks is a simpler and more robust starting point then genetic material. Ongoing research will surely throw light on this topic.|
The conclusion of the article ends:
The small-molecule alternative, however, is in harmony with the views of biologist Stuart Kauffman: “If this is all true, life is vastly more probable than we have supposed. Not only are we at home in the universe, but we are far more likely to share it with as yet unknown companions.”
Source: Scientific American, "A Simpler Origin Tor Life." by Robert Shapiro. June 2007. p. 47-53
|6||5||The probability that just one protein containing only 100 amino acids could ever randomly form on earth has been calculated to be about one chance in a million billion. Researcher Hubert P. Yockey. who supports the teaching of evolution, goes further. He says: "It is impossible that the origin of life was 'proteins first.
Source : Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, by Hubert P. Yockey, 2005. p. 182
|The quote is taken without the context of the Epilogue of his book. The chapter 12 (just before) answers the crucial question. Professor Yockey explains on his blog: |
I address the specious challenges to evolution by Intelligent Design proponents in my book, Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life (Cambridge University Press, 2005). In Chapter 12, my answer to the question, “Does evolution need an intelligent designer?” concludes as follows:
Source : Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, by Hubert P. Yockey, 2005. p. 182 & Blog of Hubert Yockey (http://www.hubertpyockey.com/hpyblog/about/)
|6||6||What if, despite the extremely small odds, both proteins and RNA molecules did appear by chance in the same place at the same lime? How likely would it be for them to cooperate to form a self-replicating, self-sustaining type of life? "The probability of this happening by chance (given a random mixture of proteins and RNA) seems astronomically low," says Dr. Carol Cleland*, a member of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Astrobioiogy Institute. "Yet," she continues, "most researchers seem to assume that if they can make sense of the independent production of proteins and RNA under natural primordial conditions, the coordination will somehow take care of itself." Regarding the current theories of how these building blocks of life could have arisen by chance, she says: "None of them have provided us with a very satisfying story about how this happened."
Source :.NASA's Astrohhlogy Magazine. "Life's Working Definition—Does It Work?" (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/starsgalaxies/life%27s_working_definition.html). accessed 3/17/2009
| Dr. Carol Cleland is quoted as commenting (email 12th June 2010) on this, she has gone on record as saying:|
" It is clear that scientists know how many of the most basic building blocks of life are made under natural conditions"She adds, regarding the selective quote in the brochure:
"My work has been used before by these people and it really angers me because they are using it to defend views that I reject..... it is deeply dishonest for theists to deliberately distort the words of scholars for their own purposes; as I recall , this is a sin"
|12||13|| Microbiologist Radu Popa does not agree with the Bible's account of creation. Yet, in 2004 he asked: "How can nature make life if we failed with all the experimental conditions controlled?" He also stated: "The complexity of the mechanisms required for the functioning of a living cell is so large that a simultaneous emergence by chance seems impossible."
What do you think? The theory of evolution tries to account for the origin of life on earth without the necessity of divine intervention. However, the more that scientists discover about life, the less likely it appears that it could arise by chance. To sidestep this dilemma, some evolutionary scientists would like to make a distinction between the theory of evolution and the question of the origin of life. But does that sound reasonable to you?
|Full quote gives : |
The Complexity of the mechanisms required for the functioning of a living cell is so large that simultaneous emergence by chance seems impossible. Most scientists now believe that life originated in a number of smaller and probabilistically likelier steps. Instead of being one big chance like event, life might actually be an accretion of a series of events emerging at different moments in time.
Source : Between Necessity and Probability: Searching for the Definition and Origin of Life, by Radu Popa. 2004, p, 129
|21||26|| Some learned men have decided that the evidence points the other way. For example, Francis Crick, a scientist who helped to discover DNA's double-helix structure, decided that this molecule is far too organized to have come about through undirected events. He proposed that intelligent extraterrestrials may have sent DNA to the earth to help get life started here.
Source : The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence— A Philosophical Inquiry by David Lamb, 2001, p. 83
| The quote is accurate but this opinion of Francis Crick is outdated. The book of David Lamb quotes a book of Crick published in 1981. Francis Crick himself in 1993 withdrew his criticisms of origin of life research in light of progress in the field.|
How clearly did we anticipate the exciting experimental discoveries of the last decade ? We must confess that we did not anticipate them at all. (...) The lesson is clear : speculation is fun, but even correct hypotheses without experimental follow-up are unlikely to have much effect on the development of biology."
So the book of David Lamb eclipses in 2001 the real thought of Francis Crick and the same is true of the brochure Origin of Life !
|22||29||In recent years, scientists have been able to compare the genetic codes of dozens of different single-celled organisms as well as those of plants and animals. They assumed that such comparisons would confirm the branching "tree of life" proposed by Darwin. However, this has not been the case.
What has the research uncovered? In 1999 biologist Malcolm S. Gordon wrote: "Life appears to have had many origins. The base of the universal tree of life appears not to have been a single root." Is there evidence that all the major branches of life are connected to a single trunk, as Darwin believed? Gordon continues: "The traditional version of the theory of common descent apparently does not apply to kingdoms as presently recognized. It probably does not apply to many, if not all, phyla, and possibly also not to many classes within the phyla."
Source : Biology and Philosophy. "The Concept of Monophyly; A Speculative Essay," by Malcolm S. Gordon. 1999, p, 335
|The Watchtower recycles the exact same quote taken out of context in the book Icons of evolution: science or myth? : why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong, page 57, by Jonathan Wells & Jody F. Sjogren , who are advocates of Intelligent Design |
Dr. Gordon is correct when explaining that the tree of life (phylogeny) may have various “roots” and not a single starting point. Ancient single celled organisms swapped genetic information through a process called horizontal gene transfer. Evolved features and mechanisms could be traded back and forth leading to radically new types of life. This chaotic environment is not amenable to a simple tree. Instead, a modified tree would feature branches splitting off, curling and recombining in strange ways. This phenomenon was unknown to Darwin, so his simpler conception of phylogeny needs refinement. This is to be expected, being that he lived 150 years ago. Modern biology owes its foundations to Darwin, but in a way, evolution is not really “Darwin’s theory” anymore. His key insights remain, but they have been radically improved and supplemented. Science is not a dogmatic collection of immutable statements made by unassailable saints. It does not matter that Darwin was incorrect about many things, as science is not tied to any individual.
Dr. Gordon’s other comments should be placed in context by noting that the title of the published work in which his statements appear is The Concept of Monophyly: A Speculative Essay. This publication is a speculative work addressing emerging concepts in the complicated world of biological classification called cladistics. Comments involving the reality of categories like kingdom or phylum are intimately related to inquiries into the ancient history of single-celled organisms. This work does not challenge the fact that modern species are related by common ancestors.
(...)The quotations you cite may not be exactly verbatim, but they are close enough. They are, however, quoted out of context. Whoever wrote the tract is likely not a scientist and may not have a clear understanding of scientific method or principles. The creationist and ID views of evolution are religious and theological, not scientific. I do not agree with them. (...) Yours, Malcolm Gordon- Email 08/27/2010
|23||30, 31||Recent research continues to contradict Darwin's theory of common descent. For example, in 2009 an article in New Scientist magazine quoted evolutionary scientist Eric Bapteste as saying: "We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality." The same article quotes evolutionary biologist Michael Rose as saying: "The tree of life is being politely buried, we all know that. What's less accepted is that our whole fundamental view of biology needs to change."
Source : New Scientist. "Uprooting Darwin's Tree." by Graham Lawton, January 24, 2009, p. 34.37.39
| Rather than explaining what the connection is between these quotes and common descent or, more importantly, how these quotes relate back to the central claim of the whole article itself, which is that there are "fixed barriers separating the different kinds" (p.22), the article goes directly into the next subheading, leaving the reader to make the connection on his or her own, in all likelihood presuming that these quoted scientists (Bapteste and Rose) are disputing common descent in toto. However, a review of the New Scientist article from which these quotes are taken quickly reveals that they are speaking of gene swapping among unicellular organisms--bacteria and viruses. "As early as 1993, some were proposing that for bacteria and archaea, the tree of life was more like a web," the original New Scientist article states. "By sheer weight of numbers almost all the living things on Earth are microbes. It would be perverse to claim that the evolution of life on Earth resembles a tree just because multicellular life evolved that way." (emphasis added).|
Source : New Scientist. "Uprooting Darwin's Tree." by Graham Lawton, January 24, 2009, p. 34.37.39
|23||32||WHAT ABOUT THE FOSSIL RECORD?
Many scientists point to the fossil record as support for the idea that life emerged from a common origin. They argue, for example, that the fossil record documents the notion that fish became amphibians and reptiles became mammals. What, though, does the fossil evidence really show?
| What an old quote of 1979 and the brochure was published in 2010 so 31 years after they use again a misquote written in their book Life--How Did It Get Here?,published in 1985. |
On the previous page Raup writes:
We must distinguish between the fact of evolution -- defined as change in organisms over time -- and the explanation of this change. Darwin's contribution, through his theory of natural selection, was to suggest how the evolutionary change took place. The evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be.Note that Raup believes that evolution has occurred; he calls evolution a "fact". And on page 25 he writes:
What appeared to be a nice progression when relatively few data were available now appears to be much more complex and much less gradualistic. So Darwin's problem has not been alleviated in the last 120 years and we still have a record which does show change but one which can hardly be look upon as the most reasonable consequence of natural selection. (Emphasis in original)And later on the same page:
So natural selection as a process is okay. We are also pretty sure that it goes on in nature although good examples are surprisingly rare.It should be obvious by now that what Raup is arguing against is not evolution, but gradual evolution in all cases.
Source : Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, "Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology," by David M, Raup, January 1979, p. 22-25 & The Quote Mine Project Or, Lies, Damned Lies and Quote Mines - "Sudden Appearance and Stasis" by the talk.origins newsgroup & On a Common Creationist Quotation of Dr. David M. Raup
|24||33|| The relatively sudden appearance of these diverse life forms is causing some evolutionary researchers to question the traditional version of Darwin's theory. For example, in an interview in 2008, evolutionary biologist Stuart Newman discussed the need for a new theory of evolution that could explain the sudden appearance of novel forms of life. He said: "The Darwinian mechanism that's used to explain all evolutionary change will be relegated, I believe, to being just one of several mechanisms-maybe not even the most important when it comes to understanding macroevolution, the evolution of major transitions in body type
|| The quote appears in the end of the interview: |
Question : How much will the scientific establishment now have to reorient in light of the momentum of the Extended Synthesis? Will Darwin go the way of Freud? And will the Extended Synthesis require an extensive rewriting of textbooks?
Of course, no biologist accepts “traditional” evolutionary theory as described 150 years ago. Darwin lacked much of the fossil evidence that exists now, and had no knowledge of genetics, much less the sophisticated genetic tools of the 21st century. New evidence necessitates improved theories. Emerging research suggests that other genetic phenomena that would have been unimaginable to Darwin are important for shaping species. When Dr. Newman refers to the “Darwinian mechanism”, he is referring specifically to natural selection. Other mechanisms like gene flow, genetic drift, and recombination can also lead to biological change. No biologist would be surprised to hear the evolution is not restricted only to natural selection.
|24, 25||34||A second, more serious challenge is the lack of proof that those creatures are somehow related. Specimens placed in the series are often separated by what researchers estimate to be millions of years. Regarding the time spans that separate many of these fossils, zoologist Henry Gee says: "The intervals of time that separate the fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry and descent.-
Source : In Search of Deep Time-Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, by Henry Gee. 1999 p.23
'To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage Is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific -
| Henry Gee seems to be misquoted too and it's not the first time |
You can read the quote in his book
|24, 25||35|| Commenting on the fossils offish and amphibians, biologist Malcolm S. Gordon states that the fossils found represent only a small, "possibly quite unrepresentative, sample of the biodiversity that existed in these groups at those times." He further says: "There is no way of knowing to what extent, if at all, those specific organisms were relevant to later developments, or what their relationships might have been to each other."
Source : Biology and Philosophy. "The Concept of Monophyly; A Speculative Essay," by Malcolm S. Gordon. 1999, p, 340
| The quote can be find on a website for Literature Survey on Origins & Design .Here the full quote in context |
Comparable problems exist with respect to the molecular biological evidence. The living lungfishes and the coelacanth represent tiny, randomly selected remnants of ancient groups that were numerous, varied, and widely distributed in the Devonian. One can only wonder at how accurate, or even relevant, the relationships that we estimate to exist between these organisms today may be with respect to the actual phylogenetic relationships of their basal groups.
As you can see, Professor Malcolm S.Gordon is speaking about the late Denovian extinction period, which was one of five major extinction events in the history of the Earth's biota. That's why we don't have a big huge fossil record. So it's not a big surprise and doesn't rebute evolution.
See the view by the NSCE about this so called dissident view Malcolm Gordon disbelieves universal common ancestry, and another scientist, Michael Behe, accepts it
Source : Biology and Philosophy. "The Concept of Monophyly; A Speculative Essay," by Malcolm S. Gordon. 1999, p, 340-341 
|27||38||Fact: At the beginning of the 20th century, all the fossils that were used to support the theory that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor could fit on a billiard table. Since then, the number of fossiis used to support that theory has increased. Now it is claimed that they would fill a railroad boxcar"
Source : The Human Lineage by Malt Cartmill and Fred H. Smith. 2009 Préface p.11
| An often repeated creationist canard insists that all known human fossils would fit on a billiard table. This was probably true in the late 19th century, but it has not been true for a 100 years. Known human fossils number in the thousands and represent the remains of hundreds of individuals. They are more numerous and better studied than the fossils of any other vertebrae group, because the intense interest that people have for the bones of their ancestors has driven them to devote far more effort to collecting and studying fossil humans than say fossil horses or herring. Having seen most of the major collections of human fossils in the world's museums, we can assure our readers that those collections can no longer be laid out on a billiard table. It would be hard to cram them all into a boxcar. |
Source : The Human Lineage by Malt Cartmill and Fred H. Smith. 2009 Préface p.11
|27||39||However, the vast majority of those fossils consist only of single bones and isolated teeth. Complete skulls-let alone complete skeletons—are rare.
Source : Fossils, Teeth and Sex-New Perspectives on Human Evolution, by Charles F. Oxnard. 1987. Preface, pp. xi, xii.
| What this book further attempts to do, bearing in mind that results from studies of small numbers of post-cranial fossils have not been overly persuasive within the profession, is to carry out these studies using large samples. This means that we can better know populations through averages and variations, and be less dependent upon the vagaries of single, possibly far from average, specimens. Such studies have to be based upon teeth, because these are the only anatomical parts that are available in such large samples. Using teeth means we lose the functional inferences that can be readily derived from post-cranial bones. But we gain from the marked improvements in the sample sizes. |
Source : Fossils, Teeth and Sex-New Perspectives on Human Evolution, by Charles F. Oxnard. 1987. Preface, pp. xi, xii.
|27||40||Question: Has trie increased number of fossils attributed to the human family tree" settled the question among evolutionary experts as to when and how humans evolved from apelike creatures?
Answer: No. In fact, the opposite is true. When it comes to how these fossils should be classified, Robin Derricourt of the University of New South Wales, Australia, wrote in 2009: "Perhaps the only consensus now is that there is no consensus."
| At any point in time, the number of hominin genera and species recognized by the majority of specialists will be limited, reflecting the merging into a single category of specimens previously categorized as separate. But in turn new claims for taxonomic uniqueness keep the pool large, until affected by their own cycle of merger. Figure 1 is indicative of the addition of new taxa to the hominins; while most of these have subsequently been subsumed and disappeared from the literature, the chart shows that the pattern of new names for new finds show no signs of introduction of new genera has declined since 1970. There has been a substantial number of different classificatory schemes, both from those associated with the newer discoveries and from those standing to one side of these. Perhaps the only consensus now is that there is no consensus.|
Both 'splitters' - those who favour multiple species and genera - and 'lumpers' - those who prefer a classificatory and phylogenetic scheme with fewer taxons - vary in the criteria they consider essential to their classificatory scheme.
|27||41||In 2007 the science journal Nature published an article by the discoverers of another claimed link in the evolutionary tree, saying that nothing is known about when or how the human line actually emerged from that of apes.
Source :Nature, "A New Species of Great Ape From the Late Miocene Epoch in Ethiopia." by Gen Suwa, Reiko T. Kono, Shigehiro Kaioh. Berhane Asfaw and Yonas Beyene, August 23. 2007. p. 921
| With the discovery of Ardipithecus, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus, our knowledge of hominid evolution before the emergence of Pliocene species of Australopithecus has significantly increased, extending the hominid fossil record back to at least 6 million years (Myr) ago. However, because of the dearth of fossil hominoid remains in sub-Saharan Africa spanning the period 12-7 Myr ago, nothing is known of the actual timing and mode of divergence of the African ape and hominid lineages. Most genomic-based studies suggest a late divergence date-5-6 Myr ago and 6-8 Myr ago for the human-chimp and human-gorilla splits, respectively-and some palaeontological and molecular analyses hypothesize a Eurasian origin of the African ape and hominid clade. We report here the discovery and recognition of a new species of great ape, Chororapithecus abyssinicus, from the 10-10.5-Myr-old deposits of the Chorora Formation at the southern margin of the Afar rift. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first fossils of a large-bodied Miocene ape from the African continent north of Kenya. They exhibit a gorilla-sized dentition that combines distinct shearing crests with thick enamel on its 'functional' side cusps. Visualization of the enamel-dentine junction by micro-computed tomography reveals shearing crest features that partly resemble the modern gorilla condition. These features represent genetically based structural modifications probably associated with an initial adaptation to a comparatively fibrous diet. The relatively flat cuspal enamel-dentine junction and thick enamel, however, suggest a concurrent adaptation to hard and/or abrasive food items. The combined evidence suggests that Chororapithecus may be a basal member of the gorilla clade, and that the latter exhibited some amount of adaptive and phyletic diversity at around 10-11 Myr ago.|
Source : Nature, "A New Species of Great Ape From the Late Miocene Epoch in Ethiopia." by Gen Suwa, Rciko T. Kono, Shigehiro Kaioh. Berhane Asfaw
|27||42||Gyula Gyenis, a researcher at the Department of Bioiogical Anthropology, Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary, wrote in 2002: "The classification and the evolutionary place of hominid fossils has been under constant debate."* This author also states that the fossil evidence gathered so far brings us no closer to knowing exactly when, where, or how humans evolved from apelike creatures
Source : Acta Biologica Szegediensis, Volume 46(I-2), "New Findings -New Problems in Classification or Hominids." by Gyula Gyenis, 2002. pp. 57, 59.
|One of the main reasons of the different interpretations of the evolutionary way of the hominids is that the classification and the evolutionary place of hominid fossils has been under constant debate. It is caused partly because hominid fossils are not plentiful - inspite of the growing number of the fossils - and perhaps partly because there are a number of rival discovery teams, and the importance of a new hominid fossil discovery is enhanced if the discovery apparently requires new classifications and/or new interpretations. |
Source :Acta Biologica Szegediensis, Volume 46(I-2), "New Findings -New Problems in Classification or Hominids." by Gyula Gyenis, 2002. pp. 57, 59.
|27||43, 44, 45||ANNOUNCEMENTS OF "MISSING LINKS"* Fact: The media often widely broadcasts the announcement that a new "missing link" has been discovered. For example, in 2009 a fossil dubbed Ida was unveiled with what one journal called "rock-star hype." Publicity included this headline in The Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom (UK): "Fossil Ida: Extraordinary Find is 'Missing Link' in Human Evolution." However, just days later, the UK science journal New Scientist said: "Ida is not a 'missing link' in human evolution. "
Source : New Scientist, "A Fine Fossil—But a Missing Link She's Not," by Chris Bead, May 30, 2009, p. 18,19
|UNBRIDLED hoopla attended the unveiling of a 47-millionyear-old fossil primate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on 19 May. The popular press immediately hailed the specimen as a "missing link" in human evolution. Some called it the "eighth wonder of the world". Google even incorporated an image of the fossil into its celebrated logo. Now that the first proper description of the fossil, nicknamed Ida, has been published, the task of separating the scientific significance of the fossil from the mass of public relations hype can begin. Ida is the first known member of a new genus and species (Darwinius massillae) belonging to an extinct group of early primates called the adapiforms, whose overall proportions and anatomy resemble those of a lemur. What does this tell us about her place on the family tree of humans and other primates? The fact that Ida retains features found in all early primates indicates that she belongs somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do. But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of the anthropoids - the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes, you and me. To be connected in this way, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here she fails miserably: Ida is not a "missing link" in human evolution. She is, nevertheless, a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of known primates. For this, we can celebrate her discovery as a real, if incremental advance. If Ida herself offers only limited extra insight into primate evolution, the PR campaign which greeted her raises the marketing of science to unprecedented heights. As a practising scientist, I applaud fellow scientists' efforts to promote their findings to a wide audience. But there remains an important difference between the type of publicity that scientists work towards and that which rock stars, sports personalities and politicians seek.|
The currency that we trade in is rooted in data and objectivity. If we ever allow marketers and publicists to divorce us from that simple standard, we will quickly find our work being evaluated on the same basis as the advertising campaign for the next world tour of the Rolling Stones. Shall we all begin tuning our guitars?
|28||46||Regarding those who make these discoveries, Robin Derricourt, quoted earlier, says: "The leader of a research team may need to over-emphasize the uniqueness and drama of a 'discovery' in order to attract research funding from outside the conventional academic sources, and they will certainly be encouraged in this by the print and electronic media, looking for a dramatic story.
Source : Critique of Anthropology, Volume 29(2). p. 202.
|"With limited data it is difficult to assess accurately the survival rate of different late Pliocene and Pleistocene fossil hominins. With such data it is easier to study the survival rate of newly patented species in the literature. The recovery of fossil hominin skeletal material operates, and has always operated, in a contemporary framework: that of physical access, national priorities, research funding and individual research passions. The interpretation of these finds, and in particular their initial naming, so frequently claiming uniqueness, emphasizes the subjectivity of these frameworks. The leader of a research team may need to over-emphasize the uniqueness and drama of a 'discovery' in order to attract research funding from outside the conventional academic sources, and they will certainly be encouraged in this by the print and electronic media, looking for a dramatic story." |
Source : Critique of Anthropology, Volume 29(2). p. 202.
|28||47||Question: Can scientists reliably reconstruct such features based on the fossilized remains that they find?
Answer: No. In 2003, forensics expert Carl N. Stephan, who works at the Department of Anatomical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia, wrote: "The faces of earlier human ancestors cannot be objectively constructed or tested." He says that attempts to do so based on modern apes "are likely to be heavily biased, grossly inaccurate, and invalid." His conclusion? "Any facial 'reconstructions' of earlier hominids are likely to be misleading.
|Context of Reference n°47:|
Depending on the reconstruction technique (Russian, British or American) there may be slight variation in the size of the nose and/or mouth. Mouth size for example can differ up to 1 cm.
|28||48||Question: Is brain size a reliable indicator of intelligence?
Answer: No. One group of researchers who used brain size to speculate which extinct creatures were more closely related to man admitted that in doing so they "often feel on shaky ground."
|Here is a foreword in a book simply explaining a number of educated assumptions. "We use these (Brain size) to offer speculations about the interrelatedness and evolution through time, and even here we often feel on shaky ground".|
Source : The Human Fossil Record—Volume Fltree, by Ralph L. Holloway. Douglas C. Broadfield. and Michael S. Yuan. 2004, Preface xvi,
|28||49|| Consider the statement made in 2008 in Scientific American Mind: "Scientists have failed to find a correlation between absolute or relative brain size and acumen among humans and other animal species. Neither have they been able to discern a parallel between wits and the size or existence of specific regions of the brain, excepting perhaps Broca's area, which governs speech in people."
||Full quote is |
Accordingly, the human brain contains no highly conspicuous characteristics that might account for the species’ cleverness. For instance, scientists have failed to find a correlation between absolute or relative brain size and acumen among humans and other animal species. Neither have they been able to discern a parallel between wits and the size or existence of specific regions of the brain, excepting perhaps Broca’s area, which governs speech in people. The lack of an obvious structural correlate to human intellect jibes with the idea that our intelligence may not be wholly unique: studies are revealing that chimps, among various other species, possess a diversity of humanlike social and cognitive skills.Why have we failed to find this correlation?
Because anatomically, the human brain is very similar to that of other primates because humans and chimpanzees share an ancestor, that walked the earth less than 7 million years ago. - page 71"
Source : Scientific American Mind, "Intelligence Evolved." by Ursula Dicke and Gerhard Roth, August/Sept ember 2008. p.71 & 72.
|28||50|| What, though, about the humanlike fossils of the so-called Neanderthals, often portrayed as proof that a type of ape-man existed? Researchers are beginning to alter their view of what these actually were. In 2009, Milford H. Wolpoff wrote in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology that "Neandertals may have been a true human race."
||"Since their first discovery, Neandertals have served as an out-group for interpreting human variation. Their out-group role has changed over the years because in spite of the fact that Neandertals are the most abundant of all fossil remains (or perhaps because of this) their interpretation is the most controversial of all human fossils. Many believe them to be a different, albeit human-like species, but recent genetic evidence supports anatomical interpretations indicating that interbreeding with other humans was an important aspect of human evolution. The combination of anatomical difference and restricted gene flow between populations suggests the possibility that Neanderthals may have been a true human race."|
Source : American Journal of Physical Anthropology, "How Neandertals Inform Human Variation." by Milford H. Wolpoff. 2009, p. 91.
||"We view our pictures only as ancillary illustrations of what we defend by words...The familiar iconographies of evolution are all directed, sometimes crudely, sometimes subtly, towards reinforcing a comfortable view of human inevitability and superiority. The starkest version, the chain of being or ladder of linear progress, has an ancient, pre-evolutionary pedigree."|
Source : Conceptual Issues in Human Modern Origins Research, Editors G. A. Clark and C M. Willermel. 1997. pp. 5. 60.
- Very good critical video by CircuitOverseer
- Some misquotes gathered
- Other scientists misquoted find in the document Weighed and Found Wanting - A critical analysis of “The Origin of Life - Five Questions Worth Asking” and “Was Life Created?”