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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Zombie Theories

According to Greg Laden there are certain "theories of everything" that "will generally evolve into a zombie that won’t die and can’t be killed, potentially eating the brains of science geeks and graduate students for decades." The classic example is Aquatic Ape Theory but theories of bipedalism in humans are a close second. [The Aquatic Ape Theory as a Zombie Theory]


D. C. Dennett? Gregory said...

Ohh,just like Greg Laden, you fall for a caricature, Larry.
There is no Aquatic Ape Theory, but o bunch of interesting ideas about the potential explanatory power of a waterside habitat (be it a gallery forest or coastal)

Larry Moran said...

We probably should have said "Aquatic Ape Hypothesis". Would that have been better?

Greg Laden said...

Elaine Morgan calls it the Aquatic Ape Theory, so that's what it is. Her theory.

It would be nice if it was a hypothesis or set of hypotheses, but that would not be in alignment with the Zombie Theory idea, as explained in the OP.

DC Dennett: Yeah... no. It is not a waterside habitat idea. If that is what it was than why would Elaine Morgan be complaining that everyone rejects it?

D.C. Dennett? Gregory? said...

But a theory isn't a theory just because someone call's it so.
I'm just saying the "Aquatic Ape Theory" is a common term for a multitude of ideas maybe even hypotheses that revolve around a waterside habitat. And it's not wise or fair to judge them all together.
Many people, (including E. Morgan not only her opponents) are mislabeling it or misinterpreting.

I don't think there's anything essential to stop you from calling Darwinism (in the sense most of the people refer to it) a zombie theory, is it?

Chak said...

If something won't die and cannot be killed, it gotta be either an annoying zombie, or an immortal angel, so to speak.

In face of some recent research frontiers like the shore-based diet scenario (e.g. Stephen Cunnane and Kathlyn Stewart) and the Coastal Migration Theory (e.g. Stephen Oppenheimer, Jon Erlandson), it seems too early to conclude that it must be the first case.

One thing we can be sure is, some scientists are not entirely satisfied with some conventional, unproven assumptions in the field of human evolution.

MJ said...

D.C. etc provides a beautiful example of the logical fallacy of the True Scotsman.

"Many people, (including E. Morgan not only her opponents) are mislabeling it or misinterpreting". Yes, they are misrepresenting the real, correct Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. But not D.C.

BTW D.C. Darwinism is backed by over 100 years of solid science in a multitude of disciplines to numerous to name. AAH is backed by 30 some years of speculation with no solid science. So no, not a Zombie Theory.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, yes, of course "aquatic ape" is a misnomer, it's not about apes or australopiths (only about Homo s.s.), and it's not about having been aquatic (a better term is "littoral"), but - however one wants to name it - the Hardy-Morgan theory is beyond the slightest doubt: it's obvious that Pleistocene Homo populations dispersed along coasts & rivers: how else could they have reached Flores? why else are all archaic Homo fossils found next to edible shellfish (work of J.Joordens, of S.Munro & of others), all over the Old World, from the Cape to Eritrea to Boxgrove to Dmanisi to Mojokerto, from 1.8 Ma until 125 ka?
The problem IMO is that anti-AAT people only attack their own view of what they believe AAT is (eg, some sort of dolphin). Their "critiques" are misrepresenting, irrelevant, not essential, misunderstanding, obsolete etc., but rarely of interest.
For up-to-date insights in the littoral theory, please
- google "econiche Homo",
- or read our forthcoming ebook "Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? Fifty Years after Alister Hardy: Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution" by M.Vaneechoutte, A.Kuliukas & M.Verhaegen eds 2011 Bentham Sci.Publ., with contributions of Elaine Morgan, Phillip Tobias, Michel Odent, Anna Gislén & many others,
- or see our recent paper "Pachyosteosclerosis suggests archaic Homo frequently collected sessile littoral foods" in HOMO J.compar.hum.Biol.62:237-247, 2011.
Marc Verhaegen