Re: paleoanthropology

Glenn Morton (
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 21:19:09 -0500

At 11:12 AM 7/16/97 -0500, Paul Arveson wrote:
>My dear friend Glenn is trying to make me defend my somewhat tongue-in-cheek
>appeal for restraint in paleoanthropological theorizing by turning my own
>guns around. OK, I'll try.
As someone, somewhere, sometime said, "The best defence is a good offense." :-)
Hope this didn't bother you, but I didn't think it would.

>I can't say things like that for the other sciences. I think biology
>is just a teenager. Psychology and sociology are in diapers. Chemistry,
>in the sense of materials science, is a youth. Earth crustal geology is
>perhaps middle-aged. Paleoanthropology is a little kid trying to answer big
>questions. We need to be patient and let the kid grow.
Overall, I probably couldn't disagree with your assessment of the various
fields. I work in geophysics doing structural geology. Middle Age is
probably about right for crustal geology. I doubt that anyone will ever be
able to catch up to physics, because most other fields have no simple
mathematics which can predict experiments. Dirac predicted the positron was
predicted because mathematics said it was possible. Unfortunately, no
mathematics will predict where the sand layer my people are mapping goes one
mile to the south. So a geologist, due to the complexity, will always be at
a disadvantage there.

With anthropology, because we can't perform mating experiments (or watch the
outcome of inter"species" marriages) they really can't be sure that two
fossils which look different are different or the same species. Because of
this, personal preferences can play a larger role.


Foundation, Fall and Flood