Re: The origin of scientific thinking - more...

William A. Wetzel (
Tue, 18 May 1999 16:08:34 -0700

It's more than "The origin of scientific thinking"...
It is the beginning of technology :)

Best Wishes,
William - N6RKY

E G M wrote:
> Very interesting Glenn,
> And BTW, IMHO it seems to support the general idea of the appearance of
> "intelligence" in mankind suddenly (de novo) instead of gradually. No?
> <!-- body="start" -->
> I am reading a fascinating book entitled The Lost Civilizations of
> the<br>
> Stone Age by Richard Rudgley. With a title like this one would
> expect<br>
> discussions of Atlantis, Mu and alien space craft. But it isn't
> like<br>
> that at all. I learned of this book in a review in Nature last fall
> and<br>
> finally got it for my birthday. It is a serious work written by an<br>
> anthropologist who is at Oxford. Rudgley won the British Museum
> Award<br>
> for his last book.<br>
> The chapter I am going discuss concerns the origin of scientific<br>
> thinking. By scientific thinking one means the proposing of
> hypotheses,<br>
> the gathering of data, the comparing of the data to various
> hypotheses<br>
> with the resultant rejection of hypotheses failing to match the data
> and<br>
> the modification of hypothese to fit the data. Amazingly, this type
> of<br>
> thinking has been on earth for a very, very long time. <br>
> This type of thinking is precisely what a hunter engages in. So we
> can<br>
> look to the fossil record for the earliest example of actual hunting
> and<br>
> know that they were thinking in a scientific vein. The earliest
> proof<br>
> of hunting occurs 400,000 years ago. At Schoningen Germany, wooden<br>
> spears were found which were balanced the same as an olympic javelin.
> <br>
> The spear was designed to be thrown which means the men were<br>
> hunting.[Robin Dennell, "The World's Oldest Spears," Nature 385(Feb.
> 27,<br>
> 1997), p. 767;Hartmut Thieme, "Lower Palaeolithic hunting spears
> form<br>
> Germany," Nature, 385(Feb. 27,1997), p. 810]<br>
> <p>
> How do we know the type of thinking that went into hunting? Because
> of<br>
> the nature of animal tracking. Man the hunter must first be man the<br>
> tracker. In order to get close enough to throw a spear he must find
> the<br>
> quarry. To do so requires the postulating hypotheses and the
> comparison<br>
> of them with new data and then the modification of the theory. For<br>
> instance a tracker may look at the foot prints and postulate that
> the<br>
> animal went to the east. This is because of the direction of the
> feet.<br>
> He can look at the damp urine patch and know the sex of the animal
> and<br>
> if the animal passed by several hours ago or very recently. How can<br>
> youknow the sex? In most quadrupeds if the urine patch is between
> the<br>
> fore and hind footprints, it is a male, if behind all feet, then it is
> a<br>
> female. The tracker must examine broken twigs to see if the breaks
> are<br>
> fresh or old. Spit on the leaves means that the animals was passing<br>
> through within the past 30 minutes or so since otherwise the spit
> would<br>
> be dry. Feces tell the age of the animal, and also how recently it<br>
> passed. Warm feces indicate a few minutes have elapsed and the
> quarry<br>
> is near.<br>
> <p>
> As new data comes in, the hunter must make changes to his mental map
> of<br>
> where the game is. Jones and Konner who studied the hunting
> techniques<br>
> of the San !Kung wrote:<br>
> <p>
> "Such an intellective process is familiar to us from detective
> stories<br>
> and indeed also from science itself. Evidently it is a basic feature
> of<br>
> human mental life. It would be surprising indeed if repeated
> activation<br>
> of hypotheses, trying them out against new data, integrating them
> with<br>
> previously known facts, and rejecting ones which do not stand up,
> were<br>
> habits of mind peculiar to western scientists and detectives.
> !Kung<br>
> behavior indicates that, on the contrary, the very way of life for
> which<br>
> the human brain evolved required them. That they are brought to<br>
> impressive fruition by the technology of scientists and the leisure
> of<br>
> novelists should not be allowed to persuade us that we invented
> them.<br>
> Man is the only hunting mammal with so rudimentary a sense of smell
> that<br>
> he could only have come to successful hunting through intellectual<br>
> evolution." Cited by Rudgley p. 112<br>
> <p>
> And the errors in logic they made ore the same as the ones we make.
> They<br>
> further state:<br>
> <p>
> "The accuracy of observation, the patience, and the experiences of<br>
> wildlife they have had and appreciate are enviable. The sheer,
> elegant<br>
> logic of deductions from tracks would satiate the msot avid
> crossword<br>
> fan or reader of detective stories. THe objectivity is also enviable
> to<br>
> scientists who beleive that they can identify it and that the
> progress<br>
> of science is totally dependent upon it. Even the poor theorisation
> of<br>
> our !Kung left one uneasy; their 'errors,' the errors of 'Stone Age<br>
> savages,' are exactly those still made today by many highly
> educated<br>
> western scientists.. We have gained little or nothing in ability or<br>
> intellectual brilliance scince the Stone Age; our gains have all been
> in<br>
> the accumulation of records of our intellectual acheivements. We
> climb<br>
> on each other's backs; we know more and understand more, but our<br>
> intellects are no better." Cited by Rudgley p. 115.<br>
> ===
> "in ipso enim vivimus et movemur et sumus sicut"
> "Ud. apoya el punto de vista predominante, pero, @por cuanto tiempo supone que
> seguira' siendo predominante? ... Ud. tan solo puede decir que mi punto de vista
> es anticuado; pero muy pronto el suyo sera lo mismo." Clive Staples Lewis.
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William A. Wetzel
icq-uin# 13983514