Message 19

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From: Steve Rudd
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 22:14:56 -0500
To: Andrew Arensburger
Subject: Fwd: Re: Andrew's "blatantly dishonest" patton quote

[Omitted at author's request]

>From: Don Patton
>Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 21:08:48 EST
>Subject: Re: Andrew's "blatantly dishonest" patton quote
>To: Steve Rudd
>In a message dated 2/16/00 3:15:42 PM, Steve Rudd writes:
> [Omitted at author's request]
>Ian Tattersal is Head of the Anthropology Department at the American Museum
>of Natural History.  His book, The Fossil Trail, is as authoritative and up
>to date (1995) as any source I know.  He points out that virtually all
>definition of Homo habilis are contested buy some authority. Quotes from
>various parts of his book that touch on Homo habilis will make this obvious.
>"In reading their description of Homo habilis it is hard to avoid the
>conclusion that Leakey and his colleagues were swayed principally by the
>concept of "man the toolmaker... Leakey in particular was an adherent of the
>idea that the unique human adaptation was the making of tools, and he was
>apparently prepared to subordinate anatomical considerations to cultural ones
>when analyzing the fossil evidence for human evolution."  p114
>"Yet more cultural complexity seem to provide a yet stronger argument for
>regarding habilis as "human," irrespective of what it actually looked like."
>"Yet resistance remained from two quarters: from advocates of the
>single-species hypothesis, and from those who were unhappy with the idea of Ho
>mo habilis." p.132
>"Clark Howell opined that 1813 might be a female Homo habilis, an assignment
>toward which most subsequent opinion has also inclined. This assignment more
>than anything else reflects the usefulness of having around a basket called Ho
>mo habilis into which paleoanthropologists could sweep a lot of fossil loose
>ends. And of course, the more this basket swelled, the less biological
>meaning it possessed. Richard Leakey himself has, indeed, never been
>comfortable with it, and has recently grasped at the resemblances between
>1813 and OH 13 from Bed II at Olduvai to argue that neither of these fossils
>represents habilis (though he thinks 1470 probably does)."  P.135
>"The most detailed analysis yet done of the Homo habilis situation has come
>from the pen of Bernard Wood... In evaluating the gracile fossils from
>Olduvai, he concluded that all could comfortably fit within the species Homo
>habilis, as defined by the fossils from low in Bed I. And if all of the
>Olduvai graciles belonged to Homo habilis, then so, almost inevitably, must
>OH 61ódespite its extraordinarily archaic aspect. When he turned to Koobi
>Fora, however, Wood found a more complex picture. Some Koobi Fora hominid
>specimens, he concluded, were plausibly members of the same species: among
>these were the crania 1805 and 1813. Others however, including the famous
>1470 cranium, clearly had different affinities..." p.193 (Of course Leakey
>thinks 1470 is included. DRP)
>In the last paragraph, Tattersall, called the dean of American
>Paleoanthropologist, seems to endorse the position of Wood that 1805
>belongs to Homo habilis. The fact that some might disagree is expected, well
>known and irrelevant.
>Jim Foley raves against the creationists in the Talk.Origins Archive.
>Nevertheless, in the Fossil Hominids FAQ section he says in reference to
>"KNM-ER 1805...Various workers have assigned it to almost every conceivable
>species, but it seems most similar to Homo habilis (Wood 1991)."
>Your contention that it is dishonest to represent KNM-ER 1805 as Homo habilis
>indites Tattersasll, Wood, Foley as well as many more. At least I am in
>distinguished company.
>I believe you have unwittingly paid me a great compliment. Considering the
>hundreds of quotes used, if this is the worst example, then I must have done
>a marvelous job. In fact, in spite of my best efforts, I would have predicted
>someone could have found worse. Experience has demonstrated many times that I
>am far from perfect.  Thank you for your encouragement.

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