Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Back in the Quote Mine

I was confronted by a creationist with several "quotes" from famous scientists that "proved" that evolution was a fraud. Most were already in the TalkOrigns Quote Mine Project." One that was not was,

W. HOWELLS, Harvard, "A great legend has grown up to plague both paleontologists and anthropologists. It is that one of; men can take a tooth or a small and broken piece of bone, gaze at it, and pass his hand over his forehead once or twice, and then take a sheet of paper and draw a picture of what the whole animal looked like as it tramped the Terriary terrain. If this were quite true, the anthropologists would make the F.B.I. look like a troop of Boy Scouts.", MANKIND SO FAR, p. l38
Published creationist sources;Creation Wiki: Paleoanthropology quotes

Sean Pittman, MD: Thoughts on Evolution From Scientists and Other Intellectuals

The quote was from a 1944 book, "Mankind So Far." I bought a copy which arrived today, 12, Nov. 2013. The "quote" was on page 128, not 138. From personal forensic work, nearly all police agencies are "boy scouts" compared to professional physical anthropologists. The rest of the quote was totally different from the creationist's presentation. A physical anthropologist, Prof. Howells was critical of paleoanthropologists who named a new species nearly every time they discovered a new skull. Howells was a "lumper" who saw great variation in single species as the common fact, and no need for elaborate classifications of species. This was particularly evident in his research on modern human origins. He was a strong advocate of the "out-of-Africa" hypothesis of human origins, and the biological unity of human races.

I agree that most police agencies do look like boy scouts compared to professional physical anthropologists. But of course, creationists have totally mangled the "quote" to change Prof. Howells' meaning. They have cut off the end of Howells sentence, and deleted the rest of his thought to totally alter the meaning of this passage. Here is the actual section, following "boy scouts"

"If this were quite true, the anthropologists would make the F.B.I. look like a troop of Boy Scouts ... and it has led to a certain amount of skepticism in the lay mind regarding the restorations of early man which have been made. But it is not quite true.

The restorations of fossil skulls do not really go beyond what is reasonable; in fact there are one or two cases in which the restoration has been made on a small part of a skull only to have another specimen turn up to give the true form; and in these cases the resemblance has been quite good."

The rest of the page follows in a similar vein, that fossil reconstructions are generally reasonable and based on the comparative analysis of multiple specimens of many species. He concluded with the entirely competent observation that soft tissue reconstructions in the 1940s were entirely speculative. Modern forensic studies, 50 years later, are considered much more accurate.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jeannie Chatman, Special Blogger

Young Earth Creationist Jeannie Chatman, Special Blogger to the Daily Guide, provided some motive and amusement when she regurgitated a load of YEC nonsense. I rebuked her here several times. In fact, her overall public record helped me to start Big Daddy is Dead.

I have checked periodically for the last 9 months, and her public output has stopped at the Daily Guide. At the same time I have not seen an obituary notice. Hopefully she is reconsidering her support for a young earth.