New Skull Discovery Causes Controversy

The news is all over the place, and we don’t know what to make of it. Let’s start with this writeup at PhysOrg: 1.8M-year-old skull gives glimpse of our evolution, suggests early man was single species. They say, with our bold font:

The discovery of a 1.8-million-year-old skull of a human ancestor buried under a medieval Georgian village provides a vivid picture of early evolution and indicates our family tree may have fewer branches than some believe, scientists say.

The fossil is the most complete pre-human skull uncovered. With other partial remains previously found at the rural site, it gives researchers the earliest evidence of human ancestors moving out of Africa and spreading north to the rest of the world, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

Here’s the published paper, but you’ll need a subscription to see more than the abstract: A Complete Skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, and the Evolutionary Biology of Early Homo. That same issue of Science also has this: Stunning Skull Gives a Fresh Portrait of Early Humans.

Why does one newly-found skull suggest fewer ancestral branches? Let’s continue with PhysOrg:

When examined with the earlier Georgian finds, the skull “shows that this special immigration out of Africa happened much earlier than we thought and a much more primitive group did it,” said study lead author David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgia National Museum. “This is important to understanding human evolution.”

Okay, but what about the family tree? Let’s read on:

For years, some scientists have said humans evolved from only one or two species, much like a tree branches out from a trunk, while others say the process was more like a bush with several offshoots that went nowhere.

Even bush-favoring scientists say these findings show one single species nearly 2 million years ago at the former Soviet republic site. But they disagree that the same conclusion can be said for bones found elsewhere, such as Africa. However, Lordkipanidze and colleagues point out that the skulls found in Georgia are different sizes but considered to be are the same species. So, they reason, it’s likely the various skulls found in different places and times in Africa may not be different species, but variations in one species.

How does one species have different sized skulls? PhysOrg tells us:

To see how a species can vary, just look in the mirror, they said. “Danny DeVito, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal are the same species,” Lordkipanidze said.

Well, okay, but what species was the skull they found? PhysOrg continues:

The adult male skull found wasn’t from our species, Homo sapiens. It was from an ancestral species—in the same genus or class called Homo—that led to modern humans. Scientists say the Dmanisi population is likely an early part of our long-lived primary ancestral species, Homo erectus.

But not everyone agrees. Here’s more:

Fred Spoor at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, a competitor and proponent of a busy family tree with many species disagreed with the study’s overall conclusion, but he lauded the Georgia skull discovery as critical and even beautiful.

[…]

Spoor said it seems to have captured a crucial point in the evolutionary process where our ancestors transitioned from Homo habilis to Homo erectus — although the study authors said that depiction is going a bit too far.

This article in the Guardian, Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray, says, with our bold font:

The latest skull discovered in Dmanisi belonged to an adult male and was the largest of the haul. It had a long face and big, chunky teeth. But at just under 550 cubic centimetres, it also had the smallest braincase of all the individuals found at the site. The dimensions were so strange that one scientist at the site joked that they should leave it in the ground.

The odd dimensions of the fossil prompted the team to look at normal skull variation, both in modern humans and chimps, to see how they compared. They found that while the Dmanisi skulls looked different to one another, the variations were no greater than those seen among modern people and among chimps.

The scientists went on to compare the Dmanisi remains with those of supposedly different species of human ancestor that lived in Africa at the time. They concluded that the variation among them was no greater than that seen at Dmanisi. Rather than being separate species, the human ancestors found in Africa from the same period may simply be normal variants of H erectus.

One more excerpt and then you’re on your own:

“I think they will be proved right that some of those early African fossils can reasonably join a variable Homo erectus species,” said Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. “But Africa is a huge continent with a deep record of the earliest stages of human evolution, and there certainly seems to have been species-level diversity there prior to two million years ago. So I still doubt that all of the ‘early Homo’ fossils can reasonably be lumped into an evolving Homo erectus lineage. We need similarly complete African fossils from two to 2.5m years ago to test that idea properly.”

Your Curmudgeon has no opinion. The issue seems unsettled. But we do know one thing — the creationists will be going wild over this. You know the lines they’ll take: (1) the Darwinists don’t know what they’re doing; (2) the Darwinists keep changing their theories; (3) their so-called science books are all wrong; and (4) the Darwinists still refuse to consider Genesis. Oh, and the ever-popular: “I ain’t no kin to no monkey!” It should be fun to watch their reactions.

See also: Casey Reacts to the New Skull Discovery.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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76 responses to “New Skull Discovery Causes Controversy

  1. I am confused about your logic. I believe in Darwin, but still do not understand why you believe his science theory is superior to a creationists theory when science never created anything other than discovering what has always existed after being creatied by something or someone. Whether it was a god, or any thing that evolved. If you do not know, why would you state a creationist is a flake.

  2. Ambiguity is scary to fundamentalists. They’d rather cling to their book (which has changed many times… shhhh) than get on the reality railroad.

  3. Creationism is NOT a theory. A theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step—known as a theory—in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.

    Get it? Observation, hypothesis, TESTING. Tell me when we observed ‘creation’ or how we test for it?

  4. David Williams

    It will be less than a week before the creationist twaddle blogs will have
    a lot of the usual creationist explanations about this. I remember when tiktaalik was discovered. It was less than a week before lots of amazing nonsense appeared in creationist blogs.

    i

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    @ladyathiest You are so right about their fear of ambiguity, while science sees at as a challenge to understand. Unfortunately some scientists like to guesses and explore the possibilities, and creationists see that as a weakness. This chatter around this skull will be a goldmine to creationists, as @David Williams suggests.

  6. @Rudy Martinka: As Mark Butler has stated, creationism is not a theory. It is simply a belief, with no observational evidence supporting it.

    Just about every human culture has had its own creation mythology; the beliefs outlined in Genesis, even though they are held as sacred by many, are really no different.

    Evolution should not be thought of as the opposite of creationism. It makes no claims concerning the origin of life. It is an observable fact that the various species that have existed on the earth over the span of geologic time have changed greatly; this is easily observed in the fossil record. Thus, this change of species, known as evolution, is an observable fact. Darwin proposed that this evolution occurred as a result of natural selection. So it should really be called the Theory of Natural Selection, rather than The Theory of Evolution, because evolution is fact; Darwin’s theory is that evolution occurs because of natural selection.

  7. Hello? This cannot be spun to advantage for creationists in any coherent way.

    It has been known for several years that the early Dmanisi skulls had very small brain sizes, and the later ones had much larger brain sizes, as you would expect from anagenetic evolution– but they all appeared conspecific, all Homo erectus, all found in the same cave, spaced out by hundreds of millennia.

    Most creationists have said Homo erectus are modern humans. But the problem for them is that the early H. erectus skulls at Di had brain sizes comparable to apes. Oops.

    IIRC Casey Luskin’s take on early Dmanisi was that they were NOT H. erectus, but some other thing, likely an ape evolving into chimpanzee, not human.

    For almost all creationists, 550 cc brain size is too small to be human– it’s nearly comparable to a chimp.

    Now Luskin is screwed; he painted himself into a corner. He said early and late Dmanisi were TOTALLY different things. The new skull shows there can be wide variation IN THE SAME SPECIES but Luskin said they’re as different as night and day. Humans don’t mate with apes and I ain’t kin to no monkey.

    If Luskin calls the new skull an ape, he’s rejecting the paper’s conclusions, so the results are bad for him. If he calls it human, he’s contradicting his own past strong assertions, and now everything with an ape-sized brain becomes a potential human.

    Prediction: his only option is to call it neither, dodge that issue, and resort to pure snarkiness. “Scientists learned something new; that shows you how ignorant they were before.” This is well-worn creationist mode.

    The goal of creationists is not to discover things or solve scientific problems. They “win” by making scientists look stupid and Christians look smart. When scientists learn new things, creationists always sneer. Remember Dennis Prager’s smugsplosion when physicists discovered the Higgs?

  8. Dorian Mattar

    Rudy M. we are certain that the Creationist IDEA, and I call it an idea simply because a Theory it is NOT. It is not even an Hypothesis so it is founded on absolutely nothing and therefore it has no basis for even consideration.

    If you know something we don’t, please let us know. But please don’t provide papers that are done by creationist unless they have been reviewed and accepted by real scientists.

    If we are to consider creationist’s idea without ANY evidence, then we might as well consider ANY OTHER idea, even that a fairy made humans because we have as much evidence for that as the creationist idea.

    Darwin’s theory has actual evidence backing it up. This discovery has no effect on it. It simply refines the information on the theory.

    Not sure how you reach your conclusion at all.

  9. Mark, you are correct, I should have stated creation belief instead of theory. So why should a scientist state that any creation belief is faulty if the scientist cannot test the belief either? Logic is you cannot prove a negative, but how can something be proven negative if there is no proof positive either?

  10. ////Most creationists have said Homo erectus are modern humans. But the problem for them is that the early H. erectus skulls at Di had brain sizes comparable to apes. Oops.////

    This is one of those mistakes, one of those imperfect designs the designer made. Simple. ID actually explains everything.

  11. Rudy Martinka,

    /////I am confused about your logic. I believe in Darwin, but still do not understand why you believe his science theory is superior to a creationists theory when science never created anything other than discovering what has always existed after being creatied by something or someone. Whether it was a god, or any thing that evolved. If you do not know, why would you state a creationist is a flake.////

    Because what we observe in nature do not support the creationist viewpoint, rather it supports the theory of evolution. Our observations confirm the predictions made by the theory of evolution.

  12. I think WordPress have implemented a bit of dumbass design. They’ve eliminated the Latest Comments listing from blogs’ main pages, which was a neat and useful way of keeping track of comments.

  13. Con-Tester says: “I think WordPress have implemented a bit of dumbass design. They’ve eliminated the Latest Comments listing from blogs’ main pages”

    They know there’s trouble with it, and they say they’re working on it. It may help to reload the page, and that widget may update itself.

  14. Hmm, I’ve refreshed this and other WordPress blog sites several times, even going so far as to delete manually the contents of the browser caches but the listing consistently shows as “There are no public comments available to display.

    Nonetheless, thanks for the heads-up.

  15. I’d just like to make a comment about the expression “I believe in Darwin”.

    I don’t believe in Darwin. I don’t believe in Newton, or Galileo, or Einstein, or Mendel.

    I accept the fact that evolution happens, and that natural selection is a major component in the way that it happens. Just as I accept the fact that the Earth is a planet of the Sun, and that gravitation is a major component in the way that that happens.

  16. TomS shocks us all by declaring: “I don’t believe in Darwin. I don’t believe in Newton, or Galileo, or Einstein, or Mendel.”

    Oh yeah? Well, here’s what I say:

  17. Tom S
    So you accept everything that has been proven scientifically with a theory. What happens when the original theory is later proven wrong. . For example, http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-famous-scientific-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-wrong.php

  18. Tom S
    Here is another link that throws a monkey wrench to accepted evolutionists theories. http://www.ridgenet.net/~do_while/sage/v16i6f.htm

  19. I didn’t say that I “accept everything that has been proven scientifically with a theory”.
    And I do acknowledge that I make mistakes. I have learned to live with that, and in fact am pleased when I discover that I was wrong: I’ve learned something.
    But if those were the “top 10 most famous scientific theories that turned out to be wrong”, I’d say that people who accept well-supported science ought to be a lot more confident about it than they actually are.

  20. Rudy Martinka says: “So you accept everything that has been proven scientifically with a theory.”

    That’s not how science-minded people think. What we accept is sensory evidence. Theories are the best attempt to explain what we observe. Theories are testable, and they can be disproved. When that happens, the theory is abandoned, because it’s not consistent with observable reality. If a new theory is devised that successfully explains all the available data, we’ll go with that — until it’s necessary to revise it when other evidence comes along. By this continuous process of revising theories to make them consistent with reality, we come closer to understanding the world than is possible with any other system; and that’s why science has been able to provide the results that give it the stature it enjoys. If some other system comes along that provides superior results, it would supersede science.

  21. Rudy, a theory is ONLY the explanation to a fact.

    We may be wrong in explaining gravity with our current theory of gravity, but gravity will continue being a fact.

    The same applies to elevtromagnetism and evolution.

  22. Con-Tester, staff reports that the “Recent Comments” feature has been fixed. If it’s not working for you, let me know.

  23. Thanks Curmy, I’m happy to report that it appears to be all in order again. Must be an irreducibly complex widget that fails if just one part breaks… 😉

  24. The guy who wrote this article is a computer major, not a biologist.

    Would you go to this guy if you needed heart surgery?

    He is accusing the entire world of biologists of being biased.

    Conspriracy theory?

    Hell yeah.

  25. You need to consider the time when these theories were followed.

    They had primitive equipment for most of them, while now we have billions of dollars worth of state of the art telescopes and colliders.

    You just can’t make that type of comparison.

  26. If I were to make a list of failed theories, i would be sure to include the theory of preformation. I am fascinated that theory because it used so many of the same arguments against its rival (development) that are now being used against evolution. (Although, unlike anti-evolution, preformation was a theory.) Most notably, “irreducible complexity” (although not by that name). I certainly wouldn’t include “cold fusion” because it never was a theory, but only a (supposed) effect, and mistaken effects are exceedingly common. Theories are much more difficult to come by.

  27. Ceteris Paribus

    The Guardian says:

    The latest skull discovered in Dmanisi belonged to an adult male and was the largest of the haul. It had a long face and big, chunky teeth. But at just under 550 cubic centimetres, it also had the smallest braincase of all the individuals found at the site. The dimensions were so strange that one scientist at the site joked that they should leave it in the ground.

    Oh! The paleontologists apparently found the remains of my missing brother-in-law. Tell them if they dig up the fossilized remains of the chainsaw he borrowed and never returned, they can keep it for their museum display.

  28. I still remember well when I was six years old and discovered the cold, hard facts in the back of my parents’ bedroom closet that they were really Santa Claus, and the myth that I had been taught to believe was not actually so. Oh, my parents had the best of intentions in telling me that if I did not behave, Santa would leave nothing for me on Christmas morning but a lump of coal. But even though I had the evidence before me in plain sight, giving up the myth was very hard.

    So it must be for Biblical literalists. Even though so much evidence supporting evolution has been exhibited over the past 160 years, they choose to cling to their mythology. Meanwhile, so much useful biological research remains undone by the millions of miseducated people who have been victimized by this mythology.

    “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Indeed.

  29. One fairly prolific young Earth creationist has already blogged the story:
    http://crev.info/2013/10/wrong-again-several-species-of-homo-collapse-into-one/
    As has a Christian critic of creationism:
    http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2013/10/18/geological-context-origin-dmanisi-skull/
    I won’t comment further as I’m not up to speed on the story as yet.

  30. Ashley Haworth-roberts says: “Another YEC has also blogged the story”

    The only creationists sites I look at are AIG, ICR, and the Discoveroids. Well, WND too. I can’t handle any more.

  31. SC: “The only creationists sites I look at are AIG, ICR, and the Discoveroids. Well, WND too. I can’t handle any more.”

    I don’t see how you can handle even those. (I know. “It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.”)

  32. I believe in science because it has testable ideas and evidence to support them. When a scientific idea is shown to be wrong, it is because it has been replaced by a better idea with stronger evidence. Anything else requires faith.

  33. Rudy Martinka,

    ////Here is another link that throws a monkey wrench to accepted evolutionists theories. http://www.ridgenet.net/~do_while/sage/v16i6f.htm///

    This criticism is totally wrong. The Gorilla genome does not change anything we already knew, rather it confirms an expected outcome of evolution and disproves creationism. The phenomenon observed is called independent lineage sorting. Read the following article for a very good scientific explanation by PZ Myers:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/03/11/a-tiny-bit-of-knowledge-is-a-d/

    This is a typical example of how misinformed creationists distort scientific discoveries for their selfish means.

  34. I just want to know why someone would rather live a lie than be aware of the truth.

    Just the facts, thank you very much.

  35. /// What happens when the original theory is later proven wrong. . For example, http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-famous-scientific-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-wrong.php ////

    That’s exactly how science works – through constant scrutiny of proposed ideas. An accepted theory withstands several lines of scrutiny whereas weaker theories don’t withstand scrutiny and fall out of the reckoning. Accepted theories also get modified and improved through new studies.

    Most of the theories listed in your link were proposed centuries ago when scientific tools & technology were much limited compared to the present. That’s a major reason why many of them didn’t withstand scrutiny. But some hypotheses did survive to the modern day. Heliocentric theory is one, Darwin’s evolutionary theory is another.

    Evolutionary theory has withstood intense probing over the last 150+ years. Its predictions have been observed and confirmed to a very large extend. That’s why it’s so well accepted.

  36. Borny,

    ‘That is why is it so well accepted’ is what my contention is. Because science effects many impressionable minds about Darwin’s proven and tested theories, yet in reality no scientist can yet explain what came first, the chicken or the egg, that science is superior to a person with faith in a belief of a God. Are there any scientists that worry what if they are wrong and they will be judged for their vanity on the issue of evolution? Why not just admit that Darwin’s theory while proven, does not disprove any belief in a God and quit making statements to belittle a person of faith..

  37. Ceteris Paribus

    Rudy asks: “Why not just admit that Darwin’s theory while proven, does not disprove any belief in a God and quit making statements to belittle a person of faith.”

    The only belittling statement I can discover in this entire thread is:

    “If you do not know, why would you state a creationist is a flake[?].”

    But “flake” appeared nowhere in the original post, and not even in these comments until introduced by your own design and invention as the first person to comment on the original post.

    You may want to look up “res ipsa loquitur”, and try trolling again.

  38. Rudy,
    ////yet in reality no scientist can yet explain what came first, the chicken or the egg////

    When did you stop being an infant and started being a child? When did you stop being a child and started being an adolescent? When did you stop being an adolescent and started being an adult? When will you stop being young and start being old?
    There are no definite answers because your growth and development is one continuum. The chicken-egg issue is similar. Life evolves and changes in one continuum, you cannot draw a line exactly where one stage ends and another begins. As the article below explains, before chickens there were proto-chickens which changed gradually every successive generation into the chicken we see today (chickens are known to have evolved from jungle fowl by the way).

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/fyi-which-came-first-chicken-or-egg

    /////Are there any scientists that worry what if they are wrong and they will be judged for their vanity on the issue of evolution?/////

    More often than not scientists are challenged and criticized by their peers when they publish their results or present it to an audience. So every scientist tries hard to present the best possible evidence. They can still be wrong, but it’s ok to be wrong because that’s how we arrive at the truth.
    Now contrast that with people of faith who never present evidence for their claims and never accept evidence that contradicts their faith.

    ////Why not just admit that Darwin’s theory while proven, does not disprove any belief in a God and quit making statements to belittle a person of faith…////

    Science cannot prove a negative, namely that God doesn’t exist, in the same way that it can’t prove Spiderman doesn’t exist. It’s up to you believers to prove that God exists, but you’ve failed to produce any proof whatsoever. Instead believers attack evolution by ignoring and misrepresenting scientific discoveries and spreading blatant lies (exemplified by the Gorilla article you posted). They don’t exhibit a willingness to learn or understand facts. That’s why they get scoffed at.

    What you should understand is that many religious viewpoints have been contradicted by well-supported scientific discoveries. There’s no escaping it. So why not acknowledge the evidence, why not accept the world as it is instead of steadfastly clinging to outdated dogmas?

  39. Borny says to Rudy: “So why not acknowledge the evidence, why not accept the world as it is instead of steadfastly clinging to outdated dogmas?”

    I’ve been letting Rudy post his comments, because a little bit of that stuff is sometimes amusing, but it eventually degenerates into futility. I’ll let it continue a while longer, until it gets nasty or the novelty wears off.

  40. I remember as a child, when an elderly relative posed to me the question about the chicken and the egg, and I, in all innocence, replied that evolution solved the problem in that eggs long preceded chickens. I was genuinely puzzled by the reaction of that elderly relative, and only long afterwards did I understand when I learned about opposition to evolution.

    Anyway, this is one of those anti-evolution arguments which falls in the category of “anti-evolution arguments which are not solved by creationism/Intelligent Design”. It is solved, to be sure, by Omphalism.

  41. Tom S
    It seems to me that both sides of this subject are wasting a lot non-constructive energy disproving each other. Trained scientists are digging around looking for skulls for meaningless proof that we are all decendents of apes and creationists are wasitng their energy by allowing scientific theories to distract their holy goals. Neither is accomplishing anything constructive. Everyone should be focusing on how to feed the hungry. A scientist by discovering how to improve crop yeilds and a creationist how to convince minds to believe in sharing instead of hoarding. No skull bones that will ever be found will have a note attached to explain that they were once a monkey or. an egg. Best Regards to everyone that contributed to this link.

  42. @The Curmudgeon, I’d like to add; What if you are wrong? What if Allah is the real god and you will be condemned for eternity in a lake of fire for not believing in the right god?

    Doesn’t it sound childish to think such irrational thought?

    Now you know how we feel when you make such childish questions.

  43. Hum, I wonder what medicine would be like if Darwin thought the way you are thinking.

    There are scientist in charge of those categories, but there will always be archeologists doing their work.

    I don’t know about the church, they don’t work much.

  44. @scatterwisdom –
    I don’t think you have a very good idea of the science and the evidence.
    For example, the best evidence for the fact that we are physically related to chimps and other apes is not the fossils. And there is no desire on the part of scientists to prove that we are related to the rest of the world of life. There is simply no doubt that we are so related. The only questions are about details.
    On the other hand, the evolution deniers have nothing to offer in the way of an alternative. Do they, for example, think that the reason for the human body being most similar to the bodies of chimps and other apes, among all currently living things – do they think that some “intelligent designer(s)” designed us that way because they wanted us to serve similar functions as chimps? Or do they think that the “intelligent designers” were somehow constrained by the materials that they had to work with, and by the laws of nature that they had to obey? Or do they think that it is just a massive coincidence that we turned out to have, for example, eyes just like those of other vertebrates (rather than eyes like those of insects or of octopuses)? The evolution-deniers have no alternative to offer.

  45. TomS
    You hit the nail on the head, Instead of the chicken or the egg mystery, how or why are there laws of nature. Do you believe some chimps got together billions of yeas ago and designed the perfection of the designed laws that science has discovered?

  46. @scatterwisdom –
    Does acceptance of evolutionary biology commit one to saying that “some chimps … designed laws”? I don’t think so.
    On the other hand, how does denial of evolution solve the question of the origins of “the perfection of the designed laws”?
    F=ma, whether or not evolution happens.
    The heliocentric model of the Solar System does [not] have anything to do with evolution.
    The periodic table of elements is not a consequence of evolution – nor of any alternative to evolution.

  47. TomS

    You again hit the nail on the head. What new benefits will occur by digging up skulls that will benefit society by discovering what we have evolved from? Nothing is new under the sun was a statement made 3000 years ago. Science is not accomplishing anything constructive by digging up skulls to prove the theory of evolution. There are far more useful accomplishments needing the skills and expertise of scientists. Feed the hungry, stop pollution, perfect new sources of clean renewable energy,
    etc. to make our world a better place. The creationists cannot prove their beliefs, so what. As long as they are not harming anyone, what difference does it make to a scientist if they chose to believe they are not cousins to chimps, and pray among themselves to try to make our world a better place, Who really knows for certain that their God is listening and responding to their prayers?.

  48. @Rudy Martinka –

    Science does not dig up skulls to prove the theory of evolution.

    And if you’re worried about the allocation of resources productively, then arguing against evolutionary biology is one of the bigger wastes around.

    Evolution is a process that is observed happening, so there is no need to find “proof” of it. As if “proof” were something appropriate to science, anyway. And some of the best information for how, when and where evolution happens, and what it produces, is discovered by the study of living things, not fossils.

    And to limit one’s investigation of nature to those things which show immediate benefit is a sure way to limit the benefits that will be gained.

  49. Digging up skulls contributes to our understanding of evolution, and that understanding has proved itself essential to our modern understanding of biology and medicine. Find a new skull isn’t a cure all by itself, but refining our understanding of how all life is related helps us find cures, understand why those cures work, and informs us where to look for more.

    Plus, it’s pretty darn cool in the first place.

  50. ////What new benefits will occur by digging up skulls that will benefit society by discovering what we have evolved from?///

    Knowledge.
    We’re inherently curious and want to know where we came from.
    Skulls are not being dug up to prove evolution. It’s the other way round. Evolution gets proven by the discovery of skulls and fossils.

  51. Borny,,,,,Evolution has been proven. All the digging now being done and the ‘I told you so’ by evolutionists is pure vanity or egotism. Time to move on in my humble opinion.

  52. What should archeologists do? They are not biologists, so they can’t fulfill your requests of feeding the world with new supper crops.

    Archeologists dig, that’s what they do. I’m sure they are not paid by the government either.

  53. Well, scatterwisdom/Rudy Martinka appears to be promoting the idea that certain scientists must urgently reinvent themselves to work on humanity’s more immediate problems as if that was a trivial matter, but in reality akin to expecting a basketball pro to become jockey. If so, it’s a little forward, one-sided and duplicitous that religiotards aren’t challenged to adapt their essential nature in an analogous way.

  54. dorianmatter and Con-Tester

    The money, regardless of the source, could be more usefully used for science that benefits life and future, instead of dead and past. Their quest is trivial when compared to today’s humanitarian problems.

  55. I understand that, but these people are archeologists. That is what they do and I don’t think they will change their carriers when the issues that you are mentioning are being dealt with by other departments or people.

    Additionally, the cost of this is probably so minute in context, that it’s not going to solve anything when it comes to world hunger, which is an issue worth some serious cash.

    I understand where you are coming from, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that.

  56. Perhaps so, scatterwisdom . Perhaps so, at the expense of a future deeper understanding of our place on Earth and in the universe, our prosperity, our ability to alleviate physical suffering, and our identity. Maybe we should, unlike the cat, contain our curiosity and drive to a greater sense of security. But then all of those hands clasped in prayer, all of those hymning voices, all of that introspection and all of those coins and notes dropped on the donation plate of a Sunday in the hope of alleviating pangs of conscience and a blissful afterlife can equally be far more efficiently be deployed in the service of humanity’s present problems, don’t you think?

  57. Assuming those coins are being used to promote good, the coins are going to have more humanitarian benefits than continually digging up the dead to satisfy a scientific obsession to prove what has already been proven by scientific theories. Unless of course the scientists do not really believe their theory of evolution.

  58. scatterwisdom, when you become dictator, everyone will be compelled to work in occupations that you favor. Until then, scientists will continue to do what they’ve been trained to do — and what they want to do. On the other side of that coin, you are free to devote all of your efforts to charitable work, if you think that’s best.

  59. Well judging by the lifestyle of these preachers, I’d say the funds are being very well managed indeed.

    and I thought you already mentioned that evolution was “proven”, so this last remark is really an odd one. Unless of course you don’t believe it.

  60. The Curmudgeon, .. I do not want to be a dictator. My whole point of this conversation was in response to your original comments about ” “I ain’t no kin to no monkey!” It should be fun to watch their reactions.” Creationists respect their beliefs. even if scientists with huge vanity’s may not.

  61. scatterwisdom, your blatantly selective reading and prioritisation habits do you no favours. Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most firmly established theory in all of hard science and yet we still spend megabucks — so mega that the bucks could feed a small country for decades — on ever bigger particle accelerators but you seem to have no problem with this “scientific obsession to prove what has already been proven,” only evolution whose budget is smaller by an order of magnitude or two. At the same time, all the resources and effort daily expended on ritualistic self-affirmation in expectation of an imaginary ultimate reward also seem to be okay with you.

    I wonder at the curious inherent disconnect in the above.

  62. Con-Tester….. There is a difference in priority between quantum mechanics and evolution. We still have not found a badly needed cost efficient solution to our energy needs in spite of all the proven theories. there is no economic reason for digging up the dead anymore other than to continue to obsess about evolution. As I commented before, there will not be any notes attached to any discovered skulls to affirm the theory of evolution. Someone is paying for the costs to dig and I bet there are US Government Grants involved being handed out by our bankrupt energy deficient government.

  63. If it wasn’t important, this skull wouldn’t have caused a “controversy”.

    The fact is we are STILL learning and you bringing up the cost is reasonable.

    Even NASA’s budget is 1% of our GDP and NASA is responsible for discoveries contributing trillions of dollars into the economy. Archeologists, which are international, not just from the US, must have a budget in the .01%.

    I think we can afford to keep digging.

  64. ///there is no economic reason for digging up the dead anymore other than to continue to obsess about evolution. ///

    This is wrong. Even though evolution has been proven, there’s still a lot left to learn. Humans are inherently on the quest for knowledge. And this new knowledge helps fields such as medicine. Our understanding of human biochemistry & diseases comes mainly from research on animals such as mice. This is possible only because we understand the evolutionary link between humans and mice. Human therapeutic insulin, used to treat diabetes, can be produced in bacteria only because humans are related to bacteria and share the same fundamental chemistry!

  65. scatterwisdom forgets an important lesson from the history of science. Towards the end of the 19th and during the early 20th century, many physicists believed that all of nature’s fundamental secrets were known and that, going forward, science would merely concern itself with tying up a few loose ends, coalescing the laws of nature into more general and coherent theories, and building increasingly elaborate descriptions of reality based on those theories. Then along came Einstein, Planck & Co. who showed just how deeply mistaken that belief was. Their novel insights led to by far the greatest explosion of new knowledge the world had ever seen. Similarly, this skull (or others not yet found) may lead to novel insights and revisions in the details of (hominid) evolution just as Einstein revised the details Newtonian physics and the quantum crowd revised the details of atomic theory.

    The point is that we don’t know all the details. Therefore, it would be premature and self-defeating to claim that we do know enough about those details and so we should simply stop investigating. That is the path of deliberately chosen ignorance.

  66. dorianmattar says: “Even NASA’s budget is 1% of our GDP”

    It’s nowhere near that large. According to Wikipedia, Annual budget:

    NASA’s FY 2011 budget of $18.4 billion represented about 0.5% of the $3.4 trillion United States federal budget during that year, or about 35% of total spending on academic scientific research in the United States.

  67. And that’s the federal budget, not the GDP. A quick search of the web shows that the GDP of the USA is around $15-16 trillion, so a budget of $18.4 billion is a little over 0.1% of the GDP of the USA.

  68. Thanks for pointing that out. I remembered it was 1%, but should have double checked the rest.

  69. Most excellent post.

  70. Con-Tester….” Similarly, this skull (or others not yet found) may lead to novel insights and revisions in the details of (hominid) evolution just as Einstein revised the details Newtonian physics and the quantum crowd revised the details of atomic theory.”

    I think you may be delving into fantasy land with the above comment. I respect all the comments which have greatly enlightened me on the mindset of evolutionists. However, nothing commented in this link has convinced me that science will ever solve the mystery of creation.

    If you have any interest in learning why an early scientist of 3000 years ago, known mainly for his wisdom stated after spending enormous time and effort studying plants and animals, decided that all his time and efforts were mainly driven by his vanity, read my novel.

    As a Lily Among Thorns – A Story of King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Goddess of Wisdom by Rudy U Martinka.

    Only available as an eBook to save trees.
    Regards to all of you and thanks again for all your comments

  71. Well now we know what this was all about.

    I’m sure those novels carry an intense amount of wisdom. I’m sure we could solve all the issues we face today including traveling other planets.

    Yeah, I’m sure you have all the blue prints and schematics of everything we need.

    lol

  72. dorianmattar says: “Well now we know what this was all about.”

    Yeah, one long commercial for a creationist book. He won’t be back.

  73. “[D]elving into fantasy land”, indeed! In the hands of a creationist, evolution once again becomes science’s attempt to “solve the mystery of creation.” If you have any interest in learning, you would refrain from such frivolous and ill-informed misrepresentations.

    And I doubt you’ll find very many people who have thought about it and who believe that scientists’ motivations for dedicating themselves to science actually matter, even if their motivation is vanity or something vastly more disagreeable. What matters is the quality of the work they deliver, not why they are doing it, so your novel sounds more like a commentary on the human condition, possibly à la Faust, than on the scientific enterprise.

  74. @Curmie: Speaking of those Self-Published Geniuses, I had an encounter yesterday with your #5, and I can report he is alive and un-reformed. He was rather nicer to chat with than the recent dentist (#26).