I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wrangling over wrist of hominid fossil

A news article says,
.
WASHINGTON (Sept. 22) - Scientists, wringing their hands over the identity of the famed "hobbit" fossil, have found a new clue in the wrist. Since the discovery of the bones in Indonesia in 2003, researchers have wrangled over whether the find was an ancient human ancestor or simply a modern human suffering from a genetic disorder.

Now, a study of the bones in the creature's left wrist lends weight to the human ancestor theory, according to a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The wrist bones of the 3-foot-tall creature, technically known as Homo floresiensis, are basically indistinguishable from an African ape or early hominin(sic)-like wrist and nothing at all like that seen in modern humans and Neanderthals, according to the research team led by Matthew W. Tocheri of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

That indicates that it is an early hominin(sic) and not a modern human with a physical disorder, they contend . . . .

. . . .But others have questioned whether it was really a new species. Robert D. Martin of the Field Museum in Chicago and co-authors challenged the original classification, arguing that it appears to be a modern human suffering from microencephaly, a genetic disorder that results in small brain size and other defects.

There are things that can go wrong in the development of the wrist, Tocheri said, but they don't result in a complete change of design from modern human to chimpanzee or gorilla wrist.

"My take is that the brain size of (that specimen) is simply too small. That problem remains unanswered," he said in a telephone interview.

Huh? Why does he assume that the small size of the brain is a genetic defect rather than normal?

The article continued,
"People ask me whether this new evidence changes anything, well it doesn't," he said. "I think the evidence they've presented is fine, it's the interpretation that is problematic."

It is amazing that with all the other factors that there are to be considered, some scientists would consider the wrist bones as the deciding factor in whether to classify the fossil as ape or human.
.

38 Comments:

Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Note - the "hobbits" are properly hominins, as well as being more generally hominids (hominids include chimps and gorillas). No need for the sic, Larry.

>>>Huh? Why does he assume that the small size of the brain is a genetic defect rather than normal?<<<

As I recall, the brain case is disproportionately small compared to contemporary hominins. It is a minority position that does not seem to have much evidence other than that comparison, and not a position I hold.

>>>It is amazing that with all the other factors that there are to be considered, some scientists would consider the wrist bones as the deciding factor in whether to classify the fossil as ape or human.<<<

With statements like "a new clue", "lends weight", "[t]hat indicates", "helps confirm", and "should help settle things", it is amazing Larry could come to the conclusion that some scientists would consider the wrists to be the deciding factor. It is just one more data point in favor of the separate species hypothesis, albeit stronger than most. It's something anti-sciencers like Larry simply don't understand: in law and in science, only very rarely does any single piece of evidence is the deciding factor. It is the preponderance of evidence that makes the case.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 3:45:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> Note - the "hobbits" are properly hominins, as well as being more generally hominids (hominids include chimps and gorillas). No need for the sic, Larry. <<<<<<

Well, I couldn't find "hominin" in the dictionary.

>>>>> As I recall, the brain case is disproportionately small compared to contemporary hominins. <<<<<<

Yes, on that there is agreement.

>>>>>> It's something anti-sciencers like Larry simply don't understand: in law and in science, only very rarely does any single piece of evidence is the deciding factor. <<<<<<

Every time you disagree with me, you say that is because I don't understand something. One of the scientists quoted in the article didn't just say that the wrist is just another piece of evidence -- he said that "it seals the deal":

The wrist bones of the 3-foot-tall creature, technically known as Homo floresiensis, are basically indistinguishable from an African ape or early hominin-like wrist and nothing at all like that seen in modern humans and Neanderthals, according to the research team led by Matthew W. Tocheri of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

That indicates that it is an early hominin and not a modern human with a physical disorder, they contend.

"It seals the deal," Tocheri said in a telephone interview.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 4:30:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Question for Kevin...

I recall from high school biology a notion that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."

Is it possible, in a single individual, that the development of some anatomical part reprises an ancestral version of that part?

Thursday, September 27, 2007 6:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

Larry brayed...

> Well, I couldn't find "hominin" in the dictionary <

I could. What dictionary does your sanitarium have? Perhaps you should have tried Wikipedia.

> Every time you disagree with me, you say that is because I don't understand something. <

He is just noting the obvious. It is your posts that show that you don't understand.

Moulton said...

>Is it possible, in a single individual, that the development of some anatomical part reprises an ancestral version of that part?<

Yes. Perhaps the hobbits are an advanced race and we are their ancestors.

Why did Larry ban ViW?

>

Thursday, September 27, 2007 7:20:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>I recall from high school biology a notion that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."<<<

I am sorry that your biology teacher was incompetent. The Biogenetic Law is one of the few laws of evolution that have been proven wrong.

>>>Is it possible, in a single individual, that the development of some anatomical part reprises an ancestral version of that part?<<<

While simple atavisms can and do certainly arise (though not as a result of the Biogenetic Law), the hominin wrist has undergone too much evolution for such an extensive atavism as described in the article to be plausible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Hominid Fossil said...

Wanna arm-wrestle?

Thursday, September 27, 2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViU said,
>>>>>> Perhaps you should have tried Wikipedia. <<<<<<

Even using Wikipedia's definition, the term is misapplied here. Wikipedia says,

Hominini is the tribe of Homininae that only includes humans (Homo), chimpanzees (Pan), and their extinct ancestors. Members of the tribe are called hominins (cf. Hominidae, "hominids").

It has not been claimed that this fossil is any of these -- human, chimp, or their ancestors.

>>>>>> It is your posts that show that you don't understand. <<<<<<<

What is there about the statement "it seals the deal" that you don't understand, dunghill?

Thursday, September 27, 2007 2:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> It has not been claimed that this fossil is any of these -- human, chimp, or their ancestors. <

Perhaps that is because it is so obvious

> What is there about the statement "it seals the deal" that you don't understand, dunghill? <

I understand all of it. It is a shame that you don't, dunghill.

Why did you ban ViW?

Thursday, September 27, 2007 3:10:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Thanks, Kevin.

My HS biology teacher can probably be forgiven, since I took HS biology way back in 1960. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007 3:57:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>It has not been claimed that this fossil is any of these -- human, chimp, or their ancestors.<<<

"researchers have wrangled over whether the find was an ancient human ancestor or simply a modern human suffering from a genetic disorder."

Please try to remember what you yourself have quoted, Larry.

>>>My HS biology teacher can probably be forgiven, since I took HS biology way back in 1960.<<<

Oh, then (s)he was only 6 decades or so out of date.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 4:24:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Moulton said,
>>>>>> I recall from high school biology a notion that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." <<<<<<

I think that maxim is mainly associated with Haeckel's embryo drawings, which have been discredited.

>>>>>> Is it possible, in a single individual, that the development of some anatomical part reprises an ancestral version of that part? <<<<<<<

It is claimed that the coccyx is vestigial.

W. Kevin Vicklund said,

>>>>>>It has not been claimed that this fossil is any of these -- human, chimp, or their ancestors. <<<

"researchers have wrangled over whether the find was an ancient human ancestor or simply a modern human suffering from a genetic disorder."

Please try to remember what you yourself have quoted, Larry. <<<<<<<

OK, but I was thinking that maybe this fossil is an evolutionary dead end.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 7:48:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

The Wiki definition is rather imprecise. It should be the descendants of the lineage that lead to chimps and humans, but not gorillas. That therefore includes the "dead-ends".

Thursday, September 27, 2007 8:49:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

That's interesting — about the fall of Haeckel's Recapitulation Law, I mean.

Of all the science courses I took back in the 1960s, Biology was my least favorite, because it offered less opportunity (than Physics or Chemistry) to reprise experimental observation or to apply the tools of mathematical modeling and analysis. I much preferred subjects which provided an opportunity for Discovery Learning and independent analysis.

Today, the subject which is most amenable to Discovery Learning and independent analysis is the subject of Human Social Dynamics, as exhibited in social dialogue in venues like Web Forums, Blogs, and Wikipedia Discussion Pages.

Friday, September 28, 2007 12:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> OK, but I was thinking that maybe this fossil is an evolutionary dead end. <

So you admit that you believe in evolution? What is this blog about?

Since you claim not to censor, why did you ban ViW?

Friday, September 28, 2007 8:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Sherry D said...

> Since you claim not to censor, why did you ban ViW? <

Has Larry ever answered this? I would have otherwise thought that ViW went away for his own reasons but it looks fairly clear from Larry's silence that he was banned.

Friday, September 28, 2007 9:42:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Moulton said...

>>>>>> Of all the science courses I took back in the 1960s, Biology was my least favorite, because it offered less opportunity (than Physics or Chemistry) to reprise experimental observation or to apply the tools of mathematical modeling and analysis. <<<<<<

Yes, Lord Rutherford expressed the same view when he said, "all science is either physics or stamp collecting." This view has given biologists an inferiority complex which has caused them to wage a prestige war against other branches of science by boasting that biology has something that the other branches don't have, a grand central supreme overarching unifying "theory of everything," Darwinism. For something that is supposed to be a stroke of genius, Darwinism is surprisingly mickey mouse. All that Darwinism tells us is that (1) random mutations occur (duh) and that (2) fitter organisms are more likely to survive than less fit organisms (duh again).

Friday, September 28, 2007 5:05:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Urbanness said...

>>>>> OK, but I was thinking that maybe this fossil is an evolutionary dead end. <

So you admit that you believe in evolution? What is this blog about? <<<<<<

That's a stupid question. I just supposed Darwinism to be true for the sake of argument.

>>>>>>> Since you claim not to censor, why did you ban ViW? <<<<<<

That's another stupid question.

Friday, September 28, 2007 5:11:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

For something that is supposed to be a stroke of genius, Newtonism is surprisingly mickey mouse. All that Newtonism tells us is that (1) things stay moving (duh) (2) pushing something changes its momentum (duh) and (3) when you push on something, it pushes back (duh).

Or gravity: (1) things fall (duh).

How about:
For something that is supposed to be a stroke of genius, Einsteinism is surprisingly mickey mouse. All that Einsteinism tells us is that (1) the laws of phyics don't change (duh) and (2) nothing can go faster than light (duh)

Yes, Larry has discovered the fact that any scientific theory can be reduced to a few silly statements so long as you ignore the deeper implications of the theory.

Friday, September 28, 2007 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous James Clerk Maxwell said...

For something that is supposed to be a stroke of genius, Maxwellism is surprisingly mickey mouse. All that Maxwellism tells us is that (1) electric changes cause magnetic changes (duh) and (2) magnetic changes cause electric changes (duh).

Is that circular, or what? (duh).

Saturday, September 29, 2007 1:33:00 AM  
Anonymous "Other Radiation, If Any" said...

Maxwell achieved a mostly successful blending of scientific and religious perspectives; see

http://www.maxwellyear2006.org/

http://silas.psfc.mit.edu/Maxwell/maxwell.html

P.S. You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Saturday, September 29, 2007 2:00:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is considerably more interesting, because Life in general, and Intelligent Life in particular demonstrate local reductions in Entropy.

Some people might think that Divine Intervention is required to bring Order out of Chaos.

But chances are, they haven't heard of the divine power of mathematical processes.

See Fixed Point Theory.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 6:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

>>>>>>> Since you claim not to censor, why did you ban ViW? <<<<<<

That's another stupid question.

You have failed to answer. How can you claim not to practice censorship after banning a poster?

Saturday, September 29, 2007 7:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> All that Maxwellism tells us is that (1) electric changes cause magnetic changes (duh) and (2) magnetic changes cause electric changes (duh).

Is that circular, or what? (duh). <

As the son of a physicist, you should know better. The relationship between electric and magnetic fields was not known until Oersted and Maxwell gave equations quantifying the relationship.

Though you are normally a highly educated person you sometimes shock me with what you don't know about basic physics.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 7:19:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViU, please identify the commenter that you are responding to so that people don't assume that it's me. You were responding to an unknown commenter using the pseudonym "James Clerk Maxwell."

Saturday, September 29, 2007 7:35:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

ViU, the pseudonymous poster was continuing the parody I started. It's supposed to sound simplistic - that was the point, that any major scientific insight can, through reductio ad absurdum, be made to sound "mickey mouse".

Saturday, September 29, 2007 8:20:00 AM  
Anonymous "JCM" said...

< Is that circular, or what? (duh). >

This was an attempt at simultaneous satire and profundity.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

The law of gravitation and Maxwell's equations are not comparable to Darwinism. For one thing, the law of gravitation and Maxwell's equations are laws and not theories. And they are much more sophisticated than Darwinism -- for example, the universal law of gravitation does not just say that what goes up must come down, but says that gravitational force is proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance betweem them. Also, Maxwell's equations are very sophisticated.

Also, we have Darwin Sundays, "I Love Darwin" knickknacks, etc., but nothing comparable for other scientists.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous "JCM" said...

Moulton, thanks for your "Fixed Point Theory" link, an interesting article. I hope you have also read the two JCM articles.

The phrase "other radiation, if any" is a quote from JCM. In the context of its time, it evidenced extraordinary insight and prescience.

Maxwell and Darwin were contemporaries. The second JCM article mentions the influence of Darwin on Maxwell's thought.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

Laws are parts of theories: thus they are less than theories. Besides which, natural selection (the part of evolution that Larry caricaturizes as Darwinism) is itself a law - a fact that I have pointed out to Larry many times. In fact, evolution consists of many laws.

Once again, the Law of Natural Selection (and yes, Darwin did call it a law) in mathematical form:

P(b)>P(n)=P(0)>P(h); P(l)=0

And just as the theories of gravity, relativity, and electromagnetism are much more sophisticated than our Newtonism, Einsteinism, and Maxwellism caricatures would imply, the real theory of evolution is much more sophisticated than Larry's Darwinism caricature implies.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 1:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> ViU, please identify the commenter that you are responding to so that people don't assume that it's me. You were responding to an unknown commenter using the pseudonym "James Clerk Maxwell."<

Since you knew that I was not responding to you,l but rather "James Clerk Maxwell", what is your point? The person posting as JCM is your brother Dave.

> ViU, the pseudonymous poster was continuing the parody I started. It's supposed to sound simplistic - that was the point <

Excuse me for missing this. As for my comments about his knowledge of physics, that still holds true. While Dave is doubtless one of the most intelligent people whom I have had the pleasure to have known and seems to have encyclopedic knowledge of a great number of subjects, there are gaping holes in what he knows about physics and this has sometimes shocked me. I would not have been surprised to find that he actually believed what he was saying about Maxwell.

Saturday, September 29, 2007 4:52:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

JCM, I very much appreciated Ian Hutchinson's essay on Maxwell. I'd lay dollars to donuts that Maxwell was on the Aspergers Spectrum.

I especially appreciated his Socratic ethic of critically examining everything, including one's most sacredly held beliefs.

One of my proudest possessions is a now-tattered T-shirt with Maxwell's Equations.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 6:27:00 AM  
Anonymous "JCM" said...

< JCM, I very much appreciated Ian Hutchinson's essay on Maxwell. >

Glad you liked it; you're welcome.

> Maxwell's formulation of electromagnetic theory in differential form and his championing of the fundamental nature of the field in contrast to the action-at-a-distance theories of his day is, of course, the basis of essentially all of modern physics. <

Except, of course, for the counter-revolutionary spooky-action-at-a-distance parody of Newton.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous "JCM" said...

I'd be willing to wager that "Montana Mouse" is yet another pseudonym for Moulton:

Mon, 11 Jun 2001

Speaking of foreign cultures, Moulton is on another jag.

He's researching yet another of those ineffable affective emotional states.

He's trying to find out the name of the affective emotional state one experiences when others are behaving like arrogant pompous ass know-it-alls.

Sheesh, what a nebbish.

Why doesn't he just say he feels like calling them arrogant pompous assed know-it-alls. Is that so hard to say?

Trust me on this. Moulton will research this puzzle until he comes up with a clinical term for his affective emotional state that no one ever heard of before.

Thu, 14 Jun 2001

Moulton has been thinking about issues of ownership for a day or two.

He drew a diagram on the board:

A --> B

which he reads aloud as "A Implies B."

Now, here is where Moulton is confused...

If 'A' and 'B' are States of Affairs or States of Mind, such that one person "owns" 'A' and another person "owns" 'B', then who "owns" the Implication itself, 'A --> B' ?

Moulton is coming to the conclusion that, in Systems Theory, flows in the system are not "owned" by any system component, but are an Emergent Property of the System itself.

What a nerd! Nobody is ever gonna understand that.
<-- I understand it.

The guy oughta go looking for some song lyrics that express that notion. <-- I agree; Godspeed!

Sunday, September 30, 2007 1:14:00 PM  
Anonymous "JCM" said...

> One of my proudest possessions is a now-tattered T-shirt with Maxwell's Equations. <

I think I need one of those. But I'm having trouble choosing between the theistic version and the non-theistic version. Perhaps I've fallen into one of those "ineffable states" where I'm neither theist, agnostic, nor atheist, but that does seem to exhaust the possibilities -- or does it?

Sunday, September 30, 2007 1:25:00 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

I'm often in such a state.

I call it perplexity.

Montana Mouse would prolly just call it befuddled.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 4:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Montana Mouse said...

Befuddled is too clinical.

I'd just call it waffling.

Monday, October 01, 2007 1:08:00 AM  
Anonymous "JCM" said...

< I'd just call it waffling. >

Touché! (Ouch, that smarts!)

Perhaps God is an "Emergent Property of the System"? That would tend to explain the interest in us (which is otherwise rather mysterious). Is there a name for such a theology? I find it hard to believe that there is not, but I'm not aware of any.

Monday, October 01, 2007 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

I find it helpful to go back to the oldest writings where the concept of God appears in the literature.

I'm especially intrigued by the passage found in Exodus 3:13-14 — the so-called Burning Bush Story, wherein the God of Moses reveals his Divine Name.

Moses is a young man; he has not yet taken up the mantle of leadership. He goes for a walk in the desert to collect his thoughts. He hears the Voice of God bidding him to go save his people.

Moses is apprehensive. "Yah, right. Who am I gonna say sent me?"

And the voice responds, "Tell them Eheyhah Asher Eheyah sent you.

This is the Name that is typically translated into English as "I Am" or "I Am That I Am."

A literal translation would be "will be who (or what) will be."

A better translation into modern English would be 'Becoming' (or, if you prefer, 'The Process of Becoming').

It's fair to say that the Process of Becoming is a manifest property of the Universe. We have the Process of Creation in the Comsos, the Process of Evolution in the Biosphere, the Process of Enlightenment in the Noösphere, and so on.

As an abstract feature of the world around us, it's hard to deny the existence of the Process of Becoming.

To my mind, Taoism and Zen Buddhism embrace this view. And the God of Spinoza and Einstein embraces this view as well.

Most people have trouble wrapping their brains around abstractions. They prefer Story to Theory, and they prefer their stories to be populated by characters rather than abstract ideas. And so God becomes the storybook character who symbolizes and manifests the Process of Becoming.

When Einstein says, "I want to know God's thoughts," he (like Maxwell) wants to know the how the Processes of the Universe work.

Where is the Universe headed? It might be headed to a Fixed Point of the Laws of Nature, if such an Omega-Point exists as a limit of the Process of Becoming.

Monday, October 01, 2007 2:02:00 PM  

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