Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NY Times: Our Ignorance is a Sign of Our Maturity

A New York Times article today leads with this remarkable statement:
Sometimes the maturity of a field of science can be measured by the heft of its ambition in the face of the next daunting unknown, the mystery yet to be cracked.

. . .

In the study of human origins, paleoanthropology stares in frustration back to a dark age from three million to less than two million years ago. The missing mass in this case is the unfound fossils to document just when and under what circumstances our own genus Homo emerged.

The origin of Homo is one of the most intriguing and intractable mysteries in human evolution. New findings only remind scientists that answers to so many of their questions about early Homo probably lie buried in the million-year dark age..

Well, that is some pretty impressive spin. Paleoanthropologists look back millions of years and see no fossils clearly documenting the evolution of humans. They smugly assert a certainty that humans did evolve, despite the lack of evidence and the mystery of how and when and why. And this certainty based on ignorance is a sign of great maturity

Another NY Times laugh out loud moment.

I think that such lack of evidence and the pervasiveness of "intriguing and intractable mysteries" is an indication that we should be humble, cautious and open to alternative theories.


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