RNCSE 19 (3)

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
3
Year: 
1999
Date: 
May–June
Articles available online are listed below.

Help Counter Creationism in Russia

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
Help Counter Creationism in Russia
Author(s): 
Molleen Matsumura
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
3
Year: 
1999
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
5
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
NCSE member Barbara Forrest, who recently attended a conference in St. Petersburg, reports that Russian scientists desperately need resources to stem the rising tide of creationism in their country. In Russia, as in many American communities, there are two important dimensions of the situation, religious and educational. But in Russia, both problems are more severe.

In the US, the voices of Biblical literalist religious denominations are balanced by those of denominations that accept evolution. In Russia, there are great numbers of conservative Christian American missionaries fueling a new fundamentalism, while church/state separation in education has come to an end, and the traditional Russian Orthodox Church has considerable influence on the schools. At the same time, science education is limited: "Only one new biology textbook has appeared in the last ten years," Dr. Forrest reports, "and most Russians don't have to study biology in high school anyway."

Forrest's host, Dr Sergei Orlov, is urging colleagues to develop answers to unscientific claims (sound familiar?) and collecting as much creationist literature as he can - a task that's all too easy because St. Petersburg is flooded with Russian translations of books and pamphlets about "creation science". "He once had a copy of Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy," Forrest told us, "but it was so popular with his students that he couldn't get it back. He was delighted when I gave him my own copy."

NCSE is sending more copies, and several back issues of Creation/Evolution, but there is more to do. Will you help?

* If you or a friend is fluent in Russian, you could translate some NCSE literature for Russian scientists to use as a resource, or possibly distribute.

* When NCSE first reported on Institute for Creation Research efforts to export creationism to Eastern Europe (NCSE Reports 14[2]:8), we offered to help members send gifts of literature rebutting "creation science", or explaining science as a way of knowing. You can order any such book that we have in stock and we will send it, charging you our discount price plus cost of shipping. The same offer applies to back issues of Creation/Evolution.

If some among our countrymen are exporting a problem, the rest of us can help with the cure. In 1989, we were moved to see replicas of the Statue of Liberty carried by democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Like the idea and practice of democracy, the understanding of scientific method and critical thinking is important everywhere. Let's spread the word.

Australopithecus garhi: A New-Found Link?

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
Australopithecus garhi: A New-Found Link?
Author(s): 
Colin Groves
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
3
Year: 
1999
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
10–13
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

Introduction

The human line separated from the chimpanzee line some 5 million years ago or a little more, according to dates derived from molecular "clocks". The earlier members of the human lineage, all of them entirely African, are lumped together as "australopithecines", named for the genus Australopithecus but including other genera too. Later members are placed together in the genus Homo.

Australopithecines have small cranial capacities (about 350 to 550 cc), large faces, jaws and cheek teeth, and the arrangement of the teeth in the jaws (dental arcade) tends to be rectangular. Where the postcranial skeleton is known, the ribcage is funnel-shaped (narrow at the top, expanding downwards), the hipbones a very wide and flaring, and the legs are short (leg:arm ratio intermediate between chimpanzee and human).The feet are basically bipedal and resemble humans, but the phalanges (toe-bones) are more curved. Fossils of the genus Homo have larger cranial capacities (510 cc upward), usually smaller faces, jaws and cheek teeth, and the dental arcades are parabolic. Except in the most primitive members the ribcage, where known, is barrel-shaped, the hipbones do not flare as much and are more curved, the legs are long, and the feet are fully modern.

Table 1: Brief Comparison of Australopithecus with early Homo fossils

A afarensis A africanus A garhi Early Homo
Molar & premolar size moderate moderate to large huge moderate
Anterior upper premolar asymmetrical more oval more oval more oval
Tooth enamel thickness fairly thick thick thick thick
Dental arcade shape rectangular rectangular rectangular parabolic
converges
backward
diverges
posteriorly
diverges diverges
Anterior depth of palate shallow varies shallow deep
Diastema in upper jaw common absent present rare
Anterior pillars on face no yes no no
Prognathism strong usually strong strong reduced
Supraorbital structure thin bar thin bar thin bar torus
Cranial capacity 343-500 428-ca 515 450 510-752
Table based on Asfaw and others, 1999

As a typical bang-up-to-the-minute biologist, I adopt a cladistic attitude to taxonomy: a family or genus is an evolutionary lineage. I place humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans together in the family Hominidae; so "hominid", a term still all too often used to mean "in the human line", actually refers to other living Great Apes too. At most, humans can be separated from other Great Apes as a tribe, Hominini, so fossils on the human side of the divide are "hominins". Anthropologists as a crew are always about 10 years behind other biologists, so it will probably be quite a while yet before textbooks of human evolution stop using "hominids" in the old sense.

The Australopithecines

Among the australopithecines, the earliest member is Ardipithecus ramidus, which is about 4.4 million years (ma) old and presents a quite distinct set of traits. The other distinctive clade represents the "robust" or "nutcracker", Paranthropus species, a distinct lineage which can be traced over a million and a half years from 2.5 to about 1 Ma The others are for the moment (for want of a decent cladistic model, really) lumped into the genus Australopithecus, which contains - or did until early this year - at least 4 species:

  1. Australopithecus anamensis, 3.9 to 4.1 Ma, from Kanapoi and Allia Bay, Lake Turkana district, northwestern Kenya. Though only recently described, this species is represented by quite a range of remains.
  2. Australopithecus bahrelghazali, about the same age as A anamensis. This species is recovered from Koro Toro in Chad and represents the only australopithecine known from western Africa. A bahrelghazali is known so far only by a single jaw.
  3. Australopithecus afarensis is well known from Fejej in Ethiopia; about 4 Ma, Laetoli in Tanzania, 3.5 to 3.75 Ma; and Hadar in Ethiopia, 3.3 to 2.9 Ma These sites cover a wide area in space and time, and not everyone is convinced that they all belong to a single species. Laetoli has over 20 fossil individuals (mainly jaws and teeth), and some important fossil footprints, while the extremely rich deposits at Hadar include a collection called "The First Family" and the very famous partial skeleton, "Lucy".
  4. Australopithecus africanus, the earliest described species, from South Africa; it has long been known from the sites of Taung, Sterkfontein and Makapansgat, and new excavations have recently begun at other sites in the Sterkfontein Valley (Drimolen and Gladysvale). Until very recently no absolute ages for these South African sites seemed possible, but they were dated by comparing their mammal faunas with those from sites in East Africa that could be dated. These comparisons suggested dates of 2.5 to 3 Ma. Very recently, attempts have been made to apply Electron Spin Resonance dating to them, and the results so far seem consistent with the faunal inferences.

The indications are that the early hominins were as diverse as any other group of large mammals. Among all the diversity, however, there must have been some actual ancestors and, human nature being what it is, everyone is obsessed with trying to deduce which, if any, of the fossil species might have filled this role. About all we can say so far about the ancestral possibilities of A anamensis is that it is in the right place at the right time and has no specialized bits of anatomy that would exclude it from having been an ancestor. A afarensis seems pretty primitive all around, but of course is more derived in the human direction than A anamensis. So, a plausible sequence begins to emerge. But what of A africanus?

Opinions have been rather divided about Australopithecus africanus. It is later in time than A afarensis and earlier than the first Homo, H habilis, so it fills the time gap; but it has seemed to be in the wrong place. Maybe our ancestors evolved in East Africa, moved south, and then moved back again in time to become Homo (though of course they may have existed in East Africa too but we just haven´t found any yet). But the differences from A afarensis to H habilis seem mostly to be pointing in the wrong direction. On the one hand A africanus had a larger cranial capacity on average, the lower premolars were wider (in A afarensis they were often narrow and fairly apelike), and the dental arcade sometimes tended to be more parabolic. On the other hand it had larger, broader molars and premolars but somewhat smaller front teeth, and a heavily built-up facial skeleton with what one specialist, Yoel Rak, has called "anterior pillars" - prominent bony thickenings alongside the snout and nasal aperture. If A africanus was ancestral to Homo, these last features would have been developed then lost again - a transition we try to avoid in deriving ancestor-descendant lineages.

Early Homo

Well-preserved specimens of Homo appear at around 2 Ma in East Africa, mainly at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), where Homo habilis occurs, and at Koobi Fora (Kenya), where 2 species are present, a habilis-like species and the larger Homo rudolfensis. Both, especially H rudolfensis, have large molars, but the premolars are less expanded than in A africanus. The cranial capacity is 510-680 cc in H habilis and about 750 in H rudolfensis. The postcranial skeleton in H habilis, at least, is every bit as primitive as in australopithecines (it is "well known" that the legs are even relatively shorter than in "Lucy", but Asfaw and others [1999] point out that the evidence actually will not sustain this conclusion; this was shown earlier by Korey [1990]). A couple of hundred thousand years after these 2 early Homo species appeared, the first more modern-looking species, Homo ergaster with its long legs, shortened forearms, short face, prominent nose and beetle-brows, and a cranial capacity over 800 cc, appears in the record and is well on the way to becoming us.

The early Homo-bearing beds also have stone tools. Chimpanzees modify grass stems, branches and other perishable material, and they use stones to crack nuts but do not modify the stone. Presumably australopithecines did at least as well as chimpanzees, but not until Homo are there signs that stone was deliberately modified to form tools.

Where, then, did Homo spring from? There has been a big gap in the record before 2 Ma - back to 2.5, if we think that A africanus was the ancestral stock, or to 2.9 if we reject A africanus and take it back to A afarensis. (A related question, where did Paranthropus spring from, has now gone some way to being answered by the discovery, in the mid-80s, of "the Black Skull", from 2.5-ma deposits at Lomekwi, west of Lake Turkana. This specimen is beautifully intermediate between A afarensis and the later (1-2 Ma) Paranthropus specimens we find at Koobi Fora, Olduvai and so on). Until this year, there were just a few suggestive scraps:

  1. A jaw from deposits of 2.3-2.5 Ma at Uraha, in Malawi. This has extremely large teeth and a characteristic U-shape, and has been ascribed to Homo rudolfensis.
  2. A maxilla from 2.3-ma levels at Hadar. This is very clearly Homo, less prognathous ("snouty") than an australopithecine, with a fairly parabolic dental arcade and no anterior pillars. Its smaller teeth resemble Homo habilis. From the same level come stone tools.
  3. A temporal bone fragment, mainly the glenoid fossa (where the joint surface of the jaw fits), from 2.4 Ma deposits at Chemeron in Kenya The glenoid fossa is deep and Homo- (rather than Australopithecus-) like. It appears to be placed more medially (further under the braincase) suggesting that the brain had expanded above and out over the side of the joint.
  4. Finally, a basicranial specimen (Sts 19) from Sterkfontein, found in amongst the Australopithecus africanus remains, has quite a number of Homo-like details of the form of the ear region, all of which distinguish it from any australopithecine. In comparable parts, in fact, it is quite like the Chemeron temporal.

The Uraha mandible and Hadar maxilla are early Homo, there is no disagreement about this. The Chemeron temporal and Sts 19 are much more controversial. Even if we narrow it down to just the first two, we come to the interesting conclusion that by 2.3 Ma two species already seem to be in existence, the same two species that we find in the 2 Ma deposits at Koobi Fora

Enter The Bouri Hominin - or Should That Be Hominins?

And now, and now... hot off the presses ... a paper by Asfaw and others (Nature 1999 Apr 23; 284:629-5) describes a new species which they think "is descended from Australopithecus afarensis and is a candidate ancestor for early Homo". The new species is Australopithecus garhi from Bouri, on the Middle Awash River in Ethiopia. The age is 2.5 Ma, and the remains are associated with large antelope remains with cut-marks on them, apparently from stone tools. The primitive stone tools themselves were found not at Bouri itself but at the nearby, contemporaneous site of Gona.

The type specimen of Australopithecus garhi is a partial cranium. From nearby sites, and perhaps belonging to the same species or perhaps not, come several postcranial bones including a partial skeleton, a fragment of a second cranium, and 2 mandibles (one fairly complete). The specific name, garhi, means "surprise" in the Afar language, and a bit surprising it is, too. It is basically australopithecine, with a small cranial capacity (450 cc), rectangular or slightly diverging dental arcade, and very prognathous face. It lacks the anterior pillars of Australopithecus africanus, and it even has a gap (diastema) between the lateral incisor and the canine, a primitive feature seen in A afarensis but not in A africanus. From the photos, it looks very like A afarensis, but the authors point out some more "advanced" features like the premolar shape and the more anteriorly placed malar (cheekbone) root. Like many australopithecines, including some A afarensis, it has a sagittal crest for anchoring large temporal (chewing) muscles. But what is astounding about the specimen are the huge premolars and molars. The canine, for example, is larger than any other hominin, the anterior premolar is larger than any except for some specimens of Paranthropus boisei (the East African "nutcracker" species), and the second molar is larger than any Homo, though within the range of A africanus.

About the mandible, Asfaw and colleagues say little, except that its morphology would be compatible with belonging to the same species. The stone tools might have been made by A garhi, or they might not. As for the postcranial bones, the authors are careful to explain, they too need not belong to the same species. There could be one species that left its head in the deposits and another that left its postcranial skeleton there (and of course either or neither of them might have made the stone tools). But for what it is worth, and it is worth a good deal, Asfaw and colleagues give a brief description and an interesting diagram of the limb bone proportions. The femur-to-humerus ratio was like Homo ergaster and modern humans (long femur, short "Lucy"-sized humerus), but the forearm (radius and ulna)-to-humerus ratio was long like a chimpanzee or, for that matter, like "Lucy".

Table 2: Body Proportions of Some Important Fossils
Compared With Modern Humans and the Most Humanlike Ape (the Bonobo or "Pygmy Chimpanzee").


Brachial index:
Radius as % of humerus
Humerofemoral index:
Humerus as % of femur
Pan paniscus (Bonobo) 91.9 97.8 ± 2.1
A.afarensis ("Lucy" skeleton) 90.7 84.6 ± 2.8
Bouri (perhaps A.garhi) 97.9 ca. 70.4
H.habilis (OH 62) [79.5-93.2] [94.3 ± 7.7]
Homo sapiens (African) 79.6 ± 2.5 73.3 ± 1.7
"±" means, for living forms, the sample standard deviation; for individual fossils, the standard deviation of the estimate. See especially Korey (1990), who shows how the Homo habilis data have been grossly overinterpreted.

What are we to make of it? One, 2 or 3 species? What we have is

  • a skull (to which the name Australopithecus garhi belongs), resembling A afarensis but more derived; possessing features shared by A africanus and Homo, and without the apparently unique specializations of A africanus;
  • limb bones intermediate in proportion between A afarensis and H ergaster; and
  • the earliest stone tools so far discovered.
On balance, the evidence favors the single-species interpretation, but until we find associated parts we must be cautious, especially because of those vast teeth. It has been argued by McHenry, Tobias and others that megadontia (big-toothedness) is the primitive condition so that the teeth of early Homo ought to get smaller. But that the putative ancestor of Homo had the biggest teeth of the lot - that was entirely unexpected!

Suppose Australopithecus garhi made the tools and was the ancestor of Homo. Where do the 4 early Homo specimens presumed older than 2 Ma fit in? The Bouri cranium lacks a base, so that prevents direct comparisons with both Sts19 and the Chemeron temporal. Asfaw and colleagues do not describe the Bouri-region mandibles, so that (for the moment) excludes comparisons with Uraha. But the Hadar maxilla is definitely different from the one found at Bouri. In fact, it could be lost among the Olduvai maxillae, more than 300 000 years later. So, if A garhi is ancestral to Homo, either there was a rapid change in maxillary morphology in the intervening 200 000 years, or else the Bouri specimen is a late survivor of its species. We must not exclude a speeding-up of evolutionary rates, nor must we fall into the trap of assuming anagenesis (evolution without branching).

It´s an exciting time to be alive if you´re interested in human evolution. New countries are getting onto the paleoanthropological map: India, Syria, Eritrea, Chad, Malawi, and Portugal. Every new fossil fulfils certain expectations but opens up a whole barrel of new research questions. Fossil discoveries are matched by new discoveries of just how human our nearest living relatives are. And the press is avid for them all, as well it might be. Keep on your (bipedal) toes; if you miss this week´s reports you might already be out-of-date.

Further reading

  1. Description of the new species and its environment:

    Asfaw B, White T, Lovejoy O, Latimer B, Simpson S, Suwa G. Australopithecus garhi: a new species of early hominid from Ethiopia. Science 1999; 284:629-5.
    De Heinzelin J, Clark JD, White T, Hart W, Renne P, Wolde Gabriel G, Beyene Y, Vrba E. 1999. Environment and behavior of 2.5--million-year-old Bouri hominids. Science 199; 284:625-9.
  2. What is human-like about the early hominin locomotor skeleton, and what can and cannot be said about them:

    Korey KA.. Deconstructing reconstruction: the OH62 humerofemoral skeleton. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 1990: 83:25-33.
    McHenry HM. Tempo and mode in human evolution. Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 1994; 91:6780-6.
  3. An alternative interpretation of Australopithecus afarensis and A.anamensis:

    Senut B. Pliocene hominid systematics and phylogeny. South African Journal of Science 1996; 92:165-6.
  4. The candidates for earliest Homo (2.3 to 2.5 Ma):


    Uraha:
    Bromage TG, Schrenk F, Zonneveld FW. Paleoanthropology of the Malawi Rift: an early hominid mandible from the Chiwondo Beds, northern Malawi. Journal of Human Evolution 1995; 28:71-108.

    Hadar:
    Kimbel WH, Walter RC, Johanson DC,Reed KE, Aronson JL, Assefa Z, Marean CW, Eck GG, Bobe R, Hovers E, Rak Y, Vondra C, Yemane T, York D, Chen Y, Eversen NM, Smith PE. Late Pliocene Homo and Oldowan tools from the Hadar Formation (Kada Hadar Member), Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 1996; 31:549-561.

    Chemeron:
    Hill A, Ward S, Deino A, Curtis G, Drake R. Earliest Homo. Nature, 1992; 355:719-22.

    Sterkfontein:
    Kimbel WH, Rak Y. The importance of species taxa in paleoanthropology and an argument for the phylogenetic concept of the species category. In: Kimbel WH, Martin LB, editors. Species, Species Concepts, and Primate Evolution. New York: Plenum Press, 1993. pp 461-84.
About the Author(s): 

Dr Colin Groves
Department of Archeology and Anthropology
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200 Australia
colin.groves@anu.edu.au

The De-riving Force of Cladogenesis

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
The De-riving Force of Cladogenesis
Author(s): 
Andrew J Petto
University of the Arts
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
3
Year: 
1999
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
13
This version has been significantly updated since the print publication.

Cladogenesis is the term used to describe the branching off of new taxa. These branches — or clades — are based on several criteria which make the descendants along a particular branch different from their ancestors and from related taxa on other branches. Each new branch exhibits a combination of novel characteristics that are unique to that branch mixed with some "familial" characteristics which this branch shares with its evolutionary ancestors. Although certain novel traits may be diagnostic for members of an evolving lineage, it is often the combination of unique and shared characteristics that defines new branches.

The basis of constructing a valid cladogram is the ability to identify the characteristics of the ancestral population and those of the descendants (http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evo_06). Characteristics found among the ancestors and shared by most or all members of related taxa are referred to as primitive. In cladistic studies this word is understood as "original" or "primal" and not as "crude" or "simple". In order to avoid confusion, some writers refer to these traits as conservative or simply ancestral. Shared, conservative traits link the members of related branches to a common ancestor. On the other hand, characteristics that are found in various evolutionary branches that differ from those of the ancestors are considered derived. In many cases these derived characteristics are unique modifications of widely shared ancestral characteristics. Derived traits distinguish the members of one evolutionary branch from the members of another branch.

A cladogram is constructed on these combinations of ancestral and derived characteristics in related taxa by organizing and diagramming the pattern and sequence in which they could have arisen. Ideally, we want a cladogram based on branches defined by uniquely derived characters that emerge once in an evolving lineage and are shared by all subsequent descendants. This helps us to test our hypotheses about common descent in evolving lineages. A branch that includes all the organisms descended from the same ancestral population is said to be monophyletic.

Because living organisms are a complex combination of traits, however, sometimes it is possible to draw more than one cladogram that might reflect the evolutionary history of a group of organisms. There is a variety of methods that researchers use to evaluate these options, and the appropriate choice depends on the kinds of data available and the specific hypothesis to be tested. The goal, however, is to find the tree that best explains the phylogenetic relationships among the organisms included in the tree.

Two fundamental principles used in evaluating cladograms are parsimony (http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/phylogenetics_08) and robusticity. First, when there is more than one way to draw a cladogram, and when there are no other data that suggest one of these is more likely than the others, we tend to choose the one in which derived traits are re-invented in different branches the fewest number of times. Second, we prefer trees that maintain their basic form, even when different options are applied to the sequence of changes in one or more of their branches. However, when more data are available about the history or the origin of a particular feature, these data are more important tools in determining which of the alternative trees is better. In contrast to exercises in mere classification, we want to base our taxonomy on the cladogram. The guiding principle is that our taxa should be monophyletic. Each evolutionary branch must contain all descendants of a common ancestor.

One of the chief criticisms against the "classical" taxonomy that places humans on one branch of the hominoid family tree and the great apes (African apes and the orang utan) on another is that this arrangement fails on the criterion of monophyly. Based on fossil data, comparative anatomy, and molecular biology, humans and African apes share a recent common ancestor and so a monophyletic clade would include humans and African apes together. Any branch that combines Asian apes (such as the orang utan) with African apes, but excludes the human branch, is invalid because it does not include all the descendants of the common ancestor of Asian and African apes (see http://tolweb.org/hominidae/16299).

There is, of course, a uniquely human clade containing all the hominins (species of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, and Ardipithecus) descended from the first upright walkers among the African apes; however, no clade that excludes humans but includes African and Asian groups is phylogenetically valid because it fails on the basic criterion of monophyly: it must include the most recent common ancestor of all the organisms in the tree and all the descendants of that most recent common ancestor.

Fossil data help to refine cladistic analysis by providing information about the sequence or order in which certain derived traits emerged. Cladistic analysis helps to resolve the "problem" of the so-called "missing links" or the intermediate specimens, because it does not require that fossil species evolve into any related species which emerge later. Instead, it represents the evolutionary history of an evolving lineage in terms of a collection of characteristics which can be passed along to descendant populations — or not!

Review: Forbidden Archaeology's Impact

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Volume: 
19
Year: 
1999
Issue: 
3
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
14–17
Reviewer: 
Tom Morrow
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
Work under Review
Title: 
Forbidden Archeology's Impact: How a Controversial New Book Shocked the Scientific Community and Became an Underground Classic
Author(s): 
Michael A. Cremo
Badger, CA: Torchlight Publishing, 1998. 592 pages.

What if somebody published a 592-page book to answer all the critics of his previous book? That's what Michael Cremo does in Forbidden Archaeology's Impact. In 1993, Cremo and Richard Thompson published Forbidden Archaeology (FA), a voluminous exposé of "anomalous archaeological artifacts" that suggested modern people possibly lived on earth almost as long as the world existed, some 4.3 billion years ago.

Like Christian creationists who accommodate science to the Bible, Cremo and Thompson are Hindu creationists that harmonize science with their sacred Vedic scriptures. The Bhagavata Purana says that men and women have lived on earth for a vast period of time called the Day of Brahma, which is composed of a thousand yuga cycles. Each yuga cycle lasts 12,000 "years of the gods." And since each "year" equals 360 earth years, one yuga cycle equals 4.32 million years while a thousand yuga cycles total 4.32 billion years, summing up the Day of Brahma.

Forbidden Archaeology's Impact describes the notoriety Cremo's first book triggered by including all his personal correspondence, interviews, journal articles, conference papers, and even Internet postings. But Cremo mostly confronts his critics head-on, reprinting their harsh book reviews verbatim while following them up with lengthy rebuttals that he mailed to each reviewer in protest.

And Cremo doesn't suffer critics gladly. He mailed a copy of this book to the NCSE because it includes a voluminous rebuttal to Wade Tarzia's review published 5 years ago in Creation/Evolution 34. So I'll choose my words carefully.

Cremo strenuously protests the ad hominem attacks targeted at Forbidden Archaeology and its abridged edition, Hidden History of the Human Race. And in the reviews he cites, some critics did unnecessarily tease, trivialize, and spoof the authors' deadly serious presentation of their major evidences for human antiquity. And I agree that those reviewers should have analyzed FA's claims more seriously and professionally.

But their scorn could have been provoked by the book's blunt, in-your-face debut. As a publicity stunt, Cremo and Thompson mailed dozens of free, unsolicited copies to various paleoanthropologists to trigger a response. And when these recipients opened their packages to discover a book from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness dedicated to His Divine Grace AC Ghaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and consisting of a thousand-page assault on their profession, accusing them of unwittingly and deliberately suppressing evidence, what were they to think? Perhaps that this book was someone's spooky, surreal prank?

Paleoanthropologists have have grown to expect the taunts of Christian anti-evolutionists who appeal to biblical authority. Now they have to put up with Hindus attacking evolution by invoking cyclical kalpas, manvantaras, and yugas while accusing anthropologists of worshiping at the altar of Darwinian fundamentalism and metaphysical materialism. Gee, where have we heard that before? What kind of reception did Cremo expect?

Besides, many critics had genuine problems with Forbidden Archaeology that went beyond "Darwinism". For all its densely technical discussions of archaeological anomalies, many critics complained that Cremo and Thompson bombarded readers with abundantly useless data. For example, FA devotes 400 pages to analyzing anomalous stone tools depicted in obscure literature over the past 150 years. Worse, these specimens no longer exist. So FA compensated by providing page after page of drawings taken from their original sources. But in his reprinted review on page 103, Kenneth Feder frets that these illustrations are absolutely useless because it is impossible to determine whether these Paleolithic tools are drawn to scale or accurately rendered.

In Forbidden Archaeology's Impact, Cremo boasts that he's overthrowing the Darwinian worldview; but Darwinism is the study of biology, not Stone Age finds. And Cremo ignores animal evolution entirely. In 2 reprinted letters, Cremo says he's writing a book that cites land plants found in Cambrian strata (from reports published 50 years earlier) and fossils of flowering plants found in Jurassic strata (about 213-144 million years ago). Most paleobotanists say that angiosperms didn't appear until the late Cretaceous period (about 70 million years ago). But Cremo never explains why these potential revelations threaten biological evolution.

In their separate reviews reprinted in this book, Tarzia and Bradley Lepper revealed Cremo's biological misunderstandings while critiquing his "ape-man" chapter. Forbidden Archaeology and its abridged version, Hidden History of the Human Race, claimed that Bigfoot, Yeti, and other backcountry "wildmen" really exist and threaten evolution. Why? Because if someone caught a live Sasquatch, that would prove ancient hominids still coexist with modern humans.

But on page 159, Tarzia accuses Cremo and Thompson of "ignoring the possibility of shared common ancestry." Cremo's 14-page rebuttal to Tarzia ignores that criticism. On page 203, Lepper says, "Cremo and Thompson devote an entire chapter to reports of 'living ape-men' such as Bigfoot, which, even if true, contribute nothing to their thesis that anatomically modern humans lived in geologically recent times. Chimpanzees are 'ape-men' of a sort, sharing 99% of our genetic makeup, and their coexistence with Homo sapiens sapiens does no violence to evolutionary theory."

Cremo's response to Lepper on page 213 is oddly revealing: "While evidence of the coexistence of anatomically modern humans with more apelike hominids today does not do any violence to evolutionary theory, their coexistence in the distant past would do some violence to it. And the evidence documented in Hidden History suggests that they did coexist in the distant past."

I read that passage over and over, trying to make sense of Cremo's response. If he concedes that humans and nonhuman hominids coexisting today would not undermine human evolution, then what was the purpose of his ape-man chapter to begin with? And if modern humans and apelike hominids coexisted in the distant past, paleoanthropologists will always presume that they shared an even earlier ancestry. For example, even though some paleontologists and ornithologists currently disagree over whether birds diverged from Cretaceous maniraptorans (a specific group of dinosaurs) or earlier Triassic thecodonts (tree-dwelling reptiles), neither side claims their disagreement invalidates the conclusions of common ancestry for dinosaurs and birds.

What's more, Cremo is oblivious to biological context. One of many reasons why scientists accept evolution is because humans share numerous anatomical traits with all living mammals, not just primates. But if we embrace the notion that modern people lived on earth 600 million years ago, long before the arrival of other mammals, reptiles, fish, vertebrates, or any animal with a skeleton or hard body part, then biological patterns would be rendered senseless.

Even if we overlook the implausibility of humans' thriving in an oxygen-starved world without available food sources, think about what it would mean to have people living on earth, eons before the first arthropods arrived. Finding fossilized humans at every level of the geologic column would not be anomalous at all. Those finds would be the rule, not the exception, and a Darwinian paradigm would have never seized a foothold to begin with.

But of all the criticisms aimed at Forbidden Archaeology, Cremo objects most to those who labeled it pseudoscience, which is understandable. Cremo and Thompson toiled for 8 years on this comprehensive reference work, and calling it a pseudoscience is the same thing as labeling it a fraud. But when I read Forbidden Archaeology's Impact's reprinted correspondence that Cremo exchanged with his sympathizers and supporters, he appears too stubborn and sanctimonious to follow scientific rules. For example, if Cremo and Thompson wanted their debut to be taken seriously, they should have first submitted their findings through an extensive peer-review process, but Cremo thinks "peer-review" simply means conspiracy and censorship. Like all creationists, Cremo's not looking for real answers - just believers.

Next, let's examine portions of the two following letters that Cremo wrote to his supporters. This first one on page 300, is addressed to Dr Horst Friedrich:

In your review, you note that Richard Thompson and I did not discuss the idea of recurring catastrophes or the evidence for advanced civilization mentioned in the Vedic literatures of India. That was deliberate on our part. In Forbidden Archaeology we wanted first of all to demonstrate the need for an alternative view of human origins. In our next book, tentatively titled The Descent of Man Revisited, we shall outline the alternative, drawing extensively upon Vedic source material. This will include, of course, the recurring cataclysms of the yuga cycles and manvantara periods, as well as discussion of Vedic descriptions of advanced civilization in ancient times, and in an interplanetary context as well. I hope that will satisfy you! A new picture of human origins will have to be comprehensive, in the manner you suggest in your NEARA Journal article, incorporating evidence not only for archaeological and geological anomalies, but also paranormal phenomena of all types, including evidence for extraterrestrial civilization.

That's only the beginning. Cremo goes on to describe, in complete detail, 3 unique avatarian manifestations of the Godhead and explains how Shrila Prabhupada spread Krishna consciousness around the world through God's "confidential empowerment". The religious significance of Cremo's research is paramount.

However, Forbidden Archaeology's harshest critics were paleoanthropologists, and it was amusing to watch Cremo lecture professional scientists on how to do their jobs. He even admonished Lepper for not properly understanding Thomas Kuhn's prerequisites for scientific revolutions. Yet despite all this, read the following portion of this letter addressed to Dr William Howells on page 337:

Historically, I would say that the Judaeo-Christian tradition helped prepare the way for the mechanistic worldview by depopulating the universe of its demigods and spirits and discrediting most paranormal occurrences, with the exception of a few miracles mentioned in the Bible. Science took the further step of discrediting the few remaining kinds of acceptable miracles, especially after David Hume's attack upon them. Essentially, Hume said if it comes down to a choice between believing reports of paranormal occurrences, even by reputable witnesses, or rejecting the laws of physics, it is more reasonable to reject the testimony of the witnesses to paranormal occurrences, no matter how voluminous and well attested. Better to believe the witnesses were mistaken or lying. In my opinion, there is even today quite a lot of evidence for paranormal phenomena. Unfortunately, this evidence tends to be suppressed in the intellectual centers of society by the same process of knowledge filtration that tends to suppress physical evidence that contradicts general evolutionary ideas.

In other words, Cremo not only accuses the "scientific establishment" of rejecting the paranormal; but also claims that mainstream scientists are immersed in a conspiracy to suppress its evidence. And he has the effrontery to wonder why scientists won't take him seriously?

Frankly, I appreciate Cremo's courage to express his paranormal leanings so candidly. "Intelligent Design" creationists, in contrast, often wriggle and squirm when confronted with theirs. Let me say that if anybody is interested in the cultural and religious groundwork, sincere personal motivations, and epistemological methods employed by Hindu "creation science", Forbidden Archaeology's Impact is the most comprehensive, conclusive reference work on this topic.

About the Author(s): 
Tom Morrow
662 Hogskin Valley Rd
Washburn TN 37888-1735

Review: Skeptics and True Believers

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Volume: 
19
Year: 
1999
Issue: 
3
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
18, 23
Reviewer: 
Arthur M. Shapiro
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
Work under Review
Title: 
Skeptics and True Believers
Author(s): 
Chet Raymo
New York: Walker and Company, 1998. 288 p.
Does anyone but me remember "The Conversion of Aurelian McGoggin?" It's a short piece from Rudyard Kipling's "Plain Tales From the Hills," set in British India. McGoggin is an obnoxious autodidactical windbag. Having read some Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer, he has concocted his own creed, a hodgepodge of materialism, positivism, humanism and Darwinism, which he insists on preaching at length to anyone unlucky enough to be within reach of his stentorian voice. His put-upon comrades lovingly refer to him as "The Blastoderm". One day the Blastoderm suffers something like heat stroke, which renders him speechless for 2 days and occasions a 3-month convalescence. That's enough to drive him to serious introspection: being struck dumb was undreamt of in his philosophy. Freed from the pressure of constant oral self-affirmation, he begins to doubt that he is the repository of ultimate wisdom. His associates revel in blessed silence. We all know a Blastoderm or two.

Addressing the zone where science and religion meet, Raymo divides people into "skeptics" and "true believers." ("A term which is charged with the sacred demonizes its antonym," said Jean Starobinski.) However, things are not all that simple. There are religious skeptics — deeply religious skeptics — and atheist — profoundly atheist — true believers. The Blastoderm is a specimen of the latter type. Skeptics and True Believers is about mind-sets. It is firmly opposed to the mind-set of anyone who claims to be In possession of absolute truth, be it theistic or atheistic. In the tradition of Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman-philosopher who popularized the term "true believer" about 4 decades ago, it is a manifesto against all varieties of Blastoderms.

Chet Raymo is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at StonehiII College in North Easton MA and writes a weekly column, Science Musings, for the Boston Globe. He was raised Catholic — he tells of being indoctrinated from Frank Sheed's Theology and Sanity, a book arguing that a truly sane person by definition must be Roman Catholic. Although he has by his own account outgrown all the mumbo-jumbo of his youth, he has never stopped being troubled by how faith and science fit together.

Skeptics and True Believers is a book for other reflective adults. It begins somewhere beyond where certainty has been lost. Call it an affirmation for those looking for hope. But it has little patience for New-Age gurus trying to build cults on foundations of quantum physics or chaos theory and even less for the current "angel" fad. Raymo sees such stuff as foredoomed and contemptible for its shallowness. He is looking for something deeper, something closer to ultimate meaning. For those who reject any prospect of ultimate meaning, his quest is at best quixotic. Raymo's basic argument is not new, but it is lyrically, indeed poetically, put forward here. Scientific method is the pinnacle of human civilization; with all due acknowledgement of its intrinsic falsifiability, scientific knowledge cannot be rejected or ignored. Science neither desacralizes nor demystifies the universe.

Raymo quotes EO Wilson: "Our sense of wonder grows exponentially: the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery." Only a soul that is deadened, or dead, can resist the majesty of the universe as revealed to us by science. Speaking of "knowing and being", Raymo says (p 232-4):
Cosmology, spirituality, cerebration — these are the attributes of religion. ...Cosmology reveals the creation. It answers the big questions. ...For better or worse, this is the task of science... now embraced globally as the one truly human instrument of cosmic revelation.

For the method to work, we pretend for the moment that it is possible to step out of ourselves into the world as it is. To this end we invent names — Cercyonis pegol, Cercyonis meadi — that match the patterns we think we see in nature. Of course, perfect objectivity is impossible. ...Science works...in that wall of liquid between mind and world.... With.science, the arrow of transference is inward, from world to mind, a soul-making vector, incandescent with facts, sparks of the white fire kindled in our hearts.... Only when we are emotionally at home in the universe of the galaxies and the DNA will the new story invigorate our spiritual lives and be cause for authentic celebration. Knowing and believing will come together again at last. Cautious and skeptical as knowers, we can then give ourselves unreservedly to spiritual union with creation and communal celebration of its mysteries.
Once again, for the true believer materialist-positivist this is all literal nonsense. But most people are not Blastoderms. The physicist-priest John Polkinghorne says that there is "a God-shaped hole in many people's lives." The Czech president and intellectual Václav Havel has been saying something similar for years (Raymo chides him on p 165-6 for going too far with this). Some sociobiologists argue that religious belief has an evolutionary function, and most social scientists ascribe important social functions to religious belief. The recent history of state-mandated atheism belies the canard that, given a choice, people will gladly throw off the oppressive burden of belief. False consciousness and opiates of the people notwithstanding, most people seem to find it very hard — at least very depressing — to believe in nothing larger than themselves.

Raymo wants to believe that a new spirituality grounded in science will emerge. He fears that if it does not, that God-shaped hole will be filled by oppressive old orthodoxies and superstitions. He has no clear vision of what this new spirituality might be like — only that it has to be cleaner and purer and more uplifting than the incantations of one or another kind of Blastoderm.

[Technical note from the author: The Cercyonis are butterflies and hark back to an earlier discussion of how taxonomy allows us to order nature. Unfortunately, Raymo got one of the names wrong. It's Cercyonis pegala, not pegol. But pegol is intrinsically a pretty word, and I hope someone names a butterfly Cercyonis pegol some day.]

About the Author(s): 
Arthur M Shapiro
Center for Population Biology
University of California
Davis CA 95616

A New Tactic for Getting "Creation Science" Into Classrooms?

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
A New Tactic for Getting "Creation Science" Into Classrooms?
Author(s): 
Molleen Matsumura
NCSE Network Project Director
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
3
Year: 
1999
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
24–26
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
One of the enduring characteristics of evolution/creation controversies in this country is that anti-evolution tactics change over time, although the underlying message does not. One reason these changes occur is that anti-evolutionists respond to court rulings by looking for specific language in these decisions which may seem to provide a "loophole" that can be used as another route for bringing "creation science" into the schools. For example, Eugenie Scott has described the "mutation" of proposals for "balanced treatment" of evolution and "creation science" into proposals for teaching "evidence against evolution" (NCSE Reports 1996; 16[2]:5). The name may change, but the content stays the same; the "evidence" offered "against evolution" consists of the same "unsolved problems" decried by "creation science".

The most publicized efforts to have "evidence against evolution" taught are legislative proposals like the bill introduced in Ohio in 1995 (NCSE Reports 16[3]:18). But there's another way of bringing anti-evolution into classrooms that may be more successful because it is less publicized, and often goes unnoticed; this is for teachers to present it on their own initiative. In some instances, teachers have the support of their communities. In other cases a teacher may continue for years before parents or administrators learn what is happening. It doesn't always occur to students to mention what they were taught, and even the most attentive parents may not happen to see one or a few homework assignments covering the material, or recognize them as such.

Two of the more recent strategies are to argue that individual teachers have a constitutional right to present creationist material and that "evidence against evolution" should be taught in the science classroom as a way to improve teaching and learning. The former insists either that free speech or the free exercise of religion is unconstitutionally abridged when teachers are not permitted to teach creationism in the science classroom. The second usually resorts to a litany of so-called "problems" and "anomalies" in the scientific evidence which proponents claim casts doubt on evolutionary explanations and models.

The "Right" to Teach "Creation Science" - Two Failed Legal Strategies

When they hear that their teachers are teaching "creation science" in the science classroom, school district administrators or board members who understand the scientific issues - or at least the legal repercussions - will often tell them to stop, and sometimes that's the end of the story (for example, in Lakewood, OH, as described in NCSE Reports 1996; 16[1]:6). But 2 instances in which teachers responded by suing their school districts have led to major legal decisions, each upholding the district's actions:

  • In 1990, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of a teacher who claimed that a school district had violated his free speech rights by forbidding him to teach "creation science". The Appeals Court upheld a lower court's ruling that the teacher's claim was outweighed by a public school's obligation to ensure that religious views are not injected into curricula (Webster v New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

  • In 1994 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that a teacher's right of free exercise of religion is not violated by a requirement to teach evolution. The decision issued by the Court specifically rejected the claim that evolution is a "religion" (John E Peloza v Capistrano Unified School District, [1994] 917 F. 2d 1004). The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the Peloza decision.

While circuit court decisions do not apply to every state in the US, they do apply within their districts and may be consulted by other circuit courts considering similar cases. Ninth Circuit decisions apply to Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, and Arizona; Seventh Circuit decisions apply to Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

A New Approach - Teaching "Evidence Against Evolution"

In recent months, NCSE has been consulted by residents of 2 districts in which teachers are claiming they have a right to present "evidence against evolution". In Faribault, Minnesota, after a series of discussions with school and district officials, high-school teacher Rodney LeVake was re-assigned from teaching a biology class to a general science class. A complaint to the State of Minnesota's Third Judicial District Court, filed on Levake's behalf by the Midwest office of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), alleges that the school district's action has violated a number of LeVake's rights under both state and federal constitutions, including a right to protection from "discriminat[ion]...in terms, conditions and privileges of employment on the basis of his religion...." (ACLJ is a conservative Christian legal organization launched by Pat Robertson, founder of the "Christian Coalition".)

The ACLJ complaint quotes LeVake's statement, in a "position paper" requested by school administrators, that, "I will teach, should the department decide that it is appropriate, the theory of evolution. I will also accompany that treatment of evolution with an honest look at the difficulties and inconsistencies of the theory without turning my class into a religious one." (Minnesota's Science Curriculum Framework specifies that "biological evolution" should be taught in grades 9-12.)

The full text of the "position statement " attached to the complaint contains a litany of familiar "creation science" and "intelligent design" arguments, for example:
  • "neither evolution nor creation can be considered a science..."
  • "amazing lack of transitional forms in the fossil record..."
  • "mutations generally have a negative impact..."
  • "evolution is in clear violation of [the Second Law of Thermodynamics]..."
  • "no reservations [about "microevolution", but] ... recent literature doesn't support...macroevolution..."

LeVake's statement also refers to "irreducible complexity", a concept introduced in Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box, and even lists Behe's example of the structure of flagellae, while stating that LeVake has not read this book (but recommends it anyway!)

Many of LeVake's arguments are familiar, and his legal complaint repeats some claims that have been made in other cases - such as a right to teach anti-evolution as a matter of "academic freedom". However, this appears to be the first time that supposed employment discrimination against a teacher has been alleged against a district that would not permit teaching "evidence against evolution".

Of Pandas and Lawsuits

In Burlington, Washington there has been controversy for over a year concerning Roger DeHart's use of the "intelligent design" textbook Of Pandas and People in a middle-school science class. In 1998, school board members who had supported DeHart said they did not want to risk being sued by the ACLU. A new superintendent ordered DeHart to stop using Pandas and explicitly said he could not teach "creation science." (RNCSE 1999; 19[1]:7).

In the summer of 1999, DeHart sought approval of some portions of Pandas by the district's Instructional Materials Committee (IMC). Local newspapers suggested that attorneys had contacted the school district on DeHart's behalf (Burlington Argus, March 3, 1999:1). Although the IMC committee refused to approve the material, the school's principal gave DeHart permission to use a few pages from Pandas. According to an article in the Seattle Times, the principal said, "He's introducing 'irreducible complexity'.... He also has to have a supporting theory of how evolution addressed complex things...." (June 14, 1999 ). It is clear that District officials believe they have made a compromise. On July 14, the Skagit Valley Herald reported that Superintendent Rick Jones commented, "When I came to this district he was teaching a great deal about intelligent design and now there is nothing being taught. We've made radical changes... but no one seems to be thinking about that."

At the time of publication, no court documents have been filed by either the school district or DeHart's attorneys, so NCSE does not know whether new legal strategies will be attempted. Some correspondence on DeHart's behalf by an attorney for the Rutherford Institute implies that refusing to use Pandas would somehow be unconstitutional. While the concept of "intelligent design theory" has appeared in a federal court (in the Freiler v Tangipahoa case, see RNCSE 1997; 17[3]:5-7), the situation in Burlington may evolve into the first lawsuit in which the constitutionality of using Pandas is an issue.

Coming to a Classroom Near You?

Resources for teachers who want to teach "evidence against evolution" are abundantly available from both "creation science ministries" and conservative religious groups for whom "creation science" is just one concern. For example, a booklet distributed to teachers by Focus on the Family lists 8 organizations with resources for teachers (and here at NCSE we know of many more!). A 1998 International Creation Conference included 11 sessions for teachers, with titles like "Complexity of Blood Clotting: A Laboratory Practicum" and "Funny Bones - Using Humor to Teach Creation in Human Anatomy Courses". Audiotapes of each session are available (see a complete list at http://trfn.clpgh.org/csf/icc98ta.html ). The abundance of resources suggests a wide audience, and numerous surveys finding that many teachers want to teach "creation science" confirm this impression (more than 30% of a national sample of high school biology teachers described in Eve and Dunn, 1989).

What can you do? If you have children in school, you can tell if evolution is being taught (and how well) when helping with science homework or visiting the science classroom on parents' night. You can read your child's textbooks and supplemental materials and check out the school library - books, magazines and other materials such as audiotapes, videotapes, posters, and so on. If you don't have children in school, but know people who do, share your interest in NCSE and good science education. Don't be surprised if some day one of these friends calls and asks, "My child's teacher is talking about 'evidence against evolution'. What can I do?" This has happened to other NCSE members (see NCSE Reports 1996; 16[1]:21-2). And then? Call NCSE - we're here to help.

References

Anonymous, Teachers Guide ... Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Human Origins (Dallas, TX: Haughton Publishing Company, nd) (While the authors and publication date of Pandas itself are known, the Teachers Guide does not give this information).

Eve RA, Dunn D. "High school biology teachers and pseudoscientific belief: Passing it on?" The Skeptical Inquirer 1989 Spring; 13:260-3.

Peloza v Capistrano. Text of 9th Circuit Court decision is available at .

Prentice DA Setting Up Non-Religious, Scientific Models for Teaching Creation and Evolution in the Public School Classroom. New Orleans: Origins Resource Association, 1995.

Sarfati J. Refuting Evolution: A Response to the National Academy of Sciences' Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1999. (A study guide presenting this book's arguments in question-and-answer form is available at www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4059.asp.)

Cheering with the Enemy

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
Cheering with the Enemy, or Boosting Your Mileage with the Best from Bad Reviews
Author(s): 
Wade Tarzia
Volume: 
19
Issue: 
3
Year: 
1999
Date: 
May–June
Page(s): 
30–33
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

Introduction

How can ideas that have failed to find acceptance in the scientific arena continue to be promoted as scientifically valid? A common rhetorical strategy among anti-evolutionists is reminiscent of advertisements for bad movies — excerpt the bad reviews and use parts of them to your advantage. In this case the Bhakavadanta Institute excerpted my negative review in Creation/Evolution (Tarzia 1994) to promote the creationist archaeology book, Forbidden Archaeology: The hidden history of the human race by Michael A Cremo and Richard L Thompson. It is a simple method — counter a theory of evolution through acrobatic selective citation. For a Christian creationist example of the method, see Henry Morris's book That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (1998). However, the example I will explore here shows the use of selective citations from negative reviews to promote the book through advertisement on a web site.

The Institute had much material to work with because several scholars published negative reviews of the book. Some of these reviewers made positive remarks about certain aspects of Forbidden Archaeology even if their final judgment was that the book was a work of pseudoscience or had severe shortcomings. Showing resolution before critical adversity, the publishers established a World Wide Web site (http://www.webcom.com/ara/col/books/science/fa.html) composed of positive statements from many negative reviews. Of course, these selective citations have been removed from the context of the overall negative assessments. The publishers introduce these citations with this upbeat statement:
Forbidden Archeology is an extremely controversial book that has attracted a great deal of attention in the academic world. As might be expected, its anti-Darwinian thesis has provoked many negative reviews, some of which misrepresent the substance of the book. But even those who disagree with the book's conclusion have sometimes recognized it as a genuine scholarly contribution and correctly represented the substance of the book to their readers, as shown by the following excerpts.
(http://www.webcom.com/ara/col/books/science/rev.html last accessed on July 19, 1999).

A Trio of Reviews

I will show a few detailed examples from 3 sources I have at hand (Marks 1993; Feder 1994; Tarzia 1994). First I will extract a long section of each review to suggest the author's overall assessment, then show the Forbidden Archaeology web site's use of this material in italics.

From Karl Feder's Review:

While decidedly anti-evolutionary in perspective, this work is not the ordinary variety of anti-evolutionism in form, content, or style. In distinction to the usual brand of such writing, the authors use original sources and the book is well written. Further, the overall tone of the work is far superior to that exhibited in ordinary creationist literature. Nonetheless, I suspect that creationism is at the root of the authors' argument, albeit of a sort not commonly seen before. It is impossible in the context of this short review to deal in an in-depth way with any of the myriad cases cited by the authors buttress their claims he authors to buttress their claims. Instead, their general approach can be summarized.

The authors base virtually their entire book on a literature search and most (though not all) of that literature dates to the early twentieth century. In so doing, the authors have resurrected nineteenth-century claims of "Tertiary Man" (see Grayson 1983), apparently superimposing on this a belief in the instantaneous appearance of anatomically modern Homo sapiens at some point in the very distant past, asserting that the evidence for this is at least as good, and usually better, than that cited for a much later and evolutionary origin for our species. The authors maintain that the analytical techniques applied by nineteenth century scientists to incised bones and "eoliths" that led some to conclude that these very ancient items were the result of human activity, are nearly the same techniques as those applied today to accepted evidence. Therefore, the authors assert, the conclusions reached by nineteenth and early twentieth -century researchers that these very ancient objects were cultural in origin are of equal validity to the identification of more recent (late Pliocene) cultural objects by modern scientists. Thus, when a nineteenth-century researcher using a standard microscope of the time claims that striations found on bones dating back tens of millions of years are butchering marks, this is the equivalent, in the authors' view, of a modern researcher identifying cut marks using a scanning electron microscope. I doubt that many working in the field would agree. ... When you attempt to deconstruct a well-accepted paradigm, it is reasonable to expect that a new paradigm be suggested in its place. The authors of Forbidden Archaeology do not do this and I would like to suggest a reason for their neglect here. Wishing to appear entirely scientific, the authors hoped to avoid a detailed discussion of their own beliefs (if not through evolution, how? Is not within the last four million years, when?) since, I would contend, these are based on a creationist view, but not the kind we are all familiar with.

From Jonathan Marks's Review:

The explicit aims of the authors is to reconcile paleoanthropology to the Vedic ideas that "the human race is of great antiquity" and that "various human and apelike beings have coexisted for a long time" (p xxxvi). That does not sound particularly challenging; but unsatisfied with the apparently easy harmony between normal science and their nebulous theology, the authors decided to redo anthropology. The argument is simple: think of all the generalizations we can make about human evolution. Now think of all the exceptions, paradoxes, mistakes, and hoaxes. Now switch them. That is this book. As the Fire-sign Theatre once proclaimed: "Everything you know is wrong!" (But then, they were trying to be humorous, too). For unclear reasons, given the looseness of their religious thesis, this book is anti-evolutionary. The authors are trying to argue that humans have always been on earth, even unto the pre-Cambrian, when there was not much for them to eat or breathe.... The best that can be said is that more reading went into this Hindu-oid creationist drivel than seems to go into the Christian-oid creationist drivel. At any rate, this is a must for anyone interested in keeping up with goofy popular anthropology; at well over 900 pages, it is a veritable cornucopia of dreck.

From Wade Tarzia's Review:

Forbidden Archeology, a new Bhaktivedanta Institute book, argues that anatomically modern humans have existed for millions of years, which disproves the theory of human evolution; the authors make no specific claims for other kinds of biotic evolution. The book also claims that archaeologists have become a "knowledge filter" (p xxv ff) since the 19th century, laboring under a predisposition to ignore evidence for anatomically modern humans having existed for millions of years. Sometimes the book develops a dishonesty theory-evidence is said to be "carefully edited" (p 150) by scientists so that younger investigators do not see evidence that invalidates the theory of human evolution.

The authors have worked hard in collecting and quoting an enormous amount of material, much of it from the 19th- and early 20th-century, certainly interesting for its historical perspective. Their evidence is as diverse as it is detailed, including, for example, eoliths (crudely broken stones some have considered early tools), "wildmen" (Big Foot, etc), and even a fossilized shoe sole from the Triassic period. Despite all this hard work, I think the book falls short of a scientific work primarily (but not entirely) because (1) its arguments abandon the testing of simpler hypothesis before the more complex and sensationalistic ones, and (2) the use of so many outdated sources is inadequate for a book that seeks to overturn the well-established paradigm of human evolution — scholars must not work in isolation, especially today, when multi-disciplinary approaches are needed to remain on the cutting edge of knowledge. However, for researchers studying the growth, folklore, and rhetoric of pseudo-science, the book is useful as 'field' data.
Note that the italicized quotations are carefully selected summaries of the book or, as in the case of my review, selections of kind opinion (despite an overall negative judgment). In any event, the quotes so selected may appear to suggest that the reviewers are re-stating the book's premises ... and agree! Note that the introduction to this web-page states that the reviewers correctly summarize the substance of the book ... and again fosters an aura of overall agreement between the authors and book reviewers.

The entire effort seems legal to me; the website properly references the reviews. I assume the citations are generally accurate because the 3 I have shown here were cited correctly (although incompletely). The site does not claim that these reviewers agreed with the book.

The Integrity of the Review Process

If the quotations are legal, is there a problem? Are the quotations ethical or misleading? That is difficult to answer; on its surface the site is advertising a book rather than discussing science and this selective citation is not unusual from an advertiser's point of view. But consider also that the site reproduces so much discussion from and about the book (about 9000 words) that the boundary between advertisement and scientific discussion is blurred. The Forbidden Archaeology web site seems firmly in the recent media tradition of technical advertising, so what frame of reference shall we chose to decide whether this use of reviewers' comments is acceptable?

Because Forbidden Archaeology professes to be rigorous and competitive in scholarly circles, we might expect its promotion to be similarly circumspect — keeping in mind that even the publishers of genuinely highly-regarded books are apt to select strong quotations from reviews. Still, is this the same thing as extracting summaries of positive statements from overall negative reviews?

While conceding to the cleverness of the publishers, I would point out the "interesting" rhetorical position in which the publishers have placed us. Of course, the letter of the law has been followed in citation rules; readers can refer to the complete text of the reviews. However, the unusual arrangement of the material on the web site permits the publisher to "cheer with the enemy" in promoting the book. It seems that, when these reviewers tried to describe fairly some interesting feature of the book amidst its overwhelming methodological flaws, their professional approach to a scientifically worthless book was exploited for promotional purposes. Exploited? A strong word, but please read on. The formal arrangement of the citations on the web site seems designed to disorient the reader.

The visitor to the web site looks over bright commentary, self-praise, and lengthy extracts in this web-site, and becomes interested in the promise of exciting new findings dealing with the broadly fascinating topic of human evolution. Then the reader clicks on the link to the reviewers' comments and reads 76 words of a short blurb to the effect, "But even those who disagree with the book's conclusion have sometimes recognized it as a genuine scholarly contribution and correctly represented the substance of the book to their readers, as shown by the following excerpts." There follow 14 selectively good quotes (about 1475 words) devoid of the context of the reviewers' overall negative assessments. The reader is overloaded with the positive, and the brief notice admitting that these quotes are from nonadmirers is now some hundreds of words and perhaps a couple of minutes behind. Technically, the web page seems to remain within the bounds of legal citation; at the same time, the reader loses track of the context of the reviewers' comments — an outcome scholars usually try to avoid.

If the book is as successful as claimed, one might wonder why its promoters would need to risk the accusation of unfair citation — surely not a charge that scholars would want to risk. If the publisher wants the book to be taken seriously or skeptics won over, one wonders how this approach could possibly help.

Building Confidence in the Scholarly Process

My major disappointment rests in the fact that professional courtesy has been exploited. Scientists attempt to be fair, sometimes going so far as to admit to finding something good in an otherwise disappointing piece of work. This is not always or even often a saintly act; a scientific tradition of self-correction sometimes coerces honesty — we fear being proclaimed as unfair, unbalanced, biased. And sometimes — perish the thought — we delight in being fair. As a sometimes voluntary, sometimes coercive self-correcting practice, science tries to avoid ignoring or camouflaging different sides of a debate. When it fails to debate the issues openly and accurately, it just isn't science.

The kind of selective quoting of scholarly reviews shown here may be legal, but it treads on the very outer fringes of scholarship and into the territory of cynical, unbalanced presentation. It seems to violate the scholarly tradition. It isn't consistent with the self-correcting nature of the review process nor does it build confidence in the integrity of authors, reviewers, and publishers. It may convince reviewers to focus on the negative just to be sure they can't be cynically misquoted next time, and that would be a disservice to all parties with an interest in honest, scholarly discourse.

And so this case leads inductively to a general observation. We're always fighting the human in us, aren't we? We rise out of ourselves in ideals in the form of gods and observational-methodological perfection, and here we are, creationists and scientists, united in our urges even when divided about the details. Same urges, different methods, each with its own uses that may vaporize when mixed. Just a thought, but you can quote me.

Acknowledgment

Thanks to Dr John R Cole for reading a draft and making suggestions.

References Cited

Feder KL. Geoarchaeology 1994; 9(4):338.

Marks J. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 1993; 93:140-1.

Morris H. That Their Words May Be Used Against Them. Grand Rapids (MI): Master Books, 1998.

Tarzia W. Forbidden Archaeology: Anti-evolutionism outside the Christian arena. Creation/Evolution 1994 Summer; nr 34; 14(1): 13-25.

Further Reading: Review sources cited by the Forbidden Archaeology Web Site

Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution 1994; 6:461.

Journal of Geological Education 1995; 43:193.

Journal of Field Archeology 1994; 21:112.

Broodbank C. Antiquity 1993; 67: 904.

Davidson J. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1994 Aug: 28.

Feder KL. Geoarchaeology 1994; 9(4):338.

Marks J. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 1994; 93(1):140.

Murray T. British Journal for the History of Science 1995; 28: 379.

Patou-Mathis M. L'Anthropologie 1995; 99(1):159.

Schwarz H. Journal of Unconventional History 1994; 6/1:75-6.

Stoczkowsk W. L'Homme 1995; 35:173.
Tarzia W. Creation/Evolution 1994; 14(1): 13.

Wodak J, Oldroyd D. Social Studies of Science 1996; 26(1):196, 207.

About the Author(s): 
Wade Tarzia
Arts & Humanities Division
Naugatuck Valley Community-Technical College
Waterbury CT 06708
wtarzia@nvctc5.commnet.edu

Wade Tarzia teaches at Naugatuck Valley Community-Technical College in Waterbury Connecticut. He reviewed Forbidden Archaeology for Creation/Evolution, the predecessor of RNCSE.