Fate of a discussion thread to consider this hypothesis at Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board

13 Jul

I arrived at this hypothesis whilst posting my thoughts on Evolution at the Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board (FRDB; Freeratio.org) but found many critics who said that I had presented no evidence for the assertion that present day humanity represented the results of a full bifurcated dispersal. Was it a scientific theory or a non-scientific speculation? Is it’s evidence to be considered on scientific merits alone, or was there a second way of determining its truth through the a lawyer’s analysis? My thread was cast into the~Elsewhere~ category of  for not having provided any ‘evidence’ to support the assertions of the hypothesis. So I tried the lawyer’s approach of interrogation which resulted in the following exchange and evidence or proof of its validity on 13 July 2012 with me posting under the username of Shantanu:

Zaphod Beeblebrox: The very rules of this forum require you to provide evidence. With no evidence, the thread would eventually get placed here (in ~Elsewhere~).

Me: (a) Different assesors have different ideas of what constitutes evidence. Their views are frequently clouded by their personal prejudices and desires for one-upmanship and the need to establish their authority in various ways. So if we can agree beforehand on what counts as real scientific evidence for my hypothesis on the evolution of man from Homo habilis onwards, we will make progress in a new thread or in my blogsite. It does not matter to me where.

(b) Zaphod, I am continuing to put finishing touches on the blogs, so please review them until the last minute before our agreement to start the new thread on the above criteria of what constitutes evidence.

Sajara: (a) How about giving evidence to the following posts in this thread (where people already asked you for it)…
Post #’s: 6, 8, 12, 16, 27, 38, 44, 73, 84, 88, or 96??? [(referring to the FRDB thread entitled: Two paths of human evolution, split from “Question re Human Ancestors”]

(b) How about this. You tell us what you think constitutes as evidence?

Me: Let me see what Zaphod says about what constitutes ‘acceptable evidence’ first and then I will return to this post later.

Zaphod Beeblebrox: (with the display of an image  of picard face palm): So I get to be the sole arbiter on what constitutes evidence? When did I become part of the Evidence Assessment Committee? Either case, you do have a number of questions directly posed to you in this thread alone. A good start for providing evidence would be for your claims of: 1) H. floresiensis migration into China; 2) Han Chinese descent from H. Floresiensis; 3) Everything in post #9 of this thread (two divergent sources of modern humanity, H. sapiens interbreeding with H. floresiensis, H. floresiensis migration north from Indonesia to produce modern Han Chinese, etc.); 4) A separate, non H. sapien settlement of China at all that produce extant descendants.

Me: So, you are saying that the vast expanse of China, Mongolia, and South East Asian land mass, Japan and Tibet, Australia and America was totally devoid of human beings until 65,000 years ago but somehow one group of tiny Homo floresiensis was living in Indonesian island of Flores having arrived there from outer space?

Zaphod Beeblebrox: No. I’m saying we don’t have evidence of H. floresiensis outside of Flores. You proposed that H. erectus is the direct ancestor of all Han Chinese, as well as the Japanese, Vietnamese and other modern South Asian peoples (as well as Native Americans, for that matter). As for “devoid of human beings,” you must realize that modern humans arrived in Asia around 50,000 years ago.

Me: So the ancestors of H.floresiensis did come from outer space?

Zaphod Beeblebrox: Where in the world are you getting this? Nobody proposed an extraterrestrial origin for H. floresiensis.

Me: And that is the evidence for my theory.

Zaphod Beeblebrox: Is that the only piece of evidence you have?

Sajara: What? What does this even mean? What is the evidence for your theory…that no one has proposed it before?

Me: Why have you not given me the definition of the ‘evidence’ that will satisfy you and Zaphod that I clearly requested before a new thread can be initiated?

Zaphod Beeblebrox: I suggest reading this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_evidence)and this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method ) for a primer.
It’s interesting that you bring up the fact that we discuss this with you here. If I recall correctly, this got diverted to ~E~ because you couldn’t substantiate the claim that modern Han Chinese descended from H. floresiensis.

Me: One practical scientific method of determining if there has been parallel lines of speciation from a common ancestor is to examine the phenotypic characteristics of the resulting animals. To examine this scientific model and determine its validity with respect to the modern Han Chinese on the one hand and the modern Caucasian American on the other (for example) to ascertain their speciation along the Homo erectus and Homo sapiens lineages is to compare the phenotypic characteristics of the populations. I gave some of my evidence to show that the Han Chinese differ substantially from the Caucasian American population (which on review may include: docility, facial features, complexion, physical stature, culture, relative hairlessness, melanin, etc) such that the divergence is unlikely to have taken place over a short period of 50,000 years and more likely to have taken 1.5 million years through mutational changes in multiple genes. Why do you say that this does not provide any scientific evidence for the model?

COMMENTS FOR THE VIEWER: There were no further replies, and after a few days the discussion thread was dumped from the ‘~Elsewhere~’ category of importance to FRDB’s ‘The Trash’ category thus preventing further discussions even out of the view of the public. I started pursuing the evidence for some of the details of how Homo floresiensis might have arrived on Flores in ‘Were the hobbits ancestors sailors’ in the Science forum but in the meantime  was served with a disciplinary infraction in the form of an Official Staff Notice from which two yellow star marks started appearing against my username (that is one step away from being banned) for making unsupported assertions on science, derailing of threads and the like. This made it virtually impossible to continue taking part in further discussions on this subject in the Science and Evolution forums of this website: this after having posted over 10,500 posts over a three and half year period) and attaining the status of a ‘Contributor’ poster. The infraction is currently the subject of an internal FRDB appeal for a reversal of the decision.

Post edited: 06.54 am, 17 July 2012.

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2 Responses to “Fate of a discussion thread to consider this hypothesis at Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board”

  1. Someone July 17, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    Since your thread got locked, and you’re very likely soon to get yourself banned from the site, I’ll address here that, “Hey look it them, they’re so different,” (waves hands) does not sound very scientific to me.

    Exactly how much difference *would* you think is possible in 50000 years and how would you quantify that? As long as we’re doing hand-wavy “just look at it” arguments, compare a pug to a great dane some time, and tell me the difference between them doesn’t dwarf the difference between different races of people. Yet those differences between dogs developed after humans domesticated them, so that puts an upper bound on how long they’ve been developing.

    My understanding is that they’ve had some success quantifying how long since two lines diverged by comparing them genetically, also known as the mitochondrial clock. Using that, they’ve claimed a mitochondrial Eve existed about two hundred thousand years ago, from which all living humans are descended matrilineally. If someone had discovered that the Chinese had a very different bunch of mitochondrial DNA that bumped that back another 1.6 million years, that would be scientific. Waving your hands about hair and melanin, etc. isn’t scientific unless you can actually quantify how much time that would take to develop.

    • shantanup July 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      Have not the pug and the great dane been selected by humans to thus bypass natural selection, so that your analogy to human evolution may not be valid? Could you give more details of the history of these breeds and tell me when humans first started taming them along their paths from a common ancestor? Or were they already distinct in roughly their present morphologies before humans domesticated them? The reason I ask these questions is that I would expect that the time taken for natural selection in the wild to produce such a divergence will be considerably greater than if humans were involved in the selection process.

      Phenotypical differences in the natural environment are the result of changes in actual genes, which may be a stronger indicator of genetic differences than the DNA-sequence analyses data. But I agree that the time taken for gene expression for hair colour, melanin and so forth needs to be determined for proof of whether a particular population arose from Homo sapiens or Homo erectus. Unfortunately, the science of random mutations, the natural selections of multiple traits and genetic drift working in a unpredictable manner simultaneously does not lend itself to determining the precise length of time over which a population develops. On individual traits of importance, we know that hairlessness in humans from that of apes has evolved over millions of years, so I am guessing that the relative hairlessness of the Han Chinese population would have been the result of selection pressures over a million years rather than just 50,000. I could be wrong.

      The development of actual genes may be a random process rather than a slow gradual selection of codons or individual nucleotide bases towards a particular trait that is being selected for as an adaptation to an environmental factor. The precise mechanism for the evolution of a single gene, as well as traits that rely on multiple genes are an enigma at the moment. How can this be quantified in terms of the time taken for a particular gene to come into existence to the point of gene-expression and for another gene to disappear from existence? Such to-ing and fro-ing of gene development is the actual physical biological evolution that matters as giving rise to speciation-pressure, and the relationship between this definition of the genotype and the phenotype needs to be established by science, if it is possible. There could be continual convergences and divergences taking place so that the DNA-genotype data may give unreliable evidence for the history of populations. The phenotype characteristics data are therefore a useful adjuctive scientific tool for considering how humans came to be the way the are today.

      Could this not explain why the mitochondrial DNA clock evidence you have referred to has given us only ‘some success’ in determining that all extant human species came from an Eve roughly two hundred thousand years ago, and as such it may be an unreliable guide to establish the chronology? If you agree with this, we will be foolhardy to accept this evidence, especially in light of the implications of the Eve hypothesis that all Homo erectus descendents, including Homo floresiensis, became extinct having flourished all over East Asia for a long period of time up to 1.5 million years? Further, would you not need to give me the ‘science’ behind what might have driven the population into a massive extinction event to put your hypothesis on a sounder footing?

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