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Crying Wolf (Life Sciences)
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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The 'out of...wherever' bit (as appertaining to Homo sapiens) becomes very important later in the piece (if I get round to finishing it). That's why I left out option D) ("Announce that the Out of Africa theory (for Modern Man) is wrong?") at this stage, to concentrate on the other half of the Dynamic Duo Canis lupus...and to demonstrate the intrinsic invalidity of the 'Molecular Clock'.

As I asked Mick earlier (in the Origin of Species thread):

...what makes them (orthodoxy) think mutations occur at a steady rate (even though they have nothing to calibrate that rate against) rather than mutations just occurring as and when...by chance?

And is it not possible for the rate of mutation in one population to be faster than that in another (due to environmental influences)...making it look as if the population with the faster rate of mutation is somehow ancestral to the other?


To which Mick replied:

Yes, you point out two completely obvious things that apparently nobody in the academic life sciences seems to be aware of. The central problem (I would guess) is that mtDNA is just about the only semi-scientifically-assessabled-number that palaeo-anthropology has in its arsenal so it is used for all purposes even though presently it cannot be used for any purpose.


Take away their 'Molecular Clock' and the entire 'Out of Africa' notion is on very shaky ground and vulnerable to attack.
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Mick Harper
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Take away their 'Molecular Clock' and the entire 'Out of Africa' notion is on very shaky ground and vulnerable to attack.

This is not quite correct. Technically speaking, the molecular clock is not relevant because of the primacy of the palaeo-anthropologists. Remember, every academic discipline is obliged to take other academic disciplines' paradigm theories as gospel so when when a palaeo-anthropologist reports a Modern Human fossil in the Great Rift Valley to be 'a hundred and fifty thousand years old' or an archaeologist reports that a Modern Human settlement in Israel is 'a hundred thousand years old', these dates'n'places just get put on the map as fact.

And you are allowed to draw a line between them and say, "Gee, look, outaAfrica! It's just like being there!" But it's now that the molecular clock can come out. Since we do not know
a) how long a single tick takes nor
b) what precisely constitutes a tick anyway
everybody is free to infill pretty much with anything they like with a spurious air of "It's genetics, innit, and genetics is a science."

However, it is true that it is this last stage that really gets any theory established as Holy Writ. Once you can infill, you can tell a story and then the books, the telly progs, the bar-room bores do the rest. I doubt that any ordinary educated person in Britain today understands that Out-of-Africa is just a hypothesis.
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Claire



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...what makes them (orthodoxy) think mutations occur at a steady rate (even though they have nothing to calibrate that rate against) rather than mutations just occurring as and when...by chance?

And is it not possible for the rate of mutation in one population to be faster than that in another (due to environmental influences)...making it look as if the population with the faster rate of mutation is somehow ancestral to the other?

Sorry, I hadn't read the thread yet -- I will go and do so now....

Just to add that this Out of Africa theory relying on rate of mutations also requires us to independently accept that 'African' is a distinct race -- to be measured against, say, 'Caucasian'. I don't know when these ethnicity labels were first applied but I'm informed by anthropologists (well one, but he does lecture at SOAS so is likely to be a good guide!) that the current thinking is that 'race' doesn't exist in any physical sense anyway. (but that's another story...)

How do we decide that we can justify these 'race' types before we use them as evidence? I don't see why I couldn't argue -- for the sake of being devil's advocate -- that the findings of genetic mutations (I agree with you that assuming a steady rate of mutation when we have no way of independently measuring it is flawed anyway) is equally consistent with us getting the terms wrong and that 'African' is not a single distinct racial group, but made up of two or more.....

[When you add that the first experiment that led to the whole Eve hypothesis was conducted on only 24 placentas and none of them from Africa anyway, it makes the whole thing even less sound!]
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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Mick wrote:
Technically speaking, the molecular clock is not relevant because of the primacy of the palaeo-anthropologists.


You're absolutely right of course, 'Out of Africa' was already well entrenched long before the 'Molecular Clock' made its appearance. But it's Oppenheimer's 'Mitochondrial Eve', along with his TV documentaries...(about time you did one!)...that has captured the popular imagination and has cemented the orthodox view to such an extent that, if it were proven to be fallacious, questions might start to be asked about the validity of the rest of the 'evidence'...(especially after they've seen your documentary).
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Ishmael


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Chad wrote:
...along with his TV documentaries...(about time you did one!)...


It's not like he hasn't been trying.
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Claire



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This is why my permanent offer of (it now stands at) nine million pounds for any scientific date of a modern human significantly older than c 40,000 BP is still extant.


What dating procedures are you allowing?
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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What dating procedures are you allowing?


I believe he currently favors 'Speed Dating'...but I'm sure he would allow any method able to withstand the full force of Applied Epistemological interrogation.
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Mick Harper
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What dating procedures are you allowing?

Any approved scientific method eg carbon dating.
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Claire



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I believe he currently favors 'Speed Dating'...but I'm sure he would allow any method able to withstand the full force of Applied Epistemological interrogation


'Speed dating' is notoriously unpredictable, and at his age, Mick should know better. But if carbon dating is allowed -- then AMS will push dates back -- or how about OSL ... there are lots of 'approved scientific' methods that provide earlier dates....or can I date layers bones are found in (such as volcanic tuff) How are y'all dating anything beyond 40 000 years out of interest?

[I'm assuming 40 000 is the limit because of the half life]
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Mick Harper
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[I'm assuming 40 000 is the limit because of the half life]

Correct. I am assured (though I concede it's extraordinarily convenient for my purposes) that carbon dates older than this are essentially unscientific. However this is is an important matter that ought perhaps to be revisited here. There are discussions elsewhere if anyone knows where ...

But if carbon dating is allowed ... then AMS will push dates back ...

I don't see how. Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) when applied to carbon will not be just as susceptible to the half-life question but argue the case if you can.

or how about OSL ...

Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) would be entirely acceptable. In principle, but see below.

there are lots of 'approved scientific' methods that provide earlier dates....

Well, no, there aren't (and when someone runs out of examples after one, I am suspicious). That's what makes the matter of interest to Applied Epistemology. There seems to be but we have found on investigation previously that they all have mysterious shortcomings when it comes to rattling the really important paradigm cages. For instance, OSL can't date bones. (And is unreliable later than 100,000?)

or can I date layers bones are found in (such as volcanic tuff)

That's the rub. The Aladdin's Lamp rub. Once a bone is in tuff then you are reliant (once again) on a palaeo-anthropologist digging and reporting. And these people are not to be trusted. Not because they are dishonest but because they are Defenders of The Paradigm. However, we can judge individual cases that you bring to our attention. I know of none and my guess is that the existence of these is just normal Travellers' Tales that the experts repeat over and over again until their existence is self-evident. Again, we are agog for actual examples. Not to mention the nine pounds prize that will be yours!

How are y'all dating anything beyond 40 000 years out of interest?

We are not. In fact speaking for myself I have erected an entire Alternative Human History out of the fact that we cannot find human bones older than 40,000. Since we must have been somewhere, Applied Epistemology claims that there must be a systematic reason why we can't find the evidence. Find that and it all becomes increasingly obvious.
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Chad


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And these people are not to be trusted. Not because they are dishonest but because they are Defenders of The Paradigm.


Not to mention the fact that palaeo-anthropology has become a competitive sport.
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Chad


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But meanwhile...back to our friend Canis lupus.

I think we have established the fact that the line (as currently drawn) between the domestic dog and the grey wolf is somewhat difficult to defend. - - So where should that line be drawn (if not between the dingo and the desert wolves)? - - In fact should there be a line at all?

Let's not forget, this is one single species we are talking about.

Most members of this species live among us as domestic pets, others we know are undoubtedly feral domesticates and others still would appear to fall into that same category. So what about the rest...what is their status?

We simply don't know. There is nothing in either the fossil record or their genetic makeup that proves one way or another whether they are completely natural or simply feral dogs like the dingo.

But for the sake of argument let's assume some populations are truly natural.

To find a natural example of the species, it makes sense to look at the opposite end of the spectrum (in terms of geographical range and habitat)...Let's choose the Timber Wolf.



Big and bad...but still pretty dog like.



Cute and cuddly...but still pretty wolf like.

This is becoming more difficult than I thought.
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Claire



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I don't see how. Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) when applied to carbon will not be just as susceptible to the half-life question but argue the case if you can.

Well I'll try.... The half life of carbon 14 is actually 5730 years. For anyone who might not know what that means: in any given sample, half the amount of carbon 14 originally present will have disintegrated in 5730 years....and effectively by 40 000 years our ability to count it runs out. Until recently. Well, AMS dating was developed about 20 years ago. It uses a particle accelerator to separate carbon 14 atoms (they are heavier than the carbon 12 ones) and they can then be directly counted....this has the effect of allowing the method to be applied to smaller samples and count more efficiently. Since we can count smaller amounts now -- approved scientific dating for AMS is conservatively 50 000 BPyears -- and most of my books (I don't have that many) put it at 75 000BP

Well, no, there aren't (and when someone runs out of examples after one, I am suspicious). That's what makes the matter of interest to Applied Epistemology. There seems to be but we have found on investigation previously that they all have mysterious shortcomings when it comes to rattling the really important paradigm cages. For instance, OSL can't date bones. (And is unreliable later than 100,000?)

I haven't run out after one -- I'm not encyclopedic on the point, one of my better features probably, and was at work. I was just getting a feel for what you meant by 'approved scientific' -- each dating method has its problems. Carbon dating also has important shortcomings, all dating techniques do. At best, we need to use a range of them.

There are lots of methods used to date finds -- TL (thermoluminescence), Potassium Argon decay, Uranium decay, Nitrogen content, Fluorine Content, Amino Acid Racemization....I'm bored already, I'm dyslexic and this stuff isn't easy to spell, and we all have google!

That's the rub. The Aladdin's Lamp rub. Once a bone is in tuff then you are reliant (once again) on a palaeo-anthropologist digging and reporting. And these people are not to be trusted. Not because they are dishonest but because they are Defenders of The Paradigm. However, we can judge individual cases that you bring to our attention. I know of none and my guess is that the existence of these is just normal Travellers' Tales that the experts repeat over and over again until their existence is self-evident. Again, we are agog for actual examples. Not to mention the nine pounds prize that will be yours!

Hmm, the half life of the prize money seems very short -- it has disintegrated at an alarming rate.

I have lots of samples. I'll post some for you to tear apart. Not now, I've had a long tiring day.....and perhaps I should stop hijacking Chad's interesting thread too...

We are not. In fact speaking for myself I have erected an entire Alternative Human History out of the fact that we cannot find human bones older than 40,000. Since we must have been somewhere, Applied Epistemology claims that there must be a systematic reason why we can't find the evidence. Find that and it all becomes increasingly obvious.

The most obvious case to consider is the cave sites at Qafzeh -- since they contain anatomically modern humans at ages that fall between traditional dating methods -- carbon dating and potassium argon dating. They have been dated by: TL (mostly on the flint tools) stratigraphy, ESR (electron spin resonance) on teeth, and probably OSL (I'll look that up).
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Mick Harper
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Since we can count smaller amounts now -- approved scientific dating for AMS is conservatively 50 000 BPyears -- and most of my books (I don't have that many) put it at 75 000BP

Sorry, but I don't trust this. You have to remember that there is only one use for carbon-dating and that is for archaeology -- so the labs are absolutely reliant on the archaeo's good graces. We were never told about the forty thousand year limit for decades....it just sort of belatedly leaked out.

But even so, let's assume the 75,000 year limit is scientifically reputable. I am willing to make a small bet that you will not find a single example of a Modern Human fossil carbon-dated between 50 and 75,000 years. As you know there are plenty of 100,000 and even 200,000 but these are... um.... non-scientific, I suppose I should say. And of course these are the entirety of the Out-of-Africa evidence.

I haven't run out after one -- I'm not encyclopedic on the point, one of my better features probably, and was at work

Don't be so defensive, I was pointing out an Applied Epistemological technique. People always carry the useful stuff round with them. I think you will find that the one you mentioned is 'applicable' and all the others aren't. How do I know? Because we would be up to our knees in these other methods if they could be of the slightest use in buttressing the orthodox paradigm.

But by the way, they might be of too much use! We wouldn't hear much about them then either.

The most obvious case to consider is the cave sites at Qafzeh -- since they contain anatomically modern humans at ages that fall between traditional dating methods -- carbon dating and potassium argon dating. They have been dated by: TL (mostly on the flint tools) stratigraphy, ESR (electron spin resonance) on teeth, and probably OSL (I'll look that up).

Yes, please do. This is the Israeli site c 100,000 and we can use it as a test case here. I predict that it will turn out to be truly, madly bogus.

PS The Dog Patrol should similarly be on the lookout for carbon dates in the range 40,000 to 100,000 BP
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Claire



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Sorry, but I don't trust this. You have to remember that there is only one use for carbon-dating and that is for archaeology -- so the labs are absolutely reliant on the archaeo's good graces. We were never told about the forty thousand year limit for decades....it just sort of belatedly leaked out.

I'm surprised that you are happy with 'approved scientific' methods per se. Each of these methods has well documented problems, including carbon dating.

40 000BP seems relatively arbitrary to me -- the way I would see it, if you are going to accept dates beyond calibration (with dendrochronology or with corals or stalagmites or however...the further you go back, the less agreement on carbon levels using any of them) and 'approved' scientific is your only criteria, then it makes as much sense to accept the 75 000BP.

The question I would have is: why do you accept 'approved scientific'? I don't understand your reasoning: the approved scientific method for determining if the earth has a 'crust' is sounder science than any of these dating methods on offer -- yet you reject that and accept the dating. How are you distinguishing them?.

But even so, let's assume the 75,000 year limit is scientifically reputable. I am willing to make a small bet that you will not find a single example of a Modern Human fossil carbon-dated between 50 and 75,000 years. As you know there are plenty of 100,000 and even 200,000 but these are... um.... non-scientific, I suppose I should say. And of course these are the entirety of the Out-of-Africa evidence.

How small is this small bet? In any case, I don't want to bet with you on this because we are on the same page here as regards Out-of-Africa evidence.

Don't be so defensive, I was pointing out an Applied Epistemological technique. People always carry the useful stuff round with them. I think you will find that the one you mentioned is 'applicable' and all the others aren't. How do I know? Because we would be up to our knees in these other methods if they could be of the slightest use in buttressing the orthodox paradigm.

Actually in my case Mick, I can't spell half these words well enough to find out how to really spell them....My reaction was honestly more amused than defensive. But my short list is not evidence of some sort of conspiracy. I assumed that you were already familiar with the dating techniques regularly used, and I was interested in finding out two things: why 40 000BP? (hence AMS) and, do you count dating layers? (hence OSL)

I hope you aren't going to be disappointed, but I'm not very keen to do any buttressing of the orthodox paradigm either.

Yes, please do. This is the Israeli site c 100,000 and we can use it as a test case here. I predict that it will turn out to be truly, madly bogus.

I'll post up relevant travellers tales later.
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