America the Ignorant...on topic for this forum


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Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jan 22, 2013 - 02:53am PT
There's still hope for recovering intelligent life on earth...any volunteer mothers here on SuperTopo?

Scientist seeks adventurous woman to have Neanderthal baby

Remember that bit from Base104 about what was 'true' 100 years ago?

During my lifetime until now the conventional wisdom and teaching has been that Neanderthals were stupid clumsy creatures who went extinct during a 70,000 year period following some Cro-Magnons migrating out of Africa 100,000 years ago. Some of these migrated into the European territories where Neanderthals had flourished for the previous 300,000 years.

According to this story, 'modern' humans (homo hubris) have prevailed on earth for the past 30,000 years since the extinction of Neanderthals...

However more recent scientific investigations seem to indicate that the Neanderthals really may have been very smart, with language and art, advanced flint-napping, fire-processed chemical glues, and burial rituals. And rather than just going extinct, they interbred with the precursor species we have considered to be our ancestors. It is even possible that they were the ones to teach some of those 'human' skills to our ancestors...

Oh, and yes, this is peer-reviewed science from multiple sources, including archeology, anthropology, and genetic sequencing.

So if you accept evidence that Neanderthals were not 'them' but 'us', as in our fore-bearers, then intelligent human history goes back perhaps 400,000 years.

(um, just how far back can we trace our oldest known stories about ourselves??...maybe 5-7,000 years for our classical European lineage...)

(or perhaps 40,000 years for the Hopi, who also talk about 'the old ones' who were their precursors...Book of the Hopi by Frank Waters, Viking Press (1963))

And since we all trace our DNA lineage back to a single woman (code named, 'Eve') who lived 150,000 years ago...and most of us have some Neanderthal DNA in us...well, you figure it out!

A professor of genetics at Harvard’s Medical School believes he’s capable of bringing the long-extinct Neanderthal back to life -- all he’s lacking is the right mother.

"I can create a Neanderthal baby, if I can find a willing woman," George Church told German newspaper Spiegel Online. The DNA of the Neanderthal, a long extinct relative of man, has been more or less rebuilt, a process called genetic sequencing.

In 2005, 454 Life Sciences began a project with the Max Planck Institute to sequence the genetic code of a 30,000 year old Neanderthal woman. Now nearly complete, the sequence will let scientists look at the genetic blueprint of humankind's nearest relative, understand its biology and maybe even create a living person.

And with that blueprint, it’s very possible to “resurrect” the Neanderthal, he argues -- something Church has been pushing for years.

"We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let's say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out."

"Neanderthals on Trial"

originally broadcast on NOVA, January 22, 2002. The film probes the enigma of our Neanderthal cousins and the roots of our own ancestry.

Into the Fray: The Producer's Story by Mark Davis

The field of Neanderthal studies is a famously contentious one. Imagery of (and beliefs about) our extinct cousins range from the 1909 reconstruction at left, showing Neanderthals as brutish, ape-like creatures, to the recent sculptures at right, which depict their humanity and imply a closer relationship to ourselves.

There are many, many arguments in this famously contentious field, not about whether humans evolved, but how. Every scientist agrees that our ancestors parted ways with the ancestors of chimpanzees sometime between five and seven million years ago, and after a lot of evolutionary tinkering involving numerous species, Homo sapiens is the only hominid species left standing. But what was the number and nature of all those species that preceded us, and exactly where do we draw the line between "them" and "us?" Neanderthals are the closest to the line of all our predecessors, and the debate over which side they're on has been going strong for more than 100 years.

I spoke with many Neanderthal experts in the course of making this film, and I found them all to be intelligent, friendly, well-educated people, dedicated to the highest principles of scientific inquiry. I also got the impression that each one thought the last one I talked to was an idiot, if not an actual Neanderthal.

While this may be true in a few cases, most of them have been friends and colleagues for years, and their disagreements are just the inevitable wrangling that goes on among experts in any field where big ideas are built from small amounts of evidence. They know that their science advances by weeding out bad ideas. They accept the fact that it's an inherently contentious process because it's more about interpreting facts than discovering them. But they are also human, and they defend themselves when attacked. Ideas become entrenched, yet remain flexible enough to accommodate any new facts that might come along. For the journalist, or in this case, the science film producer, naively hoping to learn the truth, this is where the painful rashes come in.

Because people sometimes believe what they see on TV, especially public TV, the NOVA producer has an obligation to try to get things right. So which one of the experts should I have believed? The more people I spoke with, the more confusing it got. Everyone was so convincing! Many others have faced this problem before me. Some have chosen the honorable but somewhat cumbersome route of trying to present the pros and cons of all the various arguments. Others, feeling the hot breath of the Nielsen ratings on their necks, have simply made a choice. "You want to know what Neanderthals were really like? Morons with big noses! Homo stupidus! And here's the expert to tell you why."

Fortunately for me, NOVA is as much concerned with how science works as with what science knows. This allowed me to get past the never ending arguments and consider why these questions are so difficult to answer. Listening to the archeologists and anthropologists talk about their work (and their colleagues' work), I heard the same frustrations voiced again and again: People are driven by their preconceptions. They see what they want to see. They find what they're looking for. One archeologist suggested that I make the film about how easy it is for prehistorians to fool themselves, not to debunk the field but to show what they're up against. I took the advice.

The history of the field is littered with brilliant scholars who completely missed the boat because of the power of their preconceptions.

I learned that what people see in Neanderthals often has as much to do with philosophy as it does with science. What does it mean to be human? Some definitions are broad and inclusive, others are narrow and exclusive. Scholars have been known to attack one another's views on Neanderthals as "racist" or "politically correct." British scientists seem more willing than Americans to see Neanderthals and moderns as separate species that never mixed. An echo of British class consciousness versus the American melting pot? In a field so influenced by personal worldviews, it's not out of the question.

What I found most interesting in all this is that every scientist I talked to encouraged me to explore the issue of self-delusion, and no one claimed to be immune. They are all aware that the history of the field is littered with brilliant scholars who completely missed the boat because of the power of their preconceptions. But modern scholars also share the conviction that the self-correcting nature of science will eventually weed out the bad ideas.

We have much to learn.
Tony Bird

Northridge, CA
Jan 22, 2013 - 08:57am PT
neanderthals, some say, were a kinder, gentler, more intelligent strain of humanity. the dominance of our own line seems to have coincided with the warlike revolution noted by marija gimbutas.

Feb 4, 2013 - 09:32am PT
Conspiracy kooks are riles up over what they believe was an illuminati sign flashed by Beyonce last night. And no, I am not making this up.

I was too busy praying for another wardrobe malfunction to notice.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 4, 2013 - 11:26am PT
They should definitely grow some neanderthals then protect them as an endangered species.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Feb 4, 2013 - 11:42am PT
HFCS, I repeat for your benefit:

Pope John Paul II:

In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points.......

.....It is important to set proper limits to the understanding of Scripture, excluding any unseasonable interpretations which would make it mean something which it is not intended to mean. In order to mark out the limits of their own proper fields, theologians and those working on the exegesis of the Scripture need to be well informed regarding the results of the latest scientific research.....

Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.

....The theory proves its validity by the measure to which it can be verified. It is constantly being tested against the facts; when it can no longer explain these facts, it shows its limits and its lack of usefulness, and it must be revised......................

From the Vatican, October 22, 1996, John Paul II

Trad climber
Philadelphia, PA
Feb 4, 2013 - 12:23pm PT
Not many topics where I'd defend the Catholic church, but for all its faults, I don't think they're the ones denying evolution. I learned about evolution, in a Catholic school, from a former Christian Brother.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Feb 4, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
Evolution and Creationism are not mutually exclusive.

And saying that 80% of Europeans believe in evolution is really laughable....WTF does that even mean??? So what!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 3, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
bump for Fritz

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 3, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Just noticed bluerings post. Not mutually exclusive eh.....explain that. Yeah, i like the way Euros think, they're secular, rational and better educated.

Social climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 09:47pm PT
Redneck hippies just plain scare me.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 3, 2013 - 09:47pm PT

Bump for Jim!

Trad climber
Apr 3, 2013 - 11:13pm PT

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Apr 3, 2013 - 11:19pm PT
Donini? Was my assertion---on this thread the culprit?

Lizards running our American show? The ones in SE Utah are so-----cute.

Utah lizard?  Holy Mormon desert cows actually rule Utah.
Utah lizard? Holy Mormon desert cows actually rule Utah.
Credit: Fritz
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
Apr 4, 2013 - 11:05am PT
Redneck hippies just plain scare me.

Hahaha... It really is such a clash of conflicting forms of ignorance, you really don't know what's gon' pop out their durn mouf!
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