Re: Human Evolution
[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“Bob”]Doug,
I reported that wrong. It was acually 5 to 15 thousand years ago.
I heard it on the New York Times radio station (WQXR) this evening. The story will be in tomorrow’s
New York Times.
Yeah, I saw the article this morning—on the front page no less! I think it was a bit overstated. Humans (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) evolved hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years ago. Nothing in this article contradicted that point.
Wikipedia places the species Homo Sapiens as having evolved about 200 thousand years ago link . Although I realize Wikipedia is certainly not infallible, since I don’t have a bet riding on this, I’m going to accept that answer for now.
Of course, Sapiens is just the “last step” in us becoming us, and of course this sentence is a gross misrepresentation of the nature of human evolution, evolution in general, and, oh yeah, nature. :D
There’s never a “last step” because evolution does not, or at least might not have, any clear goals as such. Even if there were some sort of locus of goal conditions that evolution is converging towards, the process probably doesn’t really have “steps”. There’s just this flow of genetic information from one generation to the next. As the environment changes, so the frequency with which certain specific kinds/types/pieces of information are transfered changes. Etc.
In contrast to the seeming intractability of comprehending the complexity of evolution, the rules for creating a catchy science headline in the newspaper are easy to grasp and deciminate:
1. Find a scientific paper that proposes an idea that’s new or that seems like it might be new
2. Grossly misrepresent and/or overestimate the paper’s claims. For extra effect, put something in the headline like,
“NEW DISCOVERY! BREAKS ALL KNOWN LAWS OF <X>!!!”
This trick will always work.
How could it ever possilby not work? Even if you’re deeply skeptical of the headline’s claim, you still have to read it before you can attempt to debunk it.