12 Theories of How We Became Human / Aye, Yai, Yai!

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A summation from NATGEO of 12 “Theories” (misuse of this term, AGAIN) that supposedly explain the “unique status” of being human. The problem is that the “theorists” are stuck in a “religious paradigm” – assuming that “we” are a special supernatural creation; that “who we are now” is the culmination of an “evolutionary goal” to create modern H. Sapiens and that our present state of “being” requires / dictates explanations as to how we arrived at our “exalted” position as the culmination of evolution on earth.
This sets up an impossibility: the implication that somehow, the social, cultural and physical characteristics of modern social humans are themselves retroactively responsible for creating those very characteristics, as if by magic. That is, the Laws of Physics, and simple common sense are thrown under the bus in favor of “Just-So Stories”. Magic is the default mode of modern social thinking, even to the extreme of dominating most scientific thought. 
These “theories” are not only “wrong” by inaccurate inflation of minor (and even imaginary) details, but also in the insistent belief that there is ONE (linear) explanation for “being human”, when “humans” cannot define “human” in scientific terms, but instead argue from subjective socio-cultural fantasies – from a supernatural (and idiotic) point of view. These theories are arguments over WHO wins an essentially pointless ownership of “Homo sapiens”.

12 Theories of How We Became Human, and Why They’re All Wrong

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150911-how-we-became-human-theories-evolution-science/  go to article for accompanying illustrations

Killers? Hippies? Toolmakers? Chefs? Scientists have trouble agreeing on the essence of humanity—and when and how we acquired it.

2. We’re Killers: According to anthropologist Raymond Dart, our predecessors differed from living apes in being confirmed killers—carnivorous creatures that “seized living quarries by violence, battered them to death, tore apart their broken bodies, dismembered them limb from limb, slaking their ravenous thirst with the hot blood of victims and greedily devouring livid writhing flesh.” It may read like pulp fiction now, but after the horrific carnage of the Second World War, Dart’s 1953 article outlining his “killer ape” theory struck a chord.

3. We Share Food: In the 1960s, the killer ape gave way to the hippie ape. Anthropologist Glynn Isaac unearthed evidence of animal carcasses that had been purposefully moved from the sites of their deaths to locations where, presumably, the meat could be shared with the whole commune. As Isaac saw it, food sharing led to the need to share information about where food could be found—and thus to the development of language and other distinctively human social behaviors

4. We Swim in the Nude: A little later in the age of Aquarius, Elaine Morgan, a TV documentary writer, claimed that humans are so different from other primates Shedding body hair made them faster swimmers, while standing upright enabled them to wade. (This again is a reversal of how evolutionary processes actually work: the “cart before the horse” inversion claims that intent on the part of the organism  drives evolution. “Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if we could loose our hair and swim faster and stand up and wade in water?” was said never by a primate.) The “aquatic ape” hypothesis is widely dismissed by the scientific community. But, in 2013, David Attenborough endorsed it.

5. We Throw Stuff: Archaeologist Reid Ferring believes our ancestors began to man up when they developed the ability to hurl stones at high velocities. At Dmanisi, a 1.8- million-year-old hominin site in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Ferring found evidence that Homo erectus invented public stonings to drive predators away from their kills. “The Dmanisi people were small,” says Ferring.“This place was filled with big cats. So how did hominins survive? How did they make it all the way from Africa? Rock throwing offers part of the answer.” Stoning animals also socialized us, he argues, because it required a group effort to be successful. (In the “modern social mind” the goal of socialization is the answer to the origin of every human behavior – magical projection again.)

6. We Hunt: Hunting did much more than inspire cooperation, anthropologists Sherwood Washburn and C. S. Lancaster argued in a 1968 paper: “In a very real sense our intellect, interests, emotions and basic social life—all are evolutionary products of the success of the hunting adaptation. ”Our larger brains, for instance, developed out of the need to store more information about where and when to find game. Hunting also allegedly led to a division of labor between the sexes, with women doing the foraging. Which raises the question: Why do women have big brains too?

7. We Trade Food for Sex: More specifically, monogamous sex. (Monogamous sex is a religious myth and mighty scarce in H. sapiens.) The crucial turning point in human evolution, according to a theory published in 1981 by C. Owen Lovejoy, was the emergence of monogamy six million years ago. (An utterly unprovable assertion) Until then, brutish alpha males who drove off rival suitors had the most sex. Monogamous females, however, favored males who were most adept at providing food and sticking around to help raise junior. Our ancestors began walking upright, according to Lovejoy, because it freed up their hands and allowed them to carry home more groceries. (Then why aren’t all primates bipedal, and how do millions of species survive, without our magic hands?)

8. We Eat (Cooked) Meat: Big brains are hungry—gray matter requires 20 times more energy than muscle does. They could never have evolved on a vegetarian diet, some researchers claim; instead, our brains grew only once we started eating meat, a food source rich in protein and fat, around two to three million years ago. And according to anthropologist Richard Wrangham, once our ancestors invented cooking (it’s far more reasonable the whoever began eating cooked food, discovered these advantages when scavenging “cooked” carcasses in areas swept by wildfires) —a uniquely human behavior that makes food easier to digest—they wasted less energy chewing or pounding meat and so had even more energy available for their brains. Eventually those brains grew large enough to make the conscious decision to become vegan. (AYE< YAI< YAI!)

9. We Eat (Cooked) Carbs: Or maybe our bigger brains were made possible by carb-loading, according to a recent paper. Once our ancestors had invented cooking, tubers and other starchy plants became an excellent source of brain food, more readily available than meat. (Really? As if no other ape ever ate these foods, and heavy meat-eater species have tiny brains.) An enzyme in our saliva called amylase helps break down carbohydrates into the glucose the brain needs. Evolutionary geneticist Mark G. Thomas of University College London notes that our DNA contains multiple copies of the gene for amylase, suggesting that it—and tubers—helped fuel the explosive growth of the human brain. (Another unprovable claim: besides, the “explosive growth” was gradual, and occurred in H. erectus, not H. sapiens.)

10. We Walk on Two Feet: Did the crucial turning point (What does this refer to?) in human evolution occur when our ancestors descended from the trees and started walking upright? Proponents of the “savanna hypothesis” say climate change drove that adaptation. As Africa became drier around three million years ago, the forests shrank and savannas came to dominate the landscape. That favored primates who could stand up and see above the tall grasses to watch for predators, and who could travel more efficiently across the open landscape, where food and water sources were far apart. One problem for this hypothesis is the 2009 discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid that lived 4.4 million years ago in what’s now legs. (???) (Bipedalism did not originate in Hominids, but in fact appeared 4 millions years before big brains.)

11. We Adapt: Richard Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program, suggests that human evolution was influenced by multiple changes in climate rather than a single trend. The emergence of the Homo lineage nearly three million years ago, he says, coincided with drastic fluctuations between wet and dry climates. Natural selection favored primates that could cope with constant, unpredictable change, Potts argues: Adaptability itself is the defining characteristic of humans. (Yeah, as if other animal groups – let’s say, CATS don’t display impressive adaptability!)

12. We Unite and Conquer: Anthropologist Curtis Marean offers a vision of human origins well suited to our globalized age: We are the ultimate invasive species. After tens of thousands of years confined to a single continent, our ancestors colonized the globe. How did they accomplish this feat? The key, Marean says, was a genetic predisposition to cooperate—born not from altruism but from conflict. Primate groups that cooperated gained a competitive edge over rival groups, and their genes survived. “The joining of this unique proclivity to our ancestors’ advanced cognitive abilities enabled them to nimbly adapt to new environments,” Marean writes. “It also fostered innovation, giving rise to a game-changing technology: advanced projectile weapons.”

I REST MY CASE: these so-called theories distort “evidence” (which may or may not be acquired by the scientific method) to prop up, and serve the ends, of social and cultural myth. It’s not SCIENCE.

 

 

 

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