Thursday, July 01, 2021

Many Kinds of Humans

Geneticists, Archaeologists, and popular science writers are all agog at the amazing new complexity of types of humans we are discovering.  Why, they note breathlessly, as recently as 2000 we all believed the out-of-Africa model.  Yet now we know that was far too simple, and there are Neanderthals, Denisovans, and now Dragon Man! What simpletons we were then!  How arrogant to think that we were the only real humans and the clearly superior ones.

Do I have to pull this car over?  Even with all the new discoveries, out-of-Africa 60,000 y/a is still well above 95% of the story.


Christopher B said...

The contortions necessary to square Darwin's "one of these things is not like the others" theory with our rapidly expanding knowledge of DNA are quite impressive. Obfuscating the origin of Homo Sapiens Sapiens keeps people from noticing the obvious for a while longer.

Imagine how the reception of Charles Murray's new book would be different if our mental model of human variation was equal to the way we look at the variations among the many different kinds of dogs, horses, and cattle.

The 20th Century won't end until we can get past Darwin, Freud, and Marx.

Narr said...

Speaking of "one of these things is not like the other," I think it's a huge mistake to lump Darwin in with those clowns. Darwin was looking at explanations and mechanisms for empirically observed phenomena. Marx and Freud were both fabulizing about complex economic, social and psychological issues, completely divorced from physical and human actualities.

The trouble with all three -Isms though, is that even good and plausible ideas (if any) get
dumbed down and distorted as they spread. Lumpen-Marxism and lumpen-Freudism have permeated the culture; lumpen-Darwinism had a spectacular but brief run.

FWIW Freudism explains Marxism better than the reverse--we all know and recognize the neurotic, domineering crank, but nobody has ever seen a proletariat.

Whether Darwin did a good job at his self-assigned task is a separate issue, in my mind.

Cousin Eddie

William Newman said...

Narr, yes.

If one wanted a third to go with Marx and Freud, Darwin does not make sense. Probably Keynes would be my nominee.

If one wanted to group others with Darwin, I would nominate Heisenberg, and Einstein, and some thermodynamicist or other (Lord Kelvin, maybe). Evolution by natural selection, the second law of thermodynamics, the quantum uncertainty principle, and relativity all seem to have a peculiarly strong attraction for people who want to paraphrase them dishonestly and then argue for some political talking point from the supposed authority of the paraphrase.