Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Evolution quotes #37

Ales Hrdlicka is the founder of the American Society of Physical Anthropology and for many years was the editor of the society's journal, "from which positioned wielded substantial power over what was acceptable to the establishment and what was not…Hrdlicka, he [G. Edward Lewis] says, 'thought he was the anointed and elect prophet who had been foreordained and chosen to make such discoveries and demolish the work of anyone else.'"[1] Lewis had interpreted Ramapithecus as a hominid but Hrdlicka believed it to be just an ape and so he "tore into Lewis's work,"[2] although "Hrdlicka's paper was somewhat self-contradictory, and, says Simmons, 'scattered with blunders and na├»vete that a really good professional simply would not have made.'"[3]

"Even a causal examination of this paper is sufficient to show that it bears all the evidence of being a controversial and non-objective contribution,"[4] "amateurish,"[5] "It looked to me like someone coming into something he didn't know much about, with preconceived ideas."[6] Lewis wrote a rebuttal to Hrdlicka's criticism's of his work but the editors of the American Journal of Science refused to publish it, "because they said Hrdlicka was an important man, and I was a young man."[7]

Hrdlicka had attempted to discredit Lewis' position based on the evolutionary concepts of the time whereby "To have the first hominids appearing in the eastern part of the Old World was therefore simply unacceptable. 'So he did a hatchet job on Lewis' work,'[8] says Spencer." Lewis had discovered Ramapithecus but not long after this clash with the authority of the time he "left Yale and never really made another important contribution to paleoanthropology."[9]

[1] Roger Lewin (noted science journalist), Bones of Contention (New York, NY: A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster Inc., 1987), p. 88 citing a letter, Lewis to author, 31 Oct. 1985

[2] Ibid., p. 88

[3] Ibid., p. 88 citing an interview with the author, Duke University, 25 Sep. 1985

[4] "The Phyletic Position of Ramapithecus," Postilla, Yale Peabody Museum, p. 374 (1961)

[5] "A Source for Dental Comparison of Ramapithecus with Australopithecus and Homo," in South African Journal of Science, Feb. 1968, p. 97

[6] Ibid., p. 88 citing an interview with the author, Duke University, 25 Sep. 1985

[7] Ibid., p. 88 citing a letter, Lewis to author, 31 Oct. 1985

[8] Ibid., p. 88 citing an interview with the author, New York, 13 Dec. 1985

[9] Ibid., p. 89

related resources:

Is there really evidence that man descended from the apes?
 
Finding the real 'missing link'

The Piltdown Man Fraud

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