Earlier I mentioned a 1953 interview with science writer Ruth Moore, who was pushing her book Man, Time and Fossils. I decided to buy the book, mainly as spiritual ‘pay for value’. I opened it, not expecting much of substance, and got a tremendous surprise.
This is the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read.
Moore tells the story of anthropologists in a deeply personal and deeply empathetic way. We get to know each of these men, and we virtually work with them or study under them.
I’ll be writing more about the main theme, but one section is just itching to be quoted right now.
Denyse at MindMatters rehashes the endless arguments about brain size vs intelligence. Many “leading scientists” are still arguing for a correlation, even though all the facts have disproved this correlation a long time ago. How long? At least since 1935 when Franz Weidenreich was working on Peking Man.
From p 272 of Moore’s book:
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With a brain so small, could Peking Man have had anything approaching human intelligence? The question was seriously debated. Two questions were involved: does the size of the brain determine intelligence, and does Peking Man show any traces of dawning human intelligence?
Weidenreich … established that brain weight alone is no infallible sign. If brain weight was the determinant, elephants and whales should lead the pack. But proportion is clearly involved. A whale has vastly less brain in proportion to its body. Lest complacent humans assume superiority from the latter fact, Weidenreich pointed out that it is not definitive either. The capuchin monkey runs well ahead of man in proportional brain weight. “Neither the absolute nor the relative size of the brain can be used to judge mental capacity in animal or human.”
Weidenreich concluded that mental ability can only be judged by the USE made of it. “Cultural objects are the only guide to spiritual life. They may be fallacious guides, but we are completely lost if cultural objects are missing.”
[And Peking Man left an abundance of cultural indications: stone tools, cooking fires, sewing needles and beads.]
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Science does not advance knowledge. Many individual scientists create knowledge, but the truth rarely sticks around. “Settled Science” depends on grants and politics, and nearly always “settles” on perfectly counterfactual murderous insanity. Where grants aren’t available to tip the scales, the same old tired arguments roll around and around without end. The cultural objects left for posterity by tenure-seeking Big Science indicate mostly NEGATIVE intelligence, learning backwards from every available fact.