Have Darwinian Anthropologists Learnt Their Lessons?
Chris Stringer, writing for the BBC News, talked about “Piltdown’s lessons for modern science.” After telling the history of the famous “missing link” fraud, he discussed four “lessons learnt” by one of the most notorious hoaxes in science history. For one, “we mustn’t let preconceived ideas run away with us.” For another, “specimens have to pass certain basic tests.” He added, “Part of the cleverness of the hoax was the way in which it suited preconceived ideas about what early humans should look like.” Stringer also commented that science thrives on controversy, and claimed science is self-correcting. Then he expressed confidence in the more recent fossil ape-man finds.
In another story from the BBC News, an evolutionary economist from the London School of Economics is claiming “Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time as predicted by HG Wells.” Oliver Curry thinks humans will divide into a tall, genetically superior upper class, and a short, dimwitted lower class (an illustration fills in the imagination). Visible splits could be seen in a much shorter time frame. He speculated, as if this is not already evident, “Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. People would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.” Though racial differences might be ironed out by interbreeding in the short term, Curry thinks the logical outcome of this evolution “would be two sub-species, ‘gracile’ and ‘robust’ humans similar to the Eloi and Morlocks foretold by HG Wells in his 1895 novel The Time Machine.” Those familiar with the story might remember how the powerful bred the weak for food. Is this an echo of Darwin’s words?1
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
1Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1882) p.156; see Evolution quotes.
Stringer, a positivist and progressivist, thinks science is self-correcting, and will no longer fall for such a low deed. We leave it to the reader to judge if the Darwin Party has learnt their lessons, or earnt any credibility or respect among civilized human beings. Maybe we should let them inhabit their own island and evolve this way if they want to. The rest of us will read good books and hone our social skills for the common good, choose our soul-mates wisely, and develop the moral character needed to be good citizens and fulfill our Creator-endowed rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of eudaimonia.