Mood: don't ask
Now Playing: "Turning Japanese" by The Vapours
I'm watching this program on the National Geographic Channel right now about some newly-discovered ---but extinct--- species of Homo sapiens that's been found on an island near Indonesia ---and it is an absolute scientific atrocity.
You can be sure that their insistence on referring to this 18,000 year-old female skeleton as being a member of a race of hobbits is all the indication you need to know that this is a stupid, soon-to-be exploded bit of pop science.
I don't know what it is about the narrative of this program that's bugging me so much, but it may be their constant reference to the ancestors of the "hobbits" who made it to what is now the island of Flores as "not know[ing] what was about to hit them" and as individuals who "shrank" to maximize their survivability in an environment with fewer resources.
Is this not the sort of shit that the clever Creationist can pick apart in his sleep? And the National Geographic Society is supplying a whole lot of easy? What the hell?
Evolution is a fact of life. Scratch that: Evolution is THE Fact of Life. It's not even a theory, friend. And, accordingly, we need to insist that influential popularizers of Science (such as the NGS) be especially careful to educate the public properly on this issue.
You do not, for instance, say that early humans migrating into the islands of the Pacific were unaware of what was "about to happen" to them in some evolutionary sense ---because it's beyond tautological! No one's "aware" of where he or she stands on the road of human evolution. No one lives long enough to shepherd or guide anything about the evolution of the human race ---and that includes History's greatest mass murderers.
Nor do you say that any one person "shrinks" in all his organs and proportions to maximize his own survivability. Even if this were true of Homo sapiens in some isolated island environment, it would not be a conscious decision ---by one or all--- and it would not be an achievable thing in the course of even a dozen generations, anyway.
I like the idea of a race of "hobbits" who lived so close to the present time. I'm not arguing against it with some heretofore secret expertise on the subject, but I am opposed to how it's being sold to the public: sensationally, presumptively, and ignorantly enough to trip even my own bullshit detector.
Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:24 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink