Question From the Corporate Masters

The powers that be at Seed would like to know:

“If you could shake the public and make them understand one scientific idea, what would it be?”

John at Stranger Fruit stole my answer so I will have to come up with another…although I am going to reprint his Darwin quote as a lead in to my response:

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved” (Charles Darwin, 1859)

That is one of Darwin’s most beautiful and powerful statements, which illustrates the power and wonder of science in a stirring fashion.
Anthropology seeks to understand how one small subset of those “…endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” To that end we collect a wide variety of information on extent and extinct primates and use that information in a comparitive fashion to try and understand how humans (and other primates when possible) evolved. Which means we have a lot of bones laying around in museums and such. Some of them are even fragmentary bones or isolated bones. Each of which, may have traits that we can use to understand where we came from (even after weeding out taphonomic and pathological issues). So, the idea that I would shake the public and make them understand is that fragmented bones are not worthless bones….


One Response

  1. From sociology, that there’s always more within-group variation than between-group variation.

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