After reading a large number of posts by Jim Foley that mention Lubenow’s book Bones of Contention I finally went out and found a good used copy of the first edition. I was going to review it when I am finished reading it, but I have encountered a couple of items that I just couldn’t resist blogging about.
The first couple of items concerns Lubenow’s understanding of evolution. Here is Lubenow on natural selection:
The “survival of the fittest” has a flip side. It is the death of the less fit. For evolution to proceed, it is essential that the less fit die as it is that the more fit survive. If the unfit survived indefinitely, they would continue to “infect” the fit with their less fit genes. The result is that the more fit genes would be diluted and compromised by the less fit genes, and evolution could not take place. The concept of evolution demands death.
Diluted? WTF? Leaving that aside, all natural selection requires is that some organisms reproduce and rear more offspring to adulthood than others. It’s called differential reproductive fitness.
Later Lubenow says:
The evolutionist improperly introduces other mechanisms into alleged evolutionary processes, such as the founder principle, geographic isolation, and genetic recombination. While these are legitimate processes, they are not evolutionary processes. They do not create unique new genetic information… The evolutionist smuggles these nonevolutionary mechanisms into the evolutionary process even though they have nothing to do with evolution. These processes do account for variation, but they cannot produce evolutionary changes that result in increased complexity; that would demand the creation of entirely new genetic information
Leaving aside the fact that up to this point Lubenow has neither defined nor told us how to measure genetic information, one has to wonder how, say, geographic isolation is not an evolutionary process. In the form of allopatric speciation, geographic isolation is, for example, central to Gould and Eldredge’s formulation of punctuated equilibria.
Then there is paleoanthropology. Let’s look at one example, namely the Rhodesian man skull. Here is Lubenow, on page 84, describing where the skull was found:
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this fossil is that it was found about sixty feet underground at the far end of the shaft in a lead and zinc mine.
Here he cites Michael Day’s Guide to Fossil Man and I will get back to this below. Lubenow goes on to say, on page 84-85:
Found under other circumstances, Rhodesian Man, with his low cranial doming and very heavy brow ridges, could serve as an excellent illustration of an evolutionary transitional form between apes and humans. The original Nature report states: “Its large and heavy face is even more simian [apelike] in appearance than that of Neanderthal man…” Yet, this individual was either mining lead and zinc himself or was in the mine shaft at the time when lead and zinc were being mined by other humans. This smacks of a rather high degree of civilization and technology.
Sigh. Here is how Day describes the geology of Broken Hill in Guide to Fossil Man:
The mine included two kopjes or small hills of dolomitic limestone which contained lead and zinc ore. One of the hills was tunnelled at its base by a cave filled with fossilized and mineralized bones. During the clearance of this cavern the skull was found at its farthest and deepest point about 60 feet below ground level. Subsequent excavations produced the rest of the remains, but continued mining has destroyed the original cave.
LeGros Clark mentions the Rhodesian skull in The Fossil Evidence for Human Evolution:
The Rhodesian fossils were found in 1921 in the course of opencast mining of lead and zinc ores at Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia.
Klein in The Human Career says:
A nearly complete cranium, cranial fragments of at least one other individual, and postcranial bones of perhaps three individuals were recovered in 1821 by lead and zinc miners in cave deposits near Kabwe, Zambia…
There seems to be a common theme in these quotes that I can’t quite make out. Perhaps Wolpoff’s Paleoanthropology can make it clear:
A cranium, maxilla, frontal bone, and postcranial bones were discovered in a cave pocket exposed by lead mining near Broken hill in Zambia.
Oh, I get it. Several individuals died in a cave which was subsequently filled in. Thousands upon thousands of years later, in 1921, some miners thought that the area would be a promising site for a mine and started digging, eventually exposing the remains mentioned above. So, what can we say about Lubenow’s interpretation? Either he did not understand the material he was dealing with (as was the case with evolution above) or he is deliberately misleading his readers. Gee, I wonder which is correct?