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12 wrong human evolution theories. Offered by National Geographic.

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Admitted to be wrong.

Here. (We thought there were only ten wrong theories, but never mind.)

Science was once about right theories. What’s changed?

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See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)

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24 Replies to “12 wrong human evolution theories. Offered by National Geographic.

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    Science was once about right theories. What’s changed?

    It was? Here are some other wrong theories that were once taken seriously:

    Geocentric universe
    Heliocentric universe
    Phlogiston
    Luminiferous aether
    Aristotelian physics
    Plum pudding model of atom
    Steady State cosmology
    Expanding Earth
    Vitalism

    Source

  2. 2
    goodusername says:

    Science was once about right theories. What’s changed?

    When was that?

  3. 3
    ppolish says:

    Good list DaveS. “Unguided Evolution” fits right in.

  4. 4
    Ken Helicostomella says:

    I have to agree with the comments. When was science ever about the “right ” theories.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    Science was about a higher standard of investigation and so its conclusions(theories) were to be accepted by everyone as right as humans can get.
    The problem is the humans ain’t that good and the investigation standards are also not good as they are judged by same humans.

  6. 6
    News says:

    Ken Helicostomella at 4: You ask: “When was science ever about the “right ” theories.”

    Good question. An in-betweenish answer is, what should people be expected to fund, force their children to sit in school for, etc.?

    None of those activities are voluntary. So the least one might expect is some level of certainty from the folk who require it.

    The civic government in my region makes residents observe a number of science-based weather, fire, and water safety precautions – based on past experience. So, if the government employees had to justify the rules, they would likely use their continent-wide database.

    But if the data around human evolution is as conflicted as all this sounds, the justification for teaching it as a subject in school is comparatively very unclear.

    Who really wants that, and why?

  7. 7
    RDFish says:

    It’s funny to watch you cheer when scientific theories are brought down, because you think that means other scientific theories are shown to be more suspect. This is the opposite of the truth.

    The only things more fallible than scientific results, of course, are non-scientific results.

    The fact that there is a list of failed theories demonstrates that science does in fact overturn at least some of the theories that do not pass the ongoing testing and scrutiny scientific results are subject to.

    In contrast, religions typically call this sort of scrutiny blasphemy, and discourage it (not infrequently on pain of death, or at least on threat of an unpleasant afterlife).

    So, religious beliefs are not objectively evaluated at all. Other belief systems that are never subjected to revision based on objective testing – astrology, fortune telling, homeopathy, and so on – also never weed out incorrect theories over time.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  8. 8
    Mapou says:

    RDFish:

    The fact that there is a list of failed theories demonstrates that science does in fact overturn at least some of the theories that do not pass the ongoing testing and scrutiny scientific results are subject to.

    The problem is that scientists often take decades and even centuries to overthrow a faulty theory even when presented with irrefutable evidence. For example, in the last century, AI scientists, based on ideas pioneered by Alan Turing, believed that intelligence was all about symbol manipulation. Symbolic AI turns out to be dud. The whole fiasco retarded progress in the field by at least half a century. The time and money wasted are too great to even consider. But it did not have to be that way. Critics, such as the science philosopher Dreyfus and his brother, were pointing out all along that the whole GOFAI thing was nonsense. Guess what? They were denigrated and even hated by the AI cognoscenti.

    Not one GOFAI scientist ever apologised. Now AI scientists are at it again with “deep learning” which, when you realize that deep neural networks are just symbolic classifiers (they are based on pre-labeled samples), is nothing more than a repackaged GOFAI.

  9. 9
    Mapou says:

    RDFish:

    In contrast, religions typically call this sort of scrutiny blasphemy, and discourage it (not infrequently on pain of death, or at least on threat of an unpleasant afterlife).

    Science does exactly the same thing. If you don’t toe the line, you’re out. Ex-communication is not just a practice of organized religions.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    KH & RDF,

    I think the problem is scientism not science, though in clear cases scientism driven by evolutionary materialist ideology warps science. Lewontin is inadvertently illustrative:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    KF

  11. 11
    Dr JDD says:

    RDFish and Mapou are both correct in aspects – most religions are not subject to (significant) revision and science also resists revision.

    Both are due to a mixture of some being flatly incorrect but also human pride and ego.

    However because that happens in both cases does not mean in all cases these are nullified.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS’s list from wikipedia contains Geocentric universe and Vitalism as being overturned.

    The reports of the death of those two theories have been greatly exaggerated.

    Why is the solar system cosmically aligned? BY Dragan Huterer – 2007
    The solar system seems to line up with the largest cosmic features. Is this mere coincidence or a signpost to deeper insights?
    Caption under figure on page 43:
    ODD ALIGNMENTS hide within the multipoles of the cosmic microwave background. In this combination of the quadrupole and octopole, a plane bisects the sphere between the largest warm and cool lobes. The ecliptic — the plane of Earth’s orbit projected onto the celestial sphere — is aligned parallel to the plane between the lobes.
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/.....uterer.pdf
    Here is the actual graph of the alignment from the Huterer 2007 paper (worth a thousand words):
    http://i44.servimg.com/u/f44/1.....is_o10.jpg

    Of note: The preceding article was written before the Planck data (with WMPA & COBE data), but the multipoles were, as the Planck video indicated, actually verified by Planck.

    Here is one of the papers which confirms Huterer’s 2007 paper:

    Large-scale alignments from WMAP and Planck – 2013
    We revisit the alignments of the largest structures observed in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) using the seven and nine-year WMAP and first-year Planck data releases. The observed alignments — the quadrupole with the octopole and their joint alignment with the direction of our motion with respect to the CMB (the dipole direction) and the geometry of the Solar System (defined by the Ecliptic plane) — are generally in good agreement with results from the previous WMAP data releases.,,, both the WMAP and Planck data confirm the alignments of the largest observable CMB modes in the Universe.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1311.4562

    Moreover besides the earth lining up with the anomalies in the Cosmic Background Radiation, Radio Astronomy now reveals a surprising rotational coincidence for Earth in relation to the quasar and radio galaxy distributions in the universe:

    Is there a violation of the Copernican principle in radio sky? – Ashok K. Singal – May 17, 2013
    Abstract: Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) observations from the WMAP satellite have shown some unexpected anisotropies (directionally dependent observations), which surprisingly seem to be aligned with the eclipticcite {20,16,15}. The latest data from the Planck satellite have confirmed the presence of these anisotropiescite {17}. Here we report even larger anisotropies in the sky distributions of powerful extended quasars and some other sub-classes of radio galaxies in the 3CRR catalogue, one of the oldest and most intensively studies sample of strong radio sourcescite{21,22,3}. The anisotropies lie about a plane passing through the two equinoxes and the north celestial pole (NCP). We can rule out at a 99.995% confidence level the hypothesis that these asymmetries are merely due to statistical fluctuations. Further, even the distribution of observed radio sizes of quasars and radio galaxies show large systematic differences between these two sky regions. The redshift distribution appear to be very similar in both regions of sky for all sources, which rules out any local effects to be the cause of these anomalies. Two pertinent questions then arise. First, why should there be such large anisotropies present in the sky distribution of some of the most distant discrete sources implying inhomogeneities in the universe at very large scales (covering a fraction of the universe)? What is intriguing even further is why such anisotropies should lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It looks as if these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which all modern cosmological theories are based upon.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.4134

    also of note:

    In The Beginning – Ross Andersen – 12 May 2015
    Excerpt: As I walked out of Steinhardt’s office for the last time, it occurred to me that our cosmos is once again a sphere. Our Earth has been demoted in recent centuries. It no longer enjoys its former status as the still centre of all that is. But it does sit in the middle of our observable cosmos, the sphere of light that we can detect with our telescopes. Gaze into this sphere’s reaches from any point on Earth’s surface, and you can see light coming toward you in layers, from stars and the planets that circle them, from the billions of galaxies beyond, and the final layer of light, the afterglow of the Big Bang.
    http://aeon.co/magazine/scienc.....ve-crisis/

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    Fred Hoyle weighs in here:

    “The relation of the two pictures [geocentrism and geokineticism] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view…. Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is ‘right’ and the Ptolemaic theory ‘wrong’ in any meaningful physical sense.”
    Hoyle, Fred. Nicolaus Copernicus. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1973.

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    as to vitalism

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIyEjh6ef_8

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjpEc98o_Oo

  13. 13
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    You’re mixing up geocentrism with anisotropy here.

    I assume you do agree that it is not the case that all matter in the universe orbits the Earth.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    According the Einstein, as I already pointed out, it is all a matter of your chosen frame of reference. (In fact, a ‘hypothetical observer’ was key to both of Einstein’s breakthrough thought experiments into relativity)

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    And according to Quantum Mechanics, it is the observer that has the preferred ‘frame of reference’ in the universe

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    Considering that General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are our most firmly established scientific theories to date, I think I will follow the evidence, i.e. be ‘scientific’, and go with Quantum Mechanics and Relativity and hold that the observer has the most privileged frame of reference in the universe.

    Ellis weighs in here on the philosophical bias that is inherent in how people are willing to choose their frame of reference:

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis

  15. 15
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    Since the Einstein quote references Ptolemy, let’s make sure we agree on what his geocentric model says. The Earth is fixed in space and does not rotate. All celestial bodies orbit the Earth. That means that the Moon and Sun, as well as the most distant galaxies and quasars (over 10 billion light years away from us) orbit the Earth in approximately 24 hours.

    Are you saying that an Earth-bound observer (let’s say standing at the North Pole) would find these statements consistent with the laws of physics?

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS, I’m not saying anything. Quantum Mechanics and Relativity, taken together, are saying the observer has a privileged ‘frame of reference’.

    It is not me you are disagreeing with. It is Quantum Mechanics and Relativity that you are disagreeing with.

    If you don’t like the philosophical implications of allowing the observer to have the privileged’ ‘frame of reference’ in the universe, take it up with those two theories. And show exactly why your philosophically preferred ‘frame of reference’ should take precedence over what our best theories of science are saying.

    I personally have no axe to grind in the matter. And have given up on ever trying to convince you of anything that you personally disagree with. In fact, I consider you a dogmatist.

    As far as I’m concerned, it is strictly between you and those two reigning scientific theories.

    As well, as far as I’m personally concerned you can,,,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O-QqC9yM28

  17. 17
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    You did suggest that geocentric cosmology is not dead yet and quoted Einstein saying that the choice of Copernican and Ptolemaic models is a matter of convention. I think we actually agree that retrograde motion + Newton already pretty much kills the Ptolemaic model dead.

    And I’m not saying anything contrary to GR or QM.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS, you are presuming gravity determines centrality in the universe. Einstein himself disagrees with you and says that the frame of reference is arbitrarily chosen. You disagree with Einstein. I don’t

    Moreover, Quantum Mechanics says of gravity, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis’, and gives centrality, i.e. the preferred ‘frame of reference’, to the observer. You disagree with quantum mechanics. I don’t.

    Thus as I said, take it up with Einstein and Quantum Mechanics. I have no axe to grind since you are impervious to reason as far as I’m concerned.

    And what part of

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O-QqC9yM28

    do you not understand?

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    daveS, you are presuming gravity determines centrality in the universe.

    No. The Ptolemaic model assumes the Earth is central and everything else orbits it. We know from centuries of experience how gravity and orbits work, and it’s inconsistent with Ptolemy.

    Einstein himself disagrees with you and says that the frame of reference is arbitrarily chosen.

    I never said anything contrary to that. I agree that you can do physics with arbitrarily chosen coordinates.

    Moreover, Quantum Mechanics says of gravity, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis’,

    Well, actually QM doesn’t say anything about gravity yet (unfortunately). Hopefully that will change in the near future.

    I’m just surprised that you apparently don’t agree that the Ptolemaic model has been overturned.

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    Oh goody, another pointless discussion with dogmatic atheist dave.

    Again, gravity does not determine centrality in the universe. Einstein himself held that gravity does not determine centrality in the universe. You disagree with Einstein and say that gravity should be given primary consideration in determining centrality in the universe.

    IMHO, you are doing this simply because it helps you philosophically in demoting the earth, and thus people, from any consideration of centrality/specialness in the universe. And thus falsely bolsters atheism in your mind, (that is if you had a ‘mind’ to be bolstered in atheism).

    Put simply, you disagree with Einstein. I don’t.

    In fact, according to the 4-D space time of general relativity, every 3-D point of the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. Thus adding even more weight to Einstein’s contention that one’s ‘frame of reference’ in the universe is chosen by the observer and is not determined by gravity.

    To reiterate, Einstein’s 4-dimensional (4D) space-time expands equally in all places:

    There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a “Big Bang” about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.
    Philip Gibbs

    Centrality of The Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8421879/

    Your philosophical bias towards trying to give gravity some type of special privilege in determining centrality in the universe, and against having the observer have any privileged frame of reference in the universe shows again when you state

    ba77: Moreover, Quantum Mechanics says of gravity, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis’,

    dogmatist dave: Well, actually QM doesn’t say anything about gravity yet (unfortunately). Hopefully that will change in the near future.

    your hope is in vain:

    Most precise test of Lorentz symmetry for the photon finds that the speed of light is indeed constant – by Lisa Zyga – September 15, 2015
    Excerpt: “Lorentz symmetry”,,, is a cornerstone of Einstein’s special relativity theory. According to special relativity, there is no absolute space or absolute time.,,,
    The cavity test here involves two cavities containing sapphire crystals. The researchers excited an electromagnetic resonance in the crystals at a specific frequency, and supercooled them with liquid helium to stabilize the frequency and improve sensitivity. Like the mirrors of the interferometer, the cavities are carefully aligned orthogonal (at right angles) to each other to detect any tiny change in the speed of light along different axes. In the case of the cavities, a change in the speed of light would induce a change in the resonance frequency of the crystals. But after analysis of a full year of data, no such change was found.
    “This is the first direct test of polarization-independent effects for Lorentz invariance violations of the photon that has reached the level of the Planck-suppressed electroweak unification scale,” Parker told Phys.org. “The energy scale of electroweak unification (about 100 GeV) suppressed by the Planck scale (about 1.2 x 10^19 GeV) gives the dimensionless ratio of about 8 x 10^-18, so perhaps naively one might expect to start seeing Lorentz symmetry of the photon being broken in this regime, yet we didn’t see any evidence for this.”,,,
    These improved bounds could prove very useful for experimentally testing (falsifying) theories that (try to) unify general relativity and the standard model while predicting Lorentz symmetry violations. Some of these theories, for example, include string theory-based models and quantum gravity theories, among others.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2015-09-p.....stant.html

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    Again, gravity does not determine centrality in the universe. Einstein himself held that gravity does not determine centrality in the universe. You disagree with Einstein and say that gravity should be given primary consideration in determining centrality in the universe.

    No, I don’t disagree with Einstein. I’m talking about the Ptolemaic model, which gives a very precise description of the center of the universe: The Earth. Newtonian gravity, which is an excellent approximation to GR for predicting the dynamics of the solar system, refutes Ptolemy conclusively, despite your denial. [Hint: Is retrograde motion consistent with Kepler’s Second Law?]

    In fact, according to the 4-D space time of general relativity, every 3-D point of the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. Thus adding even more weight to Einstein’s contention that one’s ‘frame of reference’ in the universe is chosen by the observer and is not determined by gravity.

    Not disagreeing with this.

    your hope is in vain:

    Are you saying it’s impossible to unify GR and QM? That might be, but apparently quite a few physicists think it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

    Are there any other geocentrists here? Even AIG finds it implausible, and that’s saying something.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS you say that don’t disagree with Einstein and yet you then go right ahead and try to use gravity to try to demote the earth from any consideration of centrality in the universe.

    And yet, Einstein himself ignored gravity when choosing his frame of reference in the universe. To reiterate:

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    Don’t argue with me, argue with Einstein (and with quantum mechanics).

    In fact, I’m done arguing with you. The last word is all yours.

    And if you see me comment on any other threads please refrain from commenting on them.

    Remember,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O-QqC9yM28

  23. 23
    daveS says:

    In fact, I’m done arguing with you. The last word is all yours.

    And if you see me comment on any other threads please refrain from commenting on them.

    I will if you will (see #12).

    Edit: I might make an exception if the Ptolemaic model comes up again.

  24. 24
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish: In contrast, religions typically call this sort of scrutiny blasphemy

    Yeah, and “scientists” or “pro-science” operatives never attempt anything like that.

    Except when they do.

    Difficult to believe this is being attempted in the modern world:

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-g.....-skeptics/

    Maybe not so difficult to believe when you have politico ideologues pretending to care about “science.”

    Here’s an article well worth reading…

    http://www.rationaloptimist.co.....ience.aspx

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