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Further thoughts on unsatisfactory claims for human language origin: Some replies


Further to: No satisfactory explanation for origin of human language? (not my verdict, but that of prominent researchers), responses to some comments:

From Reciprocating Bill:

In Chomsky’s case, “admit” is Discovery Institute spin, as Chomsky has long argued that language, while of natural origins, could not have arisen by means of natural selection. And Lewontin has been making arguments similar to those presented in this article for decades (e.g. “Questions we will Never Answer” from the 1998 MIT volume An Invitation to Cognitive Science).

If only Chomsky had committed himself to driving home that point instead of a half century of other causes, we might be further along today. That said, it is good that these problems are receiving prominent serious attention, as opposed to a mild, permitted dissent tucked away somewhere, while any idiotic natural selection thesis struts the stage unhindered.

Look, the clowns are supposed to be between the acts, not the whole show.

And still, why choose disgraced Marc Hauser as lead author? Just to give the guy a leg up, back into the system, as Reciprocating Bill insists? Or so they could back away from the whole project if too big an uproar ensued among Darwin’s tenured followers?

Maybe both?

Look, I’d like to believe the best, but have no illusions about what happens when Darwin’s racket is threatened. And their choice of subject is odd for the purpose of rehabbing Hauser, all by itself. They should have given him “How natural selection transforms monkeys’ night howling into pure mathematics.” Shoo in! Everyone who is anyone knows enough not to ask why it never worked that way for the monkeys.

Okay, at the very best, the authors really intend to put this problem on the table for serious discussion. But caution!, Santa Claus died a long time ago.

The paper will probably just drop out of sight, as papers that put such issues squarely on the table usually do. In which case, maybe it is just another publication for Hauser, as long as no one looks too closely at what it is really about. They often don’t, these days, come to think of it. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, thanks to bornagain77 for useful background. ID is a better explanation for phenomena like human language that involve high levels of information. ID is about understanding the role of information in nature, not the role of matter or blind forces in nature.

It would be nice if ID theorists were able to work without interruptions like getting fired or getting their lab shut down. But the work goes on anyway. And Darwin’s tenureds know their time is short.

bb, riffing off the Abstract, writes,

There is no shortage of explanation in materialistic origins research. But alas, there is a shortage of evidence to back the many intuitive claims. The sheer number of stories give the impression that progress is being made when they are getting nowhere.

Yes, it’s a familiar pattern: We publish lots of papers = We are making progress. In reality, the papers suppressed, whether by their would-be authors or others, could well be more informative, but that is just what we will not get to see.

With the origin of human language, as with origin of life, most academics today would rather never see a solution—or would even work to prevent any solution—if it meant lending credence to the idea of design in nature. There is nothing unusual about that. It happens a lot in stagnant research areas.

It’s not that there aren’t promising areas, but  the establishment is not willing to pay the rent for the promising areas (questioning their own assumptions). So they just keep publishing the same old papers, proclaiming progress. “How natural selection transforms monkeys’ night howling into pure mathematics” is succeeded by “Gorillas’ dominance jostling shows abstract reasoning calculations.”  Yup. Same time, same sort of thing, next conference.

See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness

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Indeed language is uniquely different from animals. So its a threat to anti-creationism. many people would say language suggests man is created different from animals. actually there is no difference in process. it is just that we are so smart and have so much to say and quick. Animals use sounds and so do we. no different. they just use few sounds. birds show how easily they can talk. however they just mimic and don't put their thoughts into speech save like any dog does. Language is not complicated. the rub is that evolution must have language come before mans smarts. Evolution can't have smart mankind without a language to express it. if that was so it would make language a completely contrived thing. Robert Byers

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