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Author Topic:   Quote mining? The Pilbeam quote...
Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4348 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 1 of 43 (72723)
12-13-2003 4:46 PM


Consider the following quote by David Pilbeam, quoted by Richard Leaky in his 1981 book, The Making of Mankind; as used by certain creationists:

http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/origin_of_man.html

But real experts on the subject are aware that there is no scientific foundation for the claim of human evolution. David Pilbeam, a Harvard University paleoanthropologist, says:
If you brought in a smart scientist from another discipline and showed him the meagre evidence we've got he'd surely say, "forget it; there isn't enough to go on."

This is plagiarized at another anti-evolution site,
http://www.evidencesofcreation.com/tellme21.htm

The same sentence is wrongly attributed to Leakey himself, here:
http://www.thinkreal.org/evquote.htm

In this forum, Willowtree has quoted Richard Milton quoting this same statement:
www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=368&m=51#51 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=368&m=51#51">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=5&t=368&m=51#51

So, what is this quote really saying?

Let's see the quote in context:


Of the primates, the chimpanzee is man's closest relative, while the two other great apes, the gorilla and orang-utan, are slightly more distant evolutionary cousins. The apes and hominids are collectively known as the 'hominoids'. Biologists would dearly like to know how modern apes, modern humans and the various ancestral hominids have evolved from a common ancestor. Unfortunately, the fossil record is somewhat incomplete as far as the hominids are concerned, and it is all but blank for the apes. The best we can hope for is that more fossils will be found over the next few years which will fill the present gaps in the evidence. The major gap, often referred to as 'the fossil void', is between eight and four million years ago.
David Pilbeam comments wryly, 'If you brought in a smart scientist from another discipline and showed him the meagre evidence we've got he'd surely say, "forget it; there isn't enough to go on".' Neither David nor others involved in the search for mankind can take this advice, of course, but we remain fully aware of the dangers of drawing conclusions from the evidence that is so incomplete.
Fortunately, there is quite good evidence regarding the ape-like creatures that lived over fourteen million years ago [...]

A discussion follows of the extensive fossil evidence of dryopithecinces and ramapithecines, biochemical estimates of the date of divergence of humans and chimps, a discussion of the rise of bidpedalism, and David Pilbeam's estimates of the branching times for the various groups of hominoids. That's just chapter three ("Ape-Like Ancestors"). Chapter four ("The Early Hominids") picks up on the near side of the fossil gap referred to in the quote.

Notice the matter of fact assertion of the relatedness of the apes and humans, compared with the qualified warning about making inferences about the precise paths involved in the origin of hominoid sub-groups - the first point is well-confirmed, whereas the second topic had plenty of room for dispute in 1981 (and there remains plenty of room for debate still, of course). Does this passage really question the relatedness of apes and humans? Of course not. Does it call for caution in pin-pointing the timing of the branch off points for the various groups, and in identifying the particular evolutionary paths, Yes.


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Adminnemooseus
Director
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Message 2 of 43 (72727)
12-13-2003 4:54 PM


Thread moved here from the Evolution forum.

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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4348 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 3 of 43 (72729)
12-13-2003 4:57 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Adminnemooseus
12-13-2003 4:54 PM


Thanks...I realized I should have posted in this forum instead immediately after posting.

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Cold Foreign Object 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1384 days)
Posts: 3417
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 4 of 43 (72740)
12-13-2003 5:43 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Zhimbo
12-13-2003 4:46 PM


Thank you for notifying me of your topic. I am studying the content of which I will certainly reply by 12-15-03.

If Milton has taken the quote out of context and I am convinced then I will plainly give you the credit for pointing this out, unlike the deliberate evasive responses I have been getting from other posters regarding the "convergence" issue in the evolution topic.

I also just want to point out that the title of this topic casts a negative shadow on quoting period. I guess this title exists out of the constant and infuriating practice of being quoted out of context.
However, the proverbial baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.


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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4348 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 5 of 43 (72777)
12-13-2003 9:01 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Cold Foreign Object
12-13-2003 5:43 PM


Could you, by any chance, actually give what Milton says about the quote, by the way? What does he say that the Pilbeam quote means?

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Cold Foreign Object 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1384 days)
Posts: 3417
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 6 of 43 (72863)
12-14-2003 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Zhimbo
12-13-2003 9:01 PM


Richard Milton is the author of "Shattering the Myths of Darwinism".

And as you know I have been using him as my source to offer some evidence against evolution.

The first overall context is Milton's CLAIM that there isn't enough hard evidence in existence to remove ToE out of the theory category and into established fact. Part of the basis of this claim is his belief that contrary to popular opinion there is a paucity of transitional bones proving that mankind evolved from an ape/common ancestor. In fact, Milton says the glass case at Kensington is still empty.

To evidence this claim Milton includes in his book the quote by Leakey who is quoting David Pilbeam. In this quote Pilbeam states that the evidence they possess "is meagre" and thus incomplete.
Pilbeam's remark was in the context of the "fossil void" which is Leakey's characterization of the paucity of bones that exist to prove the transition of ape to upright man.

The "matter of fact assertion of the relatedness of the apes and humans...." IS NOT IN DISPUTE.

Milton and others have picked up on an honest statement/assessment made by two paleontologists. Of course these scientists believe man evolved from an ape/common ancestor, but they are simply saying that there is not enough evidence to fill the fossil void in order to claim what they are hoping to prove. In mainstream words; the missing link has not been found. And whatever evidence there is in support of the missing link is certainly not enough to claim victory.

I conclude Milton's quote of Leakey/Pilbeam to not be out of context since it was offered only to evidence that there is not enough proof for anyone to claim that the fossil void has been satisfactorily filled.


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8868
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 7 of 43 (72865)
12-14-2003 5:36 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Cold Foreign Object
12-14-2003 5:27 PM


A misunderstanding
WT writes:

In mainstream words; the missing link has not been found. And whatever evidence there is in support of the missing link is certainly not enough to claim victory.

You are having trouble getting the point here. The "missing bits" are the detailed connection of the homonids to the last common ancestor of the extant other apes and ourselves.

The connection from primates that creationists agree are NOT human to ourselves is NOT suffering from a similar lack of evidence in the fossil record. It is, of course, not as complete as we would like but it is not the subject being discussed in the quote.

Milton did not get clear what was being discussed. This is clear since you are confused by what he is saying.

Now, you were also going on about "virtually identical" animals. You've been asked for your position on that after seeing actual pictures. Is it still the same?

You were also asked about the genetic similarities implied by the "mutations" comments. You haven't answered that yet either.


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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4348 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 8 of 43 (73003)
12-15-2003 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Cold Foreign Object
12-14-2003 5:27 PM


Well, then, neither you nor Milton can read very well. The statement is talking about establishing the "how", not the "if", of hominoid evolution. The book, as I indicated, is full of evidence of human evolution, just not enough to fill in the complex inter-relation of groups.

What you are quoting is someone's opinion. What is David Pilbeam's opinion? Clearly his opinion, in 1981, was that the evidence was too sparse to determine the actual evolutionary tree, but more than enough to show that hominoids were all related. You may disagree with the opinion, but you (and Milton) should not quote the opinion as if it meant something else.

Of course, there is also the issue of the quote being more than 20 years old, during which time there have been additional fossil find, including some during the "fossil void" that Leakey refers to. So it seems a little suspect to simply accept that this opinion would stand today.


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Cold Foreign Object 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1384 days)
Posts: 3417
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 9 of 43 (73147)
12-15-2003 9:03 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Zhimbo
12-15-2003 2:46 PM


All you can say is that Milton and myself cannot read very well ? This is your reply ? On this basis in this issue I claim victory.

When Pilbeam says the evidence is "meagre", what body of evidence is he referring to ? The answer lies in the context of Leakey's remark about the "fossil void" which preceded Pilbeam's quote.

It is very simple, Pilbeam said the evidence (at the time) that they possessed in the fossil void was meagre. This fossil void is the crucial evidence that is needed to conclusively prove the transitional period/missing link, this was the context and it is not a matter of opinion. Milton included this quote as evidence to back his claim that the "glass case at Kensington is still empty".

I have always claimed that there is not enough transitional fossils in existence to prove with certainty that evolution is true on the scale neo-Darwinists would have everyone to believe. And as of 1981 Dr.Leakey and David Pilbeam said the same thing, that it was meagre and another scientist from another discipline would conclude "there isn't enough to go on" Even though these two scientists believe that man evolved from an ape they were honest to admit that they cannot claim victory for their theory UNTIL the fossil void is satisfactorily completed.


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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4348 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 10 of 43 (73160)
12-15-2003 9:20 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Cold Foreign Object
12-15-2003 9:03 PM


quote:
All you can say is that Milton and myself cannot read very well ? This is your reply ? On this basis in this issue I claim victory.

What? That was 1 sentence out of my post! Did you miss the rest of my post? Maybe there's a problem with your computer.

Pilbeam's quote was on the fossil evidence you refer to, but not with reagards to the ISSUE you refer to. The issue Pilbeam is discussing is the reconstruction of the hominoid family tree, not whether all living hominoids have a common ancestor.

Do you agree or disagree with that statement? That is, if you asked David Pilbeam himself, what would he say he was talking about?

Now, what if you asked David Pilbeam himself "Is there sufficient evidence that humans and apes have a common ancestor within the last 10 million years?", what do you think his opinion would be?

Now, since you're quoting Pilbeam's opinion, don't you think you need to reflect Pilbeam's actual opinion?


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Cold Foreign Object 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1384 days)
Posts: 3417
Joined: 11-21-2003


Message 11 of 43 (73592)
12-16-2003 9:44 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Zhimbo
12-15-2003 9:20 PM


It doesn't matter what Pilbeam would say if we asked him because the issue is was his statement taken out of context by Milton/Me.

Pilbeam's quote was in the context of what Leakey called the "fossil void", and this fossil void was characterized by Pilbeam as "meagre".
Milton offered this quote as evidence supporting his claim that there is not nearly enough fossil void evidence in existence to justify the victory claim of neo-Darwinism. Even member Darwinsterrer admitted the amount of evidence (transitional type/fossil void) by volume today is extremely low.


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8868
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 12 of 43 (73618)
12-16-2003 11:54 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Cold Foreign Object
12-16-2003 9:44 PM


Which void?
Pilbeam's quote was in the context of what Leakey called the "fossil void", and this fossil void was characterized by Pilbeam as "meagre".

But which void was being discussed? I think I asked this before. You have the wrong "void".

Milton offered this quote as evidence supporting his claim that there is not nearly enough fossil void evidence in existence to justify the victory claim of neo-Darwinism. Even member Darwinsterrer admitted the amount of evidence (transitional type/fossil void) by volume today is extremely low.

I would agree that "low" is a good characterisation.

However, some 100's of pieces (some excellent --e.g., Lucy) some much less so ( e.g., individual teeth) fit into a dated framework. Each marks a place and only one picture fits over this partial jigsaw puzzle. At this time there is only one conclusion you can draw and there is enough to draw that conclusion and wait for more data.

Remember, that this particular transitional pattern is only one of many. This type of pattern is painted over and over. So far the conclusion holds. You may take it as being a more tentative conclusion, others a safer one. But there isn't another one available based on the science.

After steping back and looking at the bigger picture of homonid transition, then stepping back again and looking at others you can look at it through the 'eyes' of the molecular genetisist. Again the pattern holds.

When all this is put together, the "meagre" homonid fossils become only part of the jigsaw and the picture becomes apparent. There is more than enough evidence for the bigger picture.

The details, ah, the details, we want so many more full specimens spaced about 100,000 years apart. I wonder if there are there and how long it will take to find them. Unfortunately there may be times when the important transitions were happening in environments that were not conducive to good fossilization.


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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4348 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 13 of 43 (73624)
12-17-2003 12:01 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Cold Foreign Object
12-16-2003 9:44 PM


I'll ask this again:

Zhimbo asked:

quote:

Now, since you're quoting Pilbeam's opinion, don't you think you need to reflect Pilbeam's actual opinion?

Pilbeam's quoted opinion is NOT about whether humans and apes have a common ancestor. It is about the recontruction of the entire hominoid tree of ancestry in detail.

Milton apparently implies that the opinion is with regards to the former, not the latter. That is not true, if the quote is taken in context. Ape/human ancestry is considered proven beyond reasonable doubt by researchers; the details of ancestry are still being worked out.

So, I ask again:

quote:

Now, since you're quoting Pilbeam's opinion, don't you think you need to reflect Pilbeam's actual opinion?

I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself, but you've never answered this question, and this question is the whole point.

If Milton is quoting Pilbeam's opinion, shouldn't it actually reflect Pilbeam's opinion?


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8868
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 14 of 43 (73631)
12-17-2003 12:16 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Zhimbo
12-17-2003 12:01 AM


My quotes, your quotes
If Milton is quoting Pilbeam's opinion, shouldn't it actually reflect Pilbeam's opinion?

Would anyone answer no to that? Wouldn't that mean that you could lift something they said and tell someone else what they meant to say even if it was contradictory to what they were actually saying?

Would WillowTree be ok with one of us doing that to his words?

Nah, of course we want to know what Pilbeam's opinion is.


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zephyr
Member (Idle past 2887 days)
Posts: 821
From: FOB Taji, Iraq
Joined: 04-22-2003


Message 15 of 43 (73798)
12-17-2003 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by NosyNed
12-17-2003 12:16 AM


Re: My quotes, your quotes
quote:
Would WillowTree be ok with one of us doing that to his words?
You mean like this?

I have always claimed... to prove with certainty that evolution is true on the scale neo-Darwinists would have everyone to believe. And as of 1981 Dr.Leakey and David Pilbeam said the same thing

man evolved from an ape... the fossil void is satisfactorily completed.

*edited to fix quote tags*

[This message has been edited by zephyr, 12-17-2003]


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