Cavemen were pro-life

Anthony Sacramone at Strange Herring reports that a skull was discovered of a caveman child that had significant deformities, indicating that the child was profoundly handicapped. And yet the child lived until he was five years old. That means that his parents gave him extensive care, proving that these allegedly primitive life forms had compassion and love for their children. That’s interesting but hardly surprising for those of us who believe in universal human values. But the best part of the post is Mr. Sacramone’s headline: New Evidence Suggests that Cavemen Were More Compassionate Than Average Ivy League Ethics Professor.

His point is that “primitive” humans struggling for survival had love and compassion for their children; Ivy League Ethics Professors such as Princeton’s Peter Singer favor euthanasia of the handicapped, as well as, of course, abortion for unwanted children.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bruce Gee

    Ivy League Ethics Professors believe in such things up until such things are deposited at their own doors. I've read that Peter Singer is also on record stating he would not put down his own mother if she fulfilled the prerequisites for euthanasia.

    Bravo for Sacramone–he manages once again to humorously connect two ideas that really collide with each other.

  • Bruce Gee

    Ivy League Ethics Professors believe in such things up until such things are deposited at their own doors. I've read that Peter Singer is also on record stating he would not put down his own mother if she fulfilled the prerequisites for euthanasia.

    Bravo for Sacramone–he manages once again to humorously connect two ideas that really collide with each other.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CharlesLehmann CharlesLehmann

    Thus sayeth Chesterton in The Everlasting Man

    People have been interested in everything about the cave-man except what he did in the cave. Now there does happen to be some real evidence of what be did in the cave. It is little enough, like all the prehistoric evidence, but it is concerned with the real cave-man and his cave and not the literary cave-man and his club. And it will be valuable to our sense of reality to consider quite simply what that real evidence is, and not to go beyond it. What was found in the cave was not the club, the horrible gory club notched with the number of women it had knocked on the head. The cave was not a Bluebeard's Chamber filled with the skeletons of slaughtered wives; it was not filled with female skulls all arranged in rows and all cracked like eggs…

    [The cave was filled with] drawings or paintings of animals; and they were drawn or painted not only by a man but by an artist. Under whatever archaic limitations, they showed that love of the long sweeping or the long wavering line which any man who has ever drawn or tried to draw will recognize; and about which no artist will allow himself to be contradicted by any scientist. They showed the experimental and adventurous spirit of the artist, the spirit that does not avoid but attempts difficult things; as where the draughtsman had represented the action of the stag when be swings his head clean round and noses towards his tail, an action familiar enough in the horse. But there are many modern animal-painters who would set themselves something of a task in rendering it truly. In this and twenty other details it is clear that the artist had watched animals with a certain interest and presumably a certain pleasure. In that sense it would seem that he was not only an artist but a naturalist; the sort of naturalist who is really natural… When the psychoanalyst writes to a patient, "The submerged instincts of the cave-man are doubtless prompting you to gratify a violent impulse,' he does not refer to the impulse to paint in water-colors; or to make conscientious studies of how cattle swing their heads when they graze. Yet we do know for a fact that the cave-man did these mild and innocent things and we have not the most minute speck of evidence that he did any of the violent and ferocious things.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CharlesLehmann CharlesLehmann

    Thus sayeth Chesterton in The Everlasting Man

    People have been interested in everything about the cave-man except what he did in the cave. Now there does happen to be some real evidence of what be did in the cave. It is little enough, like all the prehistoric evidence, but it is concerned with the real cave-man and his cave and not the literary cave-man and his club. And it will be valuable to our sense of reality to consider quite simply what that real evidence is, and not to go beyond it. What was found in the cave was not the club, the horrible gory club notched with the number of women it had knocked on the head. The cave was not a Bluebeard's Chamber filled with the skeletons of slaughtered wives; it was not filled with female skulls all arranged in rows and all cracked like eggs…

    [The cave was filled with] drawings or paintings of animals; and they were drawn or painted not only by a man but by an artist. Under whatever archaic limitations, they showed that love of the long sweeping or the long wavering line which any man who has ever drawn or tried to draw will recognize; and about which no artist will allow himself to be contradicted by any scientist. They showed the experimental and adventurous spirit of the artist, the spirit that does not avoid but attempts difficult things; as where the draughtsman had represented the action of the stag when be swings his head clean round and noses towards his tail, an action familiar enough in the horse. But there are many modern animal-painters who would set themselves something of a task in rendering it truly. In this and twenty other details it is clear that the artist had watched animals with a certain interest and presumably a certain pleasure. In that sense it would seem that he was not only an artist but a naturalist; the sort of naturalist who is really natural… When the psychoanalyst writes to a patient, "The submerged instincts of the cave-man are doubtless prompting you to gratify a violent impulse,' he does not refer to the impulse to paint in water-colors; or to make conscientious studies of how cattle swing their heads when they graze. Yet we do know for a fact that the cave-man did these mild and innocent things and we have not the most minute speck of evidence that he did any of the violent and ferocious things.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    So again, we seem to enjoy it when various processes (say, fossil reconstruction or the media) confirm our preconceived notions. But if this article had said, say, that the skull showed some aspect of the evolutionary process, would we be trumpeting it here? Would we put the same amount of faith in the reconstruction and the conclusions drawn from it?

    And if we treat the results differently because of whether they agree with our preconceived notions, then aren't we really just restating those notions, and not at all talking about the process involved?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    So again, we seem to enjoy it when various processes (say, fossil reconstruction or the media) confirm our preconceived notions. But if this article had said, say, that the skull showed some aspect of the evolutionary process, would we be trumpeting it here? Would we put the same amount of faith in the reconstruction and the conclusions drawn from it?

    And if we treat the results differently because of whether they agree with our preconceived notions, then aren't we really just restating those notions, and not at all talking about the process involved?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    For example, how many people who see in this a pro-life message even believe the other result from that article, that this skull is 530,000 years old?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    For example, how many people who see in this a pro-life message even believe the other result from that article, that this skull is 530,000 years old?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CharlesLehmann CharlesLehmann

    So we're hypocritical for finding any sort of evidence that supports our belief system? That makes holding any position at all that has evidentiary support untenable.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CharlesLehmann CharlesLehmann

    So we're hypocritical for finding any sort of evidence that supports our belief system? That makes holding any position at all that has evidentiary support untenable.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    So, tODD, what should we do? The skull exists. No one is disputing that. The evidence is that at some time in the past, whenever it was, a deformed young child was cared for and loved.

    I guess there is evidence of evolution, though, to the extent that we seem to have "evolved" past those primitive notions of caring for and loving all children, regardless of whether they have "defects" or are wanted by their parents.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    So, tODD, what should we do? The skull exists. No one is disputing that. The evidence is that at some time in the past, whenever it was, a deformed young child was cared for and loved.

    I guess there is evidence of evolution, though, to the extent that we seem to have "evolved" past those primitive notions of caring for and loving all children, regardless of whether they have "defects" or are wanted by their parents.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Charles, that same "evidence" also supports 530,000-year-old humans and, in general, evolution and an old earth. Do you also accept those findings? If not, then it's not really the evidence that you're basing your beliefs on, is it? If you're going to find actual evidence that supports your belief system, try to make sure it also doesn't simultaneously undermine a different part of your belief system, with you cherry-picking which parts you accept and which you reject.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Charles, that same "evidence" also supports 530,000-year-old humans and, in general, evolution and an old earth. Do you also accept those findings? If not, then it's not really the evidence that you're basing your beliefs on, is it? If you're going to find actual evidence that supports your belief system, try to make sure it also doesn't simultaneously undermine a different part of your belief system, with you cherry-picking which parts you accept and which you reject.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Yes, Don, the skull exists. But again, ask yourself: if this skull was being presented as, say, a transitional fossil, evidence of some intermediary homo species, what questions would you raise? Would you accept its dating as correct? Would you question whether the skull was properly reconstructed, or if perhaps it was wrongly pieced together from multiple specimens? Would you question the scientist's findings and ask if perhaps some other phenomenon accounted for the skull's deformation?

    I honestly don't know how you would react in such a situation — I forget who here is a young-earther and who isn't — but if one were to show that much skepticism towards a fossil that contradicts one's beliefs, but turn around and fail to be skeptical towards a fossil that supports one's beliefs, then isn't that disingenuous? Isn't that evidence for one thing only, the pre-existing beliefs?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Yes, Don, the skull exists. But again, ask yourself: if this skull was being presented as, say, a transitional fossil, evidence of some intermediary homo species, what questions would you raise? Would you accept its dating as correct? Would you question whether the skull was properly reconstructed, or if perhaps it was wrongly pieced together from multiple specimens? Would you question the scientist's findings and ask if perhaps some other phenomenon accounted for the skull's deformation?

    I honestly don't know how you would react in such a situation — I forget who here is a young-earther and who isn't — but if one were to show that much skepticism towards a fossil that contradicts one's beliefs, but turn around and fail to be skeptical towards a fossil that supports one's beliefs, then isn't that disingenuous? Isn't that evidence for one thing only, the pre-existing beliefs?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CharlesLehmann CharlesLehmann

    stadler,

    I think you're confusing data and interpretation of data. There are two pieces of data interpreted in this find. First, the skull data is interpreted to indicate that this child was profoundly handicapped. The isotope data is interpreted to mean that this child is 530,000 years old.

    Everyone accepts and rejects interpretations of data on the basis of preconceived notions and logical rigour. You do it. I do it. Everyone does it. No one is unbiased. Quit pretending otherwise.

    No, I don't think the find is 530,000 years old. I think isotope dating is based on a set of assumptions that can't really be justified, namely that we know the original proportion of the isotopes at the beginning. Thus, the interpretation of that data is, in my considered opinion, worthy of rejection.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CharlesLehmann CharlesLehmann

    stadler,

    I think you're confusing data and interpretation of data. There are two pieces of data interpreted in this find. First, the skull data is interpreted to indicate that this child was profoundly handicapped. The isotope data is interpreted to mean that this child is 530,000 years old.

    Everyone accepts and rejects interpretations of data on the basis of preconceived notions and logical rigour. You do it. I do it. Everyone does it. No one is unbiased. Quit pretending otherwise.

    No, I don't think the find is 530,000 years old. I think isotope dating is based on a set of assumptions that can't really be justified, namely that we know the original proportion of the isotopes at the beginning. Thus, the interpretation of that data is, in my considered opinion, worthy of rejection.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    tODD, the evidence is the deformed skull. It is observable and incontrovertible. Certain scientists then use extrapolation techniquest based on hypotheses and theories which they believe to be true, to date the skull and fit it into their world view concerning evolution. Why is it wrong to take the physical evidence for what it shows — that a child long ago had a deformity of some sort, yet was apparently cared for to the age of 5 or so by a caregiver, and reject the hypotheses which led those certain scientists to date the skull as being 500,000 years old?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    tODD, the evidence is the deformed skull. It is observable and incontrovertible. Certain scientists then use extrapolation techniquest based on hypotheses and theories which they believe to be true, to date the skull and fit it into their world view concerning evolution. Why is it wrong to take the physical evidence for what it shows — that a child long ago had a deformity of some sort, yet was apparently cared for to the age of 5 or so by a caregiver, and reject the hypotheses which led those certain scientists to date the skull as being 500,000 years old?

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    tODD, the evidence is the deformed skull. It is observable and incontrovertible. Certain scientists then use extrapolation techniques based on hypotheses and theories which they believe to be true, to date the skull and fit it into their world view concerning evolution. Why is it wrong to take the physical evidence for what it shows — that a child long ago had a deformity of some sort, yet was apparently cared for to the age of 5 or so by a caregiver, and reject the hypotheses which led those certain scientists to date the skull as being 500,000 years old?

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    tODD, the evidence is the deformed skull. It is observable and incontrovertible. Certain scientists then use extrapolation techniques based on hypotheses and theories which they believe to be true, to date the skull and fit it into their world view concerning evolution. Why is it wrong to take the physical evidence for what it shows — that a child long ago had a deformity of some sort, yet was apparently cared for to the age of 5 or so by a caregiver, and reject the hypotheses which led those certain scientists to date the skull as being 500,000 years old?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Charles, let's just talk about the skull shape, then. As I asked Don, if this skull was being presented as, say, a transitional fossil, evidence of some intermediary homo species, would you question whether the skull was properly reconstructed, or if perhaps it was wrongly pieced together from multiple specimens? Would you question the scientist's findings and ask if perhaps some other phenomenon accounted for the skull's deformation?

    It's not merely whether people accept or reject data based on their biases, it's whether they're consistent in their arguments. A person who routinely dismisses out of hand nearly all fossil reconstructions because they do not fit his biases, who then finds in one fossil reconstruction support for his bias, doesn't actually care about fossil reconstructions.

    Let me put it this way. If a psychic were to announce tomorrow that there was (psychic) evidence for, I don't know, the Virgin Birth, I wouldn't care, because I think psychics are frauds and I routinely ignore them. For me to suddenly post the psychic's announcement on my blog as evidence for the Bible's veracity, it would be pretty ridiculous.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Charles, let's just talk about the skull shape, then. As I asked Don, if this skull was being presented as, say, a transitional fossil, evidence of some intermediary homo species, would you question whether the skull was properly reconstructed, or if perhaps it was wrongly pieced together from multiple specimens? Would you question the scientist's findings and ask if perhaps some other phenomenon accounted for the skull's deformation?

    It's not merely whether people accept or reject data based on their biases, it's whether they're consistent in their arguments. A person who routinely dismisses out of hand nearly all fossil reconstructions because they do not fit his biases, who then finds in one fossil reconstruction support for his bias, doesn't actually care about fossil reconstructions.

    Let me put it this way. If a psychic were to announce tomorrow that there was (psychic) evidence for, I don't know, the Virgin Birth, I wouldn't care, because I think psychics are frauds and I routinely ignore them. For me to suddenly post the psychic's announcement on my blog as evidence for the Bible's veracity, it would be pretty ridiculous.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Okay, Don, the skull is "incontrovertible". Just like all those transition fossils out there are also, no doubt, incontrovertible as well, right?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Okay, Don, the skull is "incontrovertible". Just like all those transition fossils out there are also, no doubt, incontrovertible as well, right?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    Wow, these posts seem to be going up rather slowly, as I could not see either tODD's, nor Charles' posts from an hour ago when I posted 28 minutes ago. Anyway, I assumed from the original, rather scanty article, that the skull was found relatively intact. If that is not the case, and if the piecing together involved more than just the ordinary skill of an archeologist in piecing together bone fragments to form the skull in its substantial entirety, then I would need to know more before accepting the story as true. In other words, if substantial reconstruction of the skull from small portions of bone fragment was involved, based upon hypothetical constructs or assumptions, then I would not accept the matter as true without doing my own due diligence.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    Wow, these posts seem to be going up rather slowly, as I could not see either tODD's, nor Charles' posts from an hour ago when I posted 28 minutes ago. Anyway, I assumed from the original, rather scanty article, that the skull was found relatively intact. If that is not the case, and if the piecing together involved more than just the ordinary skill of an archeologist in piecing together bone fragments to form the skull in its substantial entirety, then I would need to know more before accepting the story as true. In other words, if substantial reconstruction of the skull from small portions of bone fragment was involved, based upon hypothetical constructs or assumptions, then I would not accept the matter as true without doing my own due diligence.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding the idea that "the same evidence" supports an age of half a million years and an old earth; false. Any good student of anatomy can look at a skull and date it with the kind of teeth (baby or permanent) that are there, along with the way the skull comes together or not. That has nothing to do with radioisotope estimates of the skull's age, which can be done by anyone completely ignorant of anatomy and physiology–but not of radioactive decay.

    I would tend to argue that the reason for the care of the little one is that the parents had memory of the time when their ancestors walked in the Garden with God, and remembered He has some things to say about abuse of the helpless. But that's just me.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding the idea that "the same evidence" supports an age of half a million years and an old earth; false. Any good student of anatomy can look at a skull and date it with the kind of teeth (baby or permanent) that are there, along with the way the skull comes together or not. That has nothing to do with radioisotope estimates of the skull's age, which can be done by anyone completely ignorant of anatomy and physiology–but not of radioactive decay.

    I would tend to argue that the reason for the care of the little one is that the parents had memory of the time when their ancestors walked in the Garden with God, and remembered He has some things to say about abuse of the helpless. But that's just me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Don, yes, the comments go up rather haphazardly. Frankly, I'm no fan of the IntenseDebate commenting system. It's hard to find new comments if they're threaded (though we seem to be avoiding that here, thankfully), and random comments seem to get lost in various states of limbo, some of which reappear later, others not so much.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Don, yes, the comments go up rather haphazardly. Frankly, I'm no fan of the IntenseDebate commenting system. It's hard to find new comments if they're threaded (though we seem to be avoiding that here, thankfully), and random comments seem to get lost in various states of limbo, some of which reappear later, others not so much.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Anyhow, you seem to be referring to Strange Herring's post as "the original" article, though of course, he himself links to this Wired blog post: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/skull…. I'll assume you haven't read that Wired post until now.

    Here are some key quotes from Wired:

    "A newly reconstructed deformed fossil skull suggests our human ancestors probably cared for deformed offspring for years."

    "By reconstructing the skull from a bunch of pieces, the team was able to determine that the child likely suffered from craniosynostosis, a debilitating genetic disorder in which some pieces of the skull fuse too quickly, causing pressure to build in the brain. While they couldn't tell the exact level of mental retardation likely to result from the malformation, it would have been considerable, requiring large amounts of extra care from the prehistorical human community."

    I assume this answers your question of whether "the skull was found relatively intact", perhaps leading you to "need to know more before accepting the story as true".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Anyhow, you seem to be referring to Strange Herring's post as "the original" article, though of course, he himself links to this Wired blog post: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/skull…. I'll assume you haven't read that Wired post until now.

    Here are some key quotes from Wired:

    "A newly reconstructed deformed fossil skull suggests our human ancestors probably cared for deformed offspring for years."

    "By reconstructing the skull from a bunch of pieces, the team was able to determine that the child likely suffered from craniosynostosis, a debilitating genetic disorder in which some pieces of the skull fuse too quickly, causing pressure to build in the brain. While they couldn't tell the exact level of mental retardation likely to result from the malformation, it would have been considerable, requiring large amounts of extra care from the prehistorical human community."

    I assume this answers your question of whether "the skull was found relatively intact", perhaps leading you to "need to know more before accepting the story as true".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Then, too, there's this objection and caution to the article from a scientist. Would that some here showed the same level of caution about the findings:

    ————-
    [Stanford University anthropologist David] DeGusta also had a more methodological objection to many studies that attempt to infer behavior from skeletal remains.

    "We just know that this individual survived. We don't know the circumstances," he said. "I'm not saying their interpretation is unreasonable, but we're trying to do science, so we have to ask, 'How would we know that we were wrong?'"

    DeGusta argues that it's hard to judge caring behavior from a very limited fossil record, particularly when the primate record seems to indicate that great apes can survive a variety of horrific injuries.

    "My contribution, such as it was, was to say, what's the baseline here? What kind of illnesses and injuries can nonhuman primates survive?" he said. "We'd love to know things like, when does caretaking begin? … So far, though, those behaviors don't leave clear, unambiguous records."

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Then, too, there's this objection and caution to the article from a scientist. Would that some here showed the same level of caution about the findings:

    ————-
    [Stanford University anthropologist David] DeGusta also had a more methodological objection to many studies that attempt to infer behavior from skeletal remains.

    "We just know that this individual survived. We don't know the circumstances," he said. "I'm not saying their interpretation is unreasonable, but we're trying to do science, so we have to ask, 'How would we know that we were wrong?'"

    DeGusta argues that it's hard to judge caring behavior from a very limited fossil record, particularly when the primate record seems to indicate that great apes can survive a variety of horrific injuries.

    "My contribution, such as it was, was to say, what's the baseline here? What kind of illnesses and injuries can nonhuman primates survive?" he said. "We'd love to know things like, when does caretaking begin? … So far, though, those behaviors don't leave clear, unambiguous records."

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exiles

    Sadly, throughout history and throughout the world infanticide has been and continues to be practiced. I took a feminism course last semester and we read writings from and about 18th century France about infanticide and how common it was. Romans and Greeks left unwanted babies out to die by "exposure." Women shared recipes for abortifacient herbal solutions. This has been with us as long as human history.

    Good for those cavemen, but I doubt they were in the norm. And just because cavemen do this or do that, doesn't mean that it is right or wrong. It's like gay rights activists crying "the Greeks did it!" The Greeks did a lot of nasty things, just like all human civilizations.

    Nonetheless, it is an interesting find, archaeologically speaking.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exiles

    Sadly, throughout history and throughout the world infanticide has been and continues to be practiced. I took a feminism course last semester and we read writings from and about 18th century France about infanticide and how common it was. Romans and Greeks left unwanted babies out to die by "exposure." Women shared recipes for abortifacient herbal solutions. This has been with us as long as human history.

    Good for those cavemen, but I doubt they were in the norm. And just because cavemen do this or do that, doesn't mean that it is right or wrong. It's like gay rights activists crying "the Greeks did it!" The Greeks did a lot of nasty things, just like all human civilizations.

    Nonetheless, it is an interesting find, archaeologically speaking.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    tODD's points are well taken, in that, bottom line, we shouldn't make too much of this whole story.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    tODD's points are well taken, in that, bottom line, we shouldn't make too much of this whole story.

  • Cincinnatus

    I'm not entirely certain I see the point of your comment, stadler. Veith is pro-life, and he is thus interested to find evidence that primitive peoples seemed to be pro-life also (though I dispute the validity of making a generalized claim about ancient society based upon the evidence of one skull). If you believe that dinosaurs had feathers–and some say there is good reason to believe as such–then wouldn't you be rather excited to find fossilized feathers and dinosaur bones in the desert? Everyone has beliefs and ideas, and, as long as they are well-founded, there is no problem in relaying additional support to substantiate one's claims. It is not as if Veith has believed that man has been historically compassionate and civilized, but only now found a modicum of empirical proof for his claim.

  • Cincinnatus

    I'm not entirely certain I see the point of your comment, stadler. Veith is pro-life, and he is thus interested to find evidence that primitive peoples seemed to be pro-life also (though I dispute the validity of making a generalized claim about ancient society based upon the evidence of one skull). If you believe that dinosaurs had feathers–and some say there is good reason to believe as such–then wouldn't you be rather excited to find fossilized feathers and dinosaur bones in the desert? Everyone has beliefs and ideas, and, as long as they are well-founded, there is no problem in relaying additional support to substantiate one's claims. It is not as if Veith has believed that man has been historically compassionate and civilized, but only now found a modicum of empirical proof for his claim.

  • Cincinnatus

    Let's put it this way: this skull isn't being presented as, say, a transitional fossil. So why are you still talking? There are two pieces of data that may or may not be useful here, as others have pointed out: one is that the fossil, by contemporary dating methods, is 530,000 years old. The other is that a profoundly handicapped child was carried to term and nurtured by his human parents. Those are independent facts, and the point of this blog post is to "celebrate" or at least discuss the significance of the second fact.

    But by all means continue discussing matters that are completely off-topic.

  • Cincinnatus

    Let's put it this way: this skull isn't being presented as, say, a transitional fossil. So why are you still talking? There are two pieces of data that may or may not be useful here, as others have pointed out: one is that the fossil, by contemporary dating methods, is 530,000 years old. The other is that a profoundly handicapped child was carried to term and nurtured by his human parents. Those are independent facts, and the point of this blog post is to "celebrate" or at least discuss the significance of the second fact.

    But by all means continue discussing matters that are completely off-topic.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Oh good grief, I can't believe you've actually read the whole discussion before you posted this.

    What is your basis for the so-called "independent fact" that "a profoundly handicapped child was carried to term and nurtured by his human parents"? Even an anthropologist quoted in the article questions that. I would imagine that young-earther Christians, who generally have even more issues with anthropologists' "facts" based on fossil reconstructions, would dispute that even more. I've made that point over and over. And still you don't get it.

    THAT is why I'm "still talking".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Oh good grief, I can't believe you've actually read the whole discussion before you posted this.

    What is your basis for the so-called "independent fact" that "a profoundly handicapped child was carried to term and nurtured by his human parents"? Even an anthropologist quoted in the article questions that. I would imagine that young-earther Christians, who generally have even more issues with anthropologists' "facts" based on fossil reconstructions, would dispute that even more. I've made that point over and over. And still you don't get it.

    THAT is why I'm "still talking".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    And, to follow on with that thought, I tried responding to one of your comments via email reply rather than going to the site, as you are supposed to be able to do. No luck — that reply has not posted yet, some two hours later, though it is in my "sent mail" folder.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DonS DonS

    And, to follow on with that thought, I tried responding to one of your comments via email reply rather than going to the site, as you are supposed to be able to do. No luck — that reply has not posted yet, some two hours later, though it is in my "sent mail" folder.

  • Carl Vehse

    It is useful to go to the original article rather than the intervening references. In his "Cavemen were pro-life" Gene Veith refers to Anthony Sacramone and his Strange Herring article, "New Evidence Suggests that Cavemen Were More Compassionate Than Average Ivy League Ethics Professor," which refers to a Wired Science article, "Deformed Skull Suggests Human Ancestors Had Compassion," which refers to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article, "Craniosynostosis in the Middle Pleistocene human Cranium 14 from the Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca, Spain" (PNAS, April 2, 2009, Online Early Edition), authored by Ana Gracia, et al. (the Abstract is free).

    Using several criteria the authors estimated the most probably age to be below the lower limit estimated for two other craniums ("i.e., <12.5-years-old") and "compared with [cranium] development of living populations, older than 5-to 8-years-old."

  • Carl Vehse

    It is useful to go to the original article rather than the intervening references. In his "Cavemen were pro-life" Gene Veith refers to Anthony Sacramone and his Strange Herring article, "New Evidence Suggests that Cavemen Were More Compassionate Than Average Ivy League Ethics Professor," which refers to a Wired Science article, "Deformed Skull Suggests Human Ancestors Had Compassion," which refers to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article, "Craniosynostosis in the Middle Pleistocene human Cranium 14 from the Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca, Spain" (PNAS, April 2, 2009, Online Early Edition), authored by Ana Gracia, et al. (the Abstract is free).

    Using several criteria the authors estimated the most probably age to be below the lower limit estimated for two other craniums ("i.e., <12.5-years-old") and "compared with [cranium] development of living populations, older than 5-to 8-years-old."

  • Carl Vehse

    At the beginning the authors state: "Some pathological lesions produced by or related to human activities, including dietary aspects, can be treated, and social support can be provided by relatives or other members of the social group. Also, it is possible to hypothesize whether an affected individual would have been able to keep up with the group and provide for themselves within a hunter gatherer context, or whether long term survival due to a serious illness or injury was impossible without assistance from other members of the social group."

    At the end, while they do state "it is not possible to estimate the degree of mental retardation," the authors conclude, "Despite these handicaps, this individual survived for >5 years, suggesting that her/his pathological condition was not an impediment to receive the same attention as any other Middle Pleistocene Homo child."

    The way the authors' suggestion is phrased does not exclude extraordinary parental care or pro-life attitudes toward their child, but it does not require them either.

  • Carl Vehse

    At the beginning the authors state: "Some pathological lesions produced by or related to human activities, including dietary aspects, can be treated, and social support can be provided by relatives or other members of the social group. Also, it is possible to hypothesize whether an affected individual would have been able to keep up with the group and provide for themselves within a hunter gatherer context, or whether long term survival due to a serious illness or injury was impossible without assistance from other members of the social group."

    At the end, while they do state "it is not possible to estimate the degree of mental retardation," the authors conclude, "Despite these handicaps, this individual survived for >5 years, suggesting that her/his pathological condition was not an impediment to receive the same attention as any other Middle Pleistocene Homo child."

    The way the authors' suggestion is phrased does not exclude extraordinary parental care or pro-life attitudes toward their child, but it does not require them either.

  • Carl Vehse

    Regard the dating of the cranium, the authors did no dating measurements, but used the minimum date of 530 kyrs determined in the referenced article, "High-resolution U-series dates from the Sima de los Huesos hominids yields 600 +∞/-66 kyrs: implications for the evolution of the early Neanderthal lineage" by James L. Bischoff, et al. (Journal of Archaeological Science 34 [2007], 763-770).

    Bischoff used inductively-coupled plasma-multicollector mass-spectrometry (ICP-MC-MS) method to measure the U-234,238 and Th-230 values.

  • Carl Vehse

    Regard the dating of the cranium, the authors did no dating measurements, but used the minimum date of 530 kyrs determined in the referenced article, "High-resolution U-series dates from the Sima de los Huesos hominids yields 600 +∞/-66 kyrs: implications for the evolution of the early Neanderthal lineage" by James L. Bischoff, et al. (Journal of Archaeological Science 34 [2007], 763-770).

    Bischoff used inductively-coupled plasma-multicollector mass-spectrometry (ICP-MC-MS) method to measure the U-234,238 and Th-230 values.

  • Pingback: Bioethike » Blog Archive » Vieth on Sacramone’s first compassionate conservatives: cavemen

  • Pingback: Bioethike » Blog Archive » Vieth on Sacramone’s first compassionate conservatives: cavemen

  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Bob Waters

    Cavemen were also better at logic than the average Ivy League ethics professor.

  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Bob Waters

    Cavemen were also better at logic than the average Ivy League ethics professor.

  • Carl Vehse

    Cavemen also do funny TV commercials and sitcoms.

    Hey, maybe LFL could do a pro-life PSA featuring a popular caveman. An 0bama impersonator could play the heavy.

  • Carl Vehse

    Cavemen also do funny TV commercials and sitcoms.

    Hey, maybe LFL could do a pro-life PSA featuring a popular caveman. An 0bama impersonator could play the heavy.


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