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No, Virginia…There Are No Hobbits

Scott on August 27, 2006 at 8:13 am

Alas, my visions of a real possibility that Tolkein may have been partly right have been dashed. This article burst my bubble as it announced that the remains of the “Indonesian Hobbits” that have been touted by scientists over the last two years have turned out to be the remains of pygmies, not a new species of human dwarf.

This was of great disapointment to me as I have a clear memory of, two years ago, helping out my daughter on a science current event assignment that involved these little “hobbits.” She was supposed to find a current article in the news that connected to science somehow. We found several, but they all seemed “stupid” or “boring” to her. (I have since realized that it wasn’t just the articles that were boring and stupid. She finds that much of adult life is boring and stupid. I guess that’s the life of a teenager.) Suddenly, as I was at my wit’s end and ready to force her to use an article about the shrinking numbers of the Spotted West Coast Cat-Eating Tree Frog, she found this article about the “cute little hobbit people” that used to live on a small Idonesian island. The article declared that the remains that had been found were evidence of the evolution of a human dwarf species.

I guess they were wrong!

One of the things that is so facinating to me is that, as the article that my daughter used less than two years ago indicates, these same scientists and the reporters who were writing about the “hobbits” were giddy with the news that evidence had been found of the evolution of a new species of human dwarf.

The Fox News/Associate Press article began with:

In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.

Later on in the article, we are told:

The discovery has astonished anthropologists unlike any in recent memory. Flores Man (search) is a totally new creature that was fundamentally different from modern humans.

Chris Stringer, director of human origins studies at the Natural History Museum in London, said at the time:

“This finding really does rewrite our knowledge of human evolution.”

Anthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who reviewed the research independently, exuded:

“It is arguably the most significant discovery concerning our own genus in my lifetime.”

Cambridge University’s Robert Foley and Marta Mirazon declared:

“Discoveries simply don’t get any better than that.”

And what did this discovery mean to the scientific community and to the understanding of mankind itself? The article says:

Researchers say the perseverance of Flores Man smashes the conventional wisdom that modern humans began to systematically crowd out other upright-walking species 160,000 years ago and have dominated the planet alone for tens of thousands of years.

This is supported by Jeffery Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh, who declared:

“I don’t think anybody can pigeonhole this into the very simple-minded theories of what is human.”

So to be sure I get this right, less than two years ago the concensus about this “new find” was:

- The discovery was breathtaking because of its importance

- The discovery astonished scientists

- It has rewritten the history of humanity & the story of our evolution

- It challenges how we define what it means to be human

But now, less than two years ago, the concensus is:

Never Mind!

THIS is why I am skeptical about evolutionary scientists and anthropologist, if not about evolution itself. Now we can add Flores Man to the long distinguished list of misrepresentations and frauds that have been used to try and prove evolution to the world. This list includes:

- Neanderthal Man: Originally thought to be a cross-breed or ape-man, now the general concensus is that they were just ordinary people.

- Java Man: Found on the Indonesian island of Java, this guy was contructed out of a leg bone, a skullcap, three teeth, and a fragment of jaw bone that was not attached to the teeth. These items were found spread out over a wide area but were claimed to be part of a whole (even though the three teeth were of different ages and sizes). In the end, the concensus was that Java Man was actually a mixture of male and female ape bones.

- Piltdown Man: Discovered in 1912, it was “dehoaxed” in 1953. The bones and other implements had obviously been filed and shaped using modern tools. It was also discovered that the bone fragments had been stained to make them appear older.

- Nebraska Man: This was an ENTIRE MAN that was created out of a single tooth. Nothing else. (enough said)

- Peking Man: Originally it was claimed that the skulls and other bones were evidence of tool-using apes. Tools were buried close to and in the same area as the bones. There was evidence that the backs of the skulls had been bashed in. Eventually it was realized that Peking Man was actually the remains of monkeys who had been killed and their brains used for food.

- Lucy: Donald Johansson found Lucy in 1974 and declared that his finding was the most important find made by anyone in the history of the human race. No independent scientists were allowed to examine Lucy until 1982, and when they did it was discovered that Lucy’s bones were identical to the bones of a rainforest Chimpanzee.

When scientists go so far out on limbs as to fashion whole people out of a few teeth or bones, or to purposefully mislead the public and other scientists, or to jump to rash conclusions that they must contradict within a few years,…that is when I begin to question the veracity of the other claims that they make.

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