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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mother nature is a bitch files: Primate ancestor had SMALL brain

Many people, loosening their belt after a good dinner, can tell you the fine old materialist folk tale about how the primates were naturally selected for survival and increasing intelligence because they happened to have developed large brains, undoubtedly to control vision or something. According to a recent report in New Scientist , the earliest cat-size primate had a small brain:
This finding - based on a newly described fossil skull - means that large brains evolved independently in new- and old-world primates. It also suggests that evolutionary anthropologists may have to rethink some cherished theories about why such big, powerful brains evolved.

[ ... ]

... diurnality, acute vision and group living - have often been advanced as reasons why primates evolved their large brains. However, Aegyptopithecus, which has all three while still having a tiny brain, argues against these theories, says Simons.

Few, if any, will reflect on the significance of the fact that previous theory depended on the primate ancestor having a large brain - but it apparently didn't. They will simply announce a new theory according to which it had to have a small brain.

If you follow current science and society controversies, you will often hear people say that the Darwinian interpretation of evolution (Darwinism) - the interpretation on which the original primate story depended - is "massively confirmed". And therefore why dissenters from it are completely misguided.

This incident helps explain why Darwinism is massively confirmed - because no evidence ever counts against it.

After a significant disconfirmation, adherents simply regroup around a Darwinist interpretation that has not yet been disconfirmed. No one asks whether a better explanation might be found outside the paradigm.

For example, if the intelligent design theorists are right and evolution is guided, the development of advanced brains in primates would not require that the original primate happened to have a superior brain to its fellow creatures, only that it had a suitable platform on which such a brain could be built. And that suitable platform needn't be an accident either.

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