Sunday, 15 August 2010

When an anthropologist got enough of Darwinian storytelling

Evolutionists are fond of monkey tales but not all scientists think they are true.

Joel Kontinen

Recently, John Hawks, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, wrote in his blog that has had enough of Darwinian storytelling.

Evolutionists are fond of just so stories. The term originated with Nobelist Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 collection Just So Stories for Little Children. The tales were light-hearted explanations of how animals got a certain trait, as the names of the stories indicate, for instance How the Leopard got His Spots or How the Camel got His Hump.

Although Hawks is an evolutionist, he takes a more critical approach to fossil discoveries than the Darwinian popularizers of science and he does not believe in all monkey fables.

Recently, he listened to an NPR programme on evolution. Hawks says that some of the stories presented in them “actually drive me up the wall”. One episode claimed that eating meat made us smarter.

He says that this is merely a just so story. “How did meat make us smarter?", he asks, "Is it a magical meat property? If I fed enough meat to the local deer, would they get smarter?"


Hawks, John. 2010. "Just-so stories" driving me crazy. John Hawks Weblog. (3 August)