Jim Moore's "AAT Sink or Swim?" Web Site


So, finally, we get to Moore's summary page. Eventually he gets to the point where he summarises the whole web site: The AAH, he claims, was never favoured by the evidence and it's supporters very trustworthiness is in question because they misrepresented scientific work, citing it as evidence in favour of the hypothesis when really it actually argued against it.

I challenge both these views.

I argue that the evidence is actually very much in favour of a moderate form of the AAH which, remember, might be defined as the hypothesis that water has acted as an agency of selection in human evolution more than it has in the evolution of our great ape cousins, and therefore explains many of the physical differences between us better than other hypotheses.

Although I have been unable to check all of Moore's allegations of misrepresentations against Elaine Morgan, the ones I have followed up on seemed to lack substance. More often than not it was Moore, not Morgan, who was doing the misrepresenting. Morgan has undoubtedly made a few errors in her research over the years and, perhaps, might even have been guilty of being over-enthusiastic in trying to gather pieces of evidence to support her hypothesis.

However, at least the same degree of over enthusiasm in trying to seek out any scrap of dirt to discredit the hypothesis cab equally be levelled at Jim Moore. The very URL of his 'aquatic ape rubbishing' web site: www.aquaticape.org shows a degree of dishonesty in his endeavours.

Most of this page is a rehash of some of his earlier arguments so let's cut all the waffle and get to his last, decisive paragraph:

Moore concludes this page like this:

"The problem for the AAT is that the evidence has never favoured it, even though AATers have said it did, and even though some, like Morgan in her latest book, have issued mea culpas which claimed the evidence did favor some points but that more evidence came along and invalidated them.
When you look at the evidence, this just isn't true; virtually on every point the actual evidence invalidating the AAT argument was available when the AAT argument was first made, and in far too many cases, it was available in the very source the AATer used to try to support their claim. This is an extremely serious error, if error it is, and calls into question the trustability of the authors. In science, it's okay to be wrong, but really bad to not be trustable. When I look at the litany of "false facts" the AAT has left scattered in its wake, the feeling I have is that the authors of the theory can't be trusted in their research. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that's going to be the longest lasting legacy of the AAT: a trail of "false facts" that, as Darwin noted, last very long indeed."


Let's take that apart, piece by piece.

1) The evidence never favoured it.
Is it true, or not, that humans can swim and that chimpanzees, generally, cannot?
Is it true, or not, that the most predictable situation that one can find extant apes moving bipedally is in shallow water?
Is it true, or not, that humans are the only naked primate and that out of a dozen or so cases in Mammalia where it evolved the biggest group are aquatic animals?
Is it not true that shaving body hair from the bodies of competitive swimmers significantly improves their drag through water?
Is it not true that whereas human infants are generally fat, other primates' are comparatively thin and that the increased buoyancy associated with such a trait would be expected to help them survive incidents of immersion in water?
Is it not true that practically every fossil hominid ever found was from a lake-side or riverside depositional environment but that, oddly, not a single fossil, dated to the last 2 My, has been assigned to the ancestors of chimpanzees or gorillas?
Is it not true that omega 3 fatty acids and seafood have been strongly linked with healthy diets in human populations whereas foods rich in animal fats and red meat have been contra-indicated?
Is it not the case that human population centres are today almost totally close to water and always have been as far back as the data can indicate?

When Moore argues that the evidence never favoured it, what he means is the little bits of evidence he has carefully selected from all of Morgan's earliest books don't, according to him, favour it.


2) The evidence cited in favour of it actually was against it, and calls into question the trustworthiness of the author.
Moore has gone to great trouble to discredit Morgan's work on this web site. His allegations have ranged from her doing poor research to deliberately misrepresenting an argument to make her argument more compelling.
I was very interested to check Moore's claims in this area. Sometimes the reference Morgan cited, that Moore claimed she'd misquoted or worse, was not available to me at the university library and so I had to take his word for it, like I suspect most readers have had to.
On the occasions I could check his allegations, though, I found that more often than not it was Moore, rather than Morgan, who was doing the misrepresenting. If Morgan was guilty of sometimes being over enthusiastic in finding evidence to support her claims, then Moore is equally guilty of searching out any scrap that might be construed as dirt to slap on her.

The fact remains that Morgan, like Hardy before her, has to a large extent been merely asking questions that the scientific literature has never attempted to answer.
Much of the evidence she cites is open to interpretation and, of course, Moore's interpretation differs greatly from hers. But to imply, as he clearly does, that Morgan's work is not trustworthy simply goes too far.

Finally, one should ask how trustworthy is Moore, when he buys the URL www.aquaticape.org simply as a vehicle to rubbish the hypothesis?

The 'false facts' he keeps banging on about turn out to be minor points of ambiguity, at worst, whilst he has largely misrepresented the AAH, himself.