an imaginative look a palaeolithic life

Stupid things racists say part 1

When searching for good quality websites and info on palaeoanthropology, I sometimes come across racist morons abusing palaeoanthropology to “prove” their racist ideologies.  I feel compelled to point out the errors in their reasoning.

Claim: “If scientists were not so constrained by political correctness, (add ethnic group here) would be classified as Homo erectus, and not Homo sapiens, therefore they’re less evolved, inferior, blah blah blah…” – this statement is usually accompanied by a picture of someone of the mentioned ethnic group, who usually has dark skin.

Here is an analogy for the faulty reasoning of the racists.

This is a table:

table public domain

And this is a chair:

chair2 public domain

And as you can see this “chair” looks far more like the table than the chair, and it’s only because scientists are so constrained by political correctness that it’s classed as a chair and not a table:

chair public domain

See?  If you know what characteristics define a table and a chair, you are not fooled by superficial similarities like them both being made of wood in a similar style and instead notice that the chairs are both clearly chairs and neither of them look remotely like a table.  Maybe you could convince an alien with no prior experience of either tables or chairs, that the second chair is really a table.  But anyone who knows anything about tables and chairs will find the suggestion ludicrous.

This is how it looks when a racist presents a brown skinned modern human as looking more like a H. erectus than a modern human, when it’s very, very, very clearly a dark skinned modern human who looks nothing whatsoever like a H. erectus.  Only someone who is completely unfamiliar with the morphological differences between both species would fall for that.  The racists clearly know nothing about palaeoanthropology and are focusing entirely on superficial things like skin colour and hair type, which really shouldn’t come as much surprise seeing as they already judge people by their skin colour and hair type, rather than important things like character (which, incidentally, the racists lack).

When scientists make reconstructions of earlier species of human, they assume that adaptations to climate and latitude that don’t fossilise, such as skin colour and hair type, are similar to those in modern humans from similar climates and latitudes   Recent evidence has shown that some neanderthals had pale skin which is an adaptation to the relatively low light levels of Northern Europe.  Similarly, it’s assumed that African humans in the distant past had dark skin, because dark skin protects from the damaging effects of the sun, e.g. sunburn and skin cancer.  Light skin is better at making vitamin D in low light levels, thus protecting people in less sunny places from vitamin D deficiency disease such as rickets.  Skin colour, hair colour and hair type really have no significance in evolution besides being adaptations to climate and latitude, and they are superficial differences that have nothing to do with defining a species.  Homo erectus skulls are very different to modern people’s skulls, resulting in very different facial bone structure and head shape.  Dark skinned modern people, look nothing like Homo erectus, they look like Homo sapiens.

We are all descended from a common ancestor from around 50,000 years ago, who was African, and very likely had dark skin, and we really truly are all the same species.

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