Evolution in the News - April 2018
by Do-While Jones

Phrenology Makes a Comeback

Scientists embrace phrenology to explain evolution.

In February, we read an article in New Scientist which tried to use phrenology to explain evolution (although they carefully avoided that exact term). It was such a foolish article that we had to hold it back two months so it would appear in our April Fools’ issue.

You may not have heard of phrenology because it was rejected as a scientific theory nearly 200 years ago. Here’s how Wikipedia describes phrenology:

Phrenology … is a pseudomedicine primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Although both of those ideas have a basis in reality, phrenology extrapolated beyond empirical knowledge in a way that departed from science. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796, the discipline was very popular in the 19th century, especially from about 1810 until 1840.

It was believed that the cranial skull—like a glove on the hand—accommodates to the different sizes of these areas of the brain, so that a person's capacity for a given personality trait could be determined simply by measuring the area of the skull that overlies the corresponding area of the brain. 1

It was once thought that one’s temperament was determined by the bumps on a person’s head. This logically led to the idea that potentially dangerous criminals could be identified before they committed crimes simply by measuring a person’s skull.

Phrenology came about at a time when scientific procedures and standards for acceptable evidence were still being codified.  In the context of Victorian society, phrenology was a respectable scientific theory. 2

Unfortunately, the situation is no better today than it was in the Victorian era because the Scientific Method has been replaced by consensus. Consensus does not require experimental verification. That’s why the theory of evolution is still considered to be a respectable scientific theory by some people.

Domestication Comes to a Head

As silly as it seems, some evolutionists have resurrected something like phrenology to explain human evolution.

Over the years, the collection of physical traits associated with tameness has been extended to smaller teeth and shorter muzzles. Together, they are known as the domestication syndrome. … Many creatures carry aspects of the domestication syndrome, including one notable species: our own. We too have relatively short faces, small teeth and no prominent brow ridges. Our relatively large brains are smaller than those of our Neanderthal cousins – something that has puzzled many an evolutionary biologist.

The idea, now known as the neural crest cell hypothesis quickly gained fans, including Boeckx. “Before they formulated [it], the idea of self-domestication was hard to test,” he says. But with a genetic definition in place, it became possible to hunt for signs of it in species not normally considered domesticated – species like our own.

In other words, some of the genetic differences that distinguish us from Neanderthals are the same as those that distinguish dogs from wolves and European cattle from European bison. This suggests there was an episode early in our evolution when our species underwent the same sort of domestication as these animals did.

The idea predicts that H. sapiens should have begun to show some physical features of domestication around the same time. The team looked at dozens of ancient human skulls and found that it was indeed around then that brow ridges and long, powerfully built faces faded away to leave our species looking more feminine, just like Belyaev’s foxes. 3

No fooling. They really think that since the shape of the skull of Homo sapiens is more feminine (in their opinion) than the shape of Neanderthals, it is proof that modern man is more domesticated than the Neanderthals were. This is, as the magazine name implies, “new science.” It isn’t real science. Not all scientists accept this new science.

It is a nice idea, but one that will need further work to explain away some contradictions. For instance, fossils show that several undomesticated mammals – bears, boars, even sea cows – also seem to have become more feminine over the past 100,000 years. … And so many researchers still need to be convinced that self-domestication – perhaps even successive pulses of self-domestication at different times – can explain profound mysteries of our evolutionary history. 4

Experimental science doesn’t suffer from puzzling contradictions. Carefully conducted experiments produce the same results no matter who does them. The results are not affected by the political or religious beliefs of the researcher.

No experiments were done to prove that their theory about domestication is correct. It is just based on supposition. Evolutionists are grasping at straws to prove their unscientific belief.

As always, they believe proof will soon be found. Just send more money!

More work is needed to really pin down what ultimately drove self-domestication in humans, says Boeckx. 5

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1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrenology
2 ibid.
3 New Scientist, 21 February 2018, “The tamed ape: were humans the first animal to be domesticated?”, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23731660-600-the-tamed-ape-were-humans-the-first-animal-to-be-domesticated/
4 ibid.
5 ibid.