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[dupe] The Story of Humans and Neanderthals in Europe Is Being Rewritten (theatlantic.com)
44 points by pseudolus 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

Is it just me, or does the field or human history seem have it's story "rewritten" every few months?

Can an expert chime in on whether this is a false narrative produced by the media or an actual happening?

Three reasons;

The first is headline hyperbole. Journalists use cliche and overstatemnts.

The second reason is "duplicate" reporting. An important find is made. First impressions are reported. Then experts give some early, off hand opinions. Measurements and such trickle in. The first papers are published. People comment on papers. Older evidence is re-examined. Other papers are published. So.. the same "revision" is reported multiple times.

Third, is yes. Human history is being re-written constantly atm. Paleo genetic evidence is adding knowledge. Dating is contantly improving. New sites are being discovered.

We have recently gotten strong evidence for the existence of 3-4 new named archaics, contemporary to sapiens: denisova, naledi, luzonensis & floriensis. Some of these are very subject to "reason 2."

But basically, yes. Evidence is mounting fast and theories are adapting fast too. Human paleontology is killing it!

The entire field of human evolution has been pretty much entirely rewritten over the past decade or so. However, the media tends to sensationalize individual finds much more than they should be. What we're actually learning is that the reality is so much more complicated than the traditional model of humans evolving once in a particular part of Africa and eventually leaving to colonize the rest of the world.

You’re doing a random sampling of the earth to find and date various bones. No matter how old the oldest one we find is, there is almost certainly an older one out there somewhere. Eventually they’ll stop being pushed as far back or found as frequently.

Do you mean a bit like German tank problem?


Pretty much.

The GTP applies as well in wildlife census counts. Paleoarcheology is a bit like a wilddeath census -- the subjects have long since been pining for the fjords, but encounters are randomly distributed.

Online ranking and collaborative review systems function similarly as well, with the ratings being the wildlife, and the "true" value being the total production estimate. At least if no gaming or other incentives exist (and yes, they do).

Understandable given it's a jigsaw and we are still finding all the pieces, have a rough idea of what the final picture is, but that changes for every new piece of the puzzle found. Happens in so many aspects of life/science - look at physics.

Still waiting for the theory that modern human civilisation was founded by time traveling refugee's from a doomed future returning to a time when the environment was not killing them. After all, had pretty much every other interpretation of human history played out in the media and the line between media and hollywood does seem to blur more and more as time moves on.

Not an expert, but the field as a whole is driven by discoveries. The only way we can know for sure what humans were where that long ago is to find actual human remains. The whole story doesn't get rewritten, but parts of it are revised all the time.

Advances in genetics technology have opened up massive new troves of data in just the last few years - not just in analyzing old bones, but in analyzing the genomes of millions of living people to trace their ancestry. It'll be some time before all the new information gets integrated and synthesized into new theories.

It is just a lazy journalistic cliche used whenever there is some new historical or archeological discovery, however minor.


Of course in a technical sense, this is always true.

Make me doubt the term “Settled Science”

Science is never "settled". Instead, there's a consensus that most scientists agree on and build on top of.

Building on top of the consensus usually explains things — until it doesn't. Then they try to tweak that consensus in order to explain stuff that can't be explained otherwise.

Occasionally, you reach a limit in which there's way too many things that don't fit into the consensus that tweaking it is no longer possible. Then, someone proposes a paradigm shift that explains some of the new inconsistencies, and the rest of the scientists reexamine their previous "facts" in order to make them fit with the new consensus.

Let's use Pluto as an example. We were all convinced that there were 9 planets in the Solar System, and counted Pluto as the last one. Then, we've discovered more of Pluto-like planets, and discovered that Pluto is no more special than the rest of them. So, we redefined the term planets, introduced a new term called dwarf planets, and put Pluto into it alongside Ceres (that we knew of before Pluto, but decided to ignore), Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. Now, "must clear its orbit" is a prerequisite for the term "planet", while the objects that don't clear their orbits (but satisfy other rules for a "planet") fit into the term "dwarf planet".

This isn't really science.

Why not?

in Rust?

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