Sunday, December 02, 2001

Another article off my usual path, from the NYT, artifacts discovered in South Africa shows evidence of "Modern Man" (as opposed to Modern Art) 20,000-30,000 years earlier than previously had been thought. There are signs of tools made from bone, not stone, which show signs of aesthetic concern or at least not strictly utilitarian. "Symbolic thought" they call it. The bottom line, summed up in the final sentence of the article, This puts the behavioral evolution in step with the anatomical evolution. Maybe it also signals the crumbling of a pillar of euro-centrism. The previous theory that has dominated for however long is that humans migrated from Africa and a "creative explosion" followed--wham! a burst of evolution, unprecedented! And unlikely, one would think; it seems, objectively, a shaky theory not only for the anomaly of evolutionary speed, but also because there was little archeology in Africa conducted on that era. Yet the creative explosion theory is entrenched and resisted African discoveries almost a decade ago on the basis that the artifacts may have been from more recent times and somehow got into older layers of earth through erosion or the action of burrowing animals.

I can't help but detect a racist aspect in that mindset (it also reminds me of the rationalizations of Scientific Creationism and its adaptive descendant Intelligent Design *shudder* ), racism of the type which is historically inherited and easier to excuse away, but that makes it no easier to bear, and it is the infrastructure on which contemporary cruelty can be justified. You can get logic to take you anywhere you want, if you know how to bend the information at the top. I think I'm ranting. But it's worth it to occasionally mention out loud that racism exists, not just in a few that are dedicated to that cause, but in subtle ways like this, which are propagated in the educational system and strong first impressions on those who are or aren't of African descent. I guess I should sum this up with "we're all a family" or something; we're all the same animal at least. People with darker skins just seem to have gotten smarter first.

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