My name is Christian Heckmann Engelbrecht, I'm a Danish national living in Southern Sweden. I grew up by one the Danish fjords, and was first introduced to the concept of a wet evolution for humanity in the mid 1990's by a biology teacher on my Copenhagen gymnasium (equivalent to high school). Interestingly, she has been one of the few academics I've discussed the topic with who did not mock it outright. I didn't go too much into it then, but few years later, I started practising the sport of freediving in a local club. While my surroundings, including my parents, were genuinely concerned about me doing this activity, seemingly thinking that freedivers voluntarily drown themselves, I was puzzled by the fact that I had no trouble or no fear being under water for an extended time without breathing. On the contrary, without being traditionally athletic, I found an almost mystical calm being in the wet environment, an experience which all freedivers generally share.
I coupled this very positive, albeit subjective, experience with the 'aquatic ape' idea from school, started to read more into it and quickly discovered Elaine Morgan's works. As I've read more and more of her contributions as well as that of others, the idea of something wet in human evolution seemed like a no-brainer.
Quickly, I also witnessed the very angry debate against this concept, and while some of the skepticism has been quite valid, I found that mostly there was a bizarre hateful rejection of the idea, which quite often violated key portions of the scientific method. I tried to discuss the topic with some academics within the fields (in social circumstances), but was met with, I can best describe it as horror. A couple of times I was left nothing but frustrated, when I didn't even get to complete a full sentence, before the man fled me. This idea seemed to be non grata, a form of heresy, obvious pseudoscience, all of the above, as if I was trying to defend Creationism or secret messages about the family of Jesus of Nazareth in the art of Leonardo da Vinci. That reaction did give me my doubts about this aquatic thought process, and I kept going back and forth on the idea to see if I was being blinded by some Charles Berlitz element somewhere. I have yet to find it.
I turned to the Internet to search for a meaningful debate, which just made it worse. Most discussion sources was plagued by the lowest form of human language by people who don't seem to care about a scientific debate, but only about mocking seemingly easy targets. And even on sites with moderation, it seemed that they were granted free reign to hack away at people, as soon as somebody dared to openly support this aquatic idea. For a long while, I found that the freediving community was actually the better group to discuss it with, even though these forums didn't gather the right expertise, except for a bunch of full-fledged aquatic apes, as it were.
These last few months, I participated in a suddenly very fruitful discussion on thescienceforum.com (TSF). Despite much of the usual sneering and mobbing, much feedback suddenly got me miles and miles. After some 600 posts, Algis Kuliukas (creator of these forums) joined the thread and then everything became just as sour as times and times before. It quickly struck me, that Kuliukas is currently the favorite target of the Internet hecklers, and a lot of them migrated with him to TSF and continued their fun there. The actual postings of Kuliukas struck me as among the best informed I have seen, and yet a lot of people hammered away at him like schoolyard children. All the flag reached a point, where TSF's moderators decided to do something, and for some bizarre reason, they chose to move the entire thread from the subforum 'Biology' to one with the disparaging title 'Pseudoscience'. No consideration what so ever that when looking at the thread in question, all the negative posting came from aquatic oponents, and all the reasonable ones came from aquatic proponents. In short, they caved in to mob rule.
I really hate that kind of injustice, and I'm glad to see these forums created, because it seems that the problem truly goes deep, when not even moderators of a declared scientific debate site will listen to reason. But at least now I know what this idea is still up against, complete and utter ignorance and prejudice. Once an idea is thrown in the drawer labeled pseudoscience, the key is thrown away regardless of the circumstances. Many fantastical ideas do get suggested that truly wastes academia's time, but this one more and more strikes me as nothing of the sort. I can't help but find comparisons in the history books of great new ideas being ignored, misunderstood, even hated and persecuted, like the ideas of Charles Darwin, Alfred Wegener and Raymond Dart, and in earlier times those of Copernicus and Galileo. It strikes me, that there's a lot of subconscious fear against this idea even from experienced academics. At least that's the best logic I can make of this haranguement of quite possibly one of the great scientific ideas of the 20th century. It seems that every time human science discovers something new to completely redefine our understanding of Creation and especially our own place in it, we tend to wet ourselves and grab the pitchforks. Even today, it would seem. Nothing else makes sense to me, when I can't find any decisive flaw with the argumentation.
I'm very active in the global freediving community for the diving organisations AIDA and CMAS, and as I monitor the athletic levels of the world's freedivers continue to climb and climb (or should I say descend), I'm finding it very hard to see the alledged gigantic weaknesses in this 'beach ape' suggestion. In fact, the various terrestrial suggestions continue to weaken in my mind, and today I find them as obsolete as thinking that the Sun evolves around the Earth.
If this is completely wrong, I would really like to know. To quote Elaine Morgan, if it is sound, it will prevail no matter what. If it isn't, it doesn't deserve to.