I started this forum out of pure frustration.
I used to post on sap (sci.anthro.paleo) newsgroups to discuss the so-called "aquatic ape hypothesis". It's one of the things that inspired me to take an interest in the idea. I read Elaine Morgan's books and thought "what a good idea", why wasn't this taught to me at school or university? I also read the response to it by a whole gang of anonymous people who basically seemed to be very irritated that it even existed. Elaine also posted there in those days and there seemed to be several disparities between her posts and theirs. She was calm, they were pulling their hair out. She was curious and open, they were dogmatic and closed. If anything, the arguments of the aquaskeptics made me more convinced that there might be something in the idea. I posted more often and wanted to read something against the idea. All I got was more hostility.
I started posting on the Yahoo AAT board, created by Marc Verhaegan. It was good to discuss the idea in an environment where everyone seemed to be on the same side but I must admit it got a bit dull. After a while it started to be dominated by a group of people who basically agreed with most of Marc's ideas and I became dissatisfied with that too.
Next, it was RichardDawkins.net. I started a thread entitled "Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution" in October 2008 and it ran and ran. In my view it was the best medium of them all, although I must admit that at the time I didn't quite see it that way. The moderation was harsh and I found myself on the wrong side of them a few times. It got a bit like kids in a classroom playing up to get their class mates in trouble with the teacher. "Please sir, Algis just called me a fool" etc. I eventually got sick of it and was encouraged to join another forum (see below). Eventually, Dawkins himself apparently pulled the plug on the discussion boards due to too much hostility from some participants against him and over zealous moderation.
So, onto Talk Rational - a completely different experience where there basically was no moderation worth talking about. People slung insults back and forth but, overall, the topic continued to be discussed for another 18 months or so. Some of it was pretty good, I reckon. There was a lot of hostility but I decided to fight fire with fire. Not a bad idea, perhaps, when the number of proponents and opponents are about equal, but when outnumbered 20:1 it got a bit much. I lost my temper too often and, I admit, escalated a war of words I was never going to win. Eventually the aquaskeptics there went beyond the pale and I decided to leave that forum too.
Next it was the "Science Forum". There seemed to be a remarkably enlightened and civil discussion of the "aquatic ape" theory going on under the Biology category, so, ironically on the encouragement of some of my opponents, I joined in. Soon, the gang who had driven me away from "Talk Rational" came over and started slinging the mud again. I was hoping for some protection from the mods but instead they switched the thread to "pseudoscience", rewarding the gang who had come across. When I complained that I was not prepared to discuss the subject under that banner I was ignored, so I started another thread on "Hominin bipedal origins." That was closed down too because I mentioned the wading idea. Clearly some people cannot tell the difference between such a simple, plausible, evidence-rich idea as that, and aliens from outer space or creationism. When I tried to combat one of my main adversaries slurs once too often I was suspended. Amazing.
So, faced with this, I decided to start my own.
Here, I promise, all views will be welcomed as long as they are civil. I welcome people who are skeptical about the so-called "aquatic ape" theory. I want to hear why they think it's so bad. I want to hear why people think it's pseudoscience. I also want to hear from anyone who thinks any of the ideas are not too bad, ok, reasonable, or the best idea on human evolution since Darwin.
Please, no slurs about anyone. No personal abuse. Let's keep it civil and discuss the subject. My challenge to the aquaskeptics is this: If this idea is so bad, you should be able to argue why without any of these tactics. I really doubt any of them will, but maybe they will prove me wrong.
26th October 2011
Waterside hypotheses of human evolution assert that selection from wading, swimming and diving and procurement of food from aquatic habitats have significantly affected the evolution of the lineage leading to Homo sapiens as distinct from that leading to Pan. (p118)
Kuliukas, A., Morgan, E. (2011). Aquatic scenarios in the thinking on human evolution: What are they and how do they compare?. In: Vaneechoutte, M., Verhaegen, M., Kuliukas, A. (2011). Was Man More Aquatic in the Past?