There were many misleading statements and phrases that helped build the mighty cultural empire of materialist Darwinism, and such duplicity continues to this day. Consider the example of a recent press announcement of the supposed discovery of a Homo naledi skull. No skull was actually discovered. All that was discovered were small bone fragments that some scientists claimed might be from the skull of the same individual (without any good warrant for such a claim).
A typical credulous and misleading press annoncement of this discovery was an article entitled "First Intact Skull of Tiny Human Ancestor Homo Naledi Discovered." We do not at all know that Homo naledi was a human ancestor, and the small bone fragments in question do not at all make up a skull (which is defined as a framework of bones enclosing the brain).
A story in the Daily Mail also inaccurately describes these bone fragments as a "skull." But the story includes a large picture that shows that no such skull was found. We see a speculative skull that looks perhaps 90% black clay, and maybe about 10% old bone material. There are hundreds of different speculative skulls one could have made from the black plaster, which would have fit with the skull fragments. So we have no idea whether the skull fragments belonged to an individual with a skull having the shape shown in the photo. We don't even know whether the skull fragments came from a single organism, or a single species. The scientific paper does not claim any likelihood that the fragments are from a single individual, and merely mentions this as a "hypothesis," claiming the results are "consistent" with such a hypothesis.
In the Daily Mail article (and in a press release) we hear a paleontologist give a very weak justification for the claim that the fragments all came from the same skull: "There were no replicating parts as we pieced the skull back together and many of the fragments refit, indicating they all came from one individual child." That is not anything like a robust justification for the claim that the fragments are from a single individual. At the end of this post I will explain why. And no one "pieced the skull back together," as only small bone fragments were found.
How did the press get the idea that these small bone fragments constitute a skull? It is because of a misleading university press release that encouraged them to believe them. That press release issued by the University of Witwatersrand includes a very misleading visual.
The press release is here (the original source server is now acting sluggishly, but when I wrote this post it was behaving okay). It begins by saying, "Meet Leti, a Homo naledi child discovered in the Rising Star Cave System." What a flight of fancy, calling the discovery of a few tiny bone fragments the discovery of a child. The press release inaccurately describes the small bone fragments as a "skull."
Near the top of the press release, I saw a very misleading visual (the sluggish, erratic performance of the page may prevent you from seeing it). It was artwork showing an almost-full fossil skull. But nothing like such a skull was discovered. All that was discovered were fragments that were maybe a tenth the size of the skull shown in the artwork. This is like someone who has merely built half of a foundation of a house trying to mislead you into thinking that he built almost a whole house.
The perhaps 90% black molding clay skull-shaped mockup shown in the Daily Mail story is only palm-sized. So how can someone claim that small fragments of a monkey-sized skull belongs to a human ancestor? Through the speculation that there was a small child corresponding to the sparse fragments. It's seems more likely that we are seeing some fragments from one or more organisms vastly different from a human, and we have no warrant for believing we are seeing a single skull of a human ancestor.
What can we call such overenthusiastic duplicity? Maybe we should call it "cheating for Charles," since it is all about trying to back up the explanatory ideas of Charles Darwin. A dubious fossil claim was recently debunked. The fossil of some animal with four limbs was hailed as a four-limbed snake, and claimed as evidence that snakes had descended from lizards. Further analysis shows that the fossil corresponds to a lizard that was not at all a snake.
One of the country's leading science publications recently published an article on how a prominent researcher is under a cloud of suspicion for allegedly faking data. The researcher was identified as an ecologist. But a search for his papers on Google Scholar shows that the researcher has published quite a few papers trying to prove claims of evolutionary biology. Apparently the well-known science publication did not want its readers to be disturbed by suspicions that an evolutionary biologist may be faking things. So rather than referring to the person as an "ecologist and evolutionary biologist," he was merely referred to as an ecologist.
In order to make skulls or skeletons that are mostly plaster or some similar modeling material, paleontologists or their helpers often resort to gluing pieces of bone together, often making wild guesses about "fitting fragments." Even when not making such mostly plaster skulls or skeletons, paleontologists often glue bone fragments together. A large fraction of such activity should be regarded as cheating. Glue is often deceptively used to make it look like a big fragment was discovered when only smaller fragments were discovered. Paleontologists freely admit to engaging in this shady practice of gluing together fragments. Do a Google search for "paleontologist gluing together fragments" and you will find many confessions. Paleontologists often use resin-like substances to bind together fragments, substances that are kind of like cement, quite capable of binding together fragments that do not naturally fit.
At one site we read that people are using superglues to bind together fossil fragments, and that "a lot of people use sodium bicarbonate or baking soda to help bulk out the superglue as a fast-drying gap filler that has the same strong bonding properties of the superglue alone." We can imagine how that would work. You might take two bone fragments that do not naturally fit together, apply some gap-filling white-colored baking soda mixed with superglue, and then scrape off some of that filler in a kind of molding manner, to make what looks like a single bone, when the original bone fragments don't really fit together. Very convenient, but with a very high chance of creating visually deceptive results.
What probably goes on very often is that paleontologists or their helpers are binding together fragments that never were actually close to each other in the same organism. The only honest way for a paleontologist to bind together fragments would be to use some binding substance that had a very non-white color (such as bright red or black), so that anyone could see all the spots where glue-binding occurred. Instead paleontologists typically use binding materials that have a bone-like color (such as baking soda mixed with superglue), which works better for disguising the fragment-gluing, and works better for fooling people into thinking that multiple fragments were found as a single fragment.
We should not imagine that our lofty professors do the bulk of the messy work of gluing fragments. It is probably done largely by the less accomplished, such as assistants and students. The problem is that when you have bone fragments that might be from any of a large number of species and from any of many individuals from a particular species, there is usually a large element of speculation involved in the decision to glue two pieces of bone together. Such a decision involves presuming that the bones long ago fit together in a single individual. But such a presumption is often a wild guess without any sound justification.
Short of gluing bone fragments in a bright distinctive color or black color allowing anyone to see where filler was used, the only honest way for a paleontologist to present fragments is to simply arrange the fragments on a flat surface, without doing any gluing. That is what occurred for the famous Lucy fragments, but it is not what usually occurs.
Superglue was invented in 1942, but long before that there was shellac. A few coats of shellac will surround something in a rock-like translucent resin, as anyone knows who has used shellac on a wooden floor. Many old fossil displays were produced by putting together fragments (possibly from different organisms), gluing them in a not very stable way, and then coating the result in shellac to create a stable structure.
A Scientific American article in entitled "How Fake Fossils Pervert Paleontology." The subtitle is "A nebulous trade in forged and illegal fossils is an ever-growing headache for paleontologists." We hear about poor people in distant lands who first heard that you can get lots of cash by finding a good fossil, and who then started to make fake fossils in hopes of getting lots of money.
It seems that many of the fossils in museums (particularly in China) may be such fake fossils. Even in countries like the United States, a significant fraction of the "fossil exhibits" in museums are outrageous fakes. Museums (often directed by professors) often display structures that countless visitors think are fossils, but which are merely fiberglass or plaster artworks inspired by some data obtained from studying fossils. One large natural history museum confesses that only 85% of the specimens in one of its exhibit halls are actual fossils. When we consider that a large fraction of all fossils in natural museums were produced by people speculatively gluing together fragments, we should wonder whether most of the fossils in natural history museums are in some sense fakes.
We should regard as impeached most fossil displays that involved gluing in their construction, and should disqualify them as evidence. Whenever you see a fossil that involved gluing, there should be great doubt that any particular organism had those exact bones, unless the display is accompanied by a description telling us that all of the fragments were found in the same very small area equal to about the length of the organism. Such descriptions are typically lacking. Paleontologists or their helpers may gather bone fragments from an area much larger than the length of an organism, and then glue and mortar those fragments together, trying to pass them off as the skeleton of a single organism. For example, fragments supposedly coming from a 2-meter tall organism may be found scattered over 10 meters or 20 meters. Typically a press release will fail to mention how wide and long and deep was the area of gathering, and we will merely be told something like "they were found at the same place." The longer and wider and deeper the area of gathering, the less plausible are claims that the fragments came from a single organism.
We can imagine an extremely careful protocol that could be used to determine the exact distance between found bone fragments. On a flat surface, a pole might be planted at the center of the gathering area, with an attached tape measure, and with a North and South point marked at the pole. Whenever a bone fragment was gathered, its position would be noted by measuring the distance from the pole, and also the degrees (between 0 and 360) of the position, using those North and South points. The bone fragment would be put in a plastic bag that included that tape measurement with the degrees estimate. Using such careful measurements, it could be possible to estimate the exact distance between found bone fragments. I doubt that so careful a technique is used by most paleontologists or their helpers. I would imagine it's usually just "gather up bone fragments here and there, and say they were found at the same spot." But unless the greatest care is taken to measure the distance between found bone fragments, there can be no reliable claims that they all came from the same individual. And what if you are gathering fragments in some cave or ditch where such a method as I described is not practical? Then you probably won't bother trying to keep track of the exact distance between bone fragments.
I referred above to the weakness of claiming that 28 small fragments are fragments of a single individual, on the basis that "there were no replicating parts." Computing the probability of a replication of parts with 28 small bone fragments is a mathematical problem similar to the famous birthday problem, the problem of calculating the likelihood of two matching birthdays in a group of certain number of people. Mathematicians have well-studied that problem, and have determined that (surprisingly) if there are more than 23 people in the group, there will be a likelihood of at least one matching birthday.
Now, if the average size of some bone fragments were greater than 1/365 of a skeleton, you might think that there would be a likelihood of one fragment matching the position of another when there are more than 23 fragments. However, with small fragments that have an average size less than 1/365 of a skeleton (as is the case, apparently, with the Homo naledi fragments recently reported which have an average size of perhaps 1/500 of a skeleton), the chance of a match of any two fragments is much lower. In fact, there would be an unlikelihood of any position match given 28 small random fragments from different individuals when the average fragment size was less than 1/500 of a skeleton. So the fact that no positional match was found does nothing to establish a likelihood here of the fragments being from a single individual.
We must also consider another factor: the large possibility of researchers discarding (or differentially classifying) matching fragments. Let us imagine a paleontologist trying to position each of 29 small bone fragments within a speculative plaster skull or skeleton. He wants to claim that these are all fragments from a single individual. But suppose that two of the fragments seem to be from the same position (for example, two bone fragments looking like part of the right pinky finger). What would we would expect the paleontologist to do? We would expect the paleontologist to simply put aside the inconvenient match, and write up a paper telling us about 28 bone fragments, none of which matched (or to conveniently describe one of the matching fragments as coming from some other part of the body, so that there is no match). This is another reason why a lack of match in some set of a small number of bone fragments does nothing to establish a likelihood that the bone fragments are all from a single individual.
For decades we were told that the bone fragments of the famous Lucy fossil find were are all from the same individual. But in 2015 scientific analysis suggested that one of the bones was from an entirely different species, a baboon. In an article discussing this, an expert states, "The co-mingling of skeletons is quite common in the archaeological record and it can often be difficult to separate out different elements if multiple bodies are mixed together." We can only wonder how many other parts of Lucy are not from the same individual.
The famous Lucy fossil fragments were first discovered by Donald C. Johanson, who describes finding the first fragments (with graduate student Tom Gray) on pages 16-18 of his book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. In the excerpt below the careful reader will find a good reason for doubting claims that Lucy is a skeleton of a single individual:
"That afternoon everyone in camp was in the gully, sectioning off the site and preparing for a massive collecting job that ultimately took three weeks. When it was done, we had recovered several hundred pieces of bone (many of them fragments) representing about forty percent of the skeleton of a single individual."
I can find no description of how long and wide and deep was the size of the area scoured during these three weeks to get these Lucy bone fragments, either in this book or in the original scientific paper reporting the find. But from the fact that it took "everyone in camp" three weeks of work to gather the fragments, we may presume that they were gathered over a rather large area, which is not at all what we would expect if the fragments came from a single individual.
Acting in an astonishingly credulous manner, science writers seem to almost never bother to ask the crucial question of "how long and wide and deep was the gathering area" when hearing some claim that fossil bone fragments came from a single individual. They seem to have zero interest in such a question, which is crucial to testing the reliability of claims that fossil fragments came from a single individual.
The lead researcher of the latest Homo naledi paper is the co-author of a book I mentioned in 2019, one entitled Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story." But on page 193 of their book, the authors give us an estimate of the brain size for the Homo naledi organisms corresponding to the fossils they found. It was about 560 cubic centimeters for a male, and about 450 cubic centimeters for a female. The average size of a male human brain is about 1350 cubic centimeters. So far from being “almost human,” Homo naledi had a brain only about 41% of the size of the modern human brain. Judging from brain size, we shouldn't even consider Homo naledi as half-human. So why was the title "Almost Human" used?
Recent coverage of very small fossil fragment finds has a "grasping at straws" sound to it, along with the same old misleading words we hear so often in coverage of paleontology activity. We hear a LiveScience.com story that refers to "fossils" and "bones." Covering the same story, Phys.org also uses the term "fossils" and "bones" while telling us that none of the 3800 items found was longer than 4 centimeters, about the length of a peanut. At least there's no glue fakery. On the basis of extremely dubious DNA analysis, in which only tiny fragments of DNA were analyzed, some scientists made unwarranted conclusions about who had these the tiny fragments of bone. The DNA fragments must have been tiny, because the half-life of DNA is only 521 years. Tiny fragments of bone plus tiny fragments of DNA do not add up to reliable conclusions.
Very recently we had quite a confession in a biology paper whose primary author is Tom Roschinger, a CalTech scientist in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering. The paper begins by saying, "Biological systems have evolved to amazingly complex states, yet we do not understand in general how evolution operates to generate increasing genetic and functional complexity." The statement stands in defiance of long-standing groundless boasts that scientists have figured out how complex biological things originated. Funny how confessions like this tend to come more often from people who have studied engineering.