Failure to grasp the point

Truly, the world is a pendulum. A great post on Why Evolution is True about the vestigial grasp observed in human infants was countered by a silly post on Uncommon Descent.

WEIT discussed how the instinctive grasping reflex observed in newborn babies can best be interpreted as a relic of behaviour in pre-hominids (new-born babies hanging on to their mothers)

This is not a revolutionary new idea. I am amazed that it is even contentious. This was accepted wisdom in the UK several years ago.

O’Reilly’s counter starts from the position of apparently never having heard of the idea that “anecdote is not evidence”.

When my first child was very young, she had a habit of grasping my hair while feeding. My hair was long at that time.
It seemed to please and comfort her.

(Can I be the only person who sees it as a commentary on O’Reilly’s attitude to her offspring that – believing pleasure and comfort to be the only reason for the baby’s hair-grasping – O’Reilly immediately got her hair cut? )

However, grasping has many uses for a human infant – it is the principle [sic – a pedant] way the infant contacts reality (unfortunately by attempting to put things in its mouth), that being the only sense that is even moderately well developed.

This sentence is too ambiguous to follow. She seems to have meant to put the end of the sentence in the bracket, so I’ll ignore the bit about taste.

We are left with grasping being described as the main way in which an infant contacts reality. What? Does this make any sense?

In case you can’t answer that rhetorical question, let me answer it for you. “No.”

So what? Well, this Uncommon Descent post was O’Reilly’s “answer” to:

Incidentally, what do the ID and the Evolution-is-limited-in-scope (Behe, et all) do with data like this:

“Mouth random words” is what they do, apparently.

Oh, and betray that they implicitly acknowledge the role of evolution šŸ™‚ :

However, I also suspect that it has been a long time since any such skill as hanging on to mother was needed.

A long time? As in “the sort of time scales and species changes that evolution would predict”?

13 thoughts on “Failure to grasp the point

  1. Angie

    Thank you for the very kind and flattering mention. I still can’t really post a comment on your blog but I will try to find an identity that works

  2. Angie

    I know I can. I must have some. And I must know the passwords to at least one of them.

    I’ll try again this evening.

  3. Angie,

    Its hard to explain in words just how IT-Challenged Heather actually is. Anything involving passwords is a recipe for disaster. There is no point trying to email Heather, despite her having about 14 million email accounts, because she can never, ever, log in to them.

  4. You would be amazed at how close to the truth that is…

    The fact that Heather can produce posts here is nothing short of a miracle (dont let AiG ever find out about that though…) but it truly pales in comparison with the fact she can log on to her computer at work (skipping through dozens of esoteric security layers).

    Despite all this, her Gmail accounts have a life expectancy of about six hours before she loses the password and needs to make a new account.

  5. :-p I already managed to comment on Angie’s blog the other day.

    Before I get completely outed as a closet Luddite, I have to defend myself. šŸ˜€

    Firstly, I have some sort of instinctive (and half-thought out political) aversion to logging into blogs to comment. On the rare occasions that I think I have something to say that’s worth putting in a comment I’ve usually thought better of it before I’ve gone through a log-in process. I tend to think signing up to comment restricts expression.

    Secondly, I have an equal aversion to handing over any information about me to online identity things. So, whenever I feel I need a temporary email address, I come up with a new user name and password, just as they tell you in all the PC magazines.

    Unfortunately this means that I have lost track of the almost all the dozens of login names and passwords that I have accumulated over the past 15 years of being on tinternet. But Firefox & Google have a dangerous memory, so I find that they now resist my attempts to invent new noms de net and send me back to whichever was the last one. Which usually comes with its own password but won’t let me replace it easily.

    At the same time I can’t log in to any of the multiple ancient accounts that I have because they always ask fro soem personally identifying information to check that I’m me, before they’ll let me change the password. Of course, following the best paranoid practice, I have no idea which date of birth, country of origin or mother’s maiden name I used when I set the account up..

    I can keep on top of this crap for crucial things – like accessing the blog – but I feel that life’s too short to do it every time I want to say “good post” to another blogger.

    So, whatever my IT ineptitude, I still think that people should just allow comments at will. And use Akismet to keep out the spam. And just ban persistent trolls, if they really feel the need, although that’s never been a problem here.

  6. Well here’s my luddite moment – I don’t know how to allow anonymous/random commenting on Blogger. That site comes with ZERO instruction and sometimes I’m just too damn lazy to google. Still, enough people have whined about it on Atheist Nexus I guess I should look into it.

  7. šŸ˜€
    I just tried to comment on a blog that did allow random comments and fell fall of the Captcha twice.

    Seems no way to win.

  8. Okay Heather – For you and the cranky old atheists I’ve now turned anonymous commenting on, captcha off, and full moderation on. If I get spam, I’m coming after you šŸ™‚

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