"Out of Africa" vs. "Multi-regionalism" revisited

By Razib Khan | April 30, 2011 1:48 pm

A few months ago I exchanged some emails with Milford H. Wolpoff and Chris Stringer. These are the two figures who have loomed large in paleoanthropology and the origins of modernity human for a generation, and they were keen in making sure that their perspectives were represented accurately in the media. To further that they sent me some documents which would lay out their perspective, in their own words, and away from the public glare (as in, they’re academic publications).

Here is Wolpoff’s 1984 manifesto of sorts of ‘Multi-regionalism.’ Much of the morphological material is totally opaque to me, but the basic evolutionary logic is rather clear. Stringer sent me two documents, a scientific paper and a more personal chapter of a book. These works predate recent developments, so they are of interest from a history of thought perspective.

I’m not one of the personalities at the heart of this debate obviously. There are hard feelings here. Wolpoff indicated to me that he still has issues with Stringer, despite reports that there was some sort of reconciliation. But one of the things that is really evident to me to reading through this material is that there are real scientific issues, and a great deal of methodological overlap. As a kid I read a lot of popularizations, and though the science was outlined it seems to me that the models were framed more starkly to align with the inter-personal conflict and division. The “primary documents” are less readable, but ultimately so much more fruitful.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, Human Evolution
  • Darkseid

    Razib, I know you couldn’t contradict Milford too much when you interviewed him on Bheads but i was wondering if it’s now safe to say how you feel about the probability of his theory having any credibility. I didn’t get the feeling that too many took it seriously. I can’t remember if you already blogged an opinion about this – apologies if you did so.

  • http://opines.mythusmage.org Alan Kellogg

    Out of Africa or multi-regional origination?


  • zacharoo

    Darkseid, also check out Dienekes’ and John Hawks’s blogs for helpful discussion and perspective on the issue.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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