Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sediba, the bad, and the ugly

There's more feedback on my hominid baraminology work at ARJ. This time it's a trio of critics: David Menton, Anne Habermehl, and David DeWitt [link]. Menton focuses on theological issues (although never clearly enough to precisely state his objection), and Habermehl is just angry. DeWitt offers some genuinely insightful comments, but he condescendingly likens my research abilities to those of a clueless undergrad. How sweet.

As the reactions continue, I'm becoming less interested in sediba and more interested in the psychology of my critics. One thing is certain: all five of the sediba critics are absolutely, positively convinced that it isn't human, and their strong reactions to my work suggests that they view it as dangerous or even unchristian. What motivates these reactions? Fear? Insecurity? Perhaps more importantly, why is it so offensive just to suggest that sediba is human? If it's just a case of mistaken identity, who cares? What's the big deal? I'm totally serious about this, too. I must be missing something, and if you can explain it, I would be very grateful.

In contrast to Line and Lubenow, I knew these reactions were coming, and I had the opportunity to formally respond (which I declined for the time being). Meanwhile, I've written a manuscript that will address some unfinished themes from my original paper and some of the anxieties that it seems to have created. Knowing that my critics will never be satisfied dampens my enthusiasm to finish this new paper, but perhaps there are others who have a more open mind about sediba and would be interested in my response. If you would like to encourage me to finish my formal response to the sediba critics, let me know. If there's enough interest, I'll try to get the paper finished as soon as reasonably possible.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.