There can be no doubt that Manthropology is the worst book ever written. Its prose is of a lower standard than that of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It is shorter than the Holy Bible. It is less engrossing than the movie Terminator 2.
Can you dispute any of these clear facts?
If not, then on the author’s own argument, his book is the worst.
His argument appears in an interview on Australian ABC Radio’s ‘Counterpoint’ program on 14 September 2009, to which I have just finished listening. The thesis of his book is that ‘every man in history, back to the dawn of the species, did everything better, faster, stronger and smarter than any man today.’ Or so says his publisher’s page.
In the interview the author, Peter McAllister (apparently ‘a qualified palaeoanthropologist’, which makes me depair for that science), argues his case. From memory:
- Rapper ’50 Cent’ can only remember 6,000 lines of verse, whereas Homer (the ancient, not the Simpson) could remember 30,000 and some Serbian of around a century ago could remember 350,000.
- David Beckham doesn’t spend three or more hours each morning devoted to making himself pretty, unlike the Fulani tribemen of somewhere or other.
- A Neanderthal woman could beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime in an arm wrestle.
- Homo Erectus had similar sized sockets to modern man on their limb bones, but thicker actual bones.
- Pygmies are better fathers than modern men because they spend 47% of their time with their kids.
I gather — I hope!! — that the book is supposed be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Because the style of argumentation is ludicrous. You could use it to ‘prove’ any proposition, no matter how ridiculous. The formula is simple: take a specific element of the object in question and, unattached to any other aspect of the object, contrast it unfavourably to what you consider to be the very best comparable attribute possessed anywhere, at any time, by any thing.
For goodness sake, Neanderthals and members of Home Erectus aren’t even the same species as us. You may as well complain about a modern man’s swimming ability because he would be bested by a shark!