To recap, Bergman had said in his 1993 article (emphasis added by me):
Nebraska man also had a great patriotic significance because it was the first evidence, according to Osborn,after seventy-five years of continuous search in all parts of our great Western territory of a [higher] primate. Evidence of this anthropoid ape-man was also proof that some primitive humans lived in America, and some speculated that it may even prove that mankind in North America predated European and African humans. We have all eagerly looked forward to such a discovery (quoted in Blinderman, 1985, p.48)
Having found evidence of primitive man in America, the next question was to explain how he got here. (Bergman 1993)
The middle sentence ("Evidence...humans") had, I pointed out, not been present in Blinderman, and was "added, either by Bergman or by a source which he copied from". ("Osborn", by the way, was Henry Fairfield Osborn, a paleontologist and president of the American Museum of Natural History and the major promoter of the "Nebraska Man" fossil.)
As explanation, Bergman says (2004a, 2004b) that two pairs of quotation marks were left out and the section was indented when it should not have been. So the original quote in Bergman 1993 should have read:
Nebraska man also had a great patriotic significance because it was the first evidence, according to Osborn, "after seventy-five years of continuous search in all parts of our great Western territory of a [higher] primate." Evidence of this anthropoid ape-man was also proof that some primitive humans lived in America, and some speculated that it may even prove that mankind in North America predated European and African humans. "We have all eagerly looked forward to such a discovery" (quoted in Blinderman, 1985, p.48). Having found evidence of primitive man in America, the next question was to explain how he got here. (corrected version of Bergman 1993)
I accept this explanation, but would point out that Bergman's repeated implication that Osborn considered Nebraska Man to be a "primitive man" or an "ape-man" is not supported by Osborn's own words.
Bergman gives this explanation for his use of a secondary quote from Blinderman, rather than an original quote from Osborn:
I had no reason to believe that the information was wrong, but I have been unable to locate the original quotation. The reference given by Blinderman was not complete (no page number was given), and I read the entire article he cited and was unable to locate the Osborn quotation that he used. (Bergman 2004b)
I can help Bergman out with the source of the Osborn quotation; it came from p.281 of Osborn 1922b. It isn't wrong, it just doesn't contain anything to support Bergman's usage of "ape-man", "primitive humans" and "proof".
In the end, although Bergman now attributes the disputed sentence to himself rather than Osborn, he still claims that it fairly represents Osborn's views. This is the sentence in question:
Evidence of this anthropoid ape-man was also proof that some primitive humans lived in America, and some speculated that it may even prove that mankind in North America predated European and African humans. (Bergman 1993)
I disagreed with this assessment, saying that "although Osborn did misidentify the Nebraska Man tooth as a primate, he deliberately did not make any claims to its status as an ape-man". In a section titled "Are Foley's Charges Correct?", Bergman disagreed with me:
The major concern is whether Foley's remark (that Osborn did "not make any claims" that Nebraska Man was "an ape-man" but only a "primate") is accurate. (Bergman 2004a)
I agree that this is the major concern. I based my opinion on the following statements by Osborn from one of his early articles on Nebraska Man:
"...tend to show that this tooth belongs to one of the higher Primates, and that this genus ultimately may be included either within the Simiidae (anthropoid apes), or near certain ancestors of the Hominidae (human stock). ..."
"I have not stated that Hesperopithecus was either an Ape-man or in the direct line of human ancestry, because I consider it quite possible that we may discover anthropoid apes (Simiidae) with teeth closely imitating those of man (Hominidae), ..."
"Until we secure more of the dentition, or parts of the skull or of the skeleton, we cannot be certain whether Hesperopithecus is a member of the Simiidae or of the Hominidae." (Osborn 1922b)
Those statements clearly show that, at least in 1922, Osborn was avoiding any extravagant claims about Hesperopithecus being an ape-man, primitive human, or human ancestor (though privately, he surely hoped it would prove to be one). However, Bergman argues that:
In fact, Osborn referred to "Nebraska Man" as much more than an "ape-man," specifically as a man-ape (stressing its human traits). Osborn said in print that this "discovery" of Nebraska Man was "proof that some primitive humans lived in America" in numerous places. (Bergman 2004a)
Well, Osborn could conceivably have changed his mind after 1922. So what is Bergman's evidence for saying that Osborn often called Nebraska Man "proof" of "primitive humans" "in numerous places"?
One example is from The Forum (Vol. 73, June 1925, pp. 800-801) where Osborn said that Hesperopithecus was "irrefutable evidence that the man-apes wandered over from Asia into North America." Osborn added that this "little tooth speaks volumes of truth" in support of this conclusion. I located other quotes that said the same thing (see Osborn, 1925a, pp. 42-43, where he said the tooth "speaks to the presence of the higher or manlike apes in our Western country" (Bergman 2004a)
The second of these quotes contradicts Bergman's assertion; Osborn is referring to "higher or manlike apes"; that's not the same as "primitive humans" and is completely compatible with his 1922 statements.
The meaning of the first quote depends on the definition of "man-ape", and Bergman's dubious contention that this means "much more" than an ape-man, as it is "stressing the human traits". But of what? An ape, obviously. In normal usage, a "man-ape" is an ape with human characteristics, and an "ape-man" is a human with apelike characteristics (e.g. a primitive human like Java Man, in Osborn's thinking). A "man-ape" is, therefore, less advanced than an "ape-man", not more advanced as Bergman claims. (An online dictionary agrees with me: "Man ape (Zool.), a anthropoid ape, as the gorilla".)
That meaning was also current in the 1920's. Raymond Dart's 1925 paper on the first australopithecine fossil, the Taung skull, said that "Unlike Pithecanthropus, [Taung] does not represent an ape-like man, ...", and "It is therefore logically regarded as a man-like ape." And the title of that paper? It was "Australopithecus africanus: The Man-Ape of South Africa".
Can we determine what Osborn meant by "man-ape"? [A manlike ape(me), or much more than an ape-man(Bergman)?] Well, yes we can. In the first quote Bergman referred to Osborn (1925b) saying "irrefutable evidence that the man-apes wandered over from Asia...". But only a few sentences before that, Osborn had said, as quoted in Bergman 1993:
[the tooth] speaks of the presence of the higher or manlike apes in our western country...
What shall we do with the Nebraska Tooth? Shall we destroy it because it jars our long preconceived notion that the family of manlike apes never reached the western world... (Osborn 1925b)
Obviously for Osborn "man-apes" meant "manlike apes", not "primitive humans". Note that "manlike ape" doesn't even necessarily mean more manlike than living apes. The phrase "anthropoid ape", which Osborn also used in relation to Nebraska Man, is often used to refer to chimps, gorillas and orang-utans too (the word "anthropoid" means "manlike in form"). The Osborn statements quoted by Bergman are perfectly consistent with what Osborn had been saying since 1922, when he identified Hesperopithecus only as a higher primate of some kind but refused to identify it as an ape-man or a human ancestor.
Although Bergman confidently claims that Osborn said Nebraska Man was "proof that some primitive humans lived in America", and even quoted that phrase as though they were Osborn's own words, Osborn in fact said nothing of the sort.
Note that Blinderman's article did contain the terms "ape-man" and "proof", words Foley wrongly claimed that Osborn never used to describe Nebraska Man. (Bergman 2004a)
You'd think anyone making a claim like this would verify it first, but Bergman clearly didn't. He's wrong; Blinderman's article contains neither of those terms. (It does use the term "ape-men" once, but not in the context of Osborn using it to describe Nebraska Man.)
Bergman also describes my website thus:
On his website he frequently calls creationists names such as "stupid" and claims that to argue with a creationist one "might as well argue with a squid". (Bergman 2004a)
An indication of the type of arguments he commonly uses is revealed by the fact that on his website he frequently calls creationists inappropriate names, such as "stupid", and claims that to argue with a creationist one "might as well argue with a squid". (Bergman 2004b)
Wrong again, on all counts. In fact, I use the word "stupid" exactly once in this entire website of 170 pages, and (guess what?) that instance doesn't refer to a creationist. As for the squid remark, I didn't make it either. I quoted someone else who did (although I admittedly sympathized with the sentiment 1). Nor do I "frequently call creationists names". I try to treat creationist arguments on their merits without resorting to name-calling. I can't swear that I have never slipped up, but any gratuitous insults on this site are few and far between. As for name-calling, I would point out that Bergman used the words "scurrilous" and "slanderous" in connection with my writing, considerably stronger than anything I said about him.
Although Bergman's 1993 account of the Nebraska Man episode is generally accurate, he continually exaggerates both the number of scientists who accepted the ape identification, and the extent to which they made extravagant claims about it being an ape-man or primitive human. For example:
After "careful studies" Osborn named the genus and species Hesperopithecus Haroldcookii which means western world ape-man (literally ape of the land where the sun sets) with Harold Cook's name as the species. (Bergman 1993)
Except that it doesn't mean "western world ape-man". Bergman even shows that it's a mistranslation, when he says, correctly this time, that the literal translation is "ape". Blinderman used the same mistranslation, as did Smith. (Osborn's own translation of Hesperopithecus, in Osborn 1922a, was 'anthropoid of the Western World'.)
The tooth was judged by many of the leading scientists as clear evidence for a creature about half way between the apes and modern man, the perfect missing link needed to prove Darwin's theory:
The anatomical, palaeontological, and other evidence already accumulated tends to show that man, Pithecanthropus, Hesperopithecus, and the various anthropoids form a natural superfamily group, which may now be named the Hominoidea, in contrast with the Cercopithecoidea, or Old World monkeys (Gregory and Hellman, 1923a, p.140)
Bergman's assertion is not supported by the quote given as evidence for it. Gregory and Hellman are not saying that Hesperopithecus was a missing link, or half way between apes and humans, or a proof of Darwin's theory. They were making the far more modest claim that it belonged somewhere in the family group which also contained humans, apes, and Pithecanthropus.
The Hesperopithecus was believed by many paleontologists to be the oldest then known humanoid fossil, ... (Bergman 1993)
Although many of the leading paleontologists supported the validity of the hominid conclusion, or at least the conclusion that it was an anthropoid, some disagreed. (Bergman 1993)
From Bergman's use of the words 'many' and 'some', one would think that a majority of scientists thought Hesperopithecus was a hominid or ape, and a minority disagreed. But in fact only one scientist I know of (Smith 1922) was ever enthusiastic about its hominid status, and few if any wrote in favor of ape status apart from Osborn and his colleagues. By contrast, at least nine scientists suggested alternative identifications for the tooth, and they were presumably only a sample of the scientists skeptical of an ape status.
Elsewhere we read that:
Soon vivid drawings of the reconstructed body of Hesperopithecus haroldcookii appeared in popular press publications throughout the world and even in some scientific journals. (Bergman 1993)
As an example, Bergman gives the well-known drawing of Nebraska Man from the June 24, 1922 Illustrated London News. However, this is the only drawing of Nebraska Man of which I am aware (and it's not really a reconstruction; the drawing was hypothetical and clearly labelled as such). I know of no others from the popular press, and none at all from scientific journals.
As discussed above, Bergman's frequent references to Nebraska Man as a "primitive human" or an "ape-man" all come from his own pen, not Osborn's. That, combined with the above quotes, creates quite a distorted picture of the influence of Nebraska Man during the 1920's.
When one attempts to disprove the arguments of an article by pointing out minor typographical errors, it clearly indicates that one lacks a factual case against the article (if one did, one would present one's case). Furthermore, when one's claims are quite simply wrong, this indicates gross irresponsibility and lack of even basic research. (Bergman 2004b)
I assume that when Bergman says "when one’s claims are quite simply wrong, this indicates gross irresponsibility and lack of even basic research" this is meant to refer to me, but I would submit, given the number of errors documented above, that it more accurately describes him. The only mistake of mine which Bergman found was that I had gotten the name of the journal in which he published his 1993 article wrong (I called it the Creation Science Research Quarterly instead of the Creation Research Society Quarterly). Bergman believes that this error is as serious as his. I disagree. My error did not change the meaning of anything. His error, whether intentional or not, did, and his correction still misrepresents Osborn's opinions. Bergman says that I "assumed the worst without evidence", and that my statements were "Scurrilous and totally unjustified", "inaccurate", and "slanderous".
Well, pardon me, but I could only respond to the article as it was published. Did I "assume the worst"? No, I did not accuse Bergman of dishonesty, explicitly stating that he might have copied the erroneous quote from another source (I think I can be forgiven for not realizing that the misquote was caused by the combination of three separate errors). Was my allegation of a misquote "without evidence" and "unjustified"? I don't think so, when the discrepancies were in published sources in black and white. Bergman is shooting the messenger here. I reported the facts accurately. If those facts make Bergman look dishonest, that is more his fault than mine.
Bergman's article is entitled "A misrepresentation by Jim Foley: a correction". An ironic title, given that my 'misrepresentation' was to report Bergman's material accurately, and the only corrections needed are those in Bergman's own material.
Bergman J. (1993): The history of Hesperopithecus haroldcookii Hominoidea. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 30:27-34.
Bergman J. (2004a): A misrepresentation by Jim Foley: a correction. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 41:172-4.
Bergman J. (2004b): An Evaluation of Alleged Misquoting by Creationists - The Case of Jim Foley. http://www.rae.org/misquotes.html
Blinderman C. (1985): The curious case of Nebraska man. Science 85, (June)47-9.
Osborn H.F. (1922a): Hesperopithecus, the first anthropoid primate found in America. Science, 55:463-5.
Osborn H.F. (1922b): Hesperopithecus, the anthropoid primate of western Nebraska. Nature, 110:281-3.
Osborn H.F. (1925a): The Earth speaks to Bryan. Scribners, New York.
Osborn H.F. (1925b): The Earth speaks to Bryan. The Forum 73:800-801.
Smith G.E. (1922): Hesperopithecus: the ape-man of the western world. Illustrated London News, 160:942-4.
This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the talk.origins Archive.
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