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Another “Just -So Story” From The New York Times: Hair Loss

The August 19, 2003, edition of the New York Times carried an article by Nicholas Wade called “Why Humans and Their Fur Parted Ways.” In this article Wade enquired into the reasons why, unlike many mammals, man should be without fur, and dealt with this question in the framework of scenarios regarding human evolution.

Wade”s preconceptions on the subject were apparent right from the first sentence: “One of the most distinctive evolutionary changes as humans parted company from their fellow apes was their loss of body hair.”

In his long article Wade reported new views from evolutionists, listing claims as to “why” and “when,” from the evolutionary point of view, such a loss might have taken place.

While some evolutionists claimed that this was linked to heat, others suggested that human beings lost their body hair in order to rid themselves of parasites such as lice and fleas.

Just-So Stories in the New York Times

After reporting evolutionist theses as to “why,” Wade devoted some space to the-entirely justified-criticisms of these from Ian Tattersall, head of the Anthropology Department at New York City”s American Museum of Natural History. In criticising the scientific light shed by these theses, Tattersall used the following expression, “There are all kinds of notions as to the advantage of hair loss, but they are all just-so stories.”

Just-so stories are imaginary scenarios to which evolutionists resort frequently, but which are bereft of any scientific content. It is very easy to come up with such stories. First of all the advantage or disadvantage of a particular feature of a living thing is described. A scenario is then invented as to how this advantage might have evolved. In practice, of course, there is no limit to the evolutionist theses which can be produced in this way: “The elephant”s trunk gives it an advantage in picking food up from the ground, so the trunk evolved in order to pick food up from the ground,” or “The height of the giraffe”s neck allows it to reach tall branches, so the giraffe”s neck evolved so it could reach tall branches,” etc.

In the same way that the claims in these tales cannot be repeated or tested, so they lack any scientific element at all. Despite being an evolutionist, Henry Gee, editor of the famous magazine Nature and the author of many articles and books on the subject of evolution, states how mistaken it is to seek an explanation for an organ by stating the benefits from it:

… evolutionary biologists do much the same thing [reasoning as “our noses were made to carry spectacles, so we have spectacles.”] when they interpret any structure in terms of adaptation to current utility while failing to acknowledge that current utility need tell us nothing about how a structure evolved, or indeed how the evolutionary history of a structure might itself have influenced the shape and properties of that structure. 1

In short, the claims concerning why human beings lost their body hair printed in the New York Times are no different to any science fiction story. Like science fiction, they too are based on “imagination.”

Dogmatic Replies to a Dogmatic Question: When Did Human Beings Lose Their Fur?

In the following part of NYT writer Nicholas Wade”s article, evolutionist claims regarding when this imaginary hair-shedding might have taken place are set out. This time, the proponents of the claims have based them on various genetic analyses. When one looks at their methodologies, however, one sees that they regard evolution not as a hypothesis, as it should be, but as a dogma.

Dr. Alan R. Rogers, an evolutionary geneticist at Utah University in the United States, hypothesises that as human beings allegedly started losing their fur they would need darker skin to protect them from the Sun”s rays. By studying the MC1R gene, which allows a transition between the pigments which are responsible for skin colour, he claims that human beings must have lost their body hair 1.2 million years ago.

Another study reported in Wade”s article sought an answer to the question of when human beings who had lost their fur first began wearing clothes. This study, which appeared in the headlines of the world press, was carried out by Mark Stoneking and a team of researchers from the famous Max-Planck Institute in Germany. Stoneking and his colleagues suggested that human beings began wearing clothes between 42,000 and 72,000 years ago.

Stoneking employed an unusual method in this study, and made use of lice. The researchers collected hair and body lice from human beings in various parts of the world and species of lice which live on chimpanzees, calculated the genetic differences between them, and thus came up with the period of time in question. Since the body louse, unlike the hair louse, clings to clothing and not to the skin, they assumed that this creature must have emerged at the same time as man started wearing clothes.

The New York Times writer Wade adopted a faulty attitude to the style employed in this research, and referred to human evolution as an established scientific fact. He then put these claims about “fur loss” forward as evidence for the theory. In fact, the studies in question offer no support for claims that human beings appeared by means of evolution. All that happens is that they take evolution as a dogma and engage in speculation about it. This can clearly be seen when one examines Stoneking”s methodology, for instance. The stages of Stoneking”s logical progression are as follows:

1. It is assumed that human beings and chimpanzees split away from a common ancestor some 5 million years ago.

2. The genetic codes of modern lice living on chimpanzees and human beings are analysed. The differences (approximately 170) are compared.

3. It is assumed that these differences came about because of mutations.

4. It is assumed that these mutations emerged at fixed times within this hypothetical 5 million year period. (5 million years/ 170 mutations = 30,000 years for 1 mutation.)

5. The genetic code of the modern body louse, which is nothing but a variation of the hair louse is analysed. The differences (2 or 3) are compared.

6. It is assumed that the differences between the head louse and the body louse are due to mutations.

7. It is assumed that these mutations came about in the same proportions, once every 30,000 years. Thus the colonisation of human clothing by the body louse, in other words human beings” beginning to use clothing according to Stoneking”s inference, happened 72,000 years ago. 2

As we have seen, Stoneking”s research was carried out by accepting several Darwinist assumptions as being true. This needs to be scrupulously made clear to the public. In other words, an appendix to the effect that “according to a study which accepted the hypothesis that human beings and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor as true…” should be added to the report in which the conclusions were announced.

No such common sense appears in Wade”s article. Although there is no scientific evidence that human beings appeared or lost their body hair by means of evolution, the New York Times refers to human evolution as if it were a scientific fact, and supports this with the imaginary ape-man drawings it published.

Human Evolution Scenarios Are Collapsing

Despite being portrayed as a fact in the New York Times, scenarios of human evolution are actually now in a worse quandary than ever. Evolutionists have had to accept the fact that the decades-long missing link propaganda has proven hollow and that there is no direct and gradual transition between fossils, portrayed as the basis of evolution. Contrary to what had been hoped, the increasing number of fossil discoveries has not reinforced the scenarios of human evolution, but have made the situation still more complex. The view, which has begun to receive widespread support amongst present-day evolutionists, that “human evolution” resembles not a tree, but a “bush” is an admission imposed by that complex situation.

Although the fossil record ascribed to the human past actually reveals no evolution, evolutionists refuse to abandon the idea and continue, whatever the position might be, to tell tall tales of human evolution. Naturally, that approach is not scientifically consistent. What would be consistent would be to admit that there is no evolutionary mechanism which could give rise to the increasing complexity in nature, and that the origins of man and chimpanzee are totally different. Modern science reveals that this origin is creation.


Human evolution is a modern myth. The story of how human beings lost their body hair carried in the New York Times is a part of that myth. We would remind the New York Times that there is no longer any meaning to continuing with that myth and suggest that it adopt a more objective account of subsequent research in support of evolution.


1) Henry Gee, In Search Of Deep Time: Beyond The Fossil Record To A New History Of Life, The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1999, p. 103
2) Michael Matthews, “Hairless Hokum”, 25 August 2003, ( )

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