Human Origins: Multiregional Theory Gains Ground
by Kevin Alfred Strom
THE TWO MAJOR scientific theories of human origins are the Out of Africa (OOA) model and the Multiregional (MR) model. OOA has been the near-consensus theory in the last decade or so, positing that “modern humans” evolved in Africa and then spread to other continents. MR, the dominant theory for many decades prior to the 1990s and that which formed the underlying framework for William Pierce’s Who We Are and Carleton Coon’s Origin of Races, asserts that pre-humans evolved to “modernity” independently on several continents. A new Chinese discovery lends credence to MR, as this video shows, though scientists are rightly cautious.
Although the case for the uniqueness of the European (or any other) race, and the evidence for its relative evolutionary grade, are unaffected by the outcome of the OOA-MR debate, it is true that a very superficial reading of OOA (“We all came from Africa!”) and even its title tend to make it useful to multiracialist ideologues.
I question the implied assumptions inherent in the term “modern humans.” Those assumptions, as I see them, are 1) All human beings today belong to a meaningful category called “modern humans”; 2) There is no significant difference in evolutionary advancement among the races of “modern humans” today; 3) We “modern humans,” of whatever race, are significantly, and essentially equally, distinct in many ways from all pre-modern humans; and 4) There is no meaningful variation in the overlap in the bell curves of, say, brain size, or frontal lobe development, or jaw size and protuberance, when comparing pre-modern humans to the various races of “modern humans.”
Since assumptions 2, 3, and 4 are obviously not true I therefore question assumption 1. The evidence as I read it indicates that there have always been widely differing subspecies (races) of humans and pre-humans at every period for which we have evidence. Some of these races died out; others changed over time and some branched into two or more new subspecies — some of which, given enough time, will diverge into entirely new species.
It does appear that the evolutionary grade of all races has risen significantly in the last 200,000 years or so, but it is sheer moonshine to assert that it has risen to an equal degree in each.
It is certainly true that Africans have far more genetic variation than any other race. That suggests that the other races went through a near-extinction event or events that Africans did not experience. This lends credence to the OOA theory, if one adds the caveat that the race(s) that stayed behind in Africa did not benefit from the extreme selective pressure that such an event would provide, and may not be “modern” or “as modern” as Asians or Europeans as a consequence.
Since both OOA and MR advocates name Africa as the origin point of our earliest ancestors who were distinguishable from apes, the whole debate is really just about when the ancestors of Asians and Europeans left that continent — before becoming “modern,” or after?