There's an often repeated idea out there that humans went through a population bottleneck about 70,000 years ago, shrinking to a group of only several thousands. This bottleneck is typically attributed to the Toba Eruption. This is something you've probably heard ad nauseam in every popular science depiction of human prehistory, I sure have. I won't give specifics because I don't want to bias you, but in doing research for a future podcast episode, I began to doubt this idea and tried to pry into its actual origins to see what the actual evidence of it was.
I was surprised to learn that the idea didn't actually come from some scholarly consensus, but is a still very controversial idea originally posited by a journalist Ann Gibbons of Science. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am the absolutely last to write off an idea or theory because it's posited by a lay(wo)man out of the academic system, but in the case of a journalist (that class of people whose ratios of what-they-know to what-they-think-they-know are extremely low), my initial doubt feels a little vindicated.
I've been groping through some scientific literature on the subject, there are indeed some mainstream supporters, but from what I can tell, the evidence for it is very scant, at least far too scant to warrant its commonplace presentation in popular science. As well, it seems that a lot of people in other fields base some of their assumptions on this idea, not knowing its non-universality, thus giving their theories a shaky foundation.
I bring this up because I'm curious if anyone reading has had specific, semi-direct knowledge or experience with the feeling in the field. As I said, I'm gradually reading the literature on it already, but I'm curious to know an insider's view (or at least the view of someone well-informed on it). Is this idea well-accepted? Is the circumstantial evidence for it considered up to snuff? Are there good reasons to think it's not true? Email me what you think.