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Archaeologist Johan Normark fights back against cranks
#31
Quote:But that is the difference, if you prove a so-called 'pseudo' theory true it dies, loses its value and mystique and is no more.

No it is actually the point. You can't actually name one, cos I am damned if I can think of one.

Archaeological theory is based on and derives from actual information which can be tested, which can be subjected to scrutiny. Pseudo Archaeology may be sexy, but derives it's power from what if, rather than hard work.

Believe me, I have just spent two years in just such a position as well. all the way from Templars to Phonecians in America, from Ancient Steel Technologies and even some Arthur as well. When I present actual evidence why it can't be ( for example, the pottery is xx in date therefore the site is pretty definitely xx in date... ) it does not matter, because the pseudo starts with the idea and then looks for evidence. I - as an archaeologist start with evidence and then create theories, which are fluid as new information comes in and demolishes the previous construct... I really don't mind... it is exciting. But I change I adapt, I take on new information to further hone a theory. the crank does not.

If you can't see that, I worry... so I can say that every archaeology theory is based on available data. so... to strengthen your beleif, tell me any pseudo theory that has been shown to be even worth the words.

tic toc... er... um... tic toc... yepp... waiting? any... ? um...

If it is about making money, then your next site should be a crystal camelot. rather than a slightly grey brown sandy silt with 4 quartzite debitage fragments. make it frags of the crystal pyramid after it was destroyed by the great ancients with leyser technology. you will make more money... but ./..... you are no longer an archaeologist.

pschaw!
#32
quintaine Wrote:In archaeologists' eyes these cranks are always hippies, free thinkers, radicals, lefties and gullible.
Um, I'm an archaeologist(in training atm) and lived as a New Traveller for over 10 years(which would probably class me as a hippy in most people's eyes), a free thinker, radical, and am pretty damn left wing. I still give short shrift to "just suppose" type ideas. If a hypothesis doesn't have either evidence or sound theory to back it up then it is of little use. And by 'sound theory' I mean based on evidence.*

But just because I've lived in a tree next to a stone circle and think capitalism is a blight on our species doesn't mean I'm going to give credence to some muppet who claims a mountain is a pyramid, that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in December, that the Chinese visited Italy in the renaissance or that there was some link between pyramid builders on different sides of the world. Aside that is from them being human and therefore rather good at problem solving.


*Does this mean that, in your eyes, I am displaying false consciousness and that truly I should throw my lot in with the crystal gazers? Wink
#33
Welsh Andy Wrote:*Does this mean that, in your eyes, I am displaying false consciousness and that truly I should throw my lot in with the crystal gazers? Wink
but even you are making a differentiation between crystal gazers and archaeologists, why can it not be both. Can you not accept that perhaps it could be a good thing that diversity of practice is intermingling into archaeology and if you don't certain practices then mention the practices, not just attack the whole belief system of the person carrying them out, because that does not show archaeologists in a very good light at all. If you read my past posts you will see that I make a point about archaeologists judging by belief and I for one was not in favour of it.

BAJR Wrote:No it is actually the point. You can't actually name one, cos I am damned if I can think of one.
Well can you think of an archaeological theory that has been proved true?

BAJR Wrote:Archaeological theory is based on and derives from actual information which can be tested, which can be subjected to scrutiny. Pseudo Archaeology may be sexy, but derives it's power from what if, rather than hard work.
But of course you see it that way, you are seeing it from the archaeological perspective. Years of theory, practice and dogma means that you can only see one way of doing something and to relinquish belief would make you some kind of traitor. I can imagine too that is how the so-called cranks feel about their opinions and yes work. How do you know what work others put in unless you are there to oversee it, aren't we being a tad omnipotent here?

BAJR Wrote:Believe me, I have just spent two years in just such a position as well. all the way from Templars to Phonecians in America, from Ancient Steel Technologies and even some Arthur as well. When I present actual evidence why it can't be ( for example, the pottery is xx in date therefore the site is pretty definitely xx in date... ) it does not matter, because the pseudo starts with the idea and then looks for evidence. I - as an archaeologist start with evidence and then create theories, which are fluid as new information comes in and demolishes the previous construct... I really don't mind... it is exciting. But I change I adapt, I take on new information to further hone a theory. the crank does not.
I have never been on a site where anyone would be arrogant enough to believe for one instant that a shard of pottery is of a certain date ergo the layer must be the same date. I have never seen any item of material culture which can prove conclusivley an exact timeframe and so can never produce evidence why it can't be, only why it may not be. Archaeological theories that suggest this stratigraphic thinking would be blown to hell and was in the Five Points excavation in New York where in one layer items from 1840 ish were mixed with detritus from 1900 and yes even from 1940s London and that was just the small percentage that could be reasonably dated.

BAJR Wrote:If you can't see that, I worry... so I can say that every archaeology theory is based on available data. so... to strengthen your beleif, tell me any pseudo theory that has been shown to be even worth the words.

tic toc... er... um... tic toc... yepp... waiting? any... ? um...

If it is about making money, then your next site should be a crystal camelot. rather than a slightly grey brown sandy silt with 4 quartzite debitage fragments. make it frags of the crystal pyramid after it was destroyed by the great ancients with leyser technology. you will make more money... but ./..... you are no longer an archaeologist.

pschaw!

First of all, don't worry, second try not to be so condescending, third, as I said so-called pseudo archaeology doesn't work the same as practiced in universities nor was it meant to, accept it.

and finally archaeology is for all, I'm afraid you cannot judge who is and who isn't simply because they don't fit into your narrow parameters
#34
What a lot of drivel.

I am reminded of a joke by Tim Minchin: "What do you call alternative medicine that has been proven to work? Medicine".
#35
quintaine Wrote:but even you are making a differentiation between crystal gazers and archaeologists, why can it not be both. Can you not accept that perhaps it could be a good thing that diversity of practice is intermingling into archaeology and if you don't certain practices then mention the practices, not just attack the whole belief system of the person carrying them out, because that does not show archaeologists in a very good light at all. If you read my past posts you will see that I make a point about archaeologists judging by belief and I for one was not in favour of it.

There are a number of reasons why there is a distinction between crystal gazers and archaeologists. First is that crystal gazing produces no results better than we would expect than from chance. Archaeologists use and develop a set of methods and techniques that produce results and that can be refined and honed as new data and technologies become available. Also archaeological techniques are open to, and hopefully accepting of, criticism in order to better refine these methods. Even the most subjective of archaeological practices, phenomenology, produces results which can be brought into making a narrative of a site or landscape. Crystal gazing however is simply the practice of 'making shit up'. Where phenomenology says "I feel, or see this" crystal gazers are wont to say "they felt, they saw, they thought".

Diversity of practice is a good thing. The mingling of aerial archaeology, remote sensing, field survey, experiential approaches, excavation, landscape studies, computer modeling, studying the ethical and philosophical ramifications of archaeological work, developing new theoretical approaches to interpretation of sites and artefacts all serve to make archaeology a rich and diverse field. it is because of this diversity that debate and argument are so lively, though I don't think it is anymore so than in any other discipline to be honest.

Crystal gazing, dowsing and making shit up however are not archaeology as the results they claim to produce, at best, are no better than chance. At best these cranks are harmless and have no impact outside their own community of believers. At worst we have people committing suicide out of fear that the Mayans predicted the end of the world this coming December. A claim given validity by people that we, as archaeologists, should be bitch slapping into oblivion. Yes 'History' channel I'm looking at you. *shakes fist at the USA*

Quote:I'm afraid you cannot judge who is and who isn't simply because they don't fit into your narrow parameters
Sorry but that's mince. Words have meaning and social context. Someone who has thrown a couple of stones off a ledge to see which hits the floor first is not a physicist. They may call themselves that but it still won't be true. Similarly someone sat in a pub spraffing about the ills of society is not a sociologist, or a stoner laying in a field at night watching the milky way pass over head thinking about aliens is not an astronomer.
#36
....but there is a tendency for 'real' archaeologists to fall into the same trap as the 'speculation-mongers' when approached by and asked to sit up and beg for the mass media. I can think of any number of occasions (female gladiators, Roman princesses, dead vikings, child murder in countryside brothels, cannibalism, voyages across the Pacific) when I have been embarrassed to watch or read media hype on supposed properly and conscientiously recovered archaeological data. So whilst I think I broadly agree with David, Welsh Andy and Tom's drift in this thread, I think we should all be aware that people in glass houses shouldn't throw too many stones!! I have trouble enough distinguishing the cranks within archaeology from the lunatics squatting on its fringes. For the general public that must be nigh on impossible...
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
#37
kevin wooldridge Wrote:....but there is a tendency for 'real' archaeologists to fall into the same trap as the 'speculation-mongers' when approached by and asked to sit up and beg for the mass media. I can think of any number of occasions (female gladiators, Roman princesses, dead vikings, child murder in countryside brothels, cannibalism, voyages across the Pacific) when I have been embarrassed to watch or read media hype on supposed properly and conscientiously recovered archaeological data.

Often that says more about the media than the archaeologists, or any other specialists interviewed on camera. I have heard various people report the same story that they were asked the same three questions in different ways for two hours until the producer got the soundbite she wanted and told the cameraman to pack up.

I don't know about all of your examples, but the excavator of the site (Tony MacKinder) was acutely embarrassed despite not saying anything except the facts of the excavation, the MoL (and by inference, Bill White) were slandered by the acusation that a piece of pelvis that would have proven the skeleton was female had been lost, and the closest thing to an authoritative voice the media could wheel out in support of the theory that gladiatrixes existed was, iirc, Camille Paglia.

You're right though, some archaeologists are so obsessed with the media (and perhaps its funding) that they'd do anything to get on the telly. Naming no names.
#38
But in almost all of those examples, an archaeologist has made a statement based on evidence, such as, "some of these bones may have cutmarks, which might have a number of explanations". Then the media have picked it up and run a story about cannibalism being widespread in the period or something. I find it hard to blame the archaeologists.

Think I have cross posted with you on this point Tom.

I do have an example of a former 'pseudo' theory which is now fully accepted. Viking settlement of the Americas. here were some wild and wooly references to this in the sagas, but this is only oral evidence, and a bit unrelable. When the Vinland map was 'discovered', this appeared to show Viking settlements in Vinland. This was carbon dated in the '50s and found to be a forgery. However the actual settlements were discovered and excavated in the 60s, confirming the accounts from the sagas.

However, quaitaine, this does not mean that everything is true, just that if the evidence changes you should change your mind. It doesn;t mean that every theory with no evidence should be accepted as true.

Quote: I have never seen any item of material culture which can prove conclusivley an exact timeframe and so can never produce evidence why it can't be, only why it may not be.

Coins? Gravestones? Scientific dating?
#39
Ok, here is a test for quintaine. and one that I will use as a reply. with a real name attached so people know it is you that holds to the reply.

This is a reply to the self same post: Now, how would you reply? Are you happy with this people called the Ancients?

Alan Borky

Quote:‘The Vindicated Thinker’ who embarks on a quest ‘tackling some terrific mystery or secret of the past’ and finally emerges as the hero that brings sensationalist news that requires “rewriting the history books from page one”.

That right there is the history of Science according to Dawkins with Darwin as the Vindicated Thinker and Natural Selection the Great Secret which rewrote the history books.

As for cranks and pseudoscience: the history of science's filled with people like Leonardo Davinci (who against the laws and taboos of his times performed - and recorded by drawing - an autopsy on a pregnant human cadaver) or sociopaths if not downright psychopaths who filled the pockets of the likes of Burke and Hare just to lay their hands on murdered to order young corpses.

Darwin himself was so immensely distressed by the appalling and vicious brutishness of a scientist performing surgery on a fully conscious unaneasthetized dog (by way of demonstrating the effectiveness of anaesthesia on another doggy specimen) he had to be 'persuaded' not to make an issue of it in case it impaired the future progress of science.

In short most of science's founding fathers were precisely the same sort of nutty driven DESPERATE (to use Bronowksi's description of Newton) individuals who precisely by going against the accepted beliefs and mores of their times effected the so-called scientific revolution.

Yet if they behaved the same way today not only'd they be called crackpots and cranks - they'd be locked up for life as mentally ill (as opposed to hung drawn and quartered if they'd been caught in yesteryear).

And remember much of this sort of thing didn't even occur so much as a hundred or even fifty years ago.

Clinton only got round to apologising to syphilis ridden African Americans for Tuskegee in '97.

Adrienne Mayor only revealed in the last decade or so archaeologists'd been throwing away for centuries inconvenient dinosaur fossils found during excavations of ancient temples in spite of the fact the ancients themselves believed them to be remnants of the very giants, dragons, etc their belief systems were based on.

And of course right up to date we have the seemingly never ending scandal of more and more kids being revealed to've been buried with their brains etc missing.

So maybe Johan your 'mate' Holtorf has a point.
Do you think this is right and also should this be pursued. after all, this is just as valid a research topic. "Adrienne Mayor only revealed in the last decade or so archaeologists'd been throwing away for centuries inconvenient dinosaur fossils found during excavations of ancient temples in spite of the fact the ancients themselves believed them to be remnants of the very giants, dragons, etc their belief systems were based on."

Oh, by the way, you will have to read up about this, and ensure you don't reply with a knee-jerk scoff.

While discussing this, do not forget that the future is already here. the steps we take into the future are from the materials and thoughts we already have. ie... you can't have a telephone unless you have a wire you can't have a mobile phone without a wire telephone you can't have a mobile 4G computer without a mobile phone etc...

So to use this as a reason we should waste time on pseudo archaeologists. ... uh-u

From Leonardo to Darwin to Dawkins... they all build on what was known before and make it better and take it forward. for the next generation. Darwin based his ideas on what? Don't forget to discuss all his points.


Now finally./ You (quintaine) asked for an archaeological theory that had been proved. Rudely using the counter question rather than answer my original one. This is a cheap shot... but here we go. in return. You give me a similar number of pseudo theories that have been verified.

Here we go....

Archaeology has proved that there was a progression of technologies and various times and in various locations that each precede and directly allow the subsequent technology.
So Stone is followed by Ceramic technology is followed by metal technologies

Iron Age people in Britain lived in circular structures on average 8m-9m in diameter. They ate a variety of foodstuffs including pig, cattle and grain (we even know what type of grains)

The battle of Prestonpans (1745) was in a different location that previously thought, and given the mix of round shot and cannister shot, it is clear that the govt forces fired more than one round of fire.

The spacing of British troops at Isandwana would have a direct impact on the reasons for the defeat

Roman hypocaust systems and the technical functioning of the systems are well understood.

The earliest cereal farming takes place in the levant /mesopotamia and anatolia

Early churches are often located on earlier ritual sites.

The location of the quarry for stonehenge bluestones is known.

Roman field systems and farms overlie Iron Age systems.


I dunno, I could go on.

I seem to be just stating knowns. but you can't actually do that for pseudo archaeology.

er... Arthur exists.. um Camelot is here? We are genetically manipulated by alien technology? 'the Ancients' built Bosnian Pyramids? The Maya had such a super accurate calendar and time system that they could predict the end of the world? Atlantis exists in teh Bahamas/Atlantic/Spain etc oh and Romans/Egyptians/Phoenicians/ West African tribes all sailed to America, but never told anyone. Crystal Skulls are real?


So your mission is to answer the above comment and answer my question. while keeping a straight face. Wink


To help... watch this --- to Kevin... I don't think the argument is whether there are archaeologists who go to far. It is whether we waste time with pseudos who don't even try to have evidence (or it is so dubious as to be worthless)

[video=youtube;jDKvWiToj8Y]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDKvWiToj8Y[/video]






etc.
#40
BAJR Wrote:To help... watch this --- to Kevin... I don't think the argument is whether there are archaeologists who go to far. It is whether we waste time with pseudos who don't even try to have evidence (or it is so dubious as to be worthless) etc.

Thanks...I totally agree...

@Oxbeast. There are still Norwegian archaeologists s who will take issue with the fact that Helge Ingstad was not an archaeologist by training....much in the same way that Tor Heyerdahl is dismissed as an 'explorer' and not an archaeologist....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...


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