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Archaeologist Johan Normark fights back against cranks
#51
I am trying to return this to some less heated discussion.

the discussion is this.

Pseudo Archaeology begins with a belief (usually in some form of Alien intervention/Ancient Forgotten Technologically Advanced Civilisation / Great Sea Journeys from America to Egypt / Templar Secret / Bloodline ) I can't think of pseudo Archaeology starting from a point of view of this is the available evidence - and yes you are right to flag up the fluidity of truth in archaeology -

As PP says...
Quote:quintaine - you seem to be missing the point
an archaeologist will by nature try to understand the history of a propounded theory and test a new evidences and models against that theory - in a kind of scientific way. sometimes an archaeologist will be at odds with a prevailing orthodoxy and this can be both interesting and stimulating.
a crank will propound a theory that dismisses prevailing models without domonstrating an understanding of accepted orthodoxy and this is worthless crap
one day a crank will get lucky and get something right but mostly we will laugh at them and tell them not to waste our time
I have asked three times now for an example of pseudo-archaeology pushing forward the boundaries of knowledge. No answer.
I have asked also if you can answer the post that cites "the Ancients" as if they are a real people. (that was a bit cheeky of me I grant)
I do like to put myself in another persons shoes and try and argue the reverse to what I do, but here I find it difficult to comprehend.

Take the Bosnian Pyramid.
It is either is or it is not. agreed.
the evidence of geologists, archaeologists and common sense (no really! a pyramid that is over twice the height of the great pyramid nope!)
So where did it come from this theory? Did it come from a collection and analysis of existing data that pointed to a super civilisation that had previously been missed?
The answer is no. it just appeared and everything found is fitted into the story. The Tunnels, even a cobble from a field. (oh, sorry, an egg of immortality crated by the ancients

[video=youtube;BRi2z1qUPVo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRi2z1qUPVo[/video]

The depressing thing is (and you brought this up) they make the money, because they do tell a nice story. and we struggle to do that, even when pushed... often the best we can come up with is a gladiator graveyard. - (even that was based on some shred of evidence)
We can't make up crystal pyramids, we can't (or should not) create super civilisations or even alien landing pads. simply because they don't exist. This does not burden the pseudo archaeologist. and that is the great difference

We at least try to collect evidence and interpret as opposed to having a theory and then looking for evidence.

You may feel you are asking for a more lenient approach to the pseudo archaeologist (independent researcher) but I still ask why. As far as I can see, 100% of these researchers have not proven anything.

Unless you can correct me.

Quote:do you think there is an archaeologist out there in the commercial sector who, at one point or another, was not "urged" to dress a theory with appropriate finds (or lack of them) by the company that employed them?
Usually the opposite. " We want in here in 3 days... hide that Viking Longship - think of the paperwork " is a more likely response - just kidding by the way
#52
quintaine Wrote:Just because you are comfortable in your rigorous cage of convention do not try to imprison everyone else in it. Live and let live, or is that too rad?

That has to be the first time anyone has ever called me conventional! Big Grin
[Image: meh.ro3715.png]
An archaeologist has an understanding of the body of knowledge and theory that as been built up over the last century. A crank grabs a shovel and goes "tally ho!" and heads off to look for random shit that supports their preexisting supposition with next to no knowledge of archaeology beyond "it's old shit that we dig out of the ground".

quintaine Wrote:Town and village councils today in Austria, parts of Germany, Hungary, Ireland and yes even in the U.K. employ dowsing as a method of finding groundwater to sink wells. It's cheap, cost effective and quite successful. Perhaps you can write and tell them it's a lot of shit. Perhaps, as an archaeologist, you could do a bit of research before trashing it. I am not saying everything is true, I am quite sceptical about a lot of methods but you are all so quick to lump everything in together into a black and white world, it's astonishing.

It's cheap yes but I wouldn't say cost effective on account of it not working. I have actually done some reading on dowsing and all the studies have been inconclusive at best or, when done under proper conditions, have found it to not work at any greater degree than chance. It would be cheaper to throw darts at a map.

And if my local council was spending money on dowsing you can be rest assured I would be kicking up an almighty stink about it.
#53
Just my ten pennies worth, I normally lurk, but this time.. I can't think of many other professions where someone who has read one or two books (usually unreferenced, and by someone who has also read one or two books) would be given equal standing with someone who has spent years in the field and/or in university practising their art. Can we take from your remarks quintaine that you also believe that someone who has put up a garden shed should be held in the same regard as a specialist skyscaper architect, or someone who can replace a battery in their mobile phone should be able to work on a nuclear reactor. Most professional archaeologists have spent years face down in mud, reading tonnes of literature and have formed theories based on it. So having done that, I should place equal relevance to someone who's research could have involved joining dots on a map? Without wishing to sidetrack, I see some similarities with the Creationism vs Evolution argument here. Because people believe it (i.e. Creationism), it should be held in the same regard as a scientific theory (i.e. Evolution). I wouldn't trust anyone who came straight out of university to come up with a decent theory, let alone someone who hasn't spent that time studying the subject. Just to counter any forthcoming argument I should add I'm all for letting non-professional archaeologists involved in archaeology, and will quite happily listen to their interpretations of sites based on the evidence they see around them. They are often right. But I still wouldn't accept their interpretation without having my own knowledge about the subject on which they are discussing and being able to ascertain from this whether they are right or wrong.. This is the key difference between the 'pseudo' archaeologist and the professional as I see it. One (the latter) has enough associated knowledge to determine whether a statement is likely be false or correct, the other has not.
#54
BAJR Wrote: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....

[I]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
Archaeology has proved nothing of the sort, it is still a theory 'The Progressionist Theory' and it is highly controversial due to its colonial implications. Some sites fit this theory, many do not. It is used by people who think ceramics and metal technologies signify more advanced societies and who consider indigenous tribes backward and incapable of building structures such as Great Zimbabwe.
BAJR Wrote: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)
"Some" Iron Age people lived in circular structures, some may have used them as livestock pens. Their diet may have been varied and may have included pig, cattle and grain but just because all of these items were found in a midden, it doesn't mean they were all eaten at the same period or even by the same generation. The grain may have been used to feed said cattle and pigs, however, none of this can be proven, unless you have some insider knowledge.
BAJR Wrote: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 ratio of round shot to cannister shot may suggest that govt forces fired more than one round but it is one of many possibilities. Nothing is proven here, nothing is clear. It is indeed tantalising evidence and it substantiates a theory, not a fact.
BAJR Wrote:The spacing of British troops at Isandwana would have a direct impact on the reasons for the defeat
Again a theory based on finds and accounts, not a fact.
BAJR Wrote:Roman hypocaust systems and the technical functioning of the systems are well understood.
These systems are, from certain standpoints, well understood but it would be a big leap to say they are totally understood.
BAJR Wrote:The earliest cereal farming takes place in the levant /mesopotamia and anatolia
According to archaeological data- at present, the earliest farming may have taken place in these regions, but does the absence of evidence always mean evidence of absence, sorry but it's not a fact it is based on the "fertile crescent theory".
BAJR Wrote:Early churches are often located on earlier ritual sites.
Is this a test on whether your statement is fact or determining archaeological facts?
Your statement is fact, early churches are often (not always) located on earlier ritual sites. In archaeological terms, findings "suggest"...etc...
BAJR Wrote:The location of the quarry for stonehenge bluestones is known.
The geological sub-strata associated with the bluestones has been identified, there are, however, numerous candidates for the quarry location. Theory, not fact.
BAJR Wrote:Roman field systems and farms overlie Iron Age systems.
What, all over the world, or even in Europe, that's a bit of a sweeping statement and a bit progressionist. What about Ireland. Except for scant evidence of Roman occupation on Lambay Island and a small site on coastal Wexford, no overlying Roman field systems there.

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

And as I stated before, no pseudo archaeologist in the world wants facts. They deal in, as someone put it, "the what ifs" it's just that the media like them better because they offer a bunch of easy answers, enthrall their viewers/ followers and avoid, for the most part, alienating them by disingenuosly putting questions out there when they quite clearly already have an answer firmly in their mind.

Which brings me nicely to the first part of your "question" Seeing as you already have made up your mind regarding the included passage there would be no sense in trying to debate the issue. Just don't set me up as a posterboy for your hate crusade against pseudo archaeologists. I am not in favour of Pseudo Archaeology, I am in favour of an inclusive and rationally minded archaeology, which, I am afraid seems to be a lost cause here.
#55
BAJR Wrote:Usually the opposite. " We want in here in 3 days... hide that Viking Longship - think of the paperwork " is a more likely response - just kidding by the way
Try a henge instead of a longship and look up the (edit for legal reasons) , which has a motorway running across it, and the only paperwork seriously considereed...brown paperwork
#56
It's like the 70's all over again (noOoOOoo00!)! Von D?niken-esque! Anyhoo found this: http://www.badarchaeology.com/?page_id=51

Nothing wrong with a healthy dose of scepticism Smile
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
#57
Quote:Archaeology has proved nothing of the sort, it is still a theory 'The Progressionist Theory' and it is highly controversial due to its colonial implications.

hmmmm really... an interesting answer that does not get away from the fact that people did not start with iron then give pottery a go then move to stone. it is a simple fact of life, you can't smelt bronze until you can make pottery, you can't make iron until you make bronze. unless it is introduced by another culture. etc. Nothing colonial in there and no intention to belittle any culture and it's technological level. I should also have added

Roman field systems and farms overlie Iron Age systems. IN SOUTH ENGLAND = there... factual enough? or do you think there is a chance that we can prove the Romans came before the Iron Age tribes?

You seem to ustilise the pseudo archaeology arguement whereby just because you say... "but what if" there is no need for further debate - it is up to me/the archaeologist to prove you wrong, rather than for a reasoned argument to be put forward. I cannot prove that a super civilisation does not exist (I may just not have found it yet) , therefore to the pseudo archaeologist this means it could exist and this means it does exist, and pass the royalties for the next book.

If you don't want to defend them, then I do not understand your argument. THey muddy waters, they confuse, they disseminate mis-information as fact...self reference and create a new history. they are (to my mind) the antithesis of all that is archaeology. The pursuit of the understadning of human history through material remains. NOT the pursuit of a fantasy bolstered by no material information at all. Or like the Bosnian Egg of Immortality - by jaw dropping audacity.

Quote: I am not in favour of Pseudo Archaeology, I am in favour of an inclusive and rationally minded archaeology, which, I am afraid seems to be a lost cause here.
Well you really could have fooled me. I am in favour of what TDUB suggests. and in fact I will leave the last word to TDUB, whose first post is a true gem.
Quote:This is the key difference between the 'pseudo' archaeologist and the professional as I see it. One (the latter) has enough associated knowledge to determine whether a statement is likely be false or correct, the other has not.
#58
BAJR Wrote:I have asked three times now for an example of pseudo-archaeology pushing forward the boundaries of knowledge.
Troy
The Egyptian and Mayan pyramids
The Nazca Lines
Stonehenge
Woodhenge
Newgrange
Tykal

None of these places would be on the archaeological radar today if it were not for media-hungry trail-blazers such as Schliemann and Wheeler to name but two. Do you think in your wildest dreams that the media and by extension universities would have any interest in these places if it wasn't for so-called "pseudo archaeologists" constantly flagging them in their popular and sometimes incomprehensible theories and thereby maintaining the sites popularity. So tomorrow if all the pseudo archaeologists just vanished "mysteriously" do you really think that television stations would be clambering over each other to get the dry, basic facts of the site bereft of colour or myth from professional archaeologists?. That would lift the ratings... for sure, plus good luck with a follow up.
#59
BAJR Wrote:You seem to ustilise the pseudo archaeology arguement whereby just because you say... "but what if" there is no need for further debate - it is up to me/the archaeologist to prove you wrong, rather than for a reasoned argument to be put forward. I cannot prove that a super civilisation does not exist (I may just not have found it yet) , therefore to the pseudo archaeologist this means it could exist and this means it does exist, and pass the royalties for the next book.

But why is it up to "the archaeologist" to prove anyone wrong. What is wrong with formulating and publishing your own theories and add them to the pool of other possible ones and let the public decide. Professional media archaeologists let themselves get set up as the rebuffer, just look at Robert R. Cargill. PhD The viewer sees the archaeologist constantly saying "This can't happen, that didn't happen and I'm not even going to get started on that theory etc.." Why do archaeologists feel the need to police archaeology? Just because there are two or more distinct archaeological theories out there, must we choose one or be damned for all eternity? Likewise must we castegate others at the first opportunity?

BAJR Wrote:If you don't want to defend them, then I do not understand your argument. THey muddy waters, they confuse, they disseminate mis-information as fact...self reference and create a new history. they are (to my mind) the antithesis of all that is archaeology.
To attack or defend pseudo-archaeologists. Are they the only options? If one of your archaeological associates has a different opinion than you, would you attack it, ridicule it, grind it into the gound, or would you put forward your own and discuss it, keeping in mind that it's not a war, no one has to win, and both of you come away a little more enlightened. Must it always be win/lose black/white. Can I not choose the third option of understanding where pseudo archaeologists are coming from, be entertained by the colourful theories scant as they often are on evidence after all the first keepers of the human story were, aparently, the story tellers.
#60
Quote:Can I not choose the third option of understanding where pseudo archaeologists are coming from, be entertained by the colourful theories scant as they often are on evidence after all the first keepers of the human story were, aparently, the story tellers.

You do that. Perhaps when you "work" with one... I guess it would not be so easy.

I suggest you tell me you are e entertained by the colourful theories of teh Bosnian Pyramids. or worry at the false ideas that will take tyears to disentangle... or Rosslyn Chapel (in teh county I was a development control archaeologists) and the misinformation which has now become "true" or the nationioalism and bitterness that this creates... it is dangerous and often funny, but deep down it is dangerous.

With a colleague I can at least debate, with a crank (and I can tell you from experience ) I can't. there is no third way with a crank. archaeology is indeed not black and white, but a crank... I am afraid it is. You can't come out both enlightened... you really can't... you can't debate. have you ever tried? it is not a war, but it is also not worth my time... I have real archaeology to do, with other archaeolgosits, other locals, other people. who don't need a fantasy to make the past interesting.


this list
Troy
The Egyptian and Mayan pyramids
The Nazca Lines
Stonehenge
Woodhenge
Newgrange
Tykal

I can only ask... WTF... so these are all the work of pseudo archaeolgoists.

Actually Troy... good point... I see it as a succession of bronze age cities... until they find the sign saying welcome to troy. Wink and I can go to them, dig em and subject them to analysis. the pseudo does not allow that scrutiny.


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