I am sharing with you today a great discovery I made a couple of days ago while searching the web for my studies on archaeological outreach. The name is Archaeological Fantasies, a blog started in 2011 and with an associated podcast since 2015. Awesome. Just fantastic. The main goal of the blog and the podcast is to explain from a scientific and easy to understand perspective many of the fantasies defended by pseudoarchaeology, showing how research in done in archaeology and why many of these conspiracy theories cannot be taken seriously at all.
The hosts are Serra Zander and Prof. Kenneth Feder. I discovered Zander’s fascinating work through the blog. It is just incredible. The reviews of pseudoarchaeological books she posts are amazing, beautifully written and plenty of citations to articles that provide the data to support its arguments. In fact, the quality of this research and the fact that is posted in a blog, which is great, but does not have a parallel presence in academic journals, has reinforced some of the ideas I have defended in a recent paper: we should take this topic much more seriously. Ignoring it is not working at all.
With regard to Prof. Feder, he is one of my favourites on this topic. I discovered him in a couple of episodes of Horizon where Atlantologists ideas were reviewed and put to the test, a test they obviously failed. Then I found that he has been actively publishing on these topics for a while, with two books on Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, and Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum. I am afraid that they are right now a little bit expensive for me to buy them right now, but if they are half good the arguments he defends in other places, such as these podcasts, I am sure they will be fantastic readings.
I have just listened to the last episode and a bunch of the early ones, so I cannot have an opinion for every single podcast made. But I love them. The clear way in which our job is explained should in fact be a model for us all, since, whether we like it or not, we are all confronted from time to time to some of the same questions the hosts mention, for example, in the same episode. Like them, I got interested in pseudoarchaeology as some kind of hobby/secondary stuff I file from time to time whenever they cross my way, and like them too I have become more and more active on the topic due to the empowerment and legitimization the media has given to pseudoscience in the last years.
If you do not live isolated in the middle of nowhere, without access to any means of communication, which by the way it would be great, you are aware by now of this new concept from Trump’s cabinet to deal with criticism: the so-called alternative facts. And I am saying latest, no newest, because alternative facts have been around for a while.
Alternative facts are basically lies. Period. If your inauguration is thrice or more smaller than the inauguration of the former president, and your critics produce evidence from several sources to support this fact, you just provide alternative facts. You only need to say that your data indicates it was the best, the largest and all the superlatives Trump’s lack of dialectic usually throws on his discourse and, well that is all. You said so, and your facts, which you never show or share, support your point of view.
This blog was created to criticise these kind of attitudes in archaeology. If you revisit some of my earlier posts you will find a profound criticism on this current of anti-intellectualism that characterises our modern society; the use of the term “professorial” by some leading politicians in the past to confront the ivory tower scholars and to defend the interests of the “common guy” they, paradoxically, represent. So, I am sorry, I understand your fear, I want to help, but let me tell you something: this fight has been around for much longer than you think.
Continue reading Atlantology, the Alternative facts of Archaeology
Quick post on this fantastic video from the show of Last Week Tonight that shows the danger of misinterpreting and misusing science. It is of course a critique on pseudo-science but also on the problems caused by academic pressure on publishing and, my favourite the lack of replication on scientific works. This is not only about archaeology, but I think it illustrates very well the problems I have mentioned in other posts. Science is complex and slow. It requires many tests, check and double check results… and any time our work gets stupidly simplified by the media and also, important to remember, some scientist more concerned about headlines than professional ethics, everybody looses, not only us. Hope you enjoy the video. And share your datasets!
Hoxe rematei o libro En Busca de la Edad de Oro, de Javier Sierra. Era todo o que podía agardar del: unha concatenación de fabulacións pseudocientíficas que, por paradoxal que pareza, non son consistentes nin en si mesmas. Todo completado coa correspondente serie de ataques á arqueoloxía oficial que rexeita o bo facer dos “independentes” e negan categoricamente as verdades descubertas por estes herdeiros intelectuais dos poderosos atlantes que unha vez tiveron a misión de civilizar os primitivos habitantes da terra. Supoño que agora autores coma Sierra teñen a misión de civilizarnos a nós.
Coma xa sinalei nunha entrada previa, o libro pertence o grupo do que denomino “core culture”ou cultura nai, que xa pola páxina 171 o autor non esconde que é a Atlántida. Os “casos de estudo” que se atopan neste libro pódense clasificar en dous grandes grupos: “carallada estándar”, aquelas teorías da conspiración que aparecen sempre que tratas temas así, e “caralladas orixinais” aquelas que nunca tiña atopado antes. Son tantas e tan variadas que a verdade non dou pra comentar todas, así que decidín elixir unha que ilustra moi ben a talla intelectual e investigadora do autor. Antes de que algún “amante del misterio” me bote en cara que só elixo a que podo desmontar, invito a calquera que teña o estómago e 10€ a que se merque o libro, o lea con calma, e me pida que lle desmonte algunha outra, por suposto expoñendo primeiro as bases sólidas da teoría en cuestión.
Continue reading En Busca de la Edad de Oro
Ista está sendo unha semana bastante cargada de traballo, pero mentres preparo a próxima lección do cursos sobre SIX e a entrada sobre o libro de Javier Sierra vos deixo un vídeo que lle acae moi ben a este tema. Coma podedes ver no vídeo, calquera pode facer unha teoría da conspiración. ¡So necesitas encadear unha teoria sentido tras outra!