Sunday, December 5, 2010

Between the Nazca Lines: What is a Cargo Cult?

In preparing my series on Ancient Astronauts, I encountered a few problems I hadn’t anticipated, though maybe I should have looking back now. Mainly the problem is a lack of understanding of the terms being and ideas being used. Things like why a myth is a myth, or why Archaeologists except certain views over others. If you’re not well versed in these reasons, it can seem a little biased and possibly lead to confusion, like in what the term “quantum” means. So, when I saw Von Daniken and his ilk using the term “Cargo Cult” to describe the Nazca lines, I realized many people may not understand what he’s saying.

In order to give the fullest amount of information possible, I need to back up a little. I want to start with a new set of nearly basic terms. This time I want to introduce to you what Cargo Cults are.

So briefly, what is a cargo cult?

It is a phenomenon of when less advanced cultures encounter more advanced cultures and 1) regard the advanced peoples as supernatural beings whose purpose is to deliver goods (cargo) and 2) use mimicry or pantomime to create ritual in hopes of resumed delivery of such goods.

Probably the most famous Cargo Cult is the Cult of John Frum, worshiped in the South Pacific by the Vanuatu tribe. As many origin stories do this one has many versions, but the jest of it goes; John Frum was a U.S. Sailor that come to the islands during WWII. He brought with him cargo ships and gave freely to the people there. When it was time for him to leave, he told the people he would return and bring with him more cargo, and so the people wait for him to do so.

Unsurprisingly, the John Frum myth has evolved to fit into to it the problems of the modern Vanuatu. In an article by the BBC News,

“Villagers believe the spirit of John Frum sent the US military to their South Pacific home to help them.

Devotees say that an apparition of John Frum first appeared before tribal elders in the 1930s.

He urged them to rebel against the aggressive teachings of Christian missionaries and instead said they should put their faith in their own customs.” [1]

With the invasion of Christian missionaries and the loss of the WWII cargo the Vanuatu have turned John Frum into a strange hybrid of a rebellion leader with a love of tradition. So what started as a desire to have their golden age back has turned to a rallying cry to return to traditional ways, with a twist. Probably the best quote for this cult is given by Chief Isaac one of the top leaders in the cult. In a Smithsonian article by Paul Raffaele, Raffaele asks Chief Isaac why they still wait for John Furm’s return,

“Chief Isaac shoots me an amused look. “You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth,” he says, “and you haven’t given up hope.”[2]

Brian Dunning does an excellent job of delving deeper into the causes of the John Furm cult, and the complicated circumstances that led to the formation of the cult. I highly recommend reading his article. [3]

So the argument that is being made by Ancient Astronauts is that primitive peoples after encountering the Aliens in some way, became so enamored by their cosmic cargo that when the Aliens left, the peoples started cargo cuts in the hopes that the Aliens would return. Citing the return of Jesus and other similar deities as evidence. For something a little more physical as proof, they point to the Nazca lines saying that these are certainly primitive attempts at landing strips.

At first blush this might seem logical. If you knew nothing more about the lines then that they are carved out of the red rock in Nazca in long lines, then it might seem reasonable. When you began to look at the curves and pictures the lines take on then you hopefully began to doubt this.

There have been many, many suggestions as to what the lines really are, from giant astrological maps to markers of underground waterways. [4] All of these have more evidence supporting them than the idea of Aliens ever will. In the next part of this we’ll go over the past research on the lines and new accepted purpose of the lines.


Brian Dunning
       2010      Skeptoid #199
                        March 30, 2010

Carr, Tarini
               The Nazca Lines: A Mystery on the Plains
                 Archaeology Online

Mercer, Phil.
     2007    Vanuatu cargo cult marks 50 years.
                     BBC News, Tanna, Thursday, 15 February 2007

Raffaele, Paul
     2006      In John They Trust
                       Smithsonian magazine, February 2006

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alien/Hominoid Sex

How did the Human Race begin? One Hypothesis is briefly explored.

Things to read:

How to Think About Weird Things by Theodore Schick, Jr and Lewis Vaughn
Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

and anything by Erick von Daniken

Cruising along to a Dead End

Seems my life is getting the better of me, so much change in so little time! I’ve got my new place set up and a new job till December, also a possible teaching job for later this year. Holy crap I have no time to Think!

But don’t worry fair reader! I have just now gotten my ducks in a row and with luck we’ll see some progress by the end of the week. Right now, me and my gazpacho are going back to bed, sleep has been a luxury of late as well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ArchyFantasies Returnes!

Aliens in the Closet

I've recently fished Erich Von Daniken's most recent book History is Wrong. Let me say, as a sci-fi / conspiracy novel, it was fantastic! It had all the required elements; mythology, religion, government conspiracies, individual persecution, missing artifacts, and betrayal. The pacing was a bit slow in places, but the plot was great...oh wait the plot was that Von Daniken believes all this is real and true.

I really want to break his book down, line by line, and rebut everything he wrote. But other than being a good exercise in rhetoric, I suspect it would get me no where. Still, there is a great deal that needs to be addressed in his book, namely his evident disdain for the academic community.

Von Daniken's grudge against the educated masses seems to stem from their ability to consistently prove him wrong. They also tend to not believe him when he starts shouting "evidence!" because often his 'evidence' goes missing when its time to reveal it.

This lack of evidence is addressed in his new book, mainly in the form of "The scientists/archaeologists don't understand and they wont let me play in their games." He even at one point gives the longitude and latitude location for a mysterious cave in South America where he supposedly heard from a guy who allegedly said he'd gone there and saw plates of gold foil stamped with a mysterious language.

Never mind that if you talk to the alleged discoverer he'll deny the cave, never mind that the 'plates' have never been seen by anyone. According to Von Daniken, even if you try to go to the cave, you can't, because the government wont let you. So don't try...really...

He also goes on to beat the Nazca Lines to death and to poo-poo the scientific explanation for them. He still wants to point out that the Nazca lines could really be landing strips made by primitive man as a form of Cargo Cult.

The Cargo Cult is something I'm going to address on my You Tube channel. It's just the first in a series that I'm starting on the Alien Astronaut phenomena. In it I will be addressing several popular ideas and forms of evidence given by the Alien Astronaut community. It's shaping up to be pretty interesting and entertaining. I encourage you to check it out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

George Boxley, The Underground Railroad and the Discussion of Race

There have been a lot of good articles lately in the dealing with the Underground Railroad. Recently, Timbuctoo was recovered in New Jersey by Temple U. and is currently under extensive survey. It’s a great find because of what Timbuctoo was, and what it came to be. As more is released about Timbuctoo the more we’ll learn about early free black communities.

The Underground Railroad is no less significant as a moment in history. The Whites who ran the Railroad abhorred slavery, many viewed Blacks and Whites as equal long before there was ever an equal rights movement. These people risked their own lives, their families, their properties, and broke laws left and right in order to free slaves.

The Railroad itself is both real and mythical today, you could probably find thousands of “stops” and many have been verified, some have not. Whether or not a stop is real or not isn’t an issue, it’s both amazing and hearting that people want their properties to be part of the Railroad. The ultimate goal of the Railroad was to free those who were enslaved and guide them to places where they could live free and un-harassed.

George Boxley fit into all of this because he was one of the first abolitionists. His views on equality caused him constant strife in his life, climaxing when he personally guided two slaves to freedom. His action were found out and after escaping prison the day before his execution, he escaped Virginia by way of the very Underground Railroad he’d used earlier to save the now former slaves.

George Boxley’s life reads like an action movie. After escaping he is perused by his lifelong rival all the way to Boston, helped along the way by old war buddies and new friends made by saving their lives. When he finally reunites with his family he is still perused across the Midwest till finally he is found by a bounty hunter, who falls ill and is revived by Boxley. In his gratitude for being saved, the Hunter tells Boxley that he’ll return and tell all that George Boxley is dead and not to look for him anymore.

While on the run Boxley still found time to write several pamphlets against slavery, free a few slaves, and educate the youth of a still young nation.

In his twilight years Boxley did some very strange things, and apparently he and his wife parted ways. Still he’d made an impact on the communities he’d lived in and possibly continued his crusade for equality with his own stop along the Railroad.

So what does the current discoveries and research into the Underground Railroad have to do with Racial Discourse today? Quite a bit.

Often archaeology finds things that allow for difficult discussions to start, especially in Urban and Historic archaeology. Evidence is evidence, and when what the archaeologist find contradicts the current world view, this opens up a chance to talk. The work with the Underground Railroad is no different.

The Railroad shows us that even at the earliest times of our country Whites and Blacks struggled and fought together for a common goal that was seen to better all of us. Southern and Northern Whites risked life and limb to free slaves and keep them safe, and in turn those Blacks returned to help free more. In situations like Boxley, Blacks worked to keep their White partners safe.

The Underground Railroad is a triumph in American History. Perhaps we’ll never know the true routes or identify all the stops, but we will continue to look because it’s important to keep the Railroad in the minds of our people. It shows that when push comes to shove, we can and do see each other as equals. When we need to rely on each other the most, we can. It shows that when all men are not treated equal, we will rise up as a nation and find ways to make it so.

Keeping this in mind, is there really a racial issue we can’t work though?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Digging the Boxley Dig pt 1

Boxley Cabin

We're finally at the site, with three four day weekends to dig. Looks like we'll have quite a few volunteers to help us out too. My hope is the weather will hold and we won't lose any days to rain (I think that's the first time I've uttered that).

The site is in a lot better shape than I expected, keep in mind there are three recorded episodes of habitation here, Boxley himself, Boxley's third youngest son, and some random people who basically swindled the aged Boxley descendants out of their land.

Boxley's cabin is a lot smaller than I expected, not sure if they just rebuilt it wrong or if I was being hopeful. The apparent footprint of the mansion built by his son is massive in comparison, but still relatively small.

Basically, I've spent the day marking depressions of interest, and later today we'll bring out the tools and lay out a grid. With luck I will survive the blood loss due to the armada of mosquitoes, up side is, it's overcast enough I don't need goopy sunscreen. Small victories right?

When I get to a better computer I will uplode more pictures, stick around for more!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dr. Mann Absolved ...Climate Change Still Real...

Not that he needed to be, but apparently the actions of a few hyper-reactive people demand political absolution.

I don't really want to rant to often here, though I know I have in the past, but the actions and accusations made against Dr. Mann are shameful and abhorrent. Those who took and made these accusations against him are malicious liars and gullible fools.

Still, with all the trained monkeys shouting and throwing poo, just like their handlers wanted, Dr. Mann has been the victim of countless emails threatening his job, his life, and his legacy.

What irks me the most in all of this is that the thievery that "reveled" the 'hacked' emails was never questioned. The source of the reveled emails were never looked at skeptically. Those who wanted to disbelieve in climate change just took the headlines and ran with them, never once questioning the source. Even when it was shown that the emails were horribly out of context and even chopped up an rearranged to make them seem more damning then they were, the deniers kept shrieking and tossing turd-bombs at Dr. Mann.

So, since science is now politics, Dr. Mann, his research, and his associates had to be brought under investigation because a few morons couldn't be bothered to do basic research. We didn't need an inquiry into the validity of Dr. Mann's work, every other reputable climate scientist in the world backs up his claim, and all the screaming and lying done by the denier's won't change that. Their deceptive practices won't change solid facts and observable changes that any school child could identify.

It's nice to have Dr. Mann's integrity restored by this inquiry,

The panel of inquiry, led by former U.K. civil servant Muir Russell, found that the scientists “rigour and honesty as scientists [is] not in doubt.” The report went on to say that they “did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.

And Dr. Mann is pleased to have this all behind him. Still, this is a chilling example of the power of lies and misdirection, two major tools of any group of deniers. We should all be prepared for future attacks on valid science, for the chaos caused here by stolen and specious documents can be chalked up as a win for the Climate Deniers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

George Boxley from Grant to Dig Pt..2: Preliminary Survey

I have gotten the dig dates, which will be the last two weeks in July, and we have the students we'll be working with all signed up. They appear to be a great group of kids, I honestly can't wait to get them in the field and see what they're capable of.

So, Monday we will be heading up to the site to do the initial surface collection. In the CRM world we call this a Phase I, Pedestrian Survey. We'll be calling this a pedestrian survey as well, but we already know there is stuff here, we're just looking for the best place to dig so we don't waist our short two weeks. The kids and my mentor will be going back Tuesday, but I have to work at the museum. Hopefully well find all the cool stuff the day I'm there!

Only one downer, all my dig tools got stolen this weekend. I miss my trowel, it was my first, and I had it for five years...sad. I'll get a new one, but it won't be the same...still I am looking forward to getting dirty again.

I'll post again after Monday, and see if I can't put up some nice pictures. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

George Boxley from Grant to Dig

Recently I was given the opportunity to assist with a dig from the ground up. Which means, assisting in the grant writing phase as well. Assisting may be the operative word here, but any experience is good.

What this also means is that I have a new obsession, a charming man by the name of George Boxley (fear not, this entry will be edited soon.) Probably the best resource for Mr. Boxley's life is a very intresting account published by the Sheridan Historical Socoity titled "A Man with a Price on His Head: The Life and Times of George Boxley."

Boxley is important in that he was an every day man, who did something purposeful when it could have cost him his life. He was an early Abolitionist who truly stood up for his beliefs. To add to my personal attraction, he was quite the intellectual. He championed education and was an early Humanist, and skeptical of God. His life story reads like some kind of movie script, and the details may have been embellished a bit, but it still portrays a remarkable man who may have had just a touch of genius.

Obviously I'm a bit biased, he is the current focus of my life, still, I plan to share him with the rest of you as I learn more. Also, I thought this particular journey of mine might be of some interest for those who have wondered how an archaeological dig gets up and running.

Stick with me as I venture into the world of red-tape and golden-trowels...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Archaeology on the Wikipedia

Unless you live in a very deep cave somewhere uncharted, you no doubt have heard of the wonder that is Wikipedia. The intriguing site where the common individual can write and edit encyclopedic like entries on anything their minds can come up with. In recent years this phenom of a site has become the number one place to go when you need information. Scary as this sounds, it's true.

I myself check the Wiki regularly on all kinds of topics, from TV shows to Famous Figures. I like to think of it as being a good starting point in the long journey of research. I would never cite it in an actual paper, but I will say its settled a few arguments.

Why bring all this up you ask?

Well because I've made the half mad decision to join the WikiProject for Archaeology and become part of the group that bring you information on Archaeology. It's kind of a big step for me since I barely know how to use the Wiki beyond the search box, let alone make and edit pages. So yah, in my spare time I will be learning how to do these things, and then contributing.

Mainly I will focus on Midwest sties, and clarifying Methods, Principles, and Theory. They say the best way to learn is to teach, and its time I make that big leap. The nice thing will be that the community of editors will help keep me honest, or that's the hope anyway.

So to those of you who are also archaeologists out there, I extend a invitation to do as I have done, and come further the world of archaeology on the inter web, one reliable article at a time.

Look for my Talk Page on the Wiki.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Absence of Evidence

"This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." ~ Carl Sagan

The first time I heard this quote was in field school. We'd spent the majority of the summer excavating the residence of Dr. J.H. Ward and found about nothing...though I did learn that a claw hammer will totally own century old cement...

When asked what he was going to say about the residence since we'd had such a lean collection of artifacts, Dr. Mullins told me, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." This was quickly followed with a rather comical debate over what a particular artifact really was to which I was told, "When you hear hoof beats, think Horses not Zebras."

I took both quotes to heart, often repeating them to myself when faced with questions in the field. I still like both, even though recently I learned that the Carl Sagan quote is actually a misquote. The full quote is listed above and can be found on Wikiquote...or better yet in his book Demon-Haunted World

To put it in context, Sagan uses this phrase in his "Baloney Detection Kit". He uses it as a tool to identify and reject an "appeal to ignorance". The phrase appears in Chapter 12, "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection" in the "The Demon-Haunted World"

"appeal to ignorance - the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa (e.g., There is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not visiting the Earth; therefore UFOs exist - and there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Or: There may be seventy kazillion other worlds, but not one is known to have the moral advancement of the Earth, so we're still central to the Universe.) This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

So, this quote didn't mean what I thought it meant. What Sagan appears to be doing here is pointing out that absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.

What does this have to do with archaeology you ask? Oh my, so much. Especially when you are dealing with pseudoarchaeology.

I've been doing research for a video that will be on Ancient Astronauts building the Pyramids, not a topic I was familiar with, and frankly the more I "learn" the more my brain hurts. What I've been finding is that Ancient Astronauts supporters use the appeal to ignorance to support their claims, up to the point of quoting Sagan. This tells me is that not only do they not know anything about ancient Egyptian civilization / building techniques, they also have never read Sagan. This bothers me since in both cases they are speaking as if from positions of authority, and five minutes on the internet can blow their arguments out of the water.

I blame von Daniken for this. The man simply refuses to see fact, even when it's place right before him. He is also a prolific author on the topic of pseudoarchaeolgoy, claiming that professional archaeologists either don't know what they are doing, or are purposefully covering up the "truth". To him I ask, what do we have to gain by hiding the truth?

Daniken likes to point to known artifacts, hieroglyphs, and paintings, claiming that Archaeologists translated them incorrectly, that they are really ancient depictions of aliens, or even parts of a spaceship. He goes as far as to say that everything we know is wrong, and we have something to gain by not telling the lay public the truth. Daniken apparently never had the benefit of someone telling him to think Horses not Zebras.

To all this I say, Ancient Astronauts supporters: you have no evidence, you have no facts, most damningly, you have no practical applied experience. When you misquote Sagan, you show you have no grasp of basic concepts. As in all things, Occam's Razor comes into play, and since your extraordinary claims cannot be backed with extraordinary evidence, you really should let it go. Have a little faith in your own species, we really are a very clever and capable ape.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why it's Hard to Debate the Scientifically Illiterate

I’ve been wanting to write this entry for a while, since it’s a growing area of concern for me, I am of course talking of the decline of Scientific Literacy in America, and specifically the Midwest, since that’s where I’m from. I feel that we as a country are racing towards a dark age of our own, where ignorance is seen as a virtue, and education is look down upon. I see this in the rejection of “Elites” and “Scientists” and the constant attacks on legitimate scientists by people who barely understand the concepts being discussed. I see feelings and beliefs trumping facts and evidence, and I see misunderstandings of facts and evidence being used as attacks against scientific fields.

This is a hard article to write because of the people I know who will read this and feel that I am speaking directly to them…which I am…but what I have to say isn’t really friendly.

It is difficult to have discussions about scientific fields with people who are not educated. The reason is because those who are not scientifically literate can’t understand the basic concepts of science. This becomes very aggravating when these same people insist that Scientists and science are wrong.

The knee jerk reaction is to be unpleasant to these people, and as rewarding as this may seem, it’s not the best reaction. So what is the alternative? How do you discuss things with those who can’t understand? How you debate the merits of a theory, when the other party doesn't understand what a theory is? This is the dilemma.

We could spend time educating our opponents. We could lay information at their feet, send them videos, talks, books, papers, but it won’t matter if they can’t understand what is being said. We could attempt to go back to the basics with them, but personal experience has shown that this usually upsets people because they view this as talking down to them. It seems like a huge waste of time, but something must be done, so what?

A few sites on the web have attempted to address this problem. Some are aimed at making science accessible to the general public, some are more like support groups. Richard Dawkins and the Amazing James Randi both started educational foundations, Dr. Jeff Goldstein created a blog to be used by teachers to help with student education on the Universe, Hank Campbell, has created a site to promote what he calls Science 2.0, and there are several forums like the League of Reason and Science Blogs that give individuals a space to create a scientific dialogue. Whatever the reason for going to the sites, I think anyone can start to delve into the world of science and self educate. I am a big supporter of self-education, not only does it show that a persona has recognized a weakness, but they’ve taken action to fix it.

Still, many will not go to these sites for one reason or another, but still feel they have a right to be part of the dialogue. What then? How do you debate with the ignorant? I offer Dawkins’ Solution, He simply doesn't.

Cold? Yes. Necessary? Yes.

I wouldn’t go to my mechanic and argue with him on the ways to repair my car. I wouldn't go to a construction site and tell them how their building is wrong. So why should I tolerate someone coming to me to tell me my field is wrong?

So why do people think that by simply reading a half-assed synopsis of an elaborate scientific paper, that they know have all the knowledge they require to challenge career scientists? Just because we live in the Information Age, doesn’t mean you now know everything. Some things require focus and education. Things like advice concepts, require study before they are understood completely. Sometimes, things will never be entirely clear, and often the ability to distinguish those from things that are clear needs to be learned as well. Some theories are not up for debate, and some are. Unless you understand how theories are made and tested, you can’t distinguish between the two.

The point here is not to tell those who don’t know not to talk about science. The point here is that you should take the time to become educated in the topics you wish to discuss. Some will be easier to learn than others, the Scientific Method is a pretty simple concept, as is the formation and testing of a theory. Some will take years, and hours and hours of study. You may need to read books, watch videos, talk to experts in the field. This is the process of education, and education always leads to better understanding.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Moment to Celebrate

As many of you may (or my not) know, tomorrow is the National Day of Reason. My local Center for Inquiry is going to be celebrating by having an open mic reading session where we'll share some of our favorite secular writers.

I'm really looking forward to this particular celebration, because I don't think we celebrate our minds and the ability we have to reason our way through life's problems enough. We're always trying to find some supernatural explanation for why we were able to do something, or think of something, or create something particularly wonderful. That kind of belief degrades us as humans. It makes us turn from our own natural strengthens and stop relying on our natural abilities. It makes us weak and fosters mistrust of others.

Whether you believe a supernatural being is guiding you doesn’t change the fact that the ideas you have, and the things you do, all come from you. You got the A on your paper, You passed the test, You got over your addiction, You made your business successful, You created a loving family. You did all these things all on your own, or with the help of other human begins. This is something to truly be awed over, to really be proud of.

Yah the pendulum swings both ways, If you are the one that does all the good stuff, then you are also the one that does all the bad stuff too. There is comfort in this though. Instead of wondering what you did to anger the supernatural beings, or wonder why the supernatural beings are testing/punishing you, you can change. You can identify the problem and figure out a way to stop it or fix it. You can, you've done it all your life.

So tomorrow, during our National Day of Reason, I want you to stop and think about all the things you've done in life, the good more than the bad. I want to you to acknowledge that you did those things, on your own, and I want you to be proud of yourself, proud of your fantastic mind, and praise yourself.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Attacking Darwin is Sooo Irrelevant ....

No really it is. And why you ask?

Darwin's book, Origin of Species, was originally published in 1859. For the next fourteen years, Darwin edited his own work, radically changing some parts and at times removing them completely. Ben Fry created an awesome web site where you can track the changes made. It's a really fun site, check it out. So, Darwin himself continued to change, or dare I say evolve, his own theory throughout his life.

From the moment Darwin published his ground breaking work, scientists examined and tested it. They continue to do so today. His theory became a global topic, and still is. Most importantly, his theory, through being repetitively tested, has been refined and cleaned up so that we have the finely hammered out version we have today...thanks to the Scientific Method.

So now that we've got that out of the way, let me really begin.

Recently a certain argument has begun to drive me crazy, that being that something, somewhere in the Darwin's Origin of Species was wrong.

And? What's your point?

Ok, so somewhere in a book that is 150 years old a guy using some outdated scientific methods got something, usually unrelated to his main theory, wrong? That's your reason for ignoring the some 1000 or more modern scientific texts that have tested and proven the main theory of said 150 year old book, and found it valid? Really?

Recently, the observation was made that Creationists seem to think that Origins is our bible. That they seem to think I spend my days and night pouring over the pages, memorizing passages, and finding some spiritual comfort from the words. It really struck me to think that one over.

Honestly, the last time I even cracked open a copy of Origins was to double check a single passage quoted at me by a Creationist. I can't say I've even read Origins all the way through, not even in college where I learned about Evolution. The fact that a Creationist appeared to know more about Origins than I did bothered me, until I realized that it's irrelevant.

The Theory of Evolution, Darwin's main point in Origins, is beyond Darwin. It is more than one man, its more than one book. The Theory of Evolution is a time tested, scientifically valid theory, of which we have more evidence to support than the Theory of Gravity. The Theory of Evolution has evolved past Darwin, the problems examined, and the kinks worked out. Thanks to 150 years of scientific examination, evolution is one of the most sound theory in science, used in nearly every field of science from medicine to Anthropology. It doesn't matter if 150 years ago, Darwin forgot to put a comma in a sentence. It doesn't matter if he made some horribly quote-mined and out of context comment about an eye. Evolution still holds, its still valid, and all your misquotes and paraphrasing isn't going to change that.

So, in conclusion, attacking Darwin, or any of his books doesn't amount to a hill of beans. I don't need to have memorized a 150 year old book to understand how evolution works. I have an education, I have an understating of the scientific method. I know how this stuff works. I know that a single quote-mined passage from 150 years ago will never invalidate 150 years worth of scientific testing. Get over it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How the 165 million year old spider proves young earth creationism.

Yah read that tile twice, I had too...

This argument has been used on me twice now.

Because the ancient spider looks just like modern spiders, evolution is completely debunked, and God did it all.

This claim was backed up with, "I'm not a scientist or anything, but..."

Well, firstly, let me point out that you don't need to be a scientist to do simple math.

One of the fundamental claims of Young Earth Creationism is that the earth itself is not more than 6,000 years old. They've come by this number by counting all the 'begots' and 'begats' from the bible and adding their lifespans together, all the way back to Adam and Eve. So, If your telling me that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and then as evidence use the 165 million year old spider, my first issue is the math.

We can both agree that the ancient spider looks very similar to modern spiders, one could even say they are identical in some ways. One can't claim that the age of the spider proves a young earth. One also can't claim that "God did it", since one has no prove of that either (but that's an entirely different argument).

Another individual wanted to use the T.Rex soft tissue that was found and written about in 2005 by Dr. Mary Higby Schweitzer, et. al. Dr. Schweitzer and her team discovered a T.Rex long bone that still contained soft tissue resembling bone marrow. This was a huge discovery because until this discovery, it was thought that marrow wouldn't survive past a million years. With this new discovery, Dr. Schweitzer and her team began re-examining other older fossils to find out if soft tissue survived in them as well. I encourage you to read the paper she produced and look at the evidence found, but I'll break it down for you. In her study she found, three other fossils that were as old, which still contained soft tissue. That's not counting the other fossils that were older and younger, and the experiments the team did to explain the preservation of soft tissue.

Anyway, back to the argument...

The claim was, that since the T. Rex bone was found with soft tissue, and since science at the time said that soft tissue wouldn't survive past one million years, the Dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans.

Again, math is the obvious flaw here. With a planet that is only supposed to be 6,000 years old, how would anything over that age support that claim?

I'm just using basic math here, I'm not even pointing out the obvious flaws in these arguments. It boggles my mind how someone can sit across from me and argue that these two multi-million year old fossils prove A) Young earth creationism and B) that God did it.

But, I'm new at this, and I haven't heard all the arguments just yet. I'm sure I'll get told something else that will simply blow my mind eventually. When that time comes, I will fall back on what has always gotten me through, Facts.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I've been looking over other blogs that I enjoy following, and I realized, this blog lacks. So I'm going to spend the next week or so, learning how to make the most of this space so that it's useful and informative to the readers. I'll take suggestions if anyone has them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Vid Scripts Ahoy!

Despite the busy week, I've managed to put together a schedule for the next three months on video topics and post dates. So far I've got the next three months planed out, and I think we'll all have fun with them. I've also decided to add a third video a month, and make that video explanatory, going over basic archaeological and scientific topics like, stratification and C-14 dating. Things I know are a little misunderstood and that should be explained in depth.

So here's to you, If you have a topic that you always wondered about, shot me message and I'll try to address it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What is Pseudoarchaeology, Vid now Live!

This time I tackle defining what Pseudoarchaeology is. Sorry about the skips and such, movie maker and I got into it, and I think the program won...

Books to check out for further reading...

Invented Knowledge: False Histories, Fake Science, and Pseudo-religions by Ronald H. Fritze

Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology by Kenneth L Feder

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Holy Crap where did the week go?

Got stupid busy this week, mainly this past weekend. It was V-day and I work retail. I actually had to miss a day at the museum just so I could sleep. Sad I know, but there it is, and its also my excuse for having a late video this week.

So, I didn't get to check out much in the way of cool websites or vids, like I like to do for you, but good news! I'm going to be at GenCon giving a talk on Archaeology vs Pseudoarchaeology! YAY!!! So you should all come see me, I'll post time and dates and all as we get closer to the date.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cleaning out my Phone and Other Errata

I save links on my phone that are sent to me via Twitter and Facebook. I tells ya, I loves my Twitter. Maybe I'll do a massive follow post one day. So I've found some great stuff, The Forensic Anthropologist is defiantly one of them. Lots of good information on the field, and makes me really wanna be one when I grow up.

Also, for those a bit more Skeptically minded, Actionskeptic has pulled together a forum for the upcoming GenCon, we'll be giving talks on various pieces. One is on Pop Culture, another on Paranormal, mine (if I'm accepted) will be on Pseudoarchaeology. Really got my fingers crossed, and come check us out if you're in town in August!

I will tell ya, I'm about two day behind schedule for my vids, and Probably wont have one up till the 15th. I know, bad shovel-monkey, but I really have been busy, except for yesterday when I spent my free time playing crack I tells ya.

So, look forward to a new vid next week, and with luck a new Podcast!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feb is here!

Woot! So, busy year so far. The internship at the CFI group here in Indy Land, and the 20/30's group just started a podcast. Its name is a work in progress, I want to leave it up to the group, but I've got our site all set up, or as set up as Podbean will allow a free account to be. Currently, one cast a month is planed, it'll be a recording of a guided discussion on varying topics. Anyway, check it out.

Beyond that I am busy with studying the GRE again and trying to figure out what I want to do for Grad school...yay...

So, keep an eye here for more info on the

Saturday, January 9, 2010

First vid and an Explosion!

Got my first vid up this week, I'm kinda proud of it, but after a bump from Anubis2814 my subscribers jumped from 3 to 35 and the vid itself has been viewed 135 times...that's crazy! Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic, I just hadn't expected this.

So, since I got the first vid down, its time to make the second and third, which also will cover basic concepts. I hope things are clear, I see these as basic building blocks that need to be know in order to understand the topics I will get into later (not that I don't think I won't have to repeat myself).

Well, I don't have a lot to add this time, I have added a few new links on the side here, so check them out and enjoy the world of science!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome the New Year.

2009 is past us now and 2010 stands brightly and inquiringly before us. What shall we make of this awesome new year? Its a good thing to think about. I'm taking the bulls buy the horns and working to get back into college, taking on an internship at the Indiana State Museum, and launching a You Tube Channel . It's good to be busy.

ArchyFantasies is pretty exciting for me, I've planed out three characters, learned to use Movie Maker and have been playing with the script for a bit. I can't seem to pick my first target for the third videos , but I figure the first two can be about terms that need to be explained completely so the rest of the videos can be understood. It'll also give me a chance to play with format and with costumes and such.

I'm planning to have my first viedio up on January 10th and my second on the 20th, and from there I'd like to keep a pattern. Two videos a month on the 10th and the 20th. It'll give me plenty of time to write, shoot, and edit the videos and then post them.

I'm also going to keep communicating with people on this Blog and on Face Book . Please feel free to check me out and post comments, questions, requests, etc.

So good luck to all in the year to come, may it be your best yet!