Simanaitis Says

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ON PSEUDOARCHAEOLOGY

DID ALIENS BUILD the Egyptian pyramids? Were the Americas first populated by Western Europeans? A growing number of people believe in such claptrap, according to Science magazine, published weekly by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Beliefs in Aliens, Atlantis are on the Rise,” by Lizzie Wade, Science, April 12, 2019, gives details. As an example, she cites a belief that seventh-century Mayan ruler K’inch Janaab’ Pakal traveled on a rocket ship.

Here’s proof of the rocket ship argument, as shown on the Mayan ruler’s sarcophagus from 683 A.D. Or might there be other possibilities? Image from Science, April 12, 2019.

Real archaeologists suggest the stylized tree and flames beneath Pakal represent his descent from life to the underworld. But you can’t keep good whackos down, especially, as Wade notes, when they “ignore the cultural context of ancient artifacts and use them to support predetermined ideas, rather than test hypotheses about the past.”

Test hypotheses?? That’s what science does.

Image by Bizarro, December 21, 2009.

Wade cites archaeologist Sara Head in this regard: “Today, ‘Most archaeological research is unavailable to the public,’ she says, obscured by jargon and locked behind paywalls. ‘But you want something from pseudoarchaeology? I can find you 15 references,’ all easily accessible online and on TV.”

Cable TV’s Ancient Aliens has run for 13 seasons.

Image from New York magazine, November 15, 2013.

Jason Colavito dispels pseudoarchaeology in books and his website. Wade notes that he received “death threats after the host of Ancient Aliens urged his fans to send Colavito hate mail.”

There’s a subtext of pseudoarchaeology that’s far from amusing. Whackos are unable to accept findings that early non-Europeans were intelligent enough to devise mathematics, architecture, calendars, and astronomy on their own. Wade quotes Kenneth Feder, Central Connecticut State archaeologist as saying, “It’s racist at its core.”

Southern California’s Chapman University does an annual Survey of American Fears, and notes a rise in pseudo thinking. Wade cites “… in 2018, 41 percent of Americans believed that aliens visited Earth in the ancient past, and 57 percent believed that Atlantis or other advanced ancient civilizations existed.” By comparison, the 2016 survey had alien visitation belief at 27 percent and Atlantis at 40 percent.

Wade quotes David Anderson, archaeologist from Virginia’s Radford University: “My profession … needs to do a better job of speaking out.”

And the rest of us might be more discerning in our thinking. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

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