Jason Colavito has a worthwhile post demonstrating the flawed thinking and resourcing of such claims (and they are quite common). But hey, I guess it sounds better than a giant prehistoric dog eating the evidence.
I just blogged this over at UFO Religions, but it’s equally applicable here given the sort of pablum that I deal with so often in the world of paleobabble.
You just HAVE to watch the video below (7:00). It’s clear and to the point, and you’ll no doubt have a laugh or two – a video on how Luke Skywalker’s destruction of the Death Star was *really* an inside job. It’s very well done and has almost two million views on YouTube.
The value of the video should be obvious. Every fact presented in it is indeed a fact from the movie. And every connection drawn is “reasonable” in the context of the narrative created. But the conclusions are absolutely wrong. This is precisely how so much conspiratorial thinking works … and fails horribly. Conspiracy is all about narrative interpretation, not “facts”. Once one part of the narrative fails, the whole thing crumbles. The beauty of the video is that the viewer already knows the narrative is wrong, but can see how that bogus narrative is created using nothing but factual data.
In short, it’s not about the data dots; it’s about how the dots are connected — and that usually (nearly always) happens in the theater of the imagination when it comes to conspiracy theory.
I saw two items today that have convinced me that the PaleoBabble blog needs to begin awarding the PhD in Non Sequitur Thinking for ancient astronaut theorists.
The first is this wonderful post from the Skeptophilia blog. Please read it. It is an uncannily accurate accounting of how ancient astronaut conspiracy theorists think (and it’s entertaining). I loved it since I’ve lived it (too many times). I hereby infer, with all the authority invested in me by virtue of the possession of a sound mind, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Non Sequitur Thinking on the student referred to in Gordon Bennet’s Skeptophilia post. May he wear the mantle well. My thanks to professor Bennet for recommending his student for the degree.
The second item comes from my comments page. Karku asked my thoughts on one Maximillen de Lafayette, whom the commenter is apparently having trouble tracking down in terms of credential verification (what a surprise). Basically, de Lafayette seems to want to be the heir apparent to Zecharia Sitchin’s gold train, and so claims expertise in about everything pertaining to the ancient world, along with authoring hundreds of books and thousands of other items worth reading (!). After yawning and chuckling, here was my short response:
1. It matters not how many publications one has if one is writing only for the uninformed. Rather, when one subjects one’s views to experts in the relevant fields (i.e., subjects one’s work to peer review) and they determine that such writings pass muster, THEN and only then should we care.
2. If Mr. de Lafayette lacks real credentials from real universities, then he is a liar when it comes to his credibility for saying anything about any ancient language. I don’t know if he’s lying. I’m giving you a chance to defend him.
3. Who cares if he “takes Sitchin further” when Sitchin’s material is bogus? Taking ideas that do not exist in ancient Mesopotamian records is like taking the anatomical study of unicorns “further.” Caring about his work would therefore be a waste of time.
My guess, of course, is that Lafayette knows even less about ancient languages than Sitchin did, which wasn’t much, as I have noted elsewhere. But maybe he studied something somewhere and can prove it. All this before we even get to the non sequitur nature of his work.
Just when you were almost convinced that the Vatican wasn’t asleep at the switch in its herculean effort to keep its ancient manuscripts secret. Bummer. You can read about the initiative here.
Oh, wait . . . I’ll bet that all these years they’ve been busy pulling out all the manuscripts they want to hide from public just so they can appear to be open now . . . that’s it.
And you missed it. Me, too.
This steaming pile of paleobabble reads exactly like the classic “I had proof of aliens but the government came and took it away” stories that are ubiquitous on the web. This is another Aaarrrgghhhh! Award nominee. (I’ll have to get around to judging those soon).
The “beauty” of this sort of story is that it is both completely unverifiable and completely unfalsifiable. No one except those who put out the story have names. What a piece of research! What heroic whistleblowers! Proof, please.
I’m betting the Smithsonian moved Adam’s body to AREA 51. Elvis is night security there.
Just remember: sanctified illogic and chicanery is still illogic and chicanery.