Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hancock Woo
Graham Hancock
The following is an exchange I had with a true believer in “Alternavitis” at Counterknowledge Here. (The Counterknowledge Website no longer exists a copy of the page I'm referring to can be found at the Internet Archive Here.)
I thought it might be interesting as an example of people obsessed with pseudoscience woo. In this case someone who is enamoured with Graham Hancock's nonsense.
Incognitus July 2, 2010.

OK; Pacal, you want to play hard? Lest do it.You, Mr. Almighty encarnation of archeology, explain to me a few things and make me wise:
1) Baalbek in Lebanon: How did the ancients cut and moved blocks of 1500 tones? What is the technical method to to this? Why are our modern cranes not able to move them and the ancientswere?
2) How do you date stone using C14?
3) Why the similarities between cultures like the mayans and egiptians, why did both cultures were avid stargazers and built pyramids? Are all of these similarities “just coincidence”?
4) Why does the sphinx have evidence of erosion caused by massive water flow on it? When does the climate record say Egipt had a rainy weather? Robert Schoch put his reputation at stake saying this is the case with the sphinx…was he wrong?
4) Finally, how are we suppose to trust a horde of biased individuals when they can not even offer an open explanation to these dilemas?
5) Give the link to the archeological papers that show your points. If not, I will suposse you are a windbag and nothing more!!!!
Finally, Richard Feymann was very critic of scientific methods in social sciences (which includes archeology, as far as I understand), see and grow intellectually:
From the point of view of a phycisist, archeology is just a bunch of innacurate methods whose uncertainty grows the more we go back in time. It is not a natural science. When we are talking about pre-history events, I think archeology is more flawed than ever.
Incognitus said on 2 July 2010.
Sanji, sorry for what I said about you, I think I put you side by side with that discusting Pacal, which is already a painful mistake!!!Really sorry!!!
*Regarding No. 1, Sorry Baalbek is almost certainly Roman.

To quote:
The stones were transported over a path only 600 meters length and about 15 meters *downhill*. The quarry is 1160 meters high, and the temple 145 meters. So it was easy to keep the stones on an even level to their final resting place and it was unnecessary to lift them about 7 meters as some authors claim. As you might know, Rome is the city with the most obelisks outside of Egypt. They stole the things by the dozen and took them home. The heaviest known obelisk weighs 510 tons, and it was transported some 1000's of *kilometers*. This transport was documented by the roman author Marcellinus Comes. The Romans even left detailed paintings and reliefs about the ways to move such things : as on the bottom of the Theodosius-obelisk in Istanbul. They used "Roman-patented" winches, in German called "Göpelwinden" which work with long lever ways. To move a 900 ton stone, they needed only 700 men. The transport was slow, about 30 meters a day, because they had to dismantle and rebuild the winches every few meters, to pull the obelisk with maximum torque. But in Baalbek, where they moved several blocks, maybe they built an alley of winches, where they passed the block from winch to winch.
From Doug’s Archaeology Page, Here.

See also Wikipedia Here.

Regarding No. 2. Since when does anyone think carbon 14 dates rocks?

To quote:
a). "C-14 can't date stones." Well, this is obvious. It is also entirely irrelevant. Let's assume, for the moment, that C-14 COULD date stones. What would such dates show? They would reveal the age of the stone itself, and therefore render dates in the millions, not thousands of years. While such data might be of interest to geologists, it would be of no interest to archaeologists, who are concerned with when the stone was quarried, moved, and put in place by humans. To find that out, archaeologists would be looking at associated material to date the human activity by which the stone had been manipulated. And that is precisely what they do. So whether or not C-14 can date stone is entirely beside the point.
In short, the system works as follows. First and foremost, it dates organic material found in archaeological context. Archaeological context is usually sealed strata of occupation, layer upon layer from the bottom (oldest) levels of a site to the upper (most recent) strata. The strata are carefully recorded and, gradually, the stratigraphy of the site is mapped. Often the stratigraphy is determined by smallish excavation trenches (in some cases supplemented by numerous core samples) made at various points in a site, to be sure you are not getting an imbalanced or unrepresentative picture by focusing only on one small area.
From In the Hall of Maat, An Answer to Graham Hancock Here, written by an archaeologist, Garrett Fagan.

See also Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, 2nd Edition, Renfrew, Colin, Bahn, Paul, Thames and Hudson, London, 1996, pp. 132-138.

Regarding No. 3. So why were there similarities between Egyptian and Mayan culture?

Well there were also massive differences such as the fact that the Egyptians did not but temples on top of their pyramids. Of course the pyramids were also constructed vastly differently. The Mayans and Egyptians also cultivated different plants and I could easily go on. Of course I could mention the almost total absence of any pre-columbian old world artifact in the new world. I could point out that all sorts of societies from the Chinese to megalithic builders etc., were star gazers. In fact studying the movement ands position of heavenly bodies seems to be a virtually universal human trait and seems to go back to the Palaeolithic times. Of course human civilizations have similarities because they are human civilizations.

If your interested you might want to read the following.

Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries, Third Edition, Feder, Kenneth L., Mayfield, Toronto, 1999, pp. 79-132, Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions and other Popular Theories About Man’s Past, Stiebing, William H., Prometheus Books, Buffalo NY, 1984, pp. 131-166, Voyagers to the New World, Davies, Nigel, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1979, Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents, Wauchope, Robert, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1962, Invented Knowledge, Fritze, Ronald H., Reaktion Books, London, 2009, pp. 63-103, Voyages of the Imagination, Frost, Frank J., in Archaeology, V. 46 No. 2, March/April, 1993, pp. 45-51, The Spanish Entrada: a Model for assessing Claims of Pre-Columbian Contact between the Old and New Worlds, Moeller, Roger W., in North American Archaeologist, v. 15 no. 2, 199994, pp 147-166, Robbing Native American Cultures, Haslip-Viera, Gabriel, de Montellano, Bernard Ortiz, Barbour, Warren, at In the Hall of Maat, Here,
In Search of Ancient Astronomies, Krupp, E. C, McGraw-Hill, Toronto, 1978.

Regarding No. 4. You are aware that Robert Schoch’s statements regarding the Sphinx are hotly disputed to put it mildly.

For example:
To sum up: the weathering seen on the Sphinx and it's enclosure do not resemble that caused by running water, there are no dominant channels such an idea implies. It is apparent that spherical weathering of the exposed limestone , caused by variations in temperature and humidity coupled with CrySIE, best explains what we see at the Sphinx - on the body itself and along the enclosure walls. Schoch's and Reader's assumption that conditions have changed dramatically since the time of the Sphinx's construction are not necessary to explain its current condition, and should be rejected.
From Age of the Sphinx, Alex Bordeau in In the Hall of Maat Here. The above mentioned web site has eight other articles about the age of the Sphinx; read them. See also Giza: The Truth, Lawton, Ian, Ogilvie-Herald, Invisible Cities Press, Montpelier Vermont, 2001, pp. 292-320. This book is especially interesting in that both of the authors are very sympathetic to “alternative” history.

Regarding no. 4? (It should be no. 5). Well it is a collection of useless ad-hominem comments and agitation propaganda. You have learned “alternative” speak quite well. Of course those “individuals” you so relentlessly deride have been able to offer explanations you just haven’t been looking very hard obviously. As for bias that is hilarious considering how biased Hancock and frankly you seem to be. Please look in the mirror. I just love how you refer to them as a horde. Not even really human are they? Once again the same old Manichean dualism of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. How trite.

Regarding no. 5? (It should be no. 6). So I would be a “windbag” unless I did the research that you should have been doing! You just don’t have the time to do your own research and I’m obligated to do your own research?! This is of course typical of many “alternatives” they propose the far-out bizarre theories but the onus is on the sceptic who doubts them to prove them wrong. Typical double standard. I did not notice you citing any papers, books etc. I am of course not surprised. It took me only about thirty minutes to put together the above from the books, articles etc., that I have in my possession and the web. If you want more detail may I suggest you do it yourself. Your not paying me. Also considering that you seem to hold Archaeologists in near total contempt why would you take seriously any of the papers books etc., I’ve listed?

Regarding Richard Feymann. Already took him in university. A very interesting writer. In that video you linked to Feymann is simply stating a truism about so-called soft sciences. Anyone who practices those sciences knows it is not physics, chemistry etc. It doesn’t mean that the data is not scientifically collected or that their may be aspects of hard science in the soft science. Neither does it mean that we can’t do it and get results that are reliable. Feymann was not a practitioner of any of these so called Soft Sciences and of course his knowledge of them was limited. Of course what he did know was that they are not physics. What you have here is the run of the mill problem with doing science in certain areas. It is in many ways a philosophy of science problem. Which would require reams of books even to get started on.

However none of this means that you can’t do the so-called soft sciences with rigor. After all just look at historiography, definitely a soft science if their ever was one but definitely it can be done if not absolutely rigorously at least more rigorously. People who do it don’t just make up stuff as they go along. (I hope!) And you certainly can’t make up stuff if you practice it rigorously.

I fail to see how the fact that Archaeology is not physics, chemistry etc, (although those can be used doing archaeology) helps Hancock and his nonsense at all. His stuff is far less based on “fact” and “truth” than on any so called “soft” “fact” of Archaeology. If anyone is making it up as he goes along it is Hancock.

In a previous post you referred to Archaeology as “this shit” you also made the demonstrably false statement that Archaeologists do not use a multidisciplinary approach.

It is obvious that you are making it up as you go along also. You have this view of Archaeology and the people who practice it that is sheer Manichean bullshit. Of course it is obvious that you have no interest in trying to learn what it actually involves. In the faint hope you might read it I suggest a book mentioned above, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice.

Incognitus its nice to know that you think I came from a “shithole”1 and that I am “disgusting”. As far as I’m concerned you are simply ignorant.

1. Counterknowledge Here
*Note My Reply as been removed from Counterknowledge.
Pierre Cloutier

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