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Old November 14 2012, 10:10 AM   #391
Deckerd
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Yes. Yes it has.
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Old November 14 2012, 04:35 PM   #392
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Deckerd wrote: View Post
I think you're over-egging the pudding a bit here. If people on this board are allowed to discuss evolution, then everybody is. Some people are more informed than others and I would suggest that Prof Hawking falls into the first category.
And when Stephen Hawking decides to come onto this board and share his opinions about human evolution, he's welcome to do so. The thing is, as an astrophysicist by training and career, he is no more an authority on human evolution than anyone else on this board. It would be no different if Hawking were, say, the world's most successful car salesman or an incredibly famous accountant. There's nothing about being a PHYSICIST that makes you inherently better informed or even more intelligent on matters unrelated to physics.

The funny thing is, we recognize this in most cases. Physicists are treated as inherently mentally superior to everyone else, simply because physics involves math, and math is hard. Evolution, AFAIK, doesn't involve a whole lot of math, and what little it DOES involve is of a very different type than used in physics.
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Old November 14 2012, 04:47 PM   #393
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
The problem is trading on one's credibility and reputation to make a prediction they aren't actually qualified to make.
It's his/her credibility and reputation to trade.
As for the predictions - their value depends on the arguments on which they are built, not on the titles (and the domains corresponding to these titles) the predictors have.
Yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and call bullshit on this one.

You know and I know that if Stephen Hawking announced with a straight face that the next phase of human evolution is likely to involve the genetic engineering of a race of enormous amazonian women, ALOT more people would take him seriously than they would if that prediction was being made by a pizza delivery guy from New York, even if the delivery guy used the exact same arguments and the exact same research.

Famous observation: "Back where I come from, we have universities -- seats of great learning -- where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep, deep thoughts -- and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma!"
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Old November 14 2012, 05:17 PM   #394
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Re: Ancient Aliens

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Deckerd wrote: View Post
I think you're over-egging the pudding a bit here. If people on this board are allowed to discuss evolution, then everybody is. Some people are more informed than others and I would suggest that Prof Hawking falls into the first category.
And when Stephen Hawking decides to come onto this board and share his opinions about human evolution, he's welcome to do so. The thing is, as an astrophysicist by training and career, he is no more an authority on human evolution than anyone else on this board. It would be no different if Hawking were, say, the world's most successful car salesman or an incredibly famous accountant. There's nothing about being a PHYSICIST that makes you inherently better informed or even more intelligent on matters unrelated to physics.

The funny thing is, we recognize this in most cases. Physicists are treated as inherently mentally superior to everyone else, simply because physics involves math, and math is hard. Evolution, AFAIK, doesn't involve a whole lot of math, and what little it DOES involve is of a very different type than used in physics.
I refer you to post 387
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Old November 14 2012, 06:44 PM   #395
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Re: Ancient Aliens

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Reverse engineering is not so straightforward a process as people like to believe. It's a very specialized sub-field in engineering that is actually more similar to forensics and archeology itself.
Agreed, which is why it complements these so well and should be consulted more often.

I think you're under-estimating how important knowledge of ancient technology and building techniques actually IS,
No, I think archeology is underestimating how important it is, and so are you. But still, an engineer specializing in reverse engineering (perhaps with a minor degree in archeology or vice versa) would be better qualified to do it than your average archeologist.

and archeologists are in a far better position to examine those techniques than engineers, almost to the point that an archeologist would be able to tell how a structure was built just by comparing it with other structures whose construction processes ARE documented.
Documented by whom? I don’t think your average archeologist could even be able to read modern blueprints or engineering diagrams, what makes you think they would do any better with ancient ones, even if they could be found and accurately translated? Besides, there are no documents for the ancient structures I’m referring to. If you know of any, why not mention a few?

That's like saying archeologists 4000 years in the future won't be able to determine anything meaningful about capitalism until they reverse engineer the Golden Gate Bridge. That's just silly; you could reverse engineer half of San Francisco and it wouldn't tell you as much as a Tommy Friedman book. More importantly, even if you lacked the building schematics for the Golden Gate, you could determine alot about how it was built by comparing it with those of other suspension bridges you DO have data for; reverse engineering it is an interesting exercise for engineering sake, but it isn't helpful for archeologists.
I don’t think that’s a very apt analogy, but let’s be clear; I’m not saying that reverse engineering can tell us everything about ancient cultures and their beliefs, only that it is one way we can glean a better context in which to interpret them, and perhaps a better respect for what they were capable of.
An archeologist wouldn't have to GUESS. He'd be able to consult the ancient records to figure how how they did it.
Only if he (or she) could read the originals, or have said records translated accurately, which is a task for a philologist, not an archeologist. And even then, it’s still a matter of interpretation, which is where preconceived notions are often imposed, almost out of necessity.
If those records don't exist, then the goal of the archeologist is to find those records and translate them. Reverse engineering the pyramids isn't going to help with that processes.
Actually, this is not -as I’m sure you’ll agree- their primary goal; while it’s always a bonus when archeologists recover written records, these will still need to be translated, which in many cases proves futile. Besides, many megalithic structures were built by people who apparently had no written records.
And as far as a technical term for tools and/or techniques goes, an engineer could indeed help with translations pertaining to how the pyramids were built, especially if he or she had a minor in philology.
I'm not sure why that makes a difference. About a dozen of my ancestors are entombed in a mausoleum in Kentucky right now; my grandmother plans to join them when she dies. As that would involve OPENING the mausoleum in order to place her remains there, "intrusive burial" doesn't strike me as an odd thing to happen in a building designed to function as a tomb.
Not for a tomb, but there’s no evidence that the (Egyptian) pyramids were originally tombs! Their design, in most cases, certainly isn’t conducive to that function.

Your conditioned bias that the pyramids must have been tombs prevents you from seeing clearly that, without any evidence, there is no real reason to have ever assumed they were tombs in the first place! People are buried in and around churches too, but that doesn’t mean that they were originally built for that purpose.


More to the point, it's not really clear what else the pyramids could have been used for OTHER than that. There's not much room in there for much else; I could see them being used as the Pharaoh's panic room during an invasion, but as others have pointed out, they're not particularly effective as fortresses.

This is precisely where a little interdisciplinary cooperation would help to clarify things tremendously.

From you, when you say things like "it’s not that archeologists have been unable to determine if they were used for some other purpose, it’s that they have been unwilling to try, or even to consider the possibility"
This has nothing to do with whether they have, or have not, been “inundated”, only that they won’t even listen to any other possibility.

It seems to me they're quite open to that possibility. Perhaps you should be more specific about what you're referring to?
Perhaps you should be more specific about whom in the archeological or Egyptology community are “quite open” the idea? I know of none, although there may be some archeologist who aren’t so closed minded; leading Egyptologists’ such a Hawass and Lehner insist on the “tombs and tombs only” function, or words to that effect, and have referred to anyone with an alternate theory as a “pyramidiot”.
It does, actually, since water erosion over stone is not something geologists typically use to determine the age of structures -- artificial or otherwise -- because it's extremely difficult to determine at what rate that erosion actually occurred.
No, it doesn’t. You’re over-generalizing, I’m speaking specifically of Egypt and the Sphinx and its enclosure. This monument was weathered by rain, (a lot of it) of which there was none in the time when Egyptologists say the structure was carved and its enclosure built. But there was plenty of rain to account for the weathering several thousand years (minimum) earlier, ergo the monument was made during the wetter period of pre-history.
Of course paleo-climatology comes into play here as well, so we have two relatively “hard” sciences contradicting the “soft science” of Egyptology, whose ideas on the matter were basically guesswork in the first place.
Neither have astronomers. That may tell you something.
It tells me at least two things; (1) that most astronomers are not interested in archeology (no surprise there); and (2) that both archeology and astronomy still suffer under the misconception that our ancestors were primitive simpletons who could not understand precession or build monuments that accurately track the stars.
In exactly the same way that most science teachers avoid problematic students. But in both cases it doesn't take a great deal of prodding to get them to admit "Well, I always hoped..." followed by a cautious, "But where's the evidence?"
Again, not a very apt analogy, but in any event, it’s not so much a matter of the amount or quality of the evidence, but the proper interpretation of that evidence we have that counts, and for that an interdisciplinary approach is often helpful in seeing “the big picture”.

Yes, just not in the way you're thinking. Most of the evidence you're referring to has been compiled by people who lack expertise in most of those fields...
I disagree, but would it make any difference to you? According to your extreme reductionist way of thinking, there is no one person –scientists or otherwise- that you would consider qualified to analyze it all.

...and aren't really in a position to determine whether they are relevant to the legend itself or just odd coincidences related to something else entirely (or garbage data related to nothing at all).
Again, who’s going to be qualified to fairly and expertly disentangle what’s relevant or not? For that we need an interdisciplinary panel to consider the data, something that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. When it comes to things like Atlantis, we’re all amateurs.

And what is “garbage data” anyway? Sounds like a term for anything we don’t understand, kinda like “junk DNA”.

AFAIK, Egyptian writings contain an account of the construction of the pyramids, for example, or at least imply that the Egyptians didn't think there was anything particularly odd or otherworldly about the nature of their construction. This is even more true of the Mayan pyramids, for which somewhat more detailed writings exist on their significance as well as their construction.
throwback beat me to this one; the only thing that exists is Herodotus’ work and as already said, its accuracy is doubtful, and in any case, is not anywhere near an original or first-hand account.

But the fact that he mentions that Khufu was buried under the pyramid –not in it- is, if true, suggestive that this is also another case of intrusive burial, and that Khufu only claimed the GP for himself and was not the builder!

Incidentally, Herodotus also said that Khufu prostituted his daughter in order to pay for the construction of his pyramid! So I think we can safely ignore him on this and related matters.

That's not really what "empirical" means...
Then how would you define it then?

Here’s how I define it, “the logical and systematic collection and organization of raw data, followed by hypothesis formation to explain the data (without preconceived bias), which leads to designing experiments to validate or falsify the hypotheses, which then leads the most successfully tested hypothesis being elevated to the status of theory, and after standing the test of time (and more conventional testing) becomes tacitly accepted as provisional fact”.

Give me your definition and we'll compare notes and see if, in actual practice, archeology fully qualifies.


...but the point in this case is archeologists cannot (or, as a rule, TRY not) to make claims that aren't supported by concrete findings. They don't make assumptions about what was going on in a particular culture unless they can find some clues that indicate as much.
Not in my experience, what you’re talking about is the Ideal, not the actual practice.

I concede that you cannot always say the same about anthropologists, though. History records MANY cases where anthropologists chose to interpret the behaviors of ancient or isolated peoples through their own cultural lens and reached totally erroneous or inappropriate conclusions as a result. Things have gotten a lot better since then, but the tendency is still there to some degree.
Archeology is a sub-branch of Anthropology, and its practitioners are just as guilty of what you describe, especially the further back in time their investigations take them.

Last edited by TIN_MAN; November 15 2012 at 06:32 AM.
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Old November 14 2012, 06:51 PM   #396
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Confirmation bias is alive and well and inhabiting the above post in quantities which rival the mass of a, well a pyramid.
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Old November 14 2012, 07:57 PM   #397
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Deckerd wrote: View Post
Confirmation bias is alive and well and inhabiting the above post in quantities which rival the mass of a, well a pyramid.
And so the pot calls the kettle black.

I see you like to play it safe and make vague hit-and-run posts so as to avoid being contradicted.

Why don't you specify for me what you see as confirmation bias in my previous post, so I can make a rebuttal? After all, if it's in such quantities as you suggest, it shouldn’t be hard for you to pick at least one example.

I'm not advocating a firm belief in any one subject, just pointing out the flaws in over-specialization and the advantages of an interdisciplinary approach (in some cases).

Do you even know what confirmation bias is? The only confirmation bias on this board that I've seen has come from those defending the status quo, such as yourself.

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Old November 15 2012, 04:22 PM   #398
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Re: Ancient Aliens

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
The problem is trading on one's credibility and reputation to make a prediction they aren't actually qualified to make.
It's his/her credibility and reputation to trade.
As for the predictions - their value depends on the arguments on which they are built, not on the titles (and the domains corresponding to these titles) the predictors have.
Yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and call bullshit on this one.

You know and I know that if Stephen Hawking announced with a straight face that the next phase of human evolution is likely to involve the genetic engineering of a race of enormous amazonian women, ALOT more people would take him seriously than they would if that prediction was being made by a pizza delivery guy from New York, even if the delivery guy used the exact same arguments and the exact same research.

Famous observation: "Back where I come from, we have universities -- seats of great learning -- where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep, deep thoughts -- and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma!"
You call bullshit a lot - based on nothing.

Your post is straw-man because:
Did "Stephen Hawking announced with a straight face that the next phase of human evolution is likely to involve the genetic engineering of a race of enormous amazonian women"?
If yes - let's see the proof. If such a prediction exists () and is supported by no arguments, Stephen Hawking just wasted his credibility and reputation - which are his to waste, NOT yours to dictate about.
If not - your post is a straw-man.


And I noticed that your arguments in refuting scientists' predictions are ad personams or other superficialities, NOT anything relating to the actual arguments.
Not very convincing - quite the opposite, newtype_alpha.
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Old November 15 2012, 09:10 PM   #399
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Though this is based on my experiences with the mental health clinic in my area, I think it has some wider resonance.

I noted that people are loyal and will defend people based on some perceived superiority. This superiority could be based on a title alone. The man is a psychiatrist, so he is above reproach.

I noted that people blindly follow methodology, even when that methodology can cause harm or slow progress. The medicines aren't working, so let's increase them. Uh, doctor, I am reverting back to what I was before, and the medicines aren't working. Trust me, I am a psychiatrist, and you are not, so go along with what I tell you. I am increasing the medicines.

I noted that the process of change is slow. It will take five to six weeks before I hear whether or not my request is accepted. In the meantime, if I have issues, go to the emergency room.

These three issues are seen in the other scientific fields, including archaeology.
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Old November 15 2012, 09:39 PM   #400
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Well, putting astro in front of any field means you possess superior, more advanced knowledge. An astro-sociologist, for example, pointlessly speculates about the cultures on many worlds, not just our own, and an astro-economist is completely wrong about more than one planet. And of course an astro-cosmotologist, which sounds technical, knows what kind of highlights and eye shadow goes with blue skin. Somehow a few instances of astro upgrading became accepted, and astro-biology would be one of them.
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Old November 15 2012, 09:50 PM   #401
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Re: Ancient Aliens

As far as I can tell I really doubt that aliens ever visited us in the past. That doesn't mean they didn't, but it is highly unlikely. The Dark Ages had us lose a lot of collected knowledge, so if a civilization that built something like Stonehenge or other places simply fell apart or the people were invaded by people wanting the land or slaves came in or an ultra religious society came in a killed all the "heretics" genocide just didn't pop in in the 1930's and 40's, that could explain the loss of that knowledge.

I also find it quite insulting to think that there is no chance we could have built magnificent monuments or cities on our own.
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Old November 15 2012, 10:02 PM   #402
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Using an example from the Holy Land, of how knowledge can be lost. In the 5th century BCE, Nehemiah knew of the location of the royal necropolis, where King David was buried. His tomb was located in the City of David. Centuries later, the Jewish historian Josephus placed the tomb of David on Mt. Zion.

Knowledge was being lost before the Dark Ages. It is estimated that we have no more than 10% of the total literature produced by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It gets worse the further back in time we go.

And would we understand what we uncover, if we don't have something to compare it to? We would think that tombs of Middle East potentates would be elaborate. However, in the time of King David, the tombs were tunnels dug into the side of a hill. They didn't get more elaborate until centuries later. We know how to identity the tunnels as tombs because archaeologists have found other similar tunnels in the Middle East.
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Old November 16 2012, 07:21 PM   #403
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Re: Ancient Aliens

TIN_MAN wrote: View Post
No, I think archeology is underestimating how important it is, and so are you. But still, an engineer specializing in reverse engineering (perhaps with a minor degree in archeology or vice versa) would be better qualified to do it than your average archeologist.
In that case, he would be an ABOVE AVERAGE archeologists.

Documented by whom? I don’t think your average archeologist could even be able to read modern blueprints or engineering diagrams, what makes you think they would do any better with ancient ones, even if they could be found and accurately translated?
Better question: what makes you think ancient diagrams or blueprints -- if they even ARE that -- would bear any resemblance to modern ones? Most of those descriptions are more likely to be pure text in a manuscript or an inscription than an actual diagram, and may involve measurements, units or allusions that you would have to know their cultural context to even understand.

I don’t think that’s a very apt analogy, but let’s be clear; I’m not saying that reverse engineering can tell us everything about ancient cultures and their beliefs, only that it is one way we can glean a better context in which to interpret them, and perhaps a better respect for what they were capable of.
Then an archeologist trained in engineering and/or reverse engineering would be an ideal candidate for that study.

Actually, this is not -as I’m sure you’ll agree- their primary goal; while it’s always a bonus when archeologists recover written records, these will still need to be translated, which in many cases proves futile. Besides, many megalithic structures were built by people who apparently had no written records.
The PURSUIT of those records is an important goal, though, since it yields information in the most directly available format.

Not for a tomb, but there’s no evidence that the (Egyptian) pyramids were originally tombs! Their design, in most cases, certainly isn’t conducive to that function.
What, then, IS it conducive to?

Your conditioned bias that the pyramids must have been tombs...
I'm not able to find a post where I claimed that the pyramids "must have" been anything. In fact I'm pretty sure I suggested that the pyramids may have been part of Egyptian succession rituals and/or transfer of power issues.

This has nothing to do with whether they have, or have not, been “inundated”, only that they won’t even listen to any other possibility.
When they themselves are the ones SUGGESTING alternate possibilities? That makes sense to you?

More importantly, much like the Ancient Aliens thing: it's one thing to have an alternate theory, but it's another entirely to have corroborating evidence. Do YOU have a specific theory about what the pyramids were really for, and if so, what is the basis for it?

Perhaps you should be more specific about whom in the archeological or Egyptology community are “quite open” the idea? I know of none, although there may be some archeologist who aren’t so closed minded; leading Egyptologists’ such a Hawass and Lehner insist on the “tombs and tombs only” function, or words to that effect, and have referred to anyone with an alternate theory as a “pyramidiot”.
Have you ever actually MET Hawass and Lehner and spoken with them on the issue? How many archeologists have you actually discussed this issue with?

Because I can say, despite the fact that a solid third of them really ARE just a bunch of closed-minded assholes in the habit of shouting down anyone with a different opinion, this does not appear to be the MAJORITY disposition. Far from it, it seems to correlate directly with visibility: the better your work is known, the more likely you are to be a dick to people who disagree with you (a trait that is not necessarily unique to archeologists).

No, it doesn’t. You’re over-generalizing, I’m speaking specifically of Egypt and the Sphinx and its enclosure. This monument was weathered by rain, (a lot of it) of which there was none in the time when Egyptologists say the structure was carved and its enclosure built. But there was plenty of rain to account for the weathering several thousand years (minimum) earlier...
And "several thousand years" is significantly too short of a timescale for a geologist to be able to pinpoint it with any degree of precision. We'd be talking hundreds of thousands to millions of years, at the very least.

IOW, the rain erosion issue isn't all that informative unless it tells us that the Sphinx enclosure is GEOLOGICALLY ancient, like "built by early humans during their genocidal war against the neanderthals" ancient. Geology is otherwise not precise enough of a science to determine regional climate data with anything close to that kind of accuracy.

It tells me at least two things; (1) that most astronomers are not interested in archeology (no surprise there); and (2) that both archeology and astronomy still suffer under the misconception that our ancestors were primitive simpletons who could not understand precession or build monuments that accurately track the stars.
I don't know of many archeologists OR astronomers who make that claim. Actually, I have been reminded by researchers in BOTH fields that astronomy was an essential survival skill in the eons before humans developed maps; even ancient hunter-gatherers supposedly navigated by following the stars (this is based on the realization that isolated African and aboriginal tribes STILL navigate this way in the absence of other landmarks).

I disagree, but would it make any difference to you? According to your extreme reductionist way of thinking, there is no one person –scientists or otherwise- that you would consider qualified to analyze it all.
Correct, there is no ONE person qualified to analyze everything. This is even true between people in the SAME discipline; ten archeologists working together will get a more accurate picture than a single one working alone. Add an astronomer and a translator to their team and that helps even more.

You know what WOULDN'T be helpful? If the one astronomer on the team goes off and puts together a NEW team consisting of a physicist, an historian, a folklorist and five grad undergrads with a lot of free time on their hands and tells them "I was on a dig with a bunch of other archeologists that one time and I saw lots of evidence that Atlantis exists! Let's go find it!"

Again, who’s going to be qualified to fairly and expertly disentangle what’s relevant or not? For that we need an interdisciplinary panel to consider the data
No we don't. The process we have right now works well enough: researchers share data in public, toss ideas back and forth, new ideas form, new evidence comes to light, rinse and repeat.

There's nothing to stop interdisciplinary exchange and there never has been. That's not even an issue right now. The issue we're discussing is whether or not people OUTSIDE the discipline are really better equipped to researching a particular subject than the people INSIDE of it.

But the fact that he mentions that Khufu was buried under the pyramid –not in it- is, if true, suggestive that this is also another case of intrusive burial, and that Khufu only claimed the GP for himself and was not the builder!

Incidentally, Herodotus also said that Khufu prostituted his daughter in order to pay for the construction of his pyramid! So I think we can safely ignore him on this and related matters.
Which is fine to say, except that without an alternative source of information we're left with Herodotus whether we like him or not. Lack of contradictory evidence leaves us unable to determine to what extent the account is accurate, exaggerated, fictionalized or just plain wrong.

Then how would you define it then?
Data obtained by either observation of experimentation.

For example: I put a measuring tape next to my son and I see that he is three feet seven inches tall. That's empirical data set (observed/measured data). Contrast with a calculation in which I take my son's body weight, his shoe size, his displacement in water and then CALCULATE his height based on a model I devised; I would call that indirect evidence or just a calculation/theory/etc.

Empirical data doesn't need to be "repeatable" as such. I can count the number of bones in a human body three seconds before I stuff that body in a woodchipper and grind him into pulp; no one else will be able to collect that data ever again, but I still have it and I still obtained it by observation.

Not in my experience, what you’re talking about is the Ideal, not the actual practice.
Archeologists tend to strive for the ideal. Not all of them -- or even most of them -- fall that far short of it. Plenty do, but this is not the majority.

Archeology is a sub-branch of Anthropology
I tend to think it's the other way around, personally, especially since anthropologists more often study cultures that PRESENTLY exist than ancient ones that no longer do.
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Old November 16 2012, 07:30 PM   #404
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
Your post is straw-man
No, it's a thought experiment. The point is information source: is a scientific claim automatically more credible just because it is being made by a scientist? By extension: is expertise in ANY field equivalent to expertise in ALL fields?

And I noticed that your arguments in refuting scientists' predictions...
Have I refuted anyone's PREDICTIONS in this thread? You may need to refresh my memory.
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Old November 16 2012, 07:34 PM   #405
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Re: Ancient Aliens

How the fuck can you make all these completely bread dead comments about archaeology? Perhaps, as newtype suggested, if they put astro- before their discipline you would be falling over yourselves to quote their genius.
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