Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by BillJ, Jun 19, 2012.
So, you've interviewed every American and every European?
I'm not belittling your illness throwback. My family have lived with a schizophrenic for a long time and I know what an enormous effort it is for him just to get from one day to the next sometimes. My heart goes out to you and I wish you nothing but the best I assure you. However someone on a board pulling people up over their erroneous view of what archaeology is was not then, nor is now, an attack on you personally.
I have sympathy for you and your family, Frau Bulcher. I understand the toll that mental illness can have on a family.
Sojourner, no, I haven't interviewed every American nor every European. That would be impossible. What matters is not the individual; what matters is the policies and priorities of a nation. Every year, in this country, I have seen the same pattern when there is an economic crisis - the first cuts are to social services, to education, and to poverty reduction programs. It has clockwork predictability.
I have studied how other countries have treated the mentally ill. Our country falls far behind other countries in the treatment of the mentally ill. I don't deny the progress that we have made as a nation, but we are far from doing what is necessary to treat people.
Frau Bulcher, you yourself said that everyone who has posted in this article is ignorant on archaeology. I didn't take it personally, I did take it that you were making a generalization about people. I was ready to let it go, and you came back with a response claiming that I was ignorant. I felt the need to correct you by demonstrating that I am not ignorant and that I have some experience with archaeology. If you are going to make a generalization about a people, did you not think that you would at least be challenged? I expected to be challenged by my comments, and Sojourner challenged me.
Returning to a question I posed earlier, you said that people are ignorant about archaeology. In my opinion, you failed to give specifics on how people are ignorant about archaeology. Can you cite one example in this thread where people have shown ignorance of archaeology?
Because the engineering and architectural designs for the pyramids are no longer accessible and thus engineers and architects would be ill-equipped to explore that question (especially the "why" which implies judging knowledge about ancient cultures, beliefs, religions and practices, something that is ALSO beyond the purview of engineering).
The question of HOW they were built is an academic exercise for engineers, but not much more than that, because the engineer can only guess at possible techniques that would have been available or that would have worked the best. The archeologist has to figure out what the builders ACTUALLY DID, for which consultation with engineers will be useful, but not definitive in and of itself.
Actually, it's a fact that there's never been a shred of convincing evidence that the pyramids were built for anything else. They otherwise serve no purpose except to entomb the bodies found within them; if they served another purpose at some point, archeologists have not been able to determine it (and contrary to your claims, the academic world is inundated with theories as to what those alternate claims might have been, including some rather outlandish theories about Pharaoh's using them to fake their own deaths and/or pretend to be reincarnated in the personages of their offspring).
I'm not sure who was "embarrassed" by that particular revelation, but I'm equally unsure that the geologists' findings are as relevant as you think they are, especially since geologic timescales are FAR too short to determine differing ages with that kind of precision. The only sources (not from ancient-aliens websites) I've found conclude that the body was constructed using different stone as the face, which suggests two different stages of construction for each.
And yet it was the research of archeologists that lead to the discovery that astronomy was even relevant, hence they eventually consulted them themselves.
Actually, the problem with the "fringe" or "borderland" areas of investigation such as Atlantis and ancient aliens is that they are typically embraced by people who lack expertise on ANY of those disciplines. I can tell you without equivocation that Atlantis is of great interest to archeologists, and "ancient aliens" is a subject of interest to both archeologists and anthropologists. But the overwhelming lack of empirical evidence for either theory means few people within those disciplines take them seriously and instead relegate them to an era of fantasy (sort of like a high science school teacher who wonders if that half-witted student napping in the third row might have a life-changing epiphany and grow up to become the first man to walk on Mars. It would be awesome if that happened, but it probably won't).
You're conflating two different things here. Skeptical ARCHEOLOGISTS are not the source of most of those criticisms; THEY criticize the theory more on its merits and the ways in which it contradicts empirical data they already have available.
The criticisms you cite are most likely to be encountered by other people who ALSO lack any expertise in scientific disciplines. Which, as I pointed out before, is why you need to be careful not to confuse "evidence that would stand up in a court of law" with "evidence that would be persuasive to posters on a message board."
Because if aliens visited Earth in the pre-historical past, archeologists are best equipped to find out.
If aliens visited Earth during the historical past, archeologists and historians in combination are best equipped to find out.
If aliens are visiting us NOW, then astronomers and/or astronauts are best equipped to find out.
If aliens are going to on their way to visit us in the near future, then astronomers ALONE are best equipped to find out.
If aliens are going to visit us in the distant future -- once their planet has evolved industrialization and space travel a million years from now -- that's again astronomers with some support from anthropologists.
The only people who AREN'T going to be useful in solving those questions are internet hobbyists who lack a solid background in any of those fields or have experience in a field that is totally unrelated to them. Otheriwse, it's like hiring a dentist to operate on a ruptured spleen: it's just not the kind of thing that's going to yield good results.
Actually, she dismissed what this person perceived because she intended to suggest that SHE should dismiss it as well.
It's no that American psychologists are not interested in society's influences. It's that a lot of their patients ARE, sometimes to an insane degree (pun slightly intended) and there is often a need to convince the patient to disregard their perceptions of what society thinks, especially since that perception is usually flawed.
This is because psychologists cannot influence society, nor can they influence or even understand the perceptions of society, and their patients DEFINITELY can't. One of the important lessons learned in psychology is that two people with nearly identical circumstances -- contexts, if you will -- can interpret those circumstances completely differently, with one responding negatively and the other positively. It depends on what aspect of those experiences one internalizes and discards, and THAT is a lot more important overall. So the psychologist (in America anyway) does not seek to understand how society perceives the individual or how the individual should respond, but rather, how the individual FEELS about society, and why, and then try to encourage the individual to seek an alternate interpretation that would lead to more positive feelings.
I think you are massively overlooking the popularity of psychiatry in America: mentally ill people are not "undesirables" at all, in fact they are quite well recieved by the psychiatric community who considers them to be a valuable pharmaceutical/medical services market. It has gotten to the point where psychiatrists actually seek to diagnose whole ranges of behaviors with typified disorders, not because it's helpful to the patients, but because insurance companies are reluctant to actually cover treatment for "devastated by the loss of his mother" or "Took his wife's death unusually badly." You're more likely to get paid if you diagnose a patient with "Material Adjustment Syndrome" or "Spousal Loss Disorder," especially if you've written indications ahead of time for antidepressants.
Of course, mentally ill patients are popular with psychiatrists. We don't complain about our treatment because we are desperate for it. And society demands that we take the pills or we won't be accepted.
When I was a kid, the school I was at demanded of my mother that either I get medicated or they would kick me out of school. I was given three pills a day of an antidepressant for three years.
After my first visit, I was given Prozac. In a month, I was upped from 20 to 40 milligrams.
This year, I was upped from 50 to 300 mg of Seroquel in the space of six months. The psychiatrist would have increased my dosage of Clitopram, but couldn't because of FDA regulations.
Psychiatrists spend 15 minutes with a patient. They don't get to know the patient. And they treat pills as a candy. This country is notorious for over prescribing medications.
I believe it is possible to treat how society perceives a person by preparing the person. Give them the tools to be able to function within society. Instead, we aren't even given that. We are told, as you so succinctly put it, to dismiss what society perceives of us. My experience with myself and with people who are mentally ill is that dismissing what they believe is detrimental.
It ironic though--as I've pointed out before--how often even experts or developers in certain tech fields don't always see the big picture(as some do here on this BB). Its why I admire the visionaries and people who do.
On the contrary, for alot of people -- especially people with mental illnesses -- disregarding their perception of society's judgement is one of the most important psychological hurdles you can cross. This is most evident in people with body image disorders (some forms of anorexia have this feature) where a person can look at themselves in a mirror and cringe at the harsh judgements they imagine others to be making of them. Borderline personality disorder, as another example, is sometimes characterized by a unquenchable need for gratification and acceptance from others, often as a surrogate for acceptance they feel they did not receive from parents or family members.
As I said, alot of the thought processes tangled up in certain psychological conditions involves certain memories and ideas that have been internalized and amplified through life experience filters. In those cases, it becomes necessary to internalize the idea that you do NOT truly know what others think about you, whether you think everyone adores you (the narcissists) or everyone is conspiring against you (the paranoids), and even if you happen to guess right, your understanding of their thoughts is at least as imperfect as their understanding of yours.
That's an important step, because psychotherapy involves a focussed effort to explore one's hidden feelings and motivating drives, force them into the light of day, reinforce positive traits and discard negative ones. This is very difficult to do if your thoughts are focused outwards on "society" or even just the community/family around you; a good psychotherapist would say "Society has a great many problems, I agree. But we're here to talk about YOUR problems. Society will have to wait its turn."
I disagree with the methodology. I believe that everything is interconnected, and, from my personnel experience, I feel that psychology and psychiatry do more damage than good.
There is an article on anorexia where the author mentions the effect that society's norms and perceptions have a person's self worth.
This article is closer to what I believe. It acknowledges the effect and raises questions on how patients should be diagnosed and treated. It does not dismiss the effect. The person I was speaking about, you could feel her being deflated and she didn't contribute much to the group after that.
I was reading an article in BAR. There is a new disease called the Disease to Please. This disease is characterized as, "But according to a new book, an increasing number of people are taking the concept of of niceness to such a degree that it is no longer a benign, admirable character trait. Instead, it is a pathological condition - known by the professionals as 'caretaker personality disorder', or the 'disease to please' - with dire consequences. 'Extreme selflessness is a character trait that can be used to mask a variety of psychological and emotional problems.'" (BAR, Nov/Dec 2012, page 15)
I don't understand this trend, but the medical profession is intent on creating new diseases. I agree with the author who first brought this to my attention:
"This is really too much. At least we can turn to a succinct piece of advice offered by the Bible's uber-giver (and receiver), King Solomon: "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act."" (BAR, Nov/Dec 2012, pg. 15)
I disagree with both your points. As for the “how”; it is precisely because the engineering and architectural designs for the pyramids are no longer accessible that engineers and architects would be the best qualified specialists to “reverse engineer” how it was ‘most likely’ done, or not done, as is the case more often.
Of course, some dialogue with archeologists and Egyptologists would be useful, but mostly in the negative sense, by eliminating erroneous notions by said archeologists and Egyptologists about the level of technology and/or the presumed mindset the builders may or may not have had. Thus eliminating highly unlikely scenarios such as using copper chisels to cut granite, which is like trying to cut a knife with a stick of butter, instead of the other way around?
As to “why”; after -and only after- a proper reverse engineering analysis by qualified individuals has been done, would archeologists and Egyptologists be in the best position to judge how an ancient cultures presumed beliefs and religions practices relate to a given monument, or vise versa, or whether those presumptions need to be re-evaluated. All too often in archeology, and especially in Egyptology, the theories and assumptions come first, then the facts are interpreted in light of the theories, instead of the reverse, as it should be.
Perhaps, but it would be an educated guess, which is more than what an archeologists and Egyptologists could offer on the subject.
Well, we find ourselves in rare agreement. I never said consultation with engineers would be definitive in and of itself.
Sorry, but here’s where you’re flat out wrong and misinformed. The fact is no bodies have ever been found in any pyramid that are an original (that is non intrusive) burial! Even sealed pyramids with sealed sarcophagi have proven –when opened by Egyptologists- to be completely empty! Now, I accept that some pyramids may have been tombs, but as for others, I doubt this is the case. In any event, 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.
I never made any claims about the academic world not being inundated with theoriesas to what those alternate claims might have been! Where did you get this from?
I was referring to Robert Schoch’s analysis of the water erosion on the Sphinx and its enclosure, indicating that the monument is at least several millennia older than Egyptologist thought. It has nothing to do with the geologic timescales you're thinking of.
Again I think your wrong on this one. It was, I believe, Sir Norman Lockyer –an astronomer- who first brought astronomy to the attention of archeologists as a means of dating and otherwise interpreting ancient monuments. Archeologists still have not fully embraced archaeo-astronomy, mainly because it suggests much older dates than they had heretofore surmised. The most they will concede is that some ancient monuments are aligned to the sun and/or the moon.
Bullshit! A few perhaps, but most avoid them like the plague.
First of all, in the case of Atlantis and other such civilizations, the lack of evidence isn’t overwhelming. Second, as I said; again using Atlantis for an example, the evidence is spread out over many disciplines such as Paleo-Anthropology, Oceanography, and climatology to name just a few, so this is the problem. The lack of evidence seems overwhelming only when archeology alone is consulted.
As for ancient aliens; this is another matter, I only mentioned it in an attempt to remain somewhat on topic.
It may seem that way due to my attempt at brevity, but not really. But what empirical data do archeologists have available from their own field that would be contradicted by “aliens did it”? I’m not even sure archeology qualifies as an empirical science, at least not in the strict definition of the term? It’s not really repeatable; you can only dig a site once. And it’s not really testable for the same reasons.
I harbor no illusions about persuading people on message boards, which is why I don’t post often in this forum, too many here suffer from “Paradigm paralysis” and “materialistic fundamentalism” two debilitating diseases of the mind for which there is, sadly, no cure.
I disagree, but as I said, I was just trying to be topical.
Like yourself, for example?
Dido? WTH does she have to do with this?
Virgil put her up to it.
He sort of ruined his whole response, didn't he.
Gah! Your right of course, I meant to type "Dito" obviously, although this still would have been wrong since I see upon spell-checking that it's spelled with two "t"s.
If you look at the time I last edited my post, you'll see it was very late past my usual bedtime. Let this be a lesson to all, never trust spell check -especially when you copy/paste!
Oh well, we needed to lighten things up a bit anyway, so it’s all good.
The usual spelling is "ditto."
In terms of Egyptology...I think the pyramids at Giza can be accepted as being decoys (kings were actually buried in the ground), so there never was a real burial purpose for them. I think a secondary but important purpose was ceremonial/theological/cosmological, since they built the pyramids to roughly correspond with Orion's belt and the capstone is a solar icon. Finally, since most if any of the workers who worked on it were not slaves but skilled workers of varying levels, they served an economic purpose and to keep the populace busy and diverted lest they get their noses into state business.
As for ancient aliens...I think the fact that large numbers (40,000 to 200,000) of motivated people worked on the project, and they can predict how long those certain numbers of workers could complete the project, really takes the wind out of the sails of anyone claiming aliens helped them build it.
Thanks, but I said as much.
You're confusing psychology with sociology. Psychology is about the problems of people -- INDIVIDUAL people -- not the society in which they dwell. Sociology looks at the bigger picture the way you prescribe, but there aren't alot of sociologists taking patients these days.
Nobody DISMISSES the effect. For most patients -- especially anorexics -- it's something that has to eventually take on a reduced importance in their minds in order to make meaningful progress. The only alternative is to go the alternate route and convince the patient and/or his friends and family to adopt different attitudes about his condition or about him as a person, and with some pathologies -- ESPECIALLY narcissists -- that can do more harm than good.
Like I said, it has to do with America's healthcare systems. It's really hard to get reimbursed for treatment if you cannot give an insurance company a concrete diagnosis, so doctors make up new conditions that best fit the range of conditions or nonspecific disorders they sometimes encounter.
This is especially clear in the case of "autistic spectrum disorders." The idea of autism having a spectrum is something that psychiatrists rolled out relatively recently when they realized insurance companies and/or special education programs would fall for it (mainly because few people outside the mental health community really understand autism). The idea is, you have a young patient who has some sort of obscure personality or learning disorder -- say, some type of NVD or he has some anxiety issues, or maybe he's had a series of horrible experiences with his peers and is now terrified of social interaction. Psychiatrists don't want to work for free, but they cannot often justify the expense of working with a kid who "has a bunch of problems and can use some help." I have actually heard psychiatrists advising parents "You should try to have him diagnosed with aspergers or something, that way he'll qualify for special ed and we can help him a bit."
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. Reverse engineering an ancient structure is next to impossible, for the very reasons you mentioned: I think you're under-estimating how important knowledge of ancient technology and building techniques actually IS, 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.
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.
An archeologist wouldn't have to GUESS. He'd be able to consult the ancient records to figure how how they did it. 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.
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.
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.
Which is sort of what I was alluding to by Pharaohs faking their deaths and/or pretending to be reincarnated in the personage of their offspring. That would certainly answer the question of why the Egyptians would have buried an empty casket (except for Pharaoh dying in a way that his body couldn't be recovered). Not much evidence for that, but I've heard that theory floating around before.
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"
It seems to me they're quite open to that possibility. Perhaps you should be more specific about what you're referring to?
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.
Never heard of this before, though I know Lockyer as one of the discoverers of helium (not sure who the other guys were).
Neither have astronomers. That may tell you something.
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?"
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 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).
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.
That's not really what "empirical" means, 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.
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.
While I originally was talking about educated men in one field speculating on other disciplines or using thier position as a forum to bring together other scientists to discuss a lot of these big questions we like to discuss here that don't neatly fit into one scientific field, science itself has become more specialized, my point is that they have to share information where these specializations overlap. This can happen in any one of the sciences, and even in the "soft" sciences. As pointed out in this Berkeley article, this collaboration I'm talking about is more common than ever too.
Separate names with a comma.