> Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 15:59:11 EDT
> From: Bruce L Jones <[log in to unmask]>
> >> Then they spend their lives and other peoples money trying to make the
> >> facts fit their theories, or so it would seem.
> >Only a few do, in fact. Most try to make theories to fit the facts.
> Yes, a few. I wouldn't disagree on the large scale. Sometimes this few is
> the noisy minority though. I was referring to the minority in this
> country who *are* trying to suppress the truth.
Yes, those exist, and they tend to shout very loud. I'm quite sad
about that, as their ignorance always falls back on those who are
seriously interested in finding the facts and building theories from
it that are not aimed at proofing their limited worldview.
> Then why be sorry Ray, we say the same thing, in essence. I merely wonder
> at what agenda some people have for not wanting to know the fuller extent
> of the truth, in a more or less rhetorical way as I really don't give
> much consideration for those who would suppress truth for a personal
> agenda anyway.
I'm sorry because still a lot of people think that the mayority of
the scientists do exactly what you describe here, while in fact most
> > But it does not concern them much, as it most
> >probably had no influence on history, which makes it irrelevant to
> >historical science.
> Ahh ... but it doesn't necessarily have to have some grand influence on
> the larger history of the world to be interesting and valuable for its
> own sake, especially to anyone less familiar with the acceptance of such
Definitly not, but once we are in prehistory the individuals usually
vanish. Yes, they are interesting, but usually they are beyond the
abilities of science to say something about the past. Today, we know
more and more about how unreliable even the "hard" physical sciences
are. So what does us a single "caucasoid" skeleton in America tell? It's
former owner might have bested the Atlantic on a small boat, fought
his way through the whole American continent to finally die on the
shores of the pacific. But it may also be the result of a accidental
mutation, and the guy may have been a Native American who had lived
there for all his life. Or he may have come into the ground just 200
years ago, but somehow he got dated wrong, maybe even because he had
simply too little C14 in his body. There are numerous possibilities
which make it de facto impossible to make a "serious" statement about
such an individual finding. It's like the old saying, one dove
doesn't make it summer.
So, while definitly being most interesting while seen on its own, as
it usually is by the public, it is, for a historian, rather an uninteresting
exception, as there's nothing to which it can be compared, and only
comparison lets us build history in prehistoric times.
> In this instance at least, there are definite current day
> socio-cultural ramifications of whether or not the evidence is believed
> and this is why I - and others - thought it may be important; for today's
This is a totally different matter, though. Of course it is important
for today's history, but this is not the question that usually
bother's historians that deal with such a stuff.
> >Additionally, more than half of the evidence
> >presented for such "long distance travels" in the past is faked, and
> >is faked for the purpose of prooving a politically or religously
> >motivated theory (like British Israelism, for example). However, each
> >fake that turns up makes it harder to identify "genuine" evidence, as
> >it is drowned by faked one, and as such more easily dismissed.
> I agree completely that all these charlatans have made honest inquiries
> difficult. However, this is exactly why I believe genuine evidence is
> important to identify and document, just to prove that "all" such
> evidence isn't fake. And in this country, to prove that just because
> there may have been a few odd visitors from other parts of the world it
> doesn't dilute the claim of the Native American cultures to their
> uniqueness and originality.
Definitly it is important to also document such evidence, if it turns
up. But historians are only humans, too. I just had another one hour
discussion via the telephone with a "personal friend", who claims to
know the guy who's making the neolithic stoneaxes that we find when
digging neolithic sites. BTW, the guy who makes those axes is a druid
... Sigh! And you don't have the slightest idea how often I get such
calls ... After a while, you start to ignore everything that only
sounds a little bit dubious - which is of couse unscientific
behaviour and each historian should never fall for it, you are
> >Actually, modern historical science accepts quite a high mobility for
> >prehistoric people (although not for the average person, but only
> >relativly few "exceptional" ones). We know, for instance, that corals
> >from the black sea were traded to middle Germany in the early
> >Neolithic. Such things are well-documented and well-accepted.
> Again, I would agree, but, it isn't widely known or accepted by the
> general population here that these are factual events. Many people
> believe all such reports to be false.
Yes, I know. The problem is, the good selling books are rarely
produced by "serious" scientists.
> I'd like to be able to point at
> some as genuine just for the "exceptional" nature of them. Imagine what
> truly forthright people they must have been to venture so far afield from
> their familiar surroundings. For that reason I would want to know them.
Which is completely understandable.
RAY (Raimund Karl,University of Vienna,Dep.of Prehistory)
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