Cult Science

Ancient Celtic Egyptian Mithra Cults in Oklahoma – America Unearthed S1, Ep 5.

I’m going to try and reign these reviews in a little. As much fun as they are to write, they get a little epic. As usual if you don’t want to read through the whole break down, feel free to skip to the In Summary section at the bottom, but as always, if you have a comment or question don’t be surprised if I tell you to read the whole post first.

We start this episode with the opening to a bloody horror movie that accidentally got spliced into the show’s footage:

A man stands in a dark hole, the only light come from some wide spaced planks above him. Suddenly the man begins to scream as blood pours down over him from above. Just when we’re convinced we’re watching a Slasher Flick and not a TV show, Wolter’s serious voice breaks in to tell us how wrong history is and how he’s on a search for the truth.

As part of the setup for the show, Wolter tells us that there is a 500lb rock carving that was pulled out of the Arkansas River near Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010.

After a lot of flashy buildup and random panning over the carving in question, we’re told that the carving is of a bull, which it clearly is, and then Wolter tells us that this is a cult symbol. Not just any symbol, it’s a symbol from *pause* Ancient Egypt.

So here’s where the Bull, um…, starts piling up.

The short art-school horror flick we were subjected to at the beginning of the show was actually the show’s interpretation of what a Mithric Rite might have looked like. Mithra was worshiped in Rome, by soldiers mainly. Egypt did have a very small Mithric cult. However, any bull symbol that would have been in Egypt would have probably been attributed to Apis or Hapis, the Egyptian bull god, who is not Mithra in any way, shape, or form.

Back in Wolter’s lab we get watch him examine the bull carving while he tells us how he gets all these “relics” all the time, but this one has vexed him for two years. This statement triggers a flashback to March of 2011 when Wolter receives the carving from it’s discoverer Nick Johnson.

Johnson admits that he was hunting for artifacts when he found this one. Which is always what I like to hear when people find ‘artifacts’ and then rip them out of context. Take pictures people, document things, don’t just snatch and grab things and then get cranky when no one wants to believe you. Probably though, there was no context for this rock carving anyway, so.

Wolter takes us back to his lab and tells us that the carving isn’t recent and has early signs of age. He says there is mineralization that overlaps the carvings. He doesn’t really explain much more as to what “early signs of age” are or why the mineralization is important. As always, we’re just supposed to take his word for it.

We do get a nice closeup of the carved lines, and there is obvious evidence of grooved tool marks, much like those left by modern metal carving instruments. These are not mentioned nor explained.

Wolter tells us about other cultures that have used bull imagery, but decides that this is Egyptian, specifically an Apis bull. Wolter is correct in in assertion that “it just doesn’t make sense.” That sentiment hasn’t ever stopped this show before, so on we go to peddle this not-Apis bull carving.

First, Wolter goes to talk with an actual real Egyptologist, Nigel Hetherington.

After being asked about it, Dr. Hetherington gives us an abbreviated history of the Bull in Ancient Egypt, leading up to the Apis Bull. Wolter tells us the Apis Bull is a sacred deity that symbolized the Pharaoh’s strength, and was a protector of the dead. Wolter isn’t completely correct here, but if he got corrected, that didn’t make it into this obviously heavily edited segment.

Wolter then shows his bull carving to Hetherington with much dramatic flair. Hetherington seems unimpressed, as he should. Hetherington tells us that it does resemble an Apis bull on the top, and then asks Wolter what he think the wavy lines are.

Screenshot of Wolter's Apis Bull

Screenshot of Wolter’s Apis Bull

Wolter tell us that it’s probably a decoration put on the bull, and then admits that without provenance or context there is no way to date the carving (or really to get anything useful from said carving). So basically, Wolter just admitted that there is no way to even begin to argue that this thing is real, but he’s going to anyway.

Screenshot of an actual Apis Bull.

Screenshot of an actual Apis Bull.

Hetherington asks why Wolter thinks this is an Egyptian bull and not a Native American rendition of such? Wolter says Native American would have revered the Bison (all the Native Americans, everywhere, because it seems like in Wolter’s mind they are all one imaginary entity that never actually existed in America until recently). Then Wolter tells us how none of the actual archaeologist around him would accept the carving as real, but he thinks it might be just because there is weathering on it. Or maybe it’s because this carving shows signs of not being a real artifact? Maybe?

Wolter then asks if the ancient Egyptians coming to America would have carved a bull.

I like this question because it’s apparent there’s no doubt in Wolter’s mind that ancient Egyptians did come to America somehow, even though there is not evidence what-so-ever to support this belief. I also like that Hetherington tells him ‘no’ so quickly, then explains that they would have carved the Pharaoh’s name in a kartush. He then explains that they never would have sailed over here because they hated the sea. Hetherington tells Wolter that, as usual, there is no evidence for ancient Egyptians being over here. Unfortunately he makes a joke at this point, that maybe one individual got lost all the way out in Oklahoma, but that would be a long way to get lost wouldn’t it? He even smiles a little when he says it. Either Wolter doesn’t understand jokes, or he’s desperate to twist anything anyone says to fit his theory.

Wolter tells Hetherington that he’s decided that the carving is an Apis bull, despite being told two minutes earlier that it clearly is not. Then like a Bond villain he tells Hetherington what his next steps are in his plan to expose the TRUTH. I always find it funny when Wolter starts running down the list of things he’s going to do while talking to his guests, as if they had asked him what his next steps are, which so far they’ve never done, but maybe that was edited out.

Wolter tells us that he needs a sample of the rock the bull is carved on to find out if the rock was carved in Tulsa. This, I’m guessing, is an attempt to fill time because what difference dose this even make?  This will prove nothing about ether the age or the authenticity of the carving. If anything it will verify that the carving is recent and therefore not evidence of ancient Egyptians.

So we go back to Tulsa, Oklahoma somewhere along the Arkansas River. We meet Nick Johnson and Aaron Neighbors there. They tell us their discovery story about finding the rock in the water of the Arkansas River.

Wolter does point out to the men that water can erode rock quickly. Which is especially true about sandstone, the kind of rock that the bull was craved on. Still, we spend time looking for any random piece of sandstone to use as a control sample. So lets look over the errors here:

1) Random rock from random location that may or may not be related to the site of discovery of any artifact does not a “control sample” make. Actual control samples the way Wolter is using the term, are from known locations and are verified to be what we need them to be. We already know what they are, hence why we are using it for a comparison. If I have two random unknowns, as Wolter now has, I can compare them to each other, but that is all. They tell me nothing verifiable, and therefore are basically useless.

2) At this point we’ve been told by an expert that the Apis bull is not an Apis bull, there is no way that ancient Egyptians either came here or carved it, and now we know that all the evidence of age is actually water erosion.

But the show is randomly changing topics now, so let’s keep up.

We’re told here is a location in Turkey Mountain that has carvings on it. Wolter decides he needs to see this. So we all hike out to somewhere based on feels and epic hiking music till we find some rock outcroppings that are heavily scared with obvious modern graffiti. Despite this, Wolter decides that he can see some authentic Ogham and reads it to spell GWN, or the name Gwyne. Wolter decided right there that some Celtic explorer carved his name on the rock.

Screenshot of the not-Ogham not spelling GWYN

Screenshot of the not-Ogham not spelling GWN

Wolter tries to link a bunch of unrelated things together, saying that if a Celtic explorer started down in the Gulf of Mexico and then went up the Mississippi they then could have followed the Arkansas River to this area. Then they would have wondered into the land till they came to these rocks, and carved just their name into the rock, because reasons.

Actually, if you try to connect the two waterways that Wolter is trying to connect in this show, they don’t connect. Also, it’s over 350+ miles in a straight-ish line to get from Tulsa to the pan-handle of Oklahoma where the Anubis caves (spoilers) are roughly located. It’s considerably more than that by water since the local waterways don’t flow in straight lines and the major waterways don’t connect, you can see as much on a map. It’s just a very long distance is what I’m saying.

Screenshot of the distance between sites.

Screenshot of the distance between the sites.

Apparently, even though Wolter can read and translate Ogham at the drop of a hat, we still need to learn more about actual Ogham. So we fly all the way to Dublin, Ireland because History Channel’s got deep deep pockets and after some epic tourist music and vapid film of Wolter driving, we arrive at Trinity Collage to speak with Dr. Damian McManus, Professor of Irish Studies.

Dr. McManus listens carefully to Wolter’s assertion that there is Ogham in America, a claim McManus has clearly dealt with before judging by his reactions to this. He also tells us that  Ogham is exclusive to Ireland in the 5th to 7th centuries, which creates a linear time issue for Wolter, but we skip over that. McManus tells Wolter that the Irish definitively got as far as Iceland, but there is no evidence they got any further than that. He then shows us what actually Ogham looks like, which is nothing like anything Wolter has ever offered up as Ogham.

Screenshot of actual Ogham.

Screenshot of actual Ogham.

Wolter shows McManus the ‘Ogham’ he translated at the Turkey Mountain rock outcropping, and McManus firmly shuts Wolter down. Still, he encourages Wolter to keep looking, and then randomly tells Wolter to go check out a place in America called the Anubis Cave, which just so happed to be in Oklahoma as well!

So lets go over the Not-Evidence here before we finish this up.

  1. Wolter insists he has an Apis Bull carving even though he’s been clearly told he doesn’t.
  2. Wolter insists that said Not-Apis Bull carving is evidence of Mithra worship, completely ignoring that Apis is an actual god on his own, also that Mithra was a Roman god worshiped by Solders.
  3. Wolter insists that he’s got Ogham at Turkey Mountain, despite being told that he clearly does not and after seeing actual Ogham with his own eyes.

This last part of the show is really where the meat is, it’s also where Wolter really tries hard to convince us that Egyptian Celtics traveled up the Arkansas River to practice their Mithric Religious Worship. There’s a lot here, So I’m going to try and get right to it.

We meet Phil Leonard, a retired medical researcher, who is presented to us as a “Cave Researcher”. Wolter gives Leonard his Celtic Egyptian Mithra cult spiel. Leonard not only agrees with all this but tells Wolter that this Anubis cave has all that and more! Leonard tells us that this is the best example of Pre-Columbian Celtic explorers in America.

We get a brief, and not quite accurate, explanation of who the God Anubis is and Leonard gives us a vague discovery story about the some “famous female researcher” who was brought to the caves and instantly recognized the Anubis figure.

I’m guessing he’s referring to Gloria Farley, who claims to be the discoverer of the Anubis cave on her website and books. Ms. Farley is also a proponent of the whole Supper Advanced Olmec culture story and supports viking rune-stones in America. I have no idea what her qualifications are, but as far as I can tell, she is not an archaeologist or authority in Egyptology. Apparently, any records she made of her research are inaccessible to the public (Thompsen 2011), so there is no way to verify what she has written in her numerous books.

Back on the show Wolter has launched into another pipe-dream telling us that we have Ogham (we don’t), evidence of Celtic religious practices (we don’t), and evidence of Egyptian iconography (still don’t have that either). Leonard takes us to Cave 2 and we see more scratching that again, looks nothing like real Ogham, and Wolter is fascinated.  Leonard tells us that all this was put here on the cave wall 1500 years ago by Celts to show their god Mithra (who is not a Celtic god).

Screenshot of more not-Ogham

Screenshot of more not-Ogham in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of not-Mithra carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of not-Mithra carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Wolter gives us a very basic breakdown of what Mitharism is, leaving out important details like, it was Roman god, and a favored religion among soldiers of the era, not explorers. It also has nothing to do with Anubis or the Celts.

Screenshot of carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

We’re then shown a amoebic like carving that we’re told is the rising and setting sun, not sure what this has to do with anything, then a sun god with a rayed head and crown and he’s pointing at a second smaller amoebic looking carving, then we’re shown the Anubis looking thing and told it has a white crown and a flail stuck in it’s back “just like they do in Egypt.” No, no “they” don’t.

Screenshot of not-Anubis carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

Screenshot of not-Anubis carvings in the Anubis Cave 2

We’re also ignoring all the other markings around these markings, small lines and circles, repeating motifs and such that overlap and intersect the lines we’re being asked to only look at. We’re also ignoring all the graffiti that can be clearly seen despite the carefully tight camera angels. This whole exercise is a lot like cloud gazing.

Leonard tells us that they’ve dated this to 3-500 AD, which is way more than 1500 years ago. Also, it makes this almost too old to be Ogham. So again, math is screwing with Wolter’s ideas here. Also, how the hell did they date this? You can’t date rock. Are there artifacts around that we’re not getting to see? Is there some organic material around that they aren’t mentioning? Or are they just making up a number they think might be interesting?

Once again Wolter invokes the mighty and ridiculously misused Archaeoastronomy, which Wolter is now passing himself off as an expert on now, and Leonard tells us about a very special event on the equinox, a Shadow play! We’re told that on the equinox that the light play over this set of carvings and tells the story of Mithra, where their soul came down from the heavens and then returned back to the heaven and their god Mithra. Which is spectacularly not true. Mithra has nothing to do with souls or reincarnation or anything we’ve just been told. Also there is no Celtic god Mithra but why let that stop us?

Wolter gets all excited about this and agrees to come back on the equinox to see the Shadow play. Which we do, and this time he brings Joe Rose, who is presented to us as a Comparative Religion Expert. Rose, from what I can tell, is/was a masterful book binder and a “Student of the Western Mystery Tradition” which is a branch of the Golden Dawn (the religious group not the Greek one). I had to use the Wayback Machine to find any of this out by the way.

Rose does try and reinforce Wolter’s whole Apis Bull = Mithra story, and we get to watch the horror flick from the beginning of the show again. We finally get the story behind the gore fest at the beginning telling us that this was a baptism by blood, which wasn’t that uncommon of a practice in ancient Rome. Several different cults at the time used similar practices, not all were attached to Mithra.

Wolter recollects his conversation with Nigel Hetherington where Hetherington wouldn’t translate the wavy lines on the not-Apis bull carving to be blood. Would Rose translate them as such? Why yes, yes he would.

At this point Wolter tries to make up some hypothesis that somehow Mithraism evolved out of Apis Bull worship, and Rose agrees again. Rose tries to tell us that Mithraism was a reforming of the Apis Bull of Egyptian Religion. But this completely not true. Not only are there no similarities between the two religions, there is no evidence to believe this is true.

Wolter however, sees how this can all make sense, and that is because the Celts craved the bull. Never mind that nothing we’ve seen so far looks anything like the incredibly distinctive art style known to be Celtic, or that this bull looks nothing like how the Celts depicted bulls.

Rose suggests that the Celts came all the way to Oklahoma to escape religious persecution by early Christians. This gets Wolter on a religious freedom and the U.S. rant and how awesome it was that people had been coming here for this reason for so long.

Wolter randomly mentions the rock sample he took from the river, and that it matched the rock that the not-Apis bull was carved one. Which should be a surprise to no one, also, it doesn’t prove anything. Wolter tell us that because of this match he believes the bull was carved somewhere near that site, why? There are several geologically different kinds of sandstone in Oklahoma alone, Wolter never even bothers to tell us what kind it is? As a geologist, shouldn’t he be able too? And why not share that information, it would only strengthen his argument, especially if it was unique kind of sandstone that was only found in the Tulsa area of the Arkansas River. This would in no way prove that the bull wasn’t a recent carving, but it would narrow the area that the raw material could have been gleaned from. Again, this doesn’t prove authenticity, but still would have been interesting.

Side note: Geological maps are hard to read, but you can give it a shot at the Oklahoma geological survey site. http://www.ogs.ou.edu/homepage.php

Back on the show Wolter just flat out says, “If it’s ancient, it has to be ancient Celts.” Why? What have we been presented with to make this statement true? He follows this up with “Someone was in those caves thousands of years ago.” This is true, but since Wolter and this show refuse to acknowledge that Native Americans exist, it couldn’t possibly have been them.

It’s finally time for the Shadow-Play. Rose just repeats what Leonard told Wolter the first time they met, nearly verbatim, which makes me wonder who wrote the script for this show? Rose also agrees that the cave carvings are clearly Mithric symbols, even though they don’t look anything like actual Mithric symbols.<

So lets talk about this “ Shadow Play” for a minute.

Yes, Archaeolastronomy exists, and it was practiced by just about every ancient culture because that was how they kept track of time and their seasons. This isn’t a grand mystery to anyone in the archaeological community. Also, yes, there were indeed religious connections to the seasons and religious overtures to buildings and earthworks that were aligned with seasonal markers, also, another given that is not a mystery. Yes, the effects are rather cool and frankly humbling to think about and experience, that was kind of the point aside form keeping track of time.

I can’t help but have major reservations on this particular piece of Wolter’s “Archaeoastronomy”, mainly because, after going on and on about how important these carvings are and how perfectly they align, the only part of the carvings that do align is the “head” of the “Sun God”. Now, I can’t personally attest to the alignment of the small circle that is the called the head and the placement of the sun. However, that is a really small piece of the overall “rock carving”.

It is far more likely to my mind that this is a coincidence. This suspicion is fed by the fact that nothing else that we are shown lines up with this event. Also, the size of this seasonal marker is rather small. Compare this one glyph to the massive and impressive earthworks that Native Americans, and even the Celts, are known to build to mark seasonal and astronomical events. Numerous Native American cultures worked these details into the placement of their very walls, making massive and quite noticeable structures and alterations to the landscape. If there are seasonal markers in these caves, we are not seeing them in this show, because Wolter is trying too hard to make something out of nothing.

Wolter wraps up this show with a quote that sums up pretty much everything and makes me wonder why we even bothered with this episode.

“The only reasonable people who could have done this was the Celts, I can’t think of anyone else.”

 

I’m sure the Shawnee, Apache, Caddo, Comanche Nation, Kiowa, Wichita, and other tribes and nations that I’ve missed think the same thing too.

In Summary

Admit it, you just skipped down here.

So let’s look over all the not-evidence Wolter bombarded us with this episode.

Egyptian Apis Bull Carving – We’re told early on by an actual Egyptologist that this is not an Apis bull.

Wolter also tries to make a big deal out of matching the type of rock up. I feel this is a huge red herring in the show. It proves nothing about ether the age or the authenticity of the carving, and Wolter never bothers to tell us if there was anything unusual or unique about the stones, thus proving some kind of connection. It’s such a non-deal that Wolter almost forgets to bring it up again at the end of the show.

Anubis Figure in the cave – Not an Anubis figure, doesn’t look anything like an Anubis figure. Without Wolter’s helpful lines, it almost looks like a figure standing on a horse’s back. Also, we must ignore all the other lines around it to make it look anything like what Wolter wants it to be.

Ogham in Turkey Mountain and Anubis Cave – Not only are we told that the Ogham in Turkey Mountain isn’t actual Ogham, but we’re shown actual Ogham in Ireland. Said actual Ogham looks nothing like the Ogham in the Anubis Cave.

An interesting note about “American Ogham” here. Apparently it’s a well known phenomenon with American Ogham that it rarely if ever has vowels. Actual Ogham does have vowels, but for some reason, when the ancient Celts or Irish or what have you, got over here to America, they forgot how to write vowels. Ogham in America enthusiast have for along time, been trying to get the academic community to accept American Ogham as a different form of Irish Ogham. The problem here is that none of the American Ogham can be proven to be authentic, missing vowels is one of many problems with it. Other’s include, gibberish, questionable translations (Barry Fell), and the fact that there is no evidence that ancient Irish peoples ever made it to America.

Mithra Connection – There is no connection that I am aware of between the Celtic/Irish people and Mithra worship. Mithra was a Roman deity worshiped primarily by Soldiers. Yes, there were temples to Mithra in Egypt and a few in England. These were built by the Romans, and used by such. The image of the Bull in Egypt is always connected to their own gods, Apis being a big one.

The Shadow Play – My reservations are above, and Wolter’s attempt to tie this into Archaeoastronomy is cringe-worthy. I’m not saying that this couldn’t be an example of Archaeoastronomy (I doubt it), but it’s definitely not they way Wolter wants it to be.

There is evidence of the use of the natural features of the caves to keep track of the seasons. The small tic marks that Wolter wants so badly to be Ogham, are a well know way that the pre-contact tribes kept track of the seasons by tracking the progress of shadow features along the cave walls. This is a type of Archaeoastronomy, but I doubt that Wolter would ever recognize it as such. Especially since Wolter doesn’t seem to recognize Native American tribes and peoples as real.


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Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

 

References:

Tompsen, Lyle
2011    An Archaeologist Looks at the Oklahoma Runestones. In The Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers. Vol 29, February 2011. Pgs 5-43. https://www.academia.edu/2332282/An_Archaeologist_Looks_at_the_Oklahoma_Runestones_ESOP_29_2011_5-43. Accessed June 2015.

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Categories: America Unearthed, Cult Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cult Science

This is another term I assume people know and understand. I’m not talking about the study of Cults and how they work, I’m talking about those that mimic the process of science. Very much like a Cargo Cult, Cult Science goes through all the motions without knowing what they all mean.

Things like the Discovery Institute, with its fancy academic sounding name, and it’s staff of pseudo-scientists, who probably all have a string of letters after their names, their publications with their almost coherent jargon etc. It’s mimicry, They are attempting to create the facade of science in hopes of being seen as scientists, without really understanding what they are doing, or why real scientists do it.

We see the same things with Ancient Alien folks. They hold conventions, present papers, have notable speakers, and even have their own journals. They go through the motions of scientific presentation, without understanding the steps that should have gotten them there.

Again, we see this with the New Agers/Quantum folks. Big words, confusing manuscripts, people with perceived authority and no clue how the process works. Just like the John Furm Cult they seem to think if they pantomime bits of the process they will magically conjure the whole, ignoring that years of research, study, and often experimentation go into science.

I want to be clear that I am not grouping Citizen Scientists into this, so don’t do it yourself. Citizen Scientists work in tandem with trained professionals to aid them in their pursuits. This is completely different from what Cult Science folks do.

Lets take an example from life…

I have a confession, I used to belong to two different ghost Hunting groups when I was younger. I met the assistant organizer for the first group through work when I worked for the county clerk in college. She was a nice person, very no-nonsense, with just the right amount of quirk. I noticed the ghost garland she had on her desk long after Halloween and asked her about it. She told me, in a slightly embarrassed way, that she belonged to a Paranormal investigation team, and I got all excited. Ever since I was little I wanted to see a ghost and be a GhoustBuster like in the movies. The TV shows like TASPS weren’t big yet, so this was as close as I could get.

I attended a few training sessions, where we learned how to use out cameras and tape recorders, and how to identify different types of paranormal markers; you know, the room is cold, the lights flicker, things move without a perceptible brease. Then I went on my first, and last, hunt with them.

I must say it was rather disappointing. We went to a small graveyard, not even an old one, and after being smudged with sage so the spirits couldn’t get us, we spent the rest of the night looking at tombstones with flashlights and Psychics. The only notable thing that happened while we were there was that everyone gathered around a tree and a single leaf was waving by itself. No one bothered to figure out why, they just all assumed the tree was “Haunted” and that if they asked it questions it would answer them.

The “evidence” collected that day was nothing more than rolls of film with out of focus images and lots of flash-illuminated bugs and dust, and muddy, hard to understand voices and white noise turned up way to loud on the tape recorders. Honestly, I wouldn’t have recognized anyone’s voice on those recorders.

There was no explaining to these people what they were really seeing, or what was really going on in the graveyard. They had gone in with their minds made up, and nothing could persuade them otherwise. It irritated me, but keep in mind, I still believed in the supernatural at this point, so I just thought this group wasn’t critical or scientific enough. Which led me to my second attempt at ghost hunting.

The second group I joined, I actually had to interview to get into. TAPS had been on television for a few seasons now and everyone was bulking up their ghost hunting equipment. This group had digital recorders and cameras, they had infrared night vision cameras, and several homemade but impressive looking devices. They had a set up that included software that recorded four cameras at a time and walkie-talkie. Most impressively, they didn’t belive that every speck of dust was a ghost (or Orb in the lingo of the field), and they threw around words like Scientific, Data, Skeptical, and Hard Evidence.

I felt good about this group, we set up our equipment with precision, we spent hours analyzing the video footage, pictures, and voice recordings. Much to my disappointment, I was really bad at it. I never saw or heard what the other team members did, even after the team lead pointed them out to me. I frequently argued that glitches were not evidence, and other such explainable phenomena didn’t prove ghosts. The final straw centered around a bit of footage that the team lead swore was a full-body apparition, and I quickly explained that it wasn’t, it was merely the center of the camera and the way light worked. To my knowledge they still have the clip up on their website as “evidence”.

After that argument, I found myself less inclined to go on hunts. I couldn’t reconcile the obvious misuse of the words Science and Evidence with how I knew the scientific method worked. I also realized that my inability to see things wasn’t because I wasn’t ‘sensitive’ enough, but because there wasn’t anything there, there never was, and all the fancy equipment in the world didn’t make what we did “scientific”.

This is how Cult Science works, both groups thought they were being scientific because they had equipment and they spent time analyzing their ‘data’ afterwards. They shared it with each other via their websites, where they helpfully told you what you should be seeing or hearing.  They held seminars at libraries where they explained their efforts, they even held training sessions so their teams would know how to conduct themselves. They envisioned themselves as being a cross between the scholarly aspects of the Ghoustbusters and the technological aspects of the guys on TAPS. All of this made them Scientific right?

Wrong.

They lacked one important aspect essential to science, Doubt.

Richard Feynman made mention of this in his commencemtn speach at CalTech in 1974. It’s a great speech and you all need to go read it. Feynman was surprisingly entertaining and informative . The nitty-gritty of his point was that if you don’t doubt, you can’t do science. We see this in the Hypothesis portion of the Scientific Method.

You might know that the second step in the scientific method is to form a Hypothesis based on your observations. So, after you’ve noticed something, you form a question to help explain why the thing you noticed is occurring. The key aspect of a Hypothesis is that it has to be able to be falsified. If you can’t be proven wrong, you haven’t created a Hypothesis. This is why the scientific method can’t be used to verify claims about God or philosophy. (I know there are people who are trying, and it makes for fun reading, but I stand by my statement.)

To do science you need to doubt. Fancy equipment, long lecture sessions, and glossy publications don’t make science. Experiments based on falsifiable hypothesis do, constantly repeating those experiments does, adapting and changing your hypothesis based on the results does. Also, science can really only explain the natural world not the supernatural, and as soon as science can explain it, it’s no longer supernatural.

So next time you hear someone flinging the word scientific around, look at what they are doing, and ask them what could prove their hypothesis wrong. If they can’t answer you, it’s not science.

Categories: Concepts and Themes, Cult Science | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Between the Nazca Lines: Evidence vs. “I Wanna Believe”

Well, we now know what a Cargo Cult is, and we are now up to date on the recent research into the Nasca Lines. What I haven’t brought you completely up to date on is the actual Ancient Alien Theory explanation of the Nazca lines. The History Channel sums it up pretty succinctly:

Great Images being deliberately misinterpreted by the History Channel.

“The Nazca Lines
 

Etched into a high plateau in Peru’s Nazca Desert, a series of ancient designs stretching more than 50 miles has baffled archaeologists for decades. Along with simple lines and geometric shapes, they include drawings of animals, birds and humans, some measuring more than 600 feet across. Because of their colossal size, the figures can only be appreciated from way up in the air—and there is no evidence that the Nazca people, who inhabited the area between 300 B.C. and 800 A.D., invented flying machines. According to ancient alien theorists, the figures were used to guide spaceships as they came in for a landing, and the lines served as runways.”[History 2011]

Never mind the screamingly obvious problems with the description, it does do a good job of summing up what most people think of the Nazca lines, inaccuracies and all.

(Trapezoid Line)

This idea that the lines were used as landing strips seems to come from the presence of the long trapezoidal geoglyphs and the supposed evidence of a leveled mountain top. Von Daniken mentions this in his books, but I haven’t found reference to it, or concern about it, in any of the research. Still, these ideas persist.So, the theory goes that the lines were laid either by man or alien in order to direct and provide a location for space ship landings. Tying this into the Cargo Cult connection; after the Aliens stopped coming to earth with their cargo, we humans began to build a religion around them, attempting to bring our alien saviors back to earth with misinterpreted ritual.

Websites abound on the Internet and even the History Channel, which has produced two seasons of a show called Ancient Aliens, tout belief in and even evidence of aliens. You can find lots of people who are ready to explain the Ancient Alien Theory and tell you all about the evidence supporting it. Not too surprising the Nazca lines fall into this category of evidence.

Even after the modern research mentioned in my last post, these sites still claim that the lines cannot be explained, that scientist still search for an explanation to the cause of the lines, even though this is not true. The reality is that we do have both really good explanations and building methods that require little more than a stick and some string.

(The actual Condor geoglyph)

Well known Skeptic, Joe Nickell, was able to reconstruct the geoglyphs in a remarkably short time using basic, simply reproduced, and most certainly available instruments for the time. Nickell’s, his two cousins, a friend, his 11-year old nephew, and father reproduced the 440 foot long Condor in just over a day and a half (baring time off due to rain) [Nickell1983]. They used merely a knotted rope, stakes, and a T-square they constructed from two pieces of wood. I really recommend the article; it’s a pretty good example of how the Nazca and their ancestors could have produced the geoglyphs without alien help.

(This is the Condor re-produced by Nickell et al. [Nickell1983])

So, now we know how the glyphs were probably made, we have a pretty solid theory onwhy the glyphs were made, we even know a fair bit about the culture of the Nazca (though I haven’t touched on that here). We’ve got the How, the Why, the When, and even the Where. At every point we know humans did this, and not once is an outside force required to accomplish any of it.

Nickell also makes a point about the whole “They can ONLY be seen from the SKY” statement:

“It is frequently asserted that the Nazca drawings are recognizable only from the air. That is not quite true, certainly not of the smaller figures, such as the effigy of a fish, which is only 80 feet long (Reiche 1976). Neither is it true of some drawings — attributed to the Nazcas’ predecessors — that are found on hill slopes (McIntyre 1975; Isbell 1978, 1980). Here, seemingly, is a clue to how the Nazcas could have been confident of the accuracy of their method of enlargement. Once a technique was found to be successful for producing large drawings on slopes, where they could actually be viewed from the ground, the same technique could be expected to consistently yield good results — wherever figures were drawn and whatever their size.” [Nickell1983]

This point was also made by The Nazca-Palpa Project in 2007 [Isla 2007], where they not only dated the geoglyphs and gave sequence order to the deposition, they remarked that the smaller glyphs could be seen from a short distance, like from a slope [Isla 2007].

I would hope at this point that I’ve provided enough evidence to remove aliens from the picture. I can show that the geoglyphs were most probably a cultural tool used to create a sense of community and possibly served ritual purposes dating from about 400 BC till sometime after 600 AD [Isla 2007]. I have shown that they could have been created using nothing more than a sketch, knotted rope, and T-square [Nickell1983], all of which was available in that time period. There is also the well known C-14 dates of the pottery sherds and burials associated with the lines, which help us put the lines into context [Isla 2007, Nickell1983]. There is no need to add aliens to the mix, they are unnecessary. They create a complication that is not needed since everything has a simple, human explanation.

As I say in all my presentations, if you are a True Believer, there isn’t a damn thing I can provide to change your mind. All the evidence in the world will be wasted on you, but if you came to this looking to have a few questions answered, I can help you there.

References:

The History Channel
2011 Evidence of Ancient Aliens? The History Channel website.http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/articles/evidence-of-ancient-aliens.Accessed Jan 25, 2011.

Nickell, Joe
1983  The Nazca Drawings Revisited: Creation of a Full-Sized Condor. Skeptical Inquirer MagazineVolume 7.3, Spring 1983.http://www.csicop.org/si/show/nazca_drawings_revisited/Accessed Jan 25, 2011.

Isla, Johny
2007 Nazca-Palpa Project: Photogrammetric Reconstruction of the Geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa. January 2007 http://www.photogrammetry.ethz.ch/research/peru/index.html Accessed Jan 09, 2011.

Categories: Ancient Astronauts, Between the Nazca Lines, Cult Science, History Channel, Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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