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Sat, 10 Apr 2021
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Debunking pseudoscience on Gobekli Tepe

Gobekli Tepe
© 0meer/Shuttestock
The remains of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. It is one of the oldest settlements in the world.
Last September Eric Betz published an article on the Astronomy and Discover websites. These are popular websites, with a lot of readers. Now, I have no idea who Eric is. I think he's a journalist, not a scientist or archaeologist. But anyway, he wrote this bad article. I contacted the Astronomy website editors to point out its errors but got no response whatsoever. Hence this response.

Let's take a look at what Eric Betz said in his article.

Gobekli Tepe: the world's first observatory? He asks? And then he says 'Pseudoscience and genuine archaeological mystery surround humanity's oldest known temple. But was it the World's first astronomical observatory?'.

Ha, well, immediately my hackles are raised with his use of the word 'pseudoscience', and I wonder where he's going with this piece. It just sounds like sloppy journalism. Now, the problem with this word is that its often thrown around willy-nilly by people who are not scientists and who really have no idea how science really works. And they use it to claim that people with a view contrary to theirs are just talking nonsense. And I think this is how Eric is using it - simply as an attempt to undermine the position of people he disagrees with.

Now, sometimes, actual scientists will use the word in connection with studies like homeopathy or telekinesis or perpetual motion and so on. And here it has a real meaning - because these kinds of study contradict basic laws of physics. But I don't think Eric is using it in this sense. He's just using it to be offensive and to try to undermine his opponents, I think.

But who are Eric's opponents? Who is using pseudoscience, as he sees it? Whose arguments does he disagree with so strongly, and think are unsupported by any logic or evidence? Let's see.


"Exceptional" 2,000-year-old remains of infant and pet dog uncovered in France

child burial
© Denis Gliksman/Inrap
An overhead view of the burial site in what is now Clermont-Ferrand.
French archaeologists have hailed the "exceptional" discovery of the 2,000-year-old remains of a child buried with animal offerings and what appears to have been a pet dog.

The child, believed to have been around a year old, was interred at the beginning of the first century, during Roman rule, in a wooden coffin 80cm long made with nails and marked with a decorative iron tag.

The coffin was placed in a 2 metre by 1 metre grave and surrounded by around 20 objects including a number of miniature terracotta vases and glass pots thought to have contained oils and medicines, half a pig, three hams and other cuts of pork, and two headless chickens.

Comment: See also:

Red Flag

Chinese inventions: The compass, gunpowder ... and Critical Social Justice?

My personal area of interest lies in Formosan affairs. Perhaps better known to most as Taiwan, Formosa is the main island of the territory currently occupied by the Republic of China government-in-exile (not to be confused with the Communist-led People's Republic of China, commonly known as China). As someone born and raised in the US, it is hard to ignore the parallels between our histories. Formosan history is replete with the twists and turns of colonization, rebellion, and the ongoing battle for independence; or, now that there is some semblance of an "independent" Formosa, the battle for how it should be recognized and governed. Many volumes have been written on Formosan history, and the interested reader is encouraged to explore this history more deeply. For our purposes, it is enough to note the following: Formosa has been partially occupied by various European and Asian empires throughout its modern history, beginning with the Dutch in 1624; the vast majority of its inhabitants' ancestral lines migrated from present-day Southeast China (Amoy [Xiamen] and environs), also in the 17th century; and it has been under (Republic of) Chinese occupation since 1945.

Understanding Formosa therefore requires, among other things, a deep understanding of China and the language used to discuss all things China-related. As a frequent reader of New Discourses, I could not help but recognize that time and again, there is striking similarity between the language used and events that unfolded in China over the past few centuries, and the modern Western language of Critical Social Justice as we watch current events unfold before our eyes. I have a sneaking suspicion, which if I were an academic or a scholar might be called a working hypothesis (I am reluctant to use the word "theory," for obvious reasons), that the modern phenomenon of "Social Justice" is not in fact modern, and that it occurred in China in a very similar fashion around a hundred years ago. The eventual result of an obsession with racial and ethnic differences in late 19th — early 20th century China, perhaps unsurprisingly to readers of ND, is the seemingly monolithic Chinese Communist Party, with its near-absolute control over the lives of 1.4 billion peasant subjects. I suspect that we might learn something useful regarding our own situation by understanding the evolution from Chinese "Critical Social Justice" to Chinese Communism more clearly. Specifically, although I am not an expert by any means, I imagine that viewing our current social ills as they occurred in a different time and place may add some clarity that we miss when we are "in the mix" ourselves. In this post, I explain briefly some of the "leads," which I think might be good places to start looking.

Cow Skull

Teeth pendants speak of the elk's prominent status in the Stone Age

elk grave
© Tom Bjorklund
A total of 90 elk teeth were placed next to the hips and thighs of the body in grave 127, possibly attached to a garment resembling an apron. There were elk teeth pendants also on the waist. Red ochre had been sprinkled on top of the deceased.
Roughly 8,200 years ago, the island of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov in Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, housed a large burial ground where men, women and children of varying ages were buried. Many of the graves contain an abundance of objects and red ochre, signifying the wish to ensure the comfort of the buried also after death. Pendants made of elk incisors were apparently attached to clothing and accessories, such as dresses, coats, cloaks, headdresses and belts. Although no clothing material has been preserved, the location of the elk teeth sheds light on the possible type of these outfits.

A people of grooved elk tooth pendants

Comment: See also:


New insights from original Domesday survey revealed

© University of Oxford
Domesday Book Cover.
A new interpretation of the survey behind Domesday Book — the record of conquered England compiled on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1086 — has emerged from a major new study of the survey's earliest surviving manuscript.

Research published in the English Historical Review shows historians now believe Domesday was more efficient, complex, and sophisticated than previously thought. The survey's first draft, which covered England south of the River Tees, was made with astonishing speed — within 100 days.

It was then checked and reorganised in three further stages, resulting in the production of new documents, each carefully designed for specific fiscal and political purposes. The iconic Domesday Book was simply one of several outputs from the process.

Comment: For more on the revealing findings that have emerged from recent studies of the Domesday books, see: Historian reveals true story behind the 'multiple and messy' Domesday books

See also:


42,000 year old cave painting in Indonesia may be world's oldest known figurative artwork

cave painting pig
© AA Oktaviana
Dated pig painting at Leang Tedongnge.
Scientists have uncovered a pig painting in an Indonesian cave that dates back more than 45,000 years, representing perhaps the world's oldest surviving animal depiction and the most ancient known figurative artwork.

The cave painting may also provide the earliest evidence for anatomically modern humans on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, supporting the view that the first populations to settle the Wallacea islands created artistic depictions of animals and narrative scenes as part of their culture.

Indonesia has been known to harbor some of the world's oldest surviving cave art, including previously discovered paintings on its largest island, Sulawesi.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's: MindMatters: The Meaning of the World's Mythologies


Keynes' Sleight of Hand: From Fabian Eugenicist to World Government High Priest

Under the Keynesian takeover of Bretton Woods Trans-Atlantic nations became increasingly dominated by bloated bureaucratic systems while plans for genuine development were undermined, Matthew Ehret writes.
John Maynard Keynes Eugenics
It is as if the battle lines of civil war have been drawn up between masses of Americans who have been led to believe in either a false "bottom up" approach to economics, as defined by the Austrian School represented by Friedrich von Hayek, or in the "top-down" approach of John Maynard Keynes. The former sacrifices the general welfare of the whole nation for the sake of the parts (i.e. individual liberties), while the latter sacrifices the individual liberties of each citizen for the sake of the general welfare (or at least some oligarch's definition of what that should be).

In my last article, I introduced, in broad strokes, a history of the American System of political economy as advanced by Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Henry Clay, Henry Carey, Lincoln, and McKinley. We reviewed how it was derailed by McKinley's 1901 murder and was only revived 30 years later with Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 presidential victory which put a stop to the 1933 Bankers Dictatorship.

Comment: See also:


Easter Island's 'pigment pits' call into question societal collapse theory

easter island

The actual size of the statues is not as well known
Finds of pigment pits after the deforestation of Easter Island reject the earlier presumed societal collapse.

A new study on the prehistory of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) by an international team of scientists and archaeologists from Moesgaard Museum in Denmark, Kiel University in Germany, and the University Pompeu Fabra in Spain, has discovered prehistoric pits filled with red pigment on Easter Island.

The researchers revealed that the production of reddish pigment continued as an important aspect of the cultural life of the island inhabitants, despite drastic changes to the ecosystem and environment.

An earlier hypothesis, presented by Jared Diamond in the book "Collapse" (2005), assumed that the clearance of vegetation and overpopulation, resulted in erosion, a shortage of resources and food, and finally in the collapse of the society.

Comment: As noted in Rethinking Easter Island's historic collapse there's more to the societal collapse theory:
In short, Van Tilburg believes the new work is missing some of the nuances of Diamond's original theory. Diamond never described the collapse as a one-time event, Van Tilburg explains, but rather as a series of events that ultimately resulted in destructive societal changes that were hastened by European contact.

Diamond's hypothesis is based on a mix of oral tradition, evidence of island deforestation, and the work of previous researchers, such as the Norwegian explorer and ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl. (Heyerdahl gained fame in 1947 for sailing a balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki, to test the theory that South Americans may have colonized Polynesia.)
See also: And check out SOTT radio's: MindMatters: The Meaning of the World's Mythologies


How an Austrian and British Malthusian brainwashed a generation of Americans

The creation of false opposites has been a long-standing obstacle to human progress.

From the ancient pleasure-seeking Epicureans who argued against the logic-heavy Stoics of ancient Rome to the war of "salvation through faith vs works" that schismed western Christianity, to the chaotic emotional energy driving the Jacobin mobs of France whose passions were only matched by the radical Cartesian logic of their Girondin enemies; humanity has long been manipulated by oligarchs who knew how to set the species to war against itself. Although these operations have taken many forms, the desired effect has always been the same: divide-to-conquer bloodbaths which drowned out the saner voices of Cicero (executed in 44 BCE), Thomas More (executed in 1535 CE), or Jean Sylvain Bailly (executed in 1793 CE).

Today's polarization across the Trans-Atlantic world has reached a fevered pitch with the "right wing conservatives" shouting for liberty and less government while left wing liberals call for more government and top-down reforms of the system (with Great Reset technocrats laughing in the background).

Everyone with half a brain should be able to sense that the danger of civil war and economic meltdown hang over our destinies like a sword of Damocles, but instead of hearing calls for restoring the SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN traditions of American System banking that author Ellen Brown recently documented in her powerful new essay, we find only feuding sects that assert we must EITHER have top-down centralized planning OR bottom-up free markets laissez faire policies devoid of any government intervention.

Red Flag

The complex relationship between Marxism and Wokeness

lenin statue
I was recently asked by someone reading my forthcoming book with Helen Pluckrose, Cynical Theories, if I would explain the relationship between Marxism and the Critical Social Justice ideology we trace a partial history of in that book. The reason for the question is that Cynical Theories obviously focuses upon the postmodern elements of Critical Social Justice scholarship and activism, and yet many people, particularly among conservatives, identify obvious relationships to Marxism within that scholarship and activism that seems poorly accounted for by talking about postmodernism. This confusion makes sense because postmodernism was always explicitly critical of Marxism, naming it among the grand, sweeping universalizing explanations of reality that it called "metanarratives," of which it advised us to be radically skeptical.

The goal of Cynical Theories is to add clarity to this admittedly complicated discussion and lay out how postmodernism is of central importance to the development of what we now call "Critical Social Justice" or "Woke" scholarship and ideology. This is actually only one part in a far broader history that certainly draws upon Marx (and thus all the German idealists he drew upon), though in a very peculiar way and through a number of fascinating and, themselves, complex historical and philosophical twists.

One of these is the development of postmodernism, upon which we write, and another is the development of "neo-Marxism," which is sometimes referred to as "Cultural Marxism." This is a development of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, and it too was explicitly highly critical of Marxism in its economic particulars, though it retained the underlying ethos and ambition of overthrowing the ruling classes and establishing some variation on communism. Clearly, a third line of thought that bears some relevance is the long and, again, complex history of "social justice" thought, which can be approached in any number of ways, including religious, liberal, communist, and, as we explain in the book, "Woke," which must be understood to be its own thing in its own context, whatever its intellectual history.