The Spaz Speaks: Resolutions

Yup, holidays make me fat, but more importantly, fat makes me happy. So, long story short, this holiday has made the Spaz oh-so very happy.

That being said, I’ll bet a lot of you fellow archaeologists are just as happy as I am, if not more so, and I’d go even further to say that you’re all planning out resolutions that are aiming at killing some of that happiness. Well, might I make a suggestion? I’ll take your resounding silence as a go ahead. Why not set all of your resolutions around your career in the field? I know, I know. It’s vacation time, and as soon as I got home for the holidays I got the “don’t talk about work, you’re on vacation,” speech about three times already. That’s the good thing about typing it though. My family won’t hear it and you can always hit the back button. So, here are some resolution suggestions:

In this poor work economy (10% unemployment rate) why not keep your ear out for your friends. Even if they already have a job, archaeology is a career. If they don’t have a job then you have even more reason to keep a lookout.

Resolution: I resolve to do my best to help my friends find great jobs!

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How are your writing skills? After however long you have spent in college, they should be pretty good, and only need a little polish up. That being said, why not resolve to write a presentation or publication outlining your specific job or something you spend everyday working with. Just remember to not breach any client contracts or step on another colleague’s toes.

Resolution: Get published.

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Do you find that your job takes over most of your life? Always writing? Are you salaried and at work for ridiculous amounts of time? Not getting enough time to try out alc-aeology? Why not come up with a new hobby or rediscover an old one. Outside of work, I write fiction stories, build robots, and play video games, just to name a few.

Resolution: Make time for something you just enjoy doing!

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These are just a few examples of how you could enter the New Year happy (fat) with ambitions to accelerate your career. The losing weight resolutions never work because we’re happy fat. Perhaps this career related ones will, because we love money.

-The Spaz

The Spaz Speaks: The Future of Archaeology

moon8

So, I was reading up on the moon stuff (ask Kurt, the day we launched that missile at the moon I sent him about four texts on what the result was: “No news here at work, need help, please tell me what you’ve heard.”) and just the other day I read this article concerning the confirmation of caves beneath the surface of the moon.

This got my silly brain thinking. Human intervention (ie: the missile) caused a manipulation of the environment on the moon. That crater is an archaeological event. In 600 years, people will be able to look at that and see that in 2009 we blasted the moon in search of water.

Another concept that this brought to my attention, and that years of reading science fiction probably influenced me in reaching, is the idea that its easier to inhabit a pre-existing habitation (ie: caves) than it  is to start from scratch and build an entirely new base for occupation of the moon. What I’m saying is that its only a matter of time before we move into the moon caves.

What does this have to do with archaeology? That’s easy, habitation means human influence, which means we’re only a few years off moon archaeology.

Habitation of the moon isn’t just a idea I threw together in boredom, its the whole reason we sent the rocket, and are looking for water. And habitation leads to archaeology.

So let’s keep this chain of thought going. What new branches of archaeology are we looking towards in the future? We’ve sent landers to Mars many times in the past. When we get there are we going to send an archaeologist along to analyze the evidence that the videos and sensors couldn’t pick up on, to retrace the tracks of the lander and its journeys?

What about the caves on the moon? Let’s skip a little away from just archaeology and into a related field of geology. The caves were created by something, and, with the currently governing theory on how the moon was formed as an offshoot of our own planet’s formation, geological processes studied on the moon could tell us untold amounts of data concerning our own planet.

Of course, this idea of space-age archaeology isn’t new, and I’ve even read about “xeno-archaeologists” in some science fiction books, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, or likely. As the world moves forward, so do its professions, and to think that the study of the past will remain stagnant is probably a little ignorant.

The oncoming day of the Moon-Archaeologist is upon us.

As readers of this blog, I ask you your opinions. The Spaz wants to know what other possible futures for the field of archaeology are on the horizon?

What do you think will be the next stage in our evolution as a profession?

–The Spaz

Related Posts:

Heritage protection on the Moon!
Why preservation is important…

The Spaz Speaks: Review "History is Wrong"

Also known as “The Spaz Speaks: Pseudoscience Part 2.”  (If you missed the first part, read it here.)

This book was a doozy. Seriously, I had to finish a liter of vodka just to choke this stuff down. Heck, that was after taking the pound and a half of cocaine.

Erich von Daniken started his research asking a couple of cousins and waiters if they knew what the Voynich Manuscript was. As expected, their answers were all in the negative.

Heck, I’m a professional archaeologist and I don’t even know what it is!

But I digress…

After Erich von Daniken asks about a 100 of these goobers he explains that everyone’s lack of knowledge on the subject is indicative of the lack of knowledge of the subject in academic circles. This, and only this, is the only point in this entire book in which I will agree with Erich von Daniken.

The purpose of archaeological studies (as I’ve stated repeatedly) is to enlighten and educate. The Voynich Manuscript is a 15th or 16th century, currently untranslated, document. Shy of a press release dating and marking its provenience, the public wouldn’t have heard anything about the manuscript until it has been interpreted.  Instead of jumping on the sane train and saying what I just said, Erich von Daniken instead decides to state that the lack of public knowledge on the subject is instead part of some plot to hide what most academics are too close minded to admit: we can’t decipher it because it was written by aliens.

What?

Yes.  Aliens.

Fact: the Voynich manuscript is written in an, as of yet, undeciphered script.

Fact: the Voynich manuscript has detailed star/sun charts.

Scientific conclusion? An as of yet undetermined culture had the mathematical and observational skills to plot star/sun charts.

The Erich Von Daniken conclusion? Our inability to interpret the foreign language implies no failing on our part but instead implies that beings much smarter than us wrote it. Also, the detailed star charts are obviously contrived from mathematics too complex for early man to decipher and are indicative of beings who have grander perspectives than early man.

The Erich Von Daniken conclusion that I just gave you is basically all of “History is Wrong” pertaining to the Voynich manuscript. You’ll also find that when reading this book you come across, repeatedly, two signature pseudoscience tools:

The first of these tools is the “piece it together yourself” questioning. Pseudoscience is opinion based over factual. For this reason, after a pseudoscientist makes a claim he/she will usually follow it up with a question instead of a factual explanation. This is a con man slide. It chooses to engage you in hopes that while contemplating related conclusions you’ll not question the lack of cited evidence. When asked to answer a question, you’re usually too busy answering to take the time to say “Woah…wait a second…that doesn’t make sense.”

Politicians use it too…a lot.

The second, and probably slightly more annoying, tool in the pseudoscientist toolbox is one I like to call “Look at my big friend…” This method is the presentation of proof that  you know someone famous instead of proof to your claims. Its a means of von Daniken to say “I must be right because this famous person wrote me a letter.” The major example in this book is the letter from Neil Armstrong, also known as the first man to step on the moon.

In short, von Daniken claims to have been part of an excavation that discovered a metal library within a cave system in Los Tayos, in South America. After the supposed discovery, he claims that the press had covered it up and wouldn’t believe him, he also takes this moment to point out that documentation that would prove his point (photographs, journal entries) are simply missing (at one point, even saying “(my archive is missing)”[page 130 opposite the letter from Armstrong]). He then claims to have just surrendered until he heard that another crew had visited the excavation and brought along Armstrong.

Von Daniken mails Armstrong a letter asking for his take on the alien library in the caves and Armstrong states: “I understand that there have been magazine articles in Germany and Argentina which reported on the excavation and related it to your theories…I was asked in Ecuador whether I had observed any evidence of highly developed societies having been in the area, and I answered that I had not.” He continued the letter stating that he appreciated the offer to accompany von Daniken on an excavation but would have to refuse.

So…Armstrong said no aliens. Pretty clear cut, right?

Erich Von Daniken instead states that the letter is proof that he has been victimized by the media and that Armstrong had given him his full support. Very simply, a celebrity contacted von Daniken in response, and von Daniken is using it to drum up popularity.

This of course follows Erich Von Daniken’s refuting of the comments in the media that he admitted to never actually being in the caves in Ecuador.

I shall answer this one from personal experience.

I, Matt the Spaz, have actually watched the interview in which Erich Von Daniken states that he had never been to the caves. Back in college, in Riddles of the Past 101 with Dr. Marqusee, we watched the whole video and not only does he say that he’s never been to the caves, but also that half of the Nazca lines that he claimed were landing pads for alien beings he had never actually visited. He ended the interview saying that, when he writes his books, he knows he’s writing for an audience and that he brings a large portion of poetic license into each book he writes.

For those of you new to literary parlance, poetic license is “make-believe.”

Finally, the book ends weak. Erich Von Daniken falls into a lull and must have noticed, because he quickly starts just repeating stuff from his other books, all of it can be found in his original, “Chariots of the Gods?

His book ends on a quote, pleading with the audience one last time to view him as the victim.

“Those who cannot attack the thought, instead attack the thinker.” (Paul Valery 1871-1945)

In response: Erich Von Daniken I don’t see you as a victim of the media or of “mainstream archaeology.” I see you as a person who completely ignores the Scientific Method. I love your “thought.” I think its awesome. Aliens rock. The purposeful bending of scientific evidence to your theories is what I attack. Read the evidence as it is, don’t make it fit your beliefs.

Pseudoscientists are either people who failed to correctly learn the scientific method, or snake-oil salesmen.

I encourage everyone to ignore this book, go out and buy Chariots of the Gods? and laugh your butt off reading that one. In forty years, he has come up with nothing new to write.

And one final note, if this article gets enough requests, I’d be willing to take a look at the Voynich manuscript myself, or maybe I’ll put together a scientific model to prove the theory that aliens were responsible for the development of past civilizations. No one can ever say the Spaz isn’t willing to walk the walk.

–THE SPAZ!!!!

The Spaz Speaks: Seeeexxxaaaayyy….

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Check this stuff out. Look at that long coat. Those beautiful eyes. Sexxxxxaaaayyy! Darn, if she were any hotter I’d be climbing trees.

Now that that is out of the way, I just wanted to take this break from reading Erich von Daniken’s… riveting… book to bring to you “The Missing Link.” Or maybe not, but we’re at least a step closer.

Personally, I’ve always been more attracted to those habilis ladies. Mmmmm…. love me some prognothism and brow ridge.

The Spaz Speaks: Pseudoscience!


Mmmm, coffee.

The meaning of life. The reason that I exist, anyways. And that’s how I found myself walking through Barnes and Noble, following my nose to the delectable aroma at the end of the rainbow. Who needs gold when I’ve got caffeine?

Spaz? Is there a point to this ranting about coffee on an archaeology blog?

Be quiet! I’m getting to that.

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Blasting my way to the B&N Cafe, I walked past the New Age section, where I saw the name of mine old nemesis and court jester (all in one): Erich von Daniken.

For those of you who fail to recognize the name of mine ole nemesis, Erich von Daniken is the man who proclaimed, in a world renowned best seller, that the remains of every culture could be interpreted in a manner that would prove that aliens were the reason for our current existence.

I was amazingly shocked to see his name on anything other than Chariots of the Gods (I’d actually thought he’d died by now. At the very least, you have to applaud his persistence.). As it turns out, he’s alive and still writing.

His newest book, History is Wrong, is a look back at religious belief structures as he tries to explain how each one can be reinterpreted to show that it was actually alien beings who are described in each doctrine. That’s what I got from the back of the book as I pulled it down from the New Age section (note, not Science, Archaeology, or Non-fiction). The back also goes on to explain that the book breaks sharply from the religious analysis and returns to his works from Chariots of the Gods, explaining how artistic renditions cross-culturally are really the work of man trying to tell future man (us) that it wasn’t really them that did the work, but instead aliens.

Once again, for the record, I have not read this new book, yet. I’m actually still sitting in Barnes and Noble with my laptop right now. I have read Chariots of the Gods, and let me tell you, I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Allow me to explain my problem with von Daniken’s theory. Erich von Daniken is a pseudoscientist. A pseudoscientist is a person who comes up with a theory (ie: my dog is a god) and then takes established facts uses them to justify their position, usually omitting large quantities of disproving facts (i.e.: my dog is a god because the word dog is an anagram of god, therefore it must be true). Therefore, when I giggle when I hear von Daniken’s name, its not because I don’t believe that its possible that aliens might have aided our development at some point, its just that I’m not going to say “Yes, they did,” until I have slightly more definitive proof than the explanation that elaborate head dressing in artwork must actually be space helmets (actual proclamation by von Daniken).

Pseudoscience is one of the big destroyers of archaeology, right up there with black market trade and the closing of fedora shops in a bad economy.

Why is pseudoscience so bad?

Its fun.

That’s right, its fun, and therefore evil.

Aliens built the pyramids? Slaves built the pyramids? Which one sounds cooler? Its alright, you can answer truthfully. You probably already have, since his first book Chariots of the Gods is an international best seller. Aliens are cool. Aliens rock and we all love the way the whole idea sounds.

The problem comes from Archaeology’s main purpose: Educate the public. If you tell 50 million people that slaves built the pyramids, and that same 50 million buy a book that tells them aliens did it, there’s going to be a good chunk of the populace that has an easier time remembering the cool story with aliens instead of the not as cool story about slaves.

In many ways, pseudoscience of this type can also be seen as a form of racism.

Ahh! You said the R word!

I know, but think about it this way. When von Daniken claims things such as aliens built the pyramids, he specifically states that it must be true because ancient Egyptians couldn’t have done it (he actually says that, read Chariots of the Gods, or watch the movie, or visit the theme park that’s in production…). He says that when, in television such as Digging for the Truth, they show exactly how it could have been done with some chisels, straps, four guys, and a few levers. (That sounds like a hit new TV show: “Stay tuned for Chisels, Straps, Four Guys, and a Few Levers.” Nevermind, said like that it sounds more like some really weird porno…moving on…)

I’m all for finding out the truth, but lets not make blind allegations until we’ve got some proof.

That being said, The Spaz is going in.

Stay tuned for the next few days…weeks…I dunno how long it’ll take…

Shouldn’t take long. As I’m flipping through the book the type is freakin’ huge…

Anywho: Stay tuned for the next (insert unit of time) and expect a cool book review of mine ole nemesis’ newest work, History is Wrong.

Heck, maybe in 41 years he’s actually got some real proof and I’ll join the dark side.

Maybe…

The Spaz

PS: Contrary to what it may sound like, I actually encourage you to at least pick up Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods, no matter how much richer it makes him. We should all know what we’re up against.

The Spaz Speaks: Crime Rings!

So, there I was, uncovering a large lithic in the second strata of bags that I needed to catalog (wrap your head around that!) when this little notice came across my desk, courtesy of my minions at Spaz HQ:

Artifacts Sting Stuns Utah Town

Say what?

Yes, Mr. The Spaz, stealing artifacts isn’t just some small country thing, its an everywhere thing!

All I gotta ask is where’s Indy when you need him?

That belongs in a museum!

The Spaz Speaks: Updatedness!

Well, the Spaz scryed and waved his spaztic wand and cleared all the B.S. hooplah out of the way and the important thing he pulled out of the interweb is this: The Ark of the Covenant will not be revealed. Depending on which sites you go to for this information, the Patriarch claims to have never made statements saying the world needs to be shown. In another article, he says that the Ark couldn’t be shown to the people because if it was touched God would smite you. In yet another article, people are crying out that if the Ark is filled with the Manna of God (food meant to sustain the Hebrews for their 40 trek) then why does Ethiopia starve?

And even another article lays claim that the Patriarch was in conference with the Pope for several days and then just left.

Whatever.

Big point: No Ark.

And no Ark, no matter how you look at it, means no melting face. And I like my Sexy face right where it is, thank you very much.