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No. 55: Jan-Feb 1988

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Archeological Stonewalling And Shadow Science

In past issues of SF, we have presented considerable evidence for the existence of humans in America well before 12,000 years ago -- the "acceptable" limit. For example, in SF#54, we mentioned the 300,000-BP site in Brazil. There are many more. Of course, controversy hangs over all these sites and the dates assigned to them. The controversies about the specifics are good; but now the archeological establishment seems to be trying to enforce the 12,000-year dogma through authoritarian pronouncements in key publications. By way of illustration, we have P.S. Martin's article in Natural History, entitled "Clovisia the Beautiful!", bearing the subtitle:

"If humans lived in the New World more than 12,000 years ago, There'd be no secret about it."

Now, some archeologists are even trying to roll forward the 12,000-year date. See, for example, R. Lewin's review in Science (referenced below), which is subtitled:

"In recent years anthropological opinion has been shifting in favor of a relatively recent date (not much more than 11,500 years ago) for the first human colonization of the Americas."

In all of these articles, anomalous data are simply labelled "erroneous."

(Martin, Paul S.; "Clovisia the Beautiful!" Natural History, 96:10, October 1987. Also: Lewin, Roger; "The First Americans Are Getting Younger," Science, 238:1230, 1987.)

The practical effect of this whole business is that a discipline of "shadow archeology" is forming outside the establishment. In this relatively undisciplined and unrefereed environment, we find books and reports loaded with anomalies, dealing not only with early humans in the Americas, but pre-Viking European contacts, expeditions to the Americas from the Orient, ancient pyramids in Australia, etc. As a matter of fact, all scientific disciplines are paralleled by "shadow disciplines," which are often "staffed" by amateurs and mavericks. But enough of this musing. The consequences are now being recognized by a few scientists and philosophers. A long article in a recent issue of Nature provides some pithy, pertinent comments:

"The current predicament of British science is but one consequence of a deep and widespread malaise. In response, scientists must reassert the pre-eminence of the concepts of objectivity and truth."

"By denying truth and reality, science is reduced to a pointless, if entertaining, game; a meaningless, if exacting, exercise; and a destinationless, if enjoyable, journey."

(Theocharis, T., and Psimopoulos, M.; "Where Science Has Gone Wrong," Nature, 329:595, 1987.)

From Science Frontiers #55, JAN-FEB 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987