Subject:      Re: yes, we have the proof: transpacific trading networks
From:         yuku@mail.trends.ca (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/09/02
Message-ID:   <5ui0uj$s90$1@news.trends.ca>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology,
		sci.anthropology,alt.folklore.science

Bernard Ortiz de Montellano ([22]bortiz@earthlink.net) wrote:
: In article <5uc6bt$mks$1@news2.trends.ca>, [23]yuku@mail.trends.ca (Yuri
: Kuchinsky) wrote:

This was originally written by John R. Cole, and reposted by Bernard.

>    * Subject: Who Is George Carter? Answered
>    * From: [24]fcattus@aol.com (Fcattus)
>    * Date: 27 Dec 1996 07:42:01 GMT
>    * Newsgroups: sci.archaeology
>    * Organization: AOL [19][25]http://www.aol.com

John R. Cole is no mere innocent bystander in these matters. In the late
1970s, and in the 1980s he authored a whole series of highly critical
publications, extremely negative towards the possibility of ancient
transoceanic contacts. So, in a sense, he is a "professional critic" of
Carter and other researchers in this area.

One thing that needs to be said right from the outset is that the area of
research that we're dealing with here is extremely understudied. There are
great many big and fascinating mysteries in this area of ancient
transoceanic contacts. There are very few people who dare to go into this
area because it's extremely controversial. Venture into this, and soon
enough there will be brutal ad hominem attacks directed at you by certain
"professional critics" such as Cole, S. Williams, or Bernard, and many
more. You can be sure that every little mistake you may make will be
magnified beyond recognition. Your arguments will be twisted every which
way.

But this is also an area where mistakes are nearly inevitable... And how
can it be otherwise, when so little is known and understood about this
area of study? The gaps in our evidence base are huge, hard info is hard
to come by, and the misinformation, some of it deliberately planted, is
rife. Nobody among the mainstream scholars knows much about these things
as a rule. And those who do often keep their mouths shut because of the
bitter politicisation of this area of research. It's dangerous stuff to
play with... Careers can be ruined sooner that a bird flies.

Yes, Heyerdahl made mistakes. I found quite a few of them myself in his
books. So what are we going to do next, throw away his books? Not yet,
not so fast... Instead, let's take a look at the Critics now. Because
this area of research is _so difficult_ that if we look at our
"professional debunkers", what do we find? Guess what? Mistakes by the
bushel!

Let's take the case of Stephen Williams (the author of FANTASTIC
ARCHAEOLOGY, 1991, the recent Holy Scripture of the "debunkers").
Mistakes? My dear friends, there are uncounted SERIOUS ERRORS in this
opus. It is chock full of them! Where do we begin to count them? David
Kelley documented in detail Williams' _totally incompetent_ and extremely
sloppy treatment of the Grave Creek Stone (D. Kelley, EPIGRAPHY AND OTHER
FANTASIES, Review of Archaeology, 15/2, p. 8, 1994). Williams came awful
close to deliberate falsification of evidence on this one! I, myself, have
written about Williams' huge gaps in knowledge and understanding of the S.
American traditional Amerindian navigation. "Landlocked cultures",
according to Williams? Only in his timid dreams... Many, many more serious
errors can be cited. His poor judgement on the Kensington Rune Stone has
recently been the subject of a very prolonged discussions here.

So, if we take Bernard's advice, why should we take anything Williams says
seriously? Blatant incompetence! Throw away the book! But, why are our
sainted Professional Archaeologists generally so very warm towards
Williams? Why is his book the big bestseller, garnering such glowing
reviews, and used widely in University courses? Anybody can see hypocrisy
in this? I knew you could... How many people have read George Carter?
Very few. Perhaps a hundred times more have read Williams. So this is how
the political stranglehold in this field perpetrated. You can see it in
action now, don't you?

So now let's come back to our dear John R. Cole, and see how reliable _he_
is.

> George is a geographer who trained under Karl Sauer and is renowned for
> his claims for A/TransPacific contact and biological flow of PreColumbian
> traits and species to the New World from the Old

There we go! Error #1 already. IN ACTUAL FACT, Carter spends MUCH MORE
TIME talking about the flow of species THE OTHER WAY, i.e. FROM the New
World! Indeed, when we look at the early agricultural crops, it is obvious
that many more went from America to Asia than otherwise. A very
significant error here, John! The unfounded and almost reflexive
presumption of "the Old World cultural superiority" is ENTIRELY YOURS
here!

> and B/his claims for
> humans in the Americas "Earlier than You Think" (Title of one of his
> books) such as "Texas Street" in San Diego.

Carter received plenty of flack for this one. Some of his earlier claims
on this did not pan out, true. In that book, he was relying on certain
untested scientific dating techniques that were later largely discredited.
Too bad for Carter... But it needs to be noted that the general trend in
recent scholarship is to date early human occupation of the Americas ever
further back... Perhaps Carter was right, after all, but, in part, for
wrong reasons?

> I have long considered George
> a friend and a friendly adversary (and vice versa, I think!);

Well, one would like Carter's own opinion on this...

> he is a
> nice, thoroughly committed guy who must be pushing or passing 90 (haven't
> heard from him for several years).

Carter must be grateful for whatever compliments he can get...

> And he accepts EVERY cranky claim
> (almost)

Oh, well, at least he put in a qualifier here...

> which supports his views, altho I have argued in print and
> personally that he hurts his case by doing so.  I showed convincing
> evidence that one "Early MAn in America" claim was totally bogus,

Here we go. Perhaps we're supposed to accept on faith that this mythical
incident John regales us with happened _exactly_ like John says it did...
I don't know about this, though...

> and his
> response was to keep using it because, he told me, "The claim was made
> honestly, and we can't even get to first base if we subject claims to that
> kind of scrutiny."

See above. The worth of this tale, AFAIAC, is really not much. I wasn't
there, I don't know what John is talking about, and if we ask Carter, we
may here something _totally different_.

> (My response then and now is that amazing claims may
> be true, and they especially need gimlet-eyed analyses by
> skeptics--otherwise they will never be substantiated!)

Fine sentiment, John, but how often did overzealous debunkers bury
important new and tentative research, and sidetracked historical
scholarship for great many years to come? I'm sure with your wide
experience you know of a few cases. I'm sure you're not so naive as not to
be able to see the real harm that biased, prejudiced, and destructive
attacks can do, and have done? You want examples?

How about the Kensington Rune Stone? There are no more valid argument
against its authenticity that have not been answered in the recent
discussions. This was one artifact that came oh so very close to being
buried into the ground after having been discovered by accident...

But this is still controversial. Let's look at another BIG example that is
not controversial any more, although it was only a few years ago. Cracking
of the Mayan code. It was the sainted Eric Thompson, the leading Mayanist
of the previous generation, who debunked fanatically any attempt to read
the Mayan script phonetically. They Mayans were supposed to have been "the
Other", according to him. Their script was supposed to be UNLIKE ANY OTHER
IN THE WORLD and non-phonetic. The Cultural Uniqueness, so beloved of our
Isolationists, Writ Large. It was supposed to be Mystical and Symbolic.
It's hard to believe his Psychic gobbledigook was taken so seriously by
_everyone_, with very few exceptions, so recently. Yes, this was the dogma
of yesteryear. His hyperacerbic and hypercritical attitude had held up
scholarship for nearly a generation. See any interesting parallels?

> He was satisfied
> with the idea that a lot of possibilities added up to a probability...

According to you. And I, on the other hand, certainly think that a lot of
probabilities _do add up_ to a stronger probability! And even to a
certainty. This is the real scientific method. When we see so many
probable transoceanic contacts, then we can put all these probabilities
together and draw conclusions on this basis.

> I
> am not.  Meanwhile, I respect George Carter but not "Carterfacts" (a term
> even HE uses, shaking his head at us beknighted critics).

A Carterfact may be something like saying, When in the dark, even a little
tiny glimmer of a light can be better than nothing.

> He is Professor Emeritus of Geography and Anthropology at Texas A&M. Steve
> Jett and Carl Johannson are a couple of his more prominent younger
> (60-70?) students (from CA days, I think).

And here's another obvious error by John to bring up the rear of his
little snide ad hominem excercise. Johannessen was not a student of
Carter. At least this should have been easy to doublecheck. So why should
I trust anything John says here, if we follow Bernard's logic? Of course
we shouldn't follow this logic, because it will ensure complete stagnation
in scholarship, perhaps what he is after in any case...

Yes, we should read very carefully what Heyerdahl wrote. Because he is a
great pioneer who opened up possibilities to our understanding of many
fascinating mysteries of ancient past. And we should also be critical of
him in good measure. But there's also such thing as throwing away the baby
together with the bathwater.

Regards,

Yuri.

Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [26]http://www.io.org/~yuku

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than
to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith
   _________________________________________________________________


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