Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sigh Pseudoscience on PBS? Say it isn't so

A couple posts back, I linked to the "first peoples" series that was on PBS Nova.

I tend to enjoy such programs, and the main problem is too often these programs on Discovery/History channel morph into pseudoarcheology. Of course, when Smithsonianiand PBS and the BBC get into Jesus stuff, they tend to go off the deep end of printing rumor/gossip as fact ("Jesus" tomb...ossuary of James...jesus in India) so usually I avoid "biblical" programs or take them with a grain of salt.

However,the bad news is that now it seems even simple archeological discussions on PBS is descending into C2C or "history" channel type pseudo science.

You see, a couple minutes into the show, they talk of the discovery of a skeleton deep in a cave, and start discussing why she was buried there.

Fair enough. But since they didn't tell us the proof it was a burial, (position of skeleton, grave goods) (other skeletons were found in nearby caves, as were the remains of large animals) I will have to take that statement with a grain of salt.

But hey, this is TV, not somewhere the discusses the arguments of trivia, right?

But then....

So to find out why she was buried there, they interview a "shaman", who mumbles something about going deep into a cave was the way to be in touch with the spirits or something to that effect...and then we see him smoking frog venom to get a vision. At that point, the film changes the subject, so we won't know if ET or bigfoot put her there.

Uh, since when are 20th century shamans experts at ALL the religions of all the tribes that existed in that are15000 years ago?

and since when is getting a hallucination a scientific way to figure out what went on? Why not just call "psychic hotline" and ask about her?

Finally, the "Shaman" was not a traditional Indian: He was a man with a thick black beard and European features, (or maybe he was metziso). So what tribe was he representing? The Pre-Druid shamans of ancient Hispania?

Note to PBS: If you have a question on why a burial person might be deep in a cave, please check with an expert in comparative religions with expertise in traditional religions of various tribes.

and of course, they don't provide proof she was buried or if she got lost there hiding from someone or if she was just looking for water and got lost, lke Naia

and the PBS series stressed she predated the "clovis people"...

Uh, even I know that the Clovis hypothesis is no longer viable and that maybe Amerindians came down by coastal migrations, not via the hole in the glaciers.

However, a lot of folks might not know that, so I have no problem with that part of the program.

the Wikipedia page for this dead lady suggests that although her skeleton is southern Asian, her DNA is AmerIndian, and they note it supports the coastal migration theory.

Fair enough.

nor is this lady the only skeleton that is questioning the Clovis theory.

Other cave burials include the Luzia woman.. and Naia, who  scientist think was probably buried when she fell fetching water.

I will eventually go back and watch the whole series, but when the report dips into superstition in the first ten minutes, excuse me if I hesitate to believe anything else in the film.

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