This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Of anthropology, hoaxes, ancient history and religion

There've been a few weird articles circulating on the web news services(possibly even on TV, but I don't watch TV news) about a German anthropology professor falsifying carbot-dating records for various artifacts, thus disproving his own claims about finding a missing link between humans and neanderthals and about them having coexisted together, thousands of years ago. The concensus the scientific community is apparently reaching is that they're going to have to rewrite human history between 10,000 and 40,000 years BC.

Now this, of course, is a major blow to science. Something that was being being taught in (at least some) schools is now been proven to be a fake. Not an error or an honest mistake, but a purposeful fraud.

Some Christians on the web are, of course, crowing with delight. Look, see, we told you, they say. The science is wrong, we told you so, and look how long it took for you to figure that out. The last time this happened, it took 40 years to figure it out. This time around, it took 30. If this keeps going for a hundred years or so, they say, the scientists will be able to detect these frauds after 10 years.

True enough. However, in their rush to condemn science and promote their own agenda, they're forgetting that it was science that found itself to be in error, and publicly admitted it and confirmed it, when it didn't really need to. Religion, any religion, is incapable of such a thing. It took huge lawsuits and massive media coverage to get a religion to admit that it might, just might, have a problem with priests and little boys.

And in fact, religion seems inordinately concerned with what science thinks of it, and wants to be proven right by it. This is due to the fact that religion, on its own, cannot prove or disprove itself, or science for that matter. Even when it tries to, it can only do so through its own investigators using the scientific method, since the religious method of 'faith' that all members are told they must have cannot uncover new facts or disprove old ones, only articles of faith.

The point of all this is that what happened with the anthropology hoaxes doesn't damage beyond repair the science of anthropology, no more than burning people at the stake for thinking the world was spherical and revolved around the sun damaged beyond repair the religion responsible. In fact, I think it strengthened it, instead. It forced changes, which led to improvements.

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