Welcome, Members of Parliament

Welcome, Members of Parliament. This blog is designed to act as a student forum for anyone enrolled in my classes at a Dallas-area proprietary college, former students, and/or others who find our conversations interesting. The Parliament will be moderated to ensure civility and relevance. The directions we take, the paths we follow, and the concerns we address are all up to you.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Honing BS Detection Skills

This week's Art History 1 Neolithic to Bronze Age discussion got my dander up a bit because I didn't have ready answers to questions about skeletons of giants and evidence of Minoans in Michigan.  But it didn't take long to uncover the sources of the mishegoss, so I thought best to share it on this quarter's first post to the assembled Parliament.

First off, the giant skeleton issue was easy to track down (keywords "giant" and "skeleton") because Snopes had already debunked it and that's the first place I usually look for answers to questions of this nature.  Plain and simple, Folks: they're fake.  I have several more sources if this doesn't suffice.

The second query was about whether or not archaeologists have found evidence of Minoans in Michigan, where they purportedly went to look for copper and left behind a tablet with writing on it.  The BS factor here pops up immediately, too, because one might legitimately wonder how they'd even know there was copper there (even if they had any reason to know where "there" was), and one glimpse of the "tablet" shows that it's not Linear A.  But hunt about I did, as promised, and now I'm really glad y'all asked, because I found a terrific blog by one smart dude that I'm going to  head for first if this ever happens again.

For a straightforward treatment of this particular bit of silliness, read Jason Colavito's Review of America Unearthed S01E03: "Great Lakes Copper Heist." Not only does he clear things up elegantly, but he also solved the mystery of where you folks got the idea in the first place. So my next piece of advice is this: stay away from edutainment shows like America Unearthed or Secrets of the Dead (my comment on their Minoan/Atlantis episode is still on their website).

And just to show you that I'm not blowing smoke about how important garbage is to interpreting prehistory, I again defer to Mr. Colavito: Alternative Archaeology: Where's the Trash?

Homework assignment: download a copy of Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit and carry it with you at all times.  I know this is not your fault; most of you were educated in Texas, and I'll do what I can to make up for it.

Image credit: A bit of the "Marine Fresco" from Akrotiri (can you just imagine the Minoans heading to Michigan, out through the Gates of Herakles and across the Atlantic in these boats?). Via Wikimedia Commons.

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