To start with, archaeology is the analysis of physical remains, paying special attention to the context of those remains — their geographic location, location relative to other items and within the strata of the region, any documented historical context, and so on. Further, he stated that there is an assumption among archaeologists that other archaeologists are interested in the best explanation for things.
Pseudoarchaeology — "armchair archaeology" if you will — is performed by people who are not interested in the best explanation at all. Rather, the goal is to attain sensational results — and as such, truth that inconveniently gets in the way of that goal is ignored, denied, or derided as being part of a conspiratorial establishment. It abuses select methods of archaeology for the purpose of lending credence to itself. So, for instance, it may take a small piece of data and fabricate a vast conclusion from it. Or it may rely on outdated models — cherry-picking debunked theories to support a hypothesis.
The thought then is, "so what?: legitimate archaeology will debunk their findings". Well it's not so hard when some guy shows up on TV with a wrench and claims it's the bone of a metal dinosaur. But when it's someone who's published a dozen books under the "archaeology" category, it's quite another.
And therein lies the cornerstone for the "dangers" that Dr. Fagan outlined. The pseudoarchaeologist makes their conclusions first then finds data to fit that — specifically, they skip the peer-review process that is designed to strengthen legitimate theories and diminish illegitimate ones. Relatedly, they will deride critics and celebrate supporters; whereas a true archaeologist will celebrate the respectability of criticism or support and deride inferiority. Frequently the pseudoarchaeologist will leverage nationalism and other unrelated reasons affect objective investigation.
But worst of all is that these pseudoarchaeologists don't do any real archaeology but they are supported under false pretenses to establish dig-sites which are no more respectable than (and just as destructive as) looters.
The key — in my mind — is that the average person is not an expert in archaeology (and in point of fact, is seldom an expert in any more than one field). As such, they rely on indicators of expertise to make a decision: advanced degrees, validation from others, longevity of their claimed expertise, etc. Unfortunately, all of these can be forged and the non-expert is left wondering what to do.
I guess for most, it's to remain vigilant. Look for telltale signs — sweeping conclusions, derision of all critics and celebration of all supporters, and a strong influence of motivations external to the work-at-hand.
I also left the lecture with a sense of familiarity for the kind of person that makes a pseudoarchaeologist. It's the same traits that make up the pseudoscientist and the fraudulent leader. In all these cases, the perpetrator of fraud creates an environment of power and prestige by convincing people that established knowledge is simply a conspiracy against wonders-untold that is otherwise claimed untrue.
For the pseudoarchaeologist, it may be that ancient civilizations were far more advanced than we are — despite established knowledge that they used tools and techniques that we have built upon to become more advanced than they. For the pseudoscientist, it is almost exclusively an attack on good old Thermodynamics Law #2: that you can't get more energy out of something than you put in — perpetual motion machines, and miraculous energy machines constitute the bulk of their exploration. And for the fraudulent leader, it is a claim that vast improvements can come from their method of leadership which history has consistently shown to be a path to a civilization's destruction.
And I agree with Dr. Fagan's comment that these people are not evil, just misguided. They are often deluded by the same thing that tricks others: the fundamental belief that great rewards exist to be claimed; and the refusal to accept that sometimes the greatness of a reward is distorted to be larger than it actually is when observed from afar.
I just thought I'd mention that the dinner that Ali and I had at Magnolia's Market and Deli (366 Park Ave.) was very good. The French onion soup was great [although different-from and not-as-good-as that at Hogan's Hideaway (197 Park Ave.)], and the pizza we had was excellent. The only real complaint was that the cream soup (broccoli or spinach … I can't remember) that Ali got was, well, weird. It wasn't much like a cream soup at all, but more of cooked chopped vegetables in a broth with some cream in it. A quick exchange for their excellent tomato bisque fixed all that.
I headed out for the late show at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) First up was A Hotel Nourishing — a technical, rather precise rapid-fire cacophonous rock band. Next was Night Gallery whom I'd seen before — this time I found them to be a solid rock band with a salsa/Spanish influence. I liked them both a lot.
Next was The Sound City Saints who did some really fun, fairly gritty punk-rock. I helped their bassist with his microphone then his guitar strap. They were a fun bunch of guys. Finishing up was The Lucky Cats who do solid, straightforward punk-rock.
My friend Sondra and I had a lengthy discussion about altered states of consciousness and whether the physical world as it is presently understood is all that there is to be known. We have both had experiences that seem to defy theories that we misinterpreted coincidental events or that we selectively remembered events that confirmed a theory.
She has recently had apparent success using sigils — a method of creating a symbol to influence a specific outcome. However, as both of us are skeptics, the lack of a causal understanding has us frustrated — although not so much frustration as to stop using what seems to work, especially when it does no harm.
She spoke of the theory that the symbols themselves were being "charged" with something (I almost wrote "energy" but that's not what I'm talking about). The concept is that if we can observe a symbol (a word, for instance) and that can cause a thought to form in our minds, there is a transfer of something from the symbol to ourself. If that's true, then can it be possible to charge a symbol with something that can later be received? Can it be used to communicate on some level different from language?
I felt it might be that a sigil is a representation of the start of an action that we forget how we complete. I made an analogy of pounding in a nail: starting with a nail protruding from a board, you would (1) desire for the nail to be pounded in, (2) get a hammer and pound in the nail, and (3) observe the nail pounded in. Now consider the experience if you forgot that you did #2: you would have observed a protruding nail that you wanted pounded in, and then you would note that it was indeed pounded in. What if a sigil is a way to express a desire, and we simply forget how we accomplished it, leading to an outcome that we wanted in the first place?
We also talked about out-of-body experiences, or at least extending our influence and connection to the world beyond the confines of our bodies. A long time ago I had tinkered with out-of-body experiences. One time I felt that I could locate the presence of non-physical beings in space — hundreds of them everywhere; in another, I heard a cacophony of voices. In both cases, though, it scared me — I very much did not want to reach a point where I couldn't avoid "seeing presences" or "hearing voices" so I turned away from those techniques.
So what if that was a valid, real perception? — a sensory device that I had not needed to use and that I psychologically blocked. What if that could help explain facets of our existence that have yet been unexplained? What if we have deliberately blinded ourselves to avoid seeing something that is complex and confusing; powerful and enriching? The cells in my body are connected in complicated ways, so why not a connection to all life to a similar degree? Why not a connection to the universe in its entirety?
It's certainly an exciting prospect … [unless, of course, it's demonstrably an illusion; then it would kind of suck.]
But then I don't want to dive right into the world of pseudoscience. A serendipitous e-mail gave me a hint, though. It was a link to a TED Talk by a neuroanatomist named Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor titled My stroke of insight. In it, she outlined her own experience of having a stroke and how it affected her brain — an expert in brain anatomy who got the chance to experience what she often explains to others.
The lecture is moving and engaging, but what I took away from it was a reminder to rely on science in my own exploration. One of the key parts of validly using reason and logic to come to conclusions is to start from a point that has already been established — "A" then "B" then "C". One of the pitfalls in exploring topics that are "out there" is to claim that it is an entirely new frontier and to start from a point that it is not grounded in established knowledge. Doing so invalidates any conclusions attained, so not only is it a false path, it's genuinely a waste of time.
So it's one thing to explore and play, but to draw conclusions — like mine and Sondra's analytical brains desperately want to do — requires that we start at a point of known, physical reality. Maybe this left-brain, right-brain stuff is a starting point. I guess I'd better get reading.
Ali and I headed to Michelina's Italian Eatery (2700 W. Henrietta Rd.) for dinner. I had never been there before, but it's some of the best Italian food I've had around here — and reasonably priced to boot! I had the Costatelle Alla Maiale: breaded pork cutlets served with marinara, eggplant, cappicola, and mozzarella over pasta. It was excellent: the pork must have been pounded tender for a whole day. Ali had the Pizziola: breaded chicken with marinara, pepperoni, mushrooms, and mozzarella — also excellent.
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing All the Real Girls starting at 8 p.m. As Eastman House quotes from Roger Ebert, "most movies about young love trivialize and cheapen it. Green knows there are nights when lovers want simply to wrap their arms around one another and celebrate their glorious destinies".
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Big Lebowski starting at 8 p.m. Especially if you have only seen this stoner-whimsical comedy-mystery in bits-and-pieces like I had, you owe it to yourself to see what all the fuss is about and sit down to deliberately watch it from beginning to end. Preferably with a white Russian if you can manage to get one.
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Bad and the Beautiful starting at this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. From the Eastman calendar: "Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Dick Powell, Barry Sullivan and Walter Pidgeon shine in this semi-autobiographical account of a powerful Hollywood producer and the creative artists he uses and discards".
Eastman House calendar][all ages]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Flandersui gae(Barking Dogs Never Bite) starting at 8 p.m. — a comedy about the "lives of the residences of a drab housing block, including a university lecturer annoyed by incessantly yapping dogs, and an estate clerk who tries to right the wrongs of the neighborhood".
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat."
Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed.
Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events.
I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity.
Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.)
It's also not to be confused with
or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator.
While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, March 20, 2008 (Thu, Mar 20, 2008, 3/20/2008, or 3/20/08) Friday, March 21, 2008 (Fri, Mar 21, 2008, 3/21/2008, or 3/21/08) Saturday, March 22, 2008 (Sat, Mar 22, 2008, 3/22/2008, or 3/22/08) Sunday, March 23, 2008 (Sun, Mar 23, 2008, 3/23/2008, or 3/23/08) Monday, March 24, 2008 (Mon, Mar 24, 2008, 3/24/2008, or 3/24/08) Tuesday, March 25, 2008 (Tue, Mar 25, 2008, 3/25/2008, or 3/25/08) and Wednesday, March 26, 2008 (Wed, Mar 26, 2008, 3/26/2008, or 3/26/08).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.