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I believe Donald Trump's hair has extraterrestrial origins, but I can't prove it.
January 4, 2005 9:22 AM   Subscribe

"What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Can't Prove It?" For its 2005 "World Question," Edge.org invited a "who's who of third culture scientists and science-minded thinkers" to respond to the following: "Great minds can sometimes guess the truth before they have either the evidence or arguments for it (Diderot called it having the "esprit de divination"). What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" They received 118 responses, some of which are also excerpted here. (See also 2003, 2002 discussions).
posted by pardonyou? (69 comments total)

 
"Well, of course, it is tempting to go for something like, 'That the wheel, agriculture, and the Macarena were all actually invented by yetis.'" - Robert Sapolsky

This is cool.
posted by weston at 9:27 AM on January 4, 2005


Excellent idea, though sometimes they seem to be trying to cast non-controversial ideas as controversial to promote themselves as edgy. E.g., Kevin Kelly says "The orthodoxy in biology states that every cell in your body shares exactly the same DNA," followed a few paragraphs later by " Biologists already know (even if the public doesn't) that the full sequence of DNA in your cells changes over time as your chromosomes are shorten each time they divide in growth." Doesn't the latter kind of imply the former?

... and anyway, since Kelly still believes in the Long Boom, I would would have thought he'd pick that...
posted by lodurr at 9:30 AM on January 4, 2005


Great post, pardonyou. Of course, I should be pissed because now I'm not going to get any work done this afternoon...ha!
posted by braun_richard at 9:30 AM on January 4, 2005


fabulous. The most interesting conjectures concern human cognition --- one of the last scientific frontiers.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:31 AM on January 4, 2005


Interesting stuff. I particularly liked this:
Is string theory a futile exercise as physics, as I believe it to be? [...] My belief is based on the fact that string theory is the first science in hundreds of years to be pursued in pre-Baconian fashion, without any adequate experimental guidance. It proposes that Nature is the way we would like it to be rather than the way we see it to be; and it is improbable that Nature thinks the same way we do.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:34 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe there is no such thing as a Christian scientist.
posted by orange clock at 9:35 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe George Bush has an intellect, but I can't prove it.
posted by nathanrudy at 9:37 AM on January 4, 2005


Very interesting ideas. I do pine a bit for the Renaissance person / liberal arts thinker, although I have only read the NYTimes version. By that I mean the people each seem to be able to presuppose 'radical' ideas in their profession, or worse, they seem to want to guess at how their profession is the most fundamental and important in the Universe. 'I believe, though I cannot prove, that the (fundamental axiom of my profession / research) is the fundamental axiom of the universe.'

Some of the most interesting thinkers I have met were not 'professional.' I knew an historian who was well-read on Plato and Atlantis theory who stocked grocery shelves on third shift.

Excellent post, all the same.
posted by Slothrop at 9:38 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe there is no such thing as a Christian scientist.

There's lots of them, orange clock. They even have a church.

/lame
posted by goatdog at 9:44 AM on January 4, 2005


Before I go on, I should note: via Arts & Letters Daily.

I was somewhat surprised by how many seemed to simply restate their known, obvious beliefs in their own field of study (i.e., Richard Dawkins, John Barrow). Conversely, I loved some of the more off-the-wall, speculative responses like this, which seem to be more in the "spirit" of the original question.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:45 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe in the existence of supreme beings responsible for conscious creation and design, and in the existence of intellect and personality remaining after corporeal death. I also believe that the previous beliefs in no way contradict or negate the discoveries and theories of scientists such as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Hawking, et al. So there, fundies.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:53 AM on January 4, 2005


pardonyou?, while I think Lanier poses an interesting question (one I've been interested in for many years, myself), I actually think it's an example of what's wrong with this project. After all, he's really not talking about something that couldn't be proved; in fact, what he's talking about is likely to be proved/disproved within the next few years.

While I agree that it's superficially a little lame for Dawkins to say "I believe but can't prove that natural selection precedes desing", it's also true that he'll never be able to prove that and I (who've never liked Dawkins much) have to give him props for his honesty on that one.
posted by lodurr at 9:54 AM on January 4, 2005


Before I go and read the article, the thing about the question is that it could be addressed in different ways, each of them interesting:

What do you believe is true even though you can't prove it...
a) although available evidence seems to point in that direction, but it's not enough to be considered proof?
b) in spite of a majority of available evidence which seems to point against it, although it's not enough to be considered disproof?
c) although there is no evidence either for or against it, it could possibly be proven some day?
d) which could never be proven or disproven?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:04 AM on January 4, 2005


Interesting stuff. I particularly liked this:

I liked that, too. It's frankly astonishing how angry some physicists will get when they are challenged on whether or not string theory is actually science.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:05 AM on January 4, 2005


The sun'll come out tomorrow...

(Proof is a mighty high standard, not that there isn't something between proof and faith.)
posted by ontic at 10:08 AM on January 4, 2005


"I can't prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove."

Very meta.
posted by euphorb at 10:08 AM on January 4, 2005


DevilsAdvocate, I was just going to post in reply to lodurr's response that I took the question to be "...even though you can't prove it today," but that lodurr's take was just as reasonable. I think you (DA) nicely laid out all of the possible ways to approach the question. Maybe the question should have been better defined, or maybe they thought it would be more interesting to let the responders decide for themselves.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:09 AM on January 4, 2005


What a wide variety of respondents. They even asked Ali G's less successful cousin!
posted by crank at 10:10 AM on January 4, 2005


String theory has worried me for a long time. It's just all a bit too elegant, IMHO; it's as though it were being revised to patch its own problems, without really accumulating any more evidence.

I keep remembering Wittgenstein's lion. If there's one thing that I believe that I don't think will ever be proven (well, not by or for me, at least), it's that our theories of how things work -- even where they are "proven" -- are merely very impartial mappings onto the "actual" truth of how things work. Put another way: That while our apprehension of reality is quite good enough to suit our technological state (more or less by definition), we ought never confuse our apprehension of reality with reality itself.
posted by lodurr at 10:11 AM on January 4, 2005


yo, Crank, as a huge Ali G fan, I'll bite -- Ali G's cousin?
posted by bluesky43 at 10:16 AM on January 4, 2005


Fantastic reading. Thanks.
posted by Gyan at 10:16 AM on January 4, 2005


That while our apprehension of reality is quite good enough to suit our technological state (more or less by definition), we ought never confuse our apprehension of reality with reality itself.

lodurr: one of the scientists actually chose to elaborate on your point... wish I could remember which one, now.
posted by weston at 10:18 AM on January 4, 2005


bluesky43: You know how Ali G is really a character played by Sacha Baron-Cohen? That person crank linked too has the same name as him because they are cousins
posted by biffa at 10:21 AM on January 4, 2005


lodurr: That while our apprehension of reality is quite good enough to suit our technological state (more or less by definition), we ought never confuse our apprehension of reality with reality itself.

Carlo Rovelli goes on a related tangent.
posted by Gyan at 10:22 AM on January 4, 2005


Although I am not sure that weston and I refer to the same scientist.
posted by Gyan at 10:22 AM on January 4, 2005


It's not actually that wide a variety. In fact, the list is fairly restrictive.

*These are (mostly) establishment answers from people who are already famous; you scratch post-docs or hungry assistant profs for real wild-eyed speculation. Of course, most of them will be wrong (entertainingly so), but that's where the future Nobels are too.

*The respondents were pretty much exclusively from the talky sciences: physics, math (sometimes in drag as comp sci, sometimes not), psychology and evolutionary biology. Earth scientists, chemists or cell & big organism biologists need not apply. Interesting answers from the fields that replied, but missing at least half their potential pool.
posted by bonehead at 10:33 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe that humans will cause their own destruction or near-destruction.
posted by nofundy at 10:46 AM on January 4, 2005


That while our apprehension of reality is quite good enough to suit our technological state (more or less by definition), we ought never confuse our apprehension of reality with reality itself.

I believe (but cannot prove) that the above is a very good characterization of most of history over the last 200 years (the Positivists, the Marxists, eugenics, physics both pre- and post-Einstein.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:58 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe that question is an interesting writing exercise for anyone ambitious or arrogant (or stupid) enough to consider themselves a great mind.

Actually, I was originally gonna say, "what he said" and leave it at that, but then I had to add a corollary, and that expanded into what amounted to be one of my longwinded online journal entries. At this point I'm linking back to here simply to complete a loop. You're welcome to visit but please don't feel solicited.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:05 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe, but cannot prove, the answer is 42.

/neeeeeeeerd
posted by basicchannel at 11:09 AM on January 4, 2005


Dammit, I found out about this not two minutes after my post yesterday, and was dying to post it (stupid 24 hour window!). When I saw that it was scheduled for the Jan 4th NYTimes I knew it wouldn't last a whole day without getting onto the blue.

I especially love that some predictions work against each other. In particular, Dan Dennett and William Calvin make predictions that are completely opoosed to those of Alun Anderson and Alison Gopnik.

I like it when people tackle the question head on and get intensely speculative, rather than the scientists who trot out whatever they're working on. There's some pretty terrible philosophy in here, but I don't want to call it out, because those are the guys who are playing along. Kudos to them.
posted by painquale at 11:17 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe (but cannot prove) that eclecticism is the ultimate survival strategy.

I believe there is no such thing as a Christian scientist.

That's no good because, being easily demonstrated, it doesn't fit the parameters of the question.
posted by rushmc at 11:19 AM on January 4, 2005


nofundy: Whenever I encounter someone who insists that humankind has a purpose, I ask them if our purpose is merely to destroy ourselves.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:46 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe, but cannot prove, that most computer scientists use a razor sparingly and don't get enough exerise.
posted by pmbuko at 11:53 AM on January 4, 2005


exercise
posted by pmbuko at 11:54 AM on January 4, 2005


basicchannel did indeed prove his nerdiness. And I proved mine by getting the joke.
posted by raedyn at 11:54 AM on January 4, 2005


I believe, but cannot prove, the answer is 42.

/neeeeeeeerd
posted by basicchannel at 11:09 AM PST on January 4


Basicchannel wins. And thanks for all the fish.

Whenever I encounter someone who insists that humankind has a purpose, I ask them if our purpose is merely to destroy ourselves.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:46 AM PST on January 4


Very good retort strangeleftydoublethink.
posted by nofundy at 12:00 PM on January 4, 2005


I think this might be one of my favorite responses. And I'm also a great fan of his software/interfaces.
posted by pmbuko at 12:02 PM on January 4, 2005


(adding 2004's question to the FPP)
posted by LinusMines at 12:06 PM on January 4, 2005


I believe there is no such thing as a Christian scientist.

Your theory is easily disproven with some rather famous counterexamples:

Donald E. Knuth (Computer Scientist, Author of the famous Art of Computer Programming)
William Phillips (1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics)
Louis Pasteur
Samuel Morse
Sir Isaac Newton
Robert Boyle
Gregor Mendel
Blaise Pascal
posted by unreason at 12:09 PM on January 4, 2005


He meant real scientists.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:21 PM on January 4, 2005


(adding 2004's question to the FPP)

Hey, thanks. I didn't find it on my initial search (obviously), but knew it was discussed. I might have taken more time, but I knew there were people like painquale out there nipping at my heels. (*neener neener*)
posted by pardonyou? at 12:26 PM on January 4, 2005


I believe that Alison Gopnik and Daniel Dennett are each partly right.

I suspect ("believe" is probably too strong a word here) that "consciousness" is one of those fuzzy and hard-to-pin down terms that everyone thinks they know what it means, but people actually mean very different things by the term. I suspect that Gopnik may be mostly right for what she means by "consciousness," and Dennett may be mostly right for what he means by "consciousness."

On a different note, I believe there will be world peace by the year 3000. By "world peace," I do not mean an end to all violence, but an end to large-scale violence orchestrated by large groups (countries, corporations, radical organizations consisting of more than a handful of people).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:58 PM on January 4, 2005


What I found interesting was a physicist on the first page saying he reckoned the big crunch was how the universe was going to end. I thought that was yesterday's theory.
posted by Sparx at 1:05 PM on January 4, 2005


I believe (but cannot prove) that these two facts (as I also believe them to be) determine who rules the world:

Haidt - I believe, but cannot prove, that religious experience and practice is generated and structured largely by a few emotions that evolved for other reasons, particularly awe, moral elevation, disgust, and attachment-related emotions.
and
Nesse - I can't prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove.
posted by pracowity at 1:17 PM on January 4, 2005


Bingo. Believers are the tribe's best killers. They don't question orders, their dualistic view (good vs. evil) rationalizes murder, they take risks, since death is only a passage to the afterlife, and unlike the run-of-the-mill killers, believers pretty much stay in line in the off season.
See also Darwin's Cathedral.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:01 PM on January 4, 2005


A vote for Hoffman here. Of the version of this in the Times I thought he was the most original and interesting by far.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2005


Well, there's the Continuum Hypothesis on one hand, and the kinda-related (through acceptance, rejection, or modification of the axiom of choice) plausible existence of satisfactory models of infinitesimals (derived from internal set theory). The fact that so many people disagree violently with this belief, or in fact that there could be any disagreement at all (and that the relative strengths of differing and oppositional beliefs varies over time and across generations) leads me to believe that the shape and discourse of maths and logic are products of our embodied consciousnesses, that evolve within social lives organized from the top down through impenetrable hierarchies that make us into receptacles for the cultures that seduce us into functioning as robots in the economy.
posted by meehawl at 3:39 PM on January 4, 2005


Alison Gopnik seems to means consciousness in the sense of an awareness of external stimuli whereas Daniel Dennett seems to think that the crux of consciousness is 'I'. Actually she uses in the contradictory way of meaning both a nexus of disparate stimuli and a singular focus. But as she says in her final paragraph this is because she doesn't believe consciousness is a meaningful designation of a specific phenomenon. Daniel Dennitt, in my opinion, uses it in the more traditional way of meaning: the perceiver of itself and the world as separate entities. His theory is interesting as well, although I'm not sure if he is implying that there is a cognitive ground to language that is prelinguisitc and that consciousness is epiphenomenal to an acquisition of language or that from a purely neurological standpoint language unites the brain to create a conscious experience. As for which is the correct meaning of consciousness I would have to lean towards Dennitt's definition because almost all other traits normally associated with consciousness seem to be accounted for by other abilities like awareness, memory, language. Dennitt seems to be questing for the broad picture of the Mind and Gopnik seems to be questing for the components but without explaining in what ways consciousness is emergent from these inert qualities. However, Dennitt to has a far from complete picture of consciousness because one can have a feeling of self without being conscious, in for example, a dream one experiences and identifies with the subject but is not conscious.
posted by Endymion at 3:58 PM on January 4, 2005


"The orthodoxy in biology states that every cell in your body shares exactly the same DNA..."

There's also the growing awareness of...well, I don't know what to call it (or how to search for it). Where an early fraternal twin fetus is abosrbed and people have patches of cells in their body that use the twin's DNA.

As to Dennett and Gopnik...I like Dennet a lot and agree with the central premise of his "Consciousness Explained" (linking consciousness to memory—well, actually equating them). But I think he's very, very wrong here. Maybe in some very "soft" sense he's correct. But not in the context of talking about "consciousness" in the way in which he's traditionally dealt with it. This (his) also is an old idea, much discussed in linguistics.

I don't understand how there could be a "sense of awareness" of, well, anything outside the context of "consciousness". Typically consciousness is equated with "self-awareness", and this fits with what Dennett is saying; but my position is that I don't really know that "awareness" has a useful meaning in this context outside of being essentially the same as "self-awareness". "Other" requires "self"; to be aware of "other" or "external" requires an awareness of self.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:43 PM on January 4, 2005


Endymion: because one can have a feeling of self without being conscious, in for example, a dream one experiences and identifies with the subject but is not conscious.

In what sense are you using the term 'conscious'? It can't be qualia because that would contradict your statement.

billsaysthis: Hoffman's a panpsychist (as am I). Chalmers has some papers linked here.

Ethereal Bligh: Where an early fraternal twin fetus is abosrbed and people have patches of cells in their body that use the twin's DNA.

Chimeras?
posted by Gyan at 4:56 PM on January 4, 2005


Two thumbs up, pardonyou? I only wish I had time to read & absorb it all.
posted by cosmonik at 4:59 PM on January 4, 2005


I don't see that what Gopnik and Dennett are saying necessarily conflict at all. It seems to me they are talking about different things, with different emphasis.
posted by rushmc at 5:00 PM on January 4, 2005


Gyan: That is exactly how I am using the term, through perhaps my sentence was unclear. I can speak only for myself of course but my dreams do not have the subjective feel of consciousness and yet I have a distinct sense of self, although perhaps it is not in fact self but rather autonomy; a mere physical differentiation.

Ethereal Bligh: my position is that I don't really know that "awareness" has a useful meaning in this context outside of being essentially the same as "self-awareness".

Certainly there is awareness without a sense of self of other. Gopnik's child for example or the Zen Master for whom the bell rings but there is no bell and no hearer. Or even this guy
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Can such states properly be called consciousness. Certainly the child does not possess all of the cognition of an adult but what of the Zen Master. He seems to be capable of any of the normal differentiations of conscious beings, he can state the difference between self and other but he doesn't necessarily feel them as such. For this reason I don't think consciousness is merely a amalgam of cognitive abilities. I think that this state of 'consciousness' is most likely a disregard for causation. This would account for children being passive, they don't see the self as an autonomous causal agent and so are not aware that action can be initiated but the Zen Master is perfectly capable of action though whether they are capable of decision or preconception is debatable.
posted by Endymion at 5:28 PM on January 4, 2005


Does anyone what Jared Diamond is speaking of, when he says:

American archaeologists are especially persistent in their quest for pre-14,000 sites—perhaps because secured dating requires use of multiple dating techniques (not just radiocarbon), but American archaeologists distrust alternatives to radiocarbon (discovered by U.S. scientists) because the alternative dating techniques were discovered by Australian scientists.

Background: He believes that the Americas were settled by humans no earlier than 14,000 years ago.
posted by Gyan at 5:28 PM on January 4, 2005


Endymion: my dreams do not have the subjective feel of consciousness

Then, in what sense are they 'dreams'? I still think you are using consciousness in a different sense, but I'm open to correction.
posted by Gyan at 5:39 PM on January 4, 2005


Unless they are lucid dreams one is not aware one is dreaming. But dreams differ from hallucinations of a schizophrenic in that within the hallucinations one has feeling of consciousness. Why is there a different subjective sensation for each despite being largely the same sensationally? Both dreams and waking consciousness have all the same cognitive powers: memory, both long and short, decision making, a sense of causation, a sense of autonomy, a perception of an external world, even a sense of some essential 'I' or being. Yet they differ, for me at least, in that within dreams, and not just retroactively in remembering them, I don't feel conscious. If one is in fact conscious while dreaming what is it that differentiates a lucid dream from any other.
posted by Endymion at 6:01 PM on January 4, 2005


Endymion: In your reply, you're using 'conscious' to mean essentially self-awareness, not qualia. Just to confirm we agree on the latter term, qualia refers to the phenomenal experience itself (and also its subjective character: the qualia of red). Vision, audio, smell, thoughts, emotions. These are all distinct modalities of qualia. If you dream, that's experience of vision and audio and/or other things. That's being conscious.
posted by Gyan at 6:17 PM on January 4, 2005


I think we're being buried in semantics but what an apropos example of how slippery consciouness is. I'm advancing the idea that 'conscious' is not mere self-awareness. What I'm contending is that while dreaming one has all the cognitive abilites usually cited as the basis of consciousness without having the qualia, the 'what it's like' of consciousness. The qualia of dreaming and waking life are slightly different. I'm refering to the subjective character of the experience. What is the 'ness' in consciousness? Is it analogous to the red'ness' of a rose. Can one be conscious without consciousness. Dreams would seem to say exemplify an instance in which one has conscious without the ness. Red without the redness. I think, perhaps, that you disagree fundamentally with me on whether dreams 'feel' like consciousness but I speak only for my own case in which they do not.
posted by Endymion at 6:52 PM on January 4, 2005


Endymion: What I'm contending is that while dreaming one has all the cognitive abilites usually cited as the basis of consciousness without having the qualia, the 'what it's like' of consciousness.

Consciousness essentially means just having qualia. You may further categorise consciousness as 'waking', 'dreaming' by reference to the set and nature of the qualia. The 'redness' of red is an attribute/property of that quale, not the qualia itself, although the references I'm finding online right now, say it is the 'redness'. So to keep terms clear, I'll use the term sensation, from now on.

Can one be conscious without consciousness.

Not by my definition. If your answer is Yes, then you don't mean qualia/sensation when you say consciousness.
posted by Gyan at 7:07 PM on January 4, 2005


I think we are working in opposite directions in looking for the essence of consciouness. You seem to be working from a definition towards a set of applicable mental states whereas I am working from a set of mental states and looking to see what differentiates them. I have some notion of what consciousness feels like and so I say: at this moment consciouness and the other not.
posted by Endymion at 7:16 PM on January 4, 2005


I'm saying *being conscious* means there are mental states. What those mental states are, is a different matter.
posted by Gyan at 8:15 PM on January 4, 2005


Human consciousness is the (re)production of, and the (re)production by, metaphor.
posted by meehawl at 9:40 PM on January 4, 2005


Ethereal Bligh: I like Dennet a lot and agree with the central premise of his "Consciousness Explained" (linking consciousness to memory—well, actually equating them)

? I didn't get that from Consciousness Explained at all. What do you mean? Dennett's discussion of memory in Consciousness Explained is pretty scanty.
posted by painquale at 10:43 PM on January 4, 2005


lodurr: Carlo Rovelli goes on a related tangent.

Although I am not sure that weston and I refer to the same scientist.


I meant Alan Kay's statement, actually:
So, science is a relationship between what we can represent and are able to think about, and "what's out there": it's an extension of good map making, most often using various forms of mathematics as the mapping languages. When we guess in science we are guessing about approximations and mappings to languages, we are not guessing about "the truth" (and we are not in a good state of mind for doing science if we think we are guessing "the truth" or "finding the truth"). This is not at all well understood outside of science, and there are unfortunately a few people with degrees in science who don't seem to understand it either.
Or: "You must learn to distinguish between what is true and what is real."
posted by weston at 12:57 AM on January 5, 2005


I believe that one day they will prove that having a smoke after a big meal is good for you. It's just gotta be true!
posted by leibniz at 1:26 AM on January 5, 2005


You must learn to distinguish between what is true and what is real

The exercise of power within our social universe can make "false" things true, and "true" things false. What is real is a social agreement - what is true is a social compact. for more information, enter Room 101.

Far too many scientists envelope themselves within the comfortable fictive narrative or essential linear progress, conveniently ignoring the many detours, byways, and odd confabulations. Mendel ignored much of his data that indicated crossover of linked genes. Milliken ignored much of his data that didn't fit his e- charge. Newton invoked an invisible hand keeping the universe taut while Einstein invoked a similar cosmological constant. So it goes.
posted by meehawl at 6:54 AM on January 5, 2005


I believe that addition is commutative, but I can't prove it.
posted by kindall at 8:48 AM on January 5, 2005


Gyan - before about 12000 radiocarbon years ago the most straightforward tweaking of radiocarbon dates (using dendrochronological calibration) is impossible because tree ring sequences don't extend that far back. So pre-12,000 more complex and uncertain methods of calibrating dates are needed, most using Uranium-Thorium dating of coral as a cross-check to the radiocarbon age.

I wouldn't say that is an Australian-American problem though. Pre-14k sites in Australia are primarily dated using radiocarbon, though increasingly we see Thermoluminescence, Optical Dating and other trapped-electron methods being used. Also, I would say that most American (sensu strictu) archaeologists are still not looking for pre-14k sites because their paradigm (the ice free corridor etc) doesn't allow them, and they can't acccept new data which effectively overturn everything they ever learned about the first peopling of the Americas (which relegates their lifelong contrubution to being "the first peopling of the midwest". Jared Diamond is not an archaeologist and while a very stimulating "big thinker" he is wrong to say that widely accepted South American sites are more recent than widely accepted North American ones, also he is apparently unaware of recent findings from earth science which render the ice-free corridor - Clovis First (his sudden appearance of humans) - hypothesis impossible. My assessment is that currently most archaeologists in the Americas (sensu broadu (?)) don't feel like they know how or when humans first got to the Americas, but they feel they do know that it didn't happen via Diamond's scenario.

Anyway, blah blah blah - good link.
posted by Rumple at 9:24 AM on January 5, 2005


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