Based on the metrics I have access to (Facebook likes/shares, Twitter data, and the page view metrics that Weebly provides), the post I wrote on the new paper by Jennifer Raff and Deborah Bolnick was one of the more popular things I've written recently. I think the paper is very nice, and I'm glad for anything I can do to encourage people to read it. Yesterday, Raff wrote a post addressing some questions about the paper. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this topic (professional or otherwise). When I looked at where my post was posted on Facebook, I was a little dismayed by some of the comments. It is evident (and interesting) that a lot of people react to the headline and the image without even reading the content. Anyway, I encourage you to read the original paper and Raff's answers to common questions.
Hutton Pulitzer Claims He Made Me Famous, Threatens to "Out" Professional Archaeologists
My posts about the various silly activities and statements by Hutton Pulitzer (there's a listing here) appear to be gaining a fan base. A post from September titled "The Philyaw Follies, Fall 2015 Edition" attracted Pulitzer as well as several individuals who he has apparently tangled with online before. And I've been getting emails from some Pulitzer detractors.
Among other strange things, Pulitzer made the following comment on my blog:
"Hey Andy, yes saw this and me calling you the "4A" made you quite famous. LOL, but yes archaeologists tend to not let themselves be interviewed. We did in fact offer you a spot to go on record with Wayne May, but yes you did decline. However, some of our new recordings are outing people like you and University coverups."
While I will eagerly await whatever "outing" he's talking about, I won't be holding my breath. If there's one thing that I can confidently identify as part of Pulitzer's M.O., it's the lack of follow-up to his grandiose statements. Anyway, his comments on my blog are worth reading, as are the comments of readers on Jason Colavito's post about a recent interview between Pulitzer and Scott Wolter.
Which brings us to the next tidbit.
Scott Wolter Is Still Participating In My Class
My plans for teaching a class about "fringe" ideas in archaeology (working title: "Forbidden Archaeology") in the Fall of 2016 are moving forward. The paperwork is currently working its way up the various steps in the chain. I just got here, so the process is somewhat mysterious to me. But I don't have any reason at this point to think that I won't be able to teach the course.
As I wrote in this post, Scott Wolter responded to my open invitation for "fringe" theorists to step up to the plate and participate in my class. An alert reader emailed me the other day to point my attention to Wolter's blog, where someone had made a comment about my website and Wolter had replied with something like "Who is Andy White?" The reader questioned if Wolter would still be participating in the class.
The answer to that is "yes." I had a cordial email exchange with Wolter and the plans for his participation in the class are still on.
I'm still looking for one or two more who like to be involved - I'd love to have a person talk abut giants and a person to make a case for any aspect of claims related to Ice Age civilization. Send me an email if you're interested: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boycotting Discovery and the History Channel?
I think many of my readers will agree that the overall quality of programming on The Discovery Channel and The History Channel has gone downhill in recent years. I don't have anything new to say about why that's a bad thing, but I wanted to direct your attention to a blog post by Gordon Bonnet at Skeptophilia calling for a boycott. Here is a bit of what he says:
"Look, it's not that I'm against speculation. Sometimes people doggedly pursuing ideas that everyone has thought ridiculous has paid off in the end. But there is nothing to be gained by formerly reputable channels airing fiction passed off as truth, and fantasy passed off as documentary. In the end, it makes everyone's job harder, from lowly science teachers like myself who are trying to get kids to learn how to sort fact from bullshit, to the honest researchers who would like to investigate fringe claims and do so in a rational, evidence-based manner.
So it's time to turn off The History Channel and Discovery. They've been veering off course for a while, but it's getting worse, and it's time to send a message. Stop watching this garbage, and better yet, send a letter or an email to them telling them you're doing so. It's time to get some good science and history programming back on the air."
Yeah . . . believe it or not there is a distinction to be made between programs honestly investigating ideas at the "fringe" and programs presenting outright fantasy that is disguised as documentary. It's the turn toward that second kind of programming that irks a lot of us, I think. Mermaids, anyone?
I really think there has to be a way for media to tap into the public's interest in the human past (and a spectrum of ideas about it) without resorting to just making things up.