If you are a subscriber to Science magazine, you may have seen Lizzie Wade’s article “Believe in Atlantis? These Archaeologists Want to Win You Back to Science,” which ran online on Tuesday and will appear in the print version of the journal. The article features a number of archaeologists that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with and (I hope) fans of, as well as a few comments from me, too. In lieu of a blog post today, I urge to you give Wade’s article a read. In it, she discusses the continued popularity of pseudoarchaeology and its dominance in popular culture. It covers the racism of pseudoarchaeology and its connections to nineteenth century colonialism and imperialism.
Probably the most important paragraphs in the piece are these:
Today, “Most archaeological research is unavailable to the public,” [Sara Head of Archaeological Fantasies] says, obscured by jargon and locked behind paywalls. “But you want something from pseudoarchaeology? I can find you 15 references,” all easily accessible online and on TV.
The issue of research being locked away where only those with advanced educations and subscriptions to pricey research databases can access it is an important one. Public libraries offer access to those willing to visit to seek it out, but the dearth of popular narratives about prehistory and ancient history that don’t involve lost civilizations, cursed artifacts, or space aliens does enormous damage to the public understanding of history.
I spoke with Wade for an hour last week, and we had a lovely conversation about the challenges that cable TV pseudo-documentaries pose, particularly those focusing on space aliens and Atlantis.
Science magazine has a circulation of 130,000 and an estimated readership of 570,000 in print and 5.6 million online, according to its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It would be wonderful if the article helped draw greater attention among the magazine’s scientific readerships to the issue of public communication of archaeological and anthropological information and the need to do more than simply publish data in journals. Scientists need to share their research with the public in ways that the public finds understandable and engaging. If they don’t, then the popularizers will do it for them, with 100% more space aliens and Aryan supermen.
4/11/2019 08:52:59 am
“Most archaeological research is unavailable to the public,” [Sara Head of Archaeological Fantasies] says, obscured by jargon and locked behind paywalls.“
4/11/2019 10:37:22 am
It was literally a life or death issue to the guy who stole publications from JSTOR.
4/11/2019 11:27:16 am
That very paragraph in Ms. Wades excellent piece struck me as well because I do believe that today's laborers in the fields of archeology and paleontology have done a poor job of getting their work out to the general public. Sensationalism always seems to trump (sic) science, nowadays.
4/11/2019 01:00:49 pm
"Today, “Most archaeological research is unavailable to the public,” [Sara Head of Archaeological Fantasies] says, obscured by jargon and locked behind paywalls. “But you want something from pseudoarchaeology? I can find you 15 references,” all easily accessible online and on TV."
4/14/2019 12:18:34 pm
The "Blog Roll" to the right on this page includes at least three blogs operated by archaeologists. I don't believe that it is hard to find others on the internet.
4/11/2019 09:38:28 am
Bulletproof - the racism of The Chosen People
4/11/2019 10:04:55 am
Isn't referring to something bad as having a "dark side" racist?
5/6/2019 08:18:03 am
Shut up faggot
4/11/2019 10:43:43 am
Actually one might be surprised at how much published archaeological research is readily available for free on Google Scholar. How much of it is jargon free is another matter.
4/11/2019 11:15:49 am
I was delighted to see that the article's first two paragraphs were devoted to Joe Rogan.
4/11/2019 01:12:20 pm
"I was delighted to see that the article's first two paragraphs were devoted to Joe Rogan."
4/11/2019 05:30:06 pm
Someone who blazes up and can still put a sentence together breaks the paradigm.
4/11/2019 02:04:53 pm
Racism is institutionalized. Ex: Local, State and national Governments, religion, public education, Universities. One may have a bigoted point of view. Unless, you have the power to change the institutions, I would be more worried about the "Townie Mentality". Anyone who has been called, "College Boy" knows exactly what I'm talking about.
4/11/2019 02:52:14 pm
So tedious and so cryptic. Moving on, the proposed initiative/movement combines the worst features of a circle J and whizzing into the wind. Since going house to house and forcing people to read is not yet an option it will achieve nothing except another line item on a few C.V.s: "Presenter at the Why Aren't People Interested Symposium".
4/11/2019 03:48:35 pm
Congratulations Jason! And you didn’t have to fly to Europe or testify that Ancient Aliens are real.
4/12/2019 11:40:25 am
When I was a boy in the late 1950's I was a Boy Scout. I got Boys' Life, the magazine for Scouts. In it was a cartoon series, Kam of the Ancients. It was about a native boy in Pre-Columbian North America. He wandered from tribe to tribe as the story plot twisted and turned. As consequence readers like myself learned about the lives of the native peoples. I always thought this would be a great television series.
Why spread lies
4/12/2019 03:47:46 pm
Why do you constantly spread lies about 'non-white people couldn't develop knowledge on their own' when according to ancient aliens gods gave knowledge to every culture? Why do you spread this bullshit?
4/12/2019 04:02:53 pm
Have you been in communication with ancient aliens?
Good! To say it in short with Plato: The real archaeologists have to be the better myth makers. Only, that their myths have to be true myths. As Plato wanted it. (What does this mean for Atlantis?)
An Anonymous Nerd
4/21/2019 09:13:35 pm
The article forgot to point out that nobody gets tenure for debunking, public communication, or public education. That kinda matters for this stuff.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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