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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Scientific skepticism

And scientists wonder why we're every bit as skeptical as everything they report as "the current scientific consensus". This is a fairly typical "scientific" rebuttal to a science news report that happens to be outside of the current mainstream of accepted thought:
Let’s start with a quick talk about aliens. In an infinite universe, it seems foolhardy— even arrogant— to completely dismiss the idea of extraterrestrial life. There are so many galaxies, so many planets, so many suns; across the neverending expanse of space, one suspects that there must be another group of intelligent beings somewhere.

But suspect is the key word there. We have no credible evidence for the existence of alien civilizations. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” And claiming that the Paracas skulls are possibly alien is certainly extraordinary. So let’s look at the evidence— does it measure up?

Well, the short answer is no. First, consider the source: the preliminary results of genetic testing were announced by Brien Foerster, who is the assistant director of the Paracas History Museum.

That’s a pretty impressive title, and I’ll admit that it threw me. That title implies formal archaeological, curatorial, or history credentials, maybe a body of peer-reviewed research projects. That title implies that he has serious academic credibility, and that we should listen to his announcements about his areas of expertise.

None of this is true. Some pretty basic Google research turns up some facts about Foerster that cast his announcement in an entirely different light.

First, his academic credentials: by cobbling information together from the webpage of his company Hidden Inca Tours and his official Facebook page, it appears that he has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada. Foerster doesn’t offer any further information about his educational background, including his exact field of undergraduate study. I was unable to find any evidence of an advanced degree.

Foerster’s company, Hidden Inca Tours, is a travel agency that specializes in taking travelers on paranormal tours around the world, but focuses on Peru and the surrounding region. Foerster has also written a number of books on archaeology, including one called “The Enigma of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls of the Ancients,” which he wrote with David Hatcher Childress. Vanderbilt University archaeologist Charles E. Orser once called Childress “one of the most flagrant violators of basic archaeological reasoning.”

So what about his role as assistant director at the Paracas History Museum? How did a paranormal tour operator get that job?

Well, first, the Paracas History Museum is a private museum. It’s owned by one Juan Navarro, who is also its director. Navarro is also listed on the Hidden Inca Tours webpage as a member of “Our Team of Experts.” I was unable to find any mention of academic credentials earned by Navarro, either.

My preoccupation with academic credentials is not meant to downplay the immense wisdom and experience possessed by many people who do not have undergraduate or post-grad degrees. Being smart does not require a college degree. Heck, it doesn’t require any kind of education at all; it’s an innate quality.

However, scientific expertise is not an innate quality. It is something that is gained through years of study and research, both of which are usually completed in an institution that awards successful students degrees upon graduation.

To be fair, I don’t have any special academic credentials that make me an expert in archaeology or genetics. But I’m not arguing that the data is flawed— we haven’t seen the full data, and I’m not qualified to speak on that— but I am arguing that a number of features of the announcement should warn us not to take Foerster’s announcement at face value.

That brings us to the strange nature of the announcement. Foerster announced the results personally, via internet, rather than through a scientifically reputable source.

There are a number of problems with the way he announced the preliminary results. Speaking to Discovery.com, science promoter and skeptic Sharon Hill said “This is an unconventional way of making ‘groundbreaking’ claims.”

Hill added “It’s not supported by a university, but by private funding. The initial findings were released in this unprofessional way (via Facebook, websites and an Internet radio interview) obviously because Foerster and the other researchers think this is very exciting news.”

Exciting news is one thing, but scientific credibility is another. “[S]cience doesn’t work by social media,” said Hill. “Peer review is a critical part of science and the Paracas skulls proponents have taken a shortcut that completely undermines their credibility. Appealing to the public’s interest in this cultural practice we see as bizarre — skull deformation —instead of publishing the data for peer-review examination is not going to be acceptable to the scientific community.”

There’s also the matter of the testing itself. According to Foerster, the geneticist who discovered the allegedly never-before-seen DNA, wants to remain anonymous. If that’s not a red flag for the credibility of your research, I don’t know what is.

The final nail in this story’s coffin, for me, was the revelation that Foerster had appeared on the popular History Channel program “Ancient Aliens” multiple times. In yesterday’s article, I said that the scientific and archaeological communities generally regard “Ancient Aliens” as inaccurate.
Now let's consider the various bases for why we are supposed to dismiss the announced findings of genetic anomalies in the highly unusual Paracas skulls, which reportedly do not fit within the parameters of human skull variations.
  1. We have no credible evidence for the existence of alien civilizations? That's a stupid statement, considering these skulls may be such evidence. There is no credible evidence for anything the first time it is discovered.
  2. The Carl Sagan quote is stupid and incorrect, for reasons that a) should be obvious and b) have been covered previously. It's cheap sciencistic rhetoric.
  3. The title doesn't imply anything. As for the lack of credentials, well, given the amount of known fraud and statistical error being committed by impeccably credentialed scientists, that is hardly a disqualifier.
  4. Guilt-by-association. I wrote a book with Bruce Bethke, but that doesn't make me one of the world's experts on supercomputers.
  5. (laughs) The writer has no credentials either. By her own logic, should we not dismiss everything she is saying? In any event, her preoccupation with academic credentials is not exactly hard to explain; she is a woman. That's why women now so outnumber men in the university enrollments.
  6. The fact that Foerster elected to bypass the gatekeepers says literally nothing about whether the reported news is accurate or not.
  7. The geneticist's preference to remain anonymous is not a red flag but rather an indication of the corrupt nature of science and science journalism. He knew his credibility would be attacked and adroitly avoided it by permitting the evidence to stand on its own.
  8. An appearance on a television show that is generally regarded as inaccurate by the very communities whose consensus and competence is being challenged by these reports says absolutely nothing about whether they are true or not.
Now, none of this means that Foerster is not a con artist and the reports of the genetic anomalies in the skulls are not fiction. But the correct response is for other geneticists to test the samples and either confirm or contradict the report; that is scientody. This sort of blanket assertion isn't founded in science, it's not even based on good logic.

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90 Comments:

Anonymous Lawyer Guy July 12, 2016 6:44 AM  

I am a lawyer, so I have no real tech ability but I have an extensive background in listening to bullshit. Take a few hundred physician depositions and you learn to spot professional lying.

Add in taking many stats classes in undergrad, the most helpful of which was quantitative methods of research measurement.

You get so cynical you assume it's all BS. Because most of it is. You don't get scared until you see mechanical and civil engineers BS, too.

Then you realize the black engineer likely knows less calculus than you do, but that's another issue.

Blogger weka July 12, 2016 6:47 AM  

And science journalists don't do science. There are moves towards a better future with systems such as researchgate where you can archive your datasets and expectations that data will be made available in trial registries.

But the big journals, who charge large subscription fees or large fees for open source reviews, are not the solution. They are, along with the grant peer review system, part of the problem.

Blogger weka July 12, 2016 6:52 AM  

@1. Take a few hundred physician depositions and you learn to spot professional lying.

As a medico, I assume that any person who disposes me has no goodwill and will attempt to entrap me. I really, truly despise lawyers: they don't have to deal with decisions at the speed I have to. They have no skin in the game and they think they can make the rules.

It is called defensive medicine for a reason.

Anonymous Lawyer Guy July 12, 2016 7:02 AM  

I got stuck doing worker's comp for three years, docs lie for gain or to cover up or for fun.

They also love to lecture on everything in the entire world, which they became expert in while spending 18 hours a day in the hospital from 24-32 YO while the rest of the working world deals with real life.

Biggest lying profession is economists (present value calculations, mostly), then physicians

Fortunately every specialist is a self certified expert in both business and law, which gives me lots to do cleaning up their messes. Internal medicine and podiatrists I just point at the VA, when they ask for advice.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 7:07 AM  

In the past there existed a grand division between physics/ natural philosophy and meta-physics. To their shame one tried to eradicate the other. Can't be done.

I downloaded an old movie the other night: The Exorcist. Why mention it? Because the skeptical priest trained as a psychotherapist psychiatrist reluctantly accepts that he is seeing something supernatural. An otherwise inexplicable evil. It was well done.

Likewise bits of archaeology, prehistory, don't fit. [I saw the Llyod Pye Star Child presentation maybe 7 years ago - whether it's true or false doesn't matter to me. What bodies did fallen angels take? Does it matter?] good post, well done.

Blogger Human Animal July 12, 2016 7:09 AM  

7. The geneticist's preference to remain anonymous is not a red flag but rather an indication of the corrupt nature of science and science journalism. He knew his credibility would be attacked and adroitly avoided it by permitting the evidence to stand on its own.

Another good reason the "97% of scientists agree" meme outlasted Al Gore. Wait, no, they're refusing to share the data. Instead, they're sharing their stories.



Anonymous Jika July 12, 2016 7:13 AM  

Hey vox, thought this might make your loins twitch:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3685561/France-verge-civil-war-sparked-mass-sexual-assault-women-migrants-intelligence-chief-warns.html

Blogger weka July 12, 2016 7:15 AM  

You underestimate the length of training in the commonwealth: started Registrar training at 31, finished at 38 (the antipodean exams have a low pass rate and most if not all people take multiple attempts to pass) and then had an MPH at 42.
My mistrust for legal weasels was forged in mental health act courts: when the service gets blamed after a lawyer gets someone off commital the day after admitted and he then kills his dad a week later (real case: there have been three long journalistic reports on it over the last decade) costing the board a million dollars plus and two careers (with no cost to the lawyer -- and this is in a country where you can't sue) then, yeah, my mistrust comes from bitter experience.

I mistrust Lawyers. In NZ. Don't get me started on what I think of Federal US gov't officials...

OpenID basementhomebrewer July 12, 2016 7:17 AM  

This is all basically mean girls gossip and socialism, covered with a veneer of trying to appear academic. The whole goal of the piece is trying to discredit the person instead of actually examining the evidence. I find this is something that girls tend to do when a girl in the group steps out of line.

The socialism aspect is also entertaining. She states as if it's a known fact that all private enterprises lie when it comes to science. I am sure that Exxon would be very surprised to find out that their wells don't actually extract oil and Boeing would be shocked to find out it's satellite's and airplanes are all just non working propaganda.

Anonymous Wilbur Hassenfus July 12, 2016 7:24 AM  

Vox, everything about Foerster smells like hoax to me. I don't know if some of these paranormal guys aren't sincere fools; I met a cryptozoologist once who just might have been. But deluding yourself first doesn't make it real.

None of that stuff proves its a hoax, but you know what they say about hoofbeats and zebras. I'd bet money the claims are nonsense. Aliens with DNA? With essentially human skulls? This is paranormal-tour-operator stuff. It's how you sell tickets to crazy "spiritual but not religious" ladies who believe in crystals and reincarnation and wear a lot of purple.

N.B. I've worked for both doctors and lawyers, and I wouldn't cross the street if either one were on fire and I'd been drinking coffee all morning.


Blogger rumpole5 July 12, 2016 7:36 AM  

The undisturbed judicial adversary system, as developed by the English common law, is the the best method for determining the truth or falsehood of a matter ever devised by the mind of man. One may not like that probe up his ass in a colonoscopy either, but when it's done right, he'll know that whether he's clean or malignant. Cross examination is an analogous procedure.

Anonymous Dack Thrombosis July 12, 2016 7:36 AM  

You want a close minded profession, look no further than the medical field. If it doesn't come from Big Pharma, it won't work for you.

Anonymous Faceless July 12, 2016 7:38 AM  

I could not find her peer-reviewed refutation. She did no science!

Someone should get her this poster:

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/poster

I missed the part where science is a ball of ad hominem, appeal to authority, and invocation of their little god Sagan.

"Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence" - it's like a giant, blinking neon sign that she is a science groupie but has never accomplished anything herself. Every claim requires the exact same evidence - i.e., repeated survival against attempts at refutation.

Blogger Josh July 12, 2016 7:40 AM  

Being smart does not require a college degree. Heck, it doesn’t require any kind of education at all; it’s an innate quality.

The author is racist

Blogger Emmett Fitz-Hume July 12, 2016 7:55 AM  

@11

You are correct. It's not perfect, by any stretch, but it is the best I've seen.

I watch testimony all day long. And it is illuminating. I shouldn't be surprised after all these years, but I usually am: People will lie about anything. Low-lifes, "Respectable" people, cops, doctors, other attorneys, school teachers, little old ladies... All walks of life. The only thing more surprising than how many people lie is when someone you would guess is lying is actually not. But this is a much rarer occurance.

Yes, it's made me somewhat cynical. And sorry Weka, but you're first response kind of made Lawyer Guy's point...

Anonymous Rygel July 12, 2016 7:59 AM  

I don't believe the alien DNA for one bit. She could have done a much better refutation than an ad hominem. All she had to do was contact Foerster to request his data for testing methodology, skull sampled, sample location, lab equipment calibration records, equipment used, results and analysis. Instead she chose to do a character assasination without even bothering to do the most rudimentary review of his assertions. If he is a quack which I believe he is, she showed me nothing to back her claims. This is what passes jounalism today.... I weep.

Anonymous Jill July 12, 2016 8:02 AM  

Funny how misleading article titles are their own manipulative marketing campaigns. She just happens to be selling tickets to the science believers rather than the alien believers. She should start a tour; she'd have more fun and money.

Blogger James Dixon July 12, 2016 8:04 AM  

> Biggest lying profession is economists (present value calculations, mostly), then physicians

Neither can hold a candle to politicians.

> None of that stuff proves its a hoax,...

Which is the point Vox is making. Either they have a scientific claim or they don't. If they do it can be verified. That's how science is supposed to work. Not by character assassination.

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 12, 2016 8:09 AM  

So, what is this critic's hypothesis, and how is it proposed to be tested?

Oh.

She could have just written, "Admittedly, I have no science, so I must dismiss the science on emotional grounds."

The stupid thing is that the original thing being criticized is a hypothetical claim. It isn't that tough for it to be fairly tested. Extraordinary claims are not special cases where regular science magically fails.

Anonymous Toastrider July 12, 2016 8:17 AM  

Where's Giorgio Tsoukalos when you need him? :)

Blogger Dexter July 12, 2016 8:28 AM  

"As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.""

Unless it is his theory of nuclear winter, which was totally made-up bullshit.

Blogger Leo Little Book July 12, 2016 8:30 AM  

The OP is perfectly correct. To address a separate point:

My understanding is that negative genetic evidence of this kind is more unreliable than the layman typically anticipates. There are multiple possible reasons for a negative result. It's difficult to disambiguate "not human" from "sample has decayed" and other sorts of errors. It's a very complex area. If you pulled DNA out of a living individual, a negative match would be shocking.

I'm certainly glad to see the Paracas skulls receving the attention they are due. VD is right, more testing by higher-powered teams is the answer.

Wilbur Hassenfus wrote:Aliens with DNA? With essentially human skulls?

Straw men? Talking scarecrows? How could they type without a brain?

Every single Christian ought to believe that Adam's Y chromosome is of alien origin.

Rygel wrote:I don't believe the alien DNA for one bit.

You're reading too much into a negative result.

Blogger Leo Little Book July 12, 2016 8:33 AM  

"Heretical claims require n+1 evidence."

Anonymous Credo in Unum Deum July 12, 2016 8:38 AM  

Project Bluebook Special Report No. 14.

Sitting down and actually reading that was what really "flipped the switch" for me.

For starters, when it was released in October 1955, if the press did their job, they would have asked the Air Force the seemingly obvious question: "This is special report number 14, can we see special report 1 through 13?" You can probably guess what the answer to that would be.

The Air Force claimed that only 3% of the cases studied were unknowns, instead of the actual 22%, the U.S. Government lied, color me shocked.

The report showed that the higher the quality of the case, the more likely it was to be classified unknown in the report.

If nothing else, reading that, you're left thinking: "The Air Force is bad at lying, but thanks to the American public, they don't have to be good."

Blogger Cataline Sergius July 12, 2016 8:41 AM  

The Carl Sagan quote is stupid and incorrect, for reasons that a) should be obvious and b) have been covered previously. It's cheap sciencistic rhetoric.

Whenever I hear Saint Carl being quoted, my eyes begin rolling of their own accord.

Really, I can't think of a more over rated, over hyped scientist than Carl Sagan.

Now, I know a few of you are immediately typing the name, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. But the thing about Tyson is that in their deepest hearts the SJWs know the guy is a fraud. They can not possibly admit to each other in public (where they can be heard and everything) but we've caught him out too many times for the individual brains cells of the hivemind not to have noticed.
However there is a good thing about Tyson. He is so easy to make fun of;

Time for a different track, “My mentor Carl Sagan and I used to discuss this interpretation of quantum physics. The so called Many Worlds Theory,” he said in a superior tone that implied both intimate knowledge of the subject matter, in addition to looking down on anyone who brought it up. “Back when we discussed it. Doctor Sagan didn’t seem to think much of the idea and I have to say I agree with him.” Not that Clay had ever really discussed much with Carl Sagan. They had only met at a couple of conferences when he was rather young.


“Basically Angela , we know that this universe exists. We have pretty much zero proof about any others. Occam’s Razor comes down against this one I’m afraid. He said rather condescendingly. The Audience and her cohosts approved, they all liked it when Angela was proven wrong. Or at least appeared to be proven wrong. The truth was Angela wasn’t working out. She was a little too bright for their liking. A little too young and little too good looking.


Angela rallied, “but the Decoherence Interpretation of Quantum Theory indicates that...”


“Angela I’m sorry,” Lane interrupted potentially snatching victory from the the jaws of defeat. “But we don't have time for Doctor Clay to do a physics lecture for you.”


More laughter. Clay himself was relieved. His doctorate was in astrophysics not that theoretical crap.

Anonymous Opus July 12, 2016 8:54 AM  

The idea that a court of law is a sound device for ascertaining truth is bullshit. It is more like a game of chess where every now and again some pieces are moved whilst the players are not looking. Expert witnesses are however difficult to deal with as they know far more than either Counsel or The Judge (and Juries know even less. That at least has been my experience as Counsel.

Anonymous Eduardo July 12, 2016 9:06 AM  

Isn't astrophysics ... Mostly theoretical applications?

Wow... I never knew.

Blogger VD July 12, 2016 9:09 AM  

Vox, everything about Foerster smells like hoax to me. I don't know if some of these paranormal guys aren't sincere fools; I met a cryptozoologist once who just might have been. But deluding yourself first doesn't make it real.

I don't discount the voice of experience at all. There are definitely some, shall we say, aspects of the case that indicate some level of hoax. But the correct response is to say: "may we have some hair to test, please."

The more people point-and-shriek without justification, the more it tends to suggest they are worried about something.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 9:16 AM  

Crop circles, near death experiences, spontaneous human combustion.
The top three easily accessible anomalies on planet earth.

Diamonds with carbon 14, or a bell buried in a chunk of coal are second tier sorts of evidence - there are hundreds of those.

Jesus is who He said He is. It's science pure and simple. Try to explain it away and you end up with a Detroit type thing happening.

Anonymous Sir_Chancealot July 12, 2016 9:18 AM  

The thing that no one wants to touch about the Paracas skulls are the fact that they have no fusion joint of the frontal and parietal bones. It is one piece. (L.A. Marzulli is about the only one I have heard that talks about it.)

That fact alone says that, at the very least, those skulls are from a human that comes from a different line than every other human we know of.

One giant bone where humans have at least two, and the scientists are surprised they find unknown DNA?

Go compare pictures of the Paracas skulls, and a normal human skull. On a normal skull, look for the fusion line from about ear to ear across the top of the skull. Then notice its absence on the Paracas skulls.

Blogger Robert Divinity July 12, 2016 9:25 AM  

The geneticist's preference to remain anonymous is not a red flag but rather an indication of the corrupt nature of science and science journalism. He knew his credibility would be attacked and adroitly avoided it by permitting the evidence to stand on its own.

Peer-reviewed journals have been fully politicized. An "incorrect" opinion expressed through popular media very well may bar subsequent publication in a PRJ and ruin an academic career.

Is Foerster a fraud? Even if we assume so, and I do, a geneticist who chose to remain anonymous doesn't move the needle either way.

You write much about the decline in overall intelligence. It has manifested among the gatekeepers of academic legitimacy in perhaps the most damaging fashion imaginable. It slithers outside the Academy, too. As a quick example, professional witnesses, already the deserved objects of much derision, are tendered in part based on publication in peer-reviewed journals. Corporations have been decimated because a mediocre academician was a superior apple polisher.

Blogger Cataline Sergius July 12, 2016 9:28 AM  

Eduardo wrote:Isn't astrophysics ... Mostly theoretical applications?

Wow... I never knew.


As I said, he's easy to make fun of.

Anonymous Hapax Legomenon July 12, 2016 9:46 AM  

The claim for the "alien" skulls makes the same logical error of a lot of "ancient astronaut" claims. They elide the huge chasm between a) the likelihood that there is extraterrestrial life in the universe and b) finding evidence of this life *on earth.* The latter must, if it is true, represent a vanishingly small subset of the former.

Finding evidence of alien life (of any kind) "out there" somewhere (using telescopes or other sensors or probes) is itself a very tall order; the subset of biological life that has attained some high degree of technology must be a tiny percentage of the whole; and the subset of *that* tiny percentage that may have arguably traveled to this planet sometime in the past must be an even tinier percentage. I'd say so small as to be unimaginable.

I think the chances of there having been (sometime in the past) an intelligent species on earth, different from and competing with early humans, that evolved and became extinct on earth, is probably higher than the chances of ETs making the journey all the way here for some inexplicable reason.

Blogger Artisanal Toad July 12, 2016 10:10 AM  

The "scientific" community holds as dogma the assumption a positive correlation exists between an individual's academic credentials and:

1) Their openness to the examination (not rejection out of hand) of all the evidence presented.

2) Their humility in understanding they only know what they were taught and their their teachers may have been full of shit (c.f. Ignaz Semmelweis).

3) Their trustworthiness in recording unbiased observations (or making their biases clear) on all the evidence.

4) Their willingness to include and consider data and observations that do not conform to their goals, beliefs or objectives; and most of all to currently accepted thought.

I could go on, but there is no correlation because one speaks to education and training and the others speak to character. Science is an attitude and if you want examples of a good attitude that exemplifies points 1-4, what you're really looking for is a couple of dicks.

Richard Feynman
Richard F Burton

Anonymous JI July 12, 2016 10:20 AM  

Sorry Vox, but all the logic in the world does not mean diddly-squat to me when I see all the warning signs of fraud. I've been taken by fraudsters and my life experiences are ringing warning bells in my head that Foerster & Co. are scientific frauds. I really don't know why you would try to dismiss the author of this article who raises some very excellent cautionary flags.

Blogger Phelps July 12, 2016 10:20 AM  

FWIW, in my legal experience, MDs and engineers lie a lot, but no one lies as often and as habitually as cops.

Blogger VD July 12, 2016 10:29 AM  

I really don't know why you would try to dismiss the author of this article who raises some very excellent cautionary flags.

1. "the Paracas skulls are not from alien beings" is not a "cautionary flag", it is an assertion and an unjustified one.

2. The skulls' prexist Foerster.

Whether Foerster is a fraud or not, that does not dismiss the anthropological relevance of the skulls. And my even more sensitive BS radar indicates to me that is the real goal of the "cautionary flags".

They don't care about Foerster. But if they can discredit him, they can disqualify the skulls.

Blogger Leo Little Book July 12, 2016 10:55 AM  

Calculation of the odds of extraterrestrial life without reference to singularity is meaningless. If you broadcast and the nuclear submarine doesn't answer, does that mean it's not there? Occam's Razor is not a biological or military strategy.

AFAICT, the smooth morphological gradient indicates the Paracas melonheads interbred with humans. Therefore even if they were of ET origin, a genetic test comparing them to modern populations should indicate human. That is, assuming their genes continued to be successful post-dilution.

Alternatively, whether the melonheads invented the pyramids or the pyramids invented the melonheads may be like whether gracile man invented projectiles or projectiles invented gracile man. Sometimes you just have to go with option C: the rooster.

Blogger Robert Divinity July 12, 2016 11:02 AM  

Chase absolutely is right here, though:

"Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the alien part of this story that bothers me. I believe in the possibility of aliens. More than anything, it bothers me that established news sites apparently failed to do even cursory research on the background of the story before publishing it."

It is reasonable to assume she wouldn't hold the media to the same high standard if a climatologist made another dubious and easily debunked assertion. If someone wanted to waste time and research her, it is a safe bet her previous media criticism, if any, is selective and reflects her own bias.

Blogger GracieLou July 12, 2016 11:12 AM  

Hypocrites! They cry "con!" when something opposes their traditions but won't lift a finger to skepticize when the common man sees more truth in the traveling gypsy with "leftover" driveway tar than Al Gore's climate change organized crime scheme.

Blogger Mhere July 12, 2016 11:13 AM  

You pick an opinion piece from Feb 2014 to make your point? When there is no real data published to investigate?

Science costs money. Scientists must beg to get that money. Thus they conservatively guard their reputations. It has been almost 2-1/2 years since the initial claims and no real data released/peer reviewed?

Anonymous BGKB July 12, 2016 11:15 AM  

Take a few hundred physician depositions and you learn to spot professional lying...I got stuck doing worker's comp for three years, docs lie for gain or to cover up or for fun.

The mostly brown docs that are workers comp & social security disabilities factories shouldn't be lumped in with real healthcare workers but with the chiropractors that send vans out looking for anchor baby kids on state health insurance to pay $5 per treatment.

Lawyers are why ambulance companies function as free taxies for homeless & illegal aliens, risking the lives of productive people who could need an ambulance. Better call Saul .On the other hand I will never have to do more than the screening part of jury duty.

Blogger Ingot9455 July 12, 2016 11:26 AM  

Given that there are living tribes that practice child cranial deformation today and the Paracas skulls are well within the pictured capabilities of such tribes; it would take some pretty definitive evidence to prove that these skulls were anything different.

Blogger Robert Divinity July 12, 2016 11:27 AM  

Thus they conservatively guard their reputations. It has been almost 2-1/2 years since the initial claims and no real data released/peer reviewed?

You shouldn't read too much into the absence of data or peer-reviewed articles though. The first would require money, as you point out, from persons disinclined to provide it. This would be true about less extraordinary matters. PRJ's, as mentioned above, totally are politicized at this point. If a grant-seeker had lied on an application and claimed the skulls could prove a Conquistador massacre, the money possibly could have flowed.

The best example I can give of how corrupt and politicized peer-reviewed journals have become isn't even climatology, it is the field of nutrition. For almost twenty years it was fairly well established that consumption of food cholesterol could not raise blood cholesterol levels. Environmentalists, animal rights activists and SJW's fought those studies and they were suppressed. The obesity epidemic in part is due to the changes in diet that occurred because of the false assumptions about diet. After a point, the weight of evidence became too heavy and JAMA relented. The federal government, more or less under the radar, finally concurred but issued a totally unsubstantiated caveat that it was wise to avoid cholesterol-rich foods. As recently as this week I heard it suggested certain oils should not be in the diet because they might raise cholesterol levels. It is likely this myth will last generations.

Blogger clk July 12, 2016 11:41 AM  

Ancient Astronauts and Aliens is one of my favorite subjects -- you cant be a scifi fan without some interest in that ... since Chariots of the Gods, and the old NBC Project Blue Book, In Search Of narrated by Spock.. to the multiple shows on history, discover, A&E .. just all fun stuff.

There just about as much evidence for the existence of aliens and their starting human life as there is for seven day creation of the universe but the former has fueled thousands of scifi stories with endless possibilities.

There will always be the fringe science --- cold fusion, anti grav, zero point energy, aliens etc ... which will be on the fringe until its not .. but it makes life so much more interesting with guys like Childress, Von Danikan ... read thier books, watch the shows ...just dont send them your retirement checks... their not con men, they are science entertainers, not unlike many a scifi writer, they just take it a few steps past...

OpenID dudequest July 12, 2016 11:50 AM  

@43-

You should look at the APA's methodology for determining mental disorders like homosexuality. The same method of politica pressure that got homosexuality declared 'normal' is now being applied to mental disorders involving sexuality with prepubescents.
http://behaviorismandmentalhealth.com/2011/10/08/homosexuality-the-mental-illness-that-went-away/

Blogger Robert Divinity July 12, 2016 11:53 AM  

Chariots of the Gods

I owe this book much as it taught me not to trust things I read, see and hear. As a boy I embraced it and felt enlightened, and then read Clifford Wilson's "Crash Goes the Chariots," which refuted with facts and citations basically each point Eirch von Daniken made. I need to check on what Wilson wrote subsequently.

Blogger Robert Divinity July 12, 2016 11:55 AM  

@45:

Oh, yes. DSM IV gave "psychiatric" reasons for most crimes, too. The exodus of shrinks from the APA continues over it.

Blogger Elder Son July 12, 2016 11:56 AM  

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation..."

For those interested, you can search: Tom Horn and/or Steve Quayle and nephilim.

I also watch the Ancient Aliens series and find some it fascinating. But I believe all this ancient technology and know-how come from Fallen Angels.

OpenID dudequest July 12, 2016 12:09 PM  

Frankly, I have never understood the 'skeptic movement'

Much of what is termed 'skepticism' is simply cult indoctrination by another name.
True skeptics are united by one thing- Their lack of faith. So the idea of a 'skeptical movement' is utterly laughable. They would simply stand around saying "I don't know... I don't know..." at each other. Anyone attempting to 'organize' or 'give them voice' is, obviously, someone to be skeptical of, since you don't NEED a united or public voice to say "I don't know."

I am skeptical about the existence of god, but not in the least skeptical about religion... It's obvious religion exists, and it's equally obvious that it was one of the (Many) tools humanity has used to drag itself up out of the muck of pre-civilization. Sure, that tool has been misused, but that's no reason to deny it's existence as a tool.

But what, exactly, has belief in Aliens... or the institutions devoted to the belief in Aliens, done for humanity?

Blogger Elder Son July 12, 2016 12:25 PM  

Has proof been found of Goliath’s people? Cemetery discovered in Israeli city with remains of up to 150 people could help solve biblical mystery

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3683674/The-Philistines-Cemetery-discovered-Israeli-city-remains-150-people-help-solve-biblical-mystery.html#ixzz4EDE0p1oa

Scroll down and note picture 12.

Anonymous Bellator Mortalis July 12, 2016 12:31 PM  

Actually what is meant by "alien DNA"? If hypothetically aliens DID genetic engineering on humans, the resulting DNA would still use C-G and A-T base pairs or no offspring could be bred. So there would be no way to identify it as alien. So could aliens have done genetic engineering on our distant ancestors? Yes. But it is very very unlikely we could ever prove it.

Blogger frigger611 July 12, 2016 12:44 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger frigger611 July 12, 2016 12:45 PM  

As Thomas Paine wrote "nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice," there will be no end to the fraudsters and hucksters among us, no matter their titles, knowledge, or experience.
Which is why the best a society can do to protect itself, I think, is to ensure that a moral code is in place, taught to the very young, and reinforced throughout a lifetime.

Apart from that, I wonder if "peer-replicated" would be a better standard than "peer-reviewed?"

It seems like "review" means to some "yeah, I read it."

OpenID frankluke July 12, 2016 12:59 PM  

@50. Very interesting. I note they just had to throw in: "She said they were 'normal size' with no evidence of any Goliath-sized giants."

Of course not. Goliath and the other giants in the Bible are presented as exceptions. He's the champion because he's not like the others. "We've looked at a relatively small-sized sample and found no outliers to the mean." [headdesk]

BTW, what's so interesting about picture 12? I wasn't sure if you had counted the video box or not (easy to count it a picture unless careful. I did once going through). Unless the pictures have been changed out, that was either a skull or a large dig with several people and one skeleton, one person walking on the edge.

Anonymous EH July 12, 2016 1:25 PM  

The largest collection of reports of scientific anomalies in the mainstream literature was compiled by William R. Corliss from 1977 to 2009 and published in his bimonthly Science Frontiers newsletter, (which has issues up through 2005 free online at the link) as well as dozens of book-length collections separated by topic. These books have been selling steadily for many years, but Bill Corliss died in 2005 and his heirs are selling through the old stock and some of the collections are now out of print, apparently no electronic versions are planned.

Check it out while it's still up, it's an great resource for anybody trying to figure out what is really going on; it stretches and builds critical thinking as exercise does muscles.

"Over 14,000 volumes of science journals, including all issues of Nature and Science have been examined for reports on anomalies."

"[Science Frontiers] provides a summary of scientific anomalies in the fields of archaeology, astronomy, biology, geology, geophysics, mathematics, psychology and physics"

Anonymous EH July 12, 2016 1:39 PM  

Should have said: " Bill Corliss died in 2011"

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 1:52 PM  

Bring on the IQ skeptics, my body is ready.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 1:54 PM  

I don't even know what that meme means, but I still like it because that's a funny thing for anyone to say for any reason.

Blogger Geir Balderson July 12, 2016 1:54 PM  

I believe the oliphaunt in the room is the vast distances that an alien would have to traverse to get to our little slice of living goodness. Star Trek had the much vaunted 'warp drive'. But, real world science has not found that Holy Grail as yet as it seems impossible. And, if these funny skulled folk did discover a faster-than-light propulsion system then why aren't they around our neighborhood right now? I would expect the alien equivalent of Princess Cruises landing on Earth weekly? How could you pass up the only pretty blue world in this neck of the Milky Way? The skulls are odd, but a human branch of the gene tree.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 2:03 PM  

Phillip George wrote:In the past there existed a grand division between physics/ natural philosophy and meta-physics.

The literal opposite of the truth.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 2:09 PM  

Phillip, I think you're projecting present attitudes onto scientists of the past. Secular humanism didn't really catch on with the elite class until the 19th century (probably to rationalize treatment of industrial workers as interchangeable parts), and it didn't catch on with the proles until the later half of the 20th century.

Anonymous Mr. Rational July 12, 2016 2:16 PM  

I think Vox is trolling for laughs here.  Nobody could be so naïve as to take the scientific proclamations of someone roughly as reputable as an astrologer, transmitting claims allegedly made by an anonymous geneticist who would be in line for a Nobel prize if they were correct, as anything other than comedy.  Too much is dead wrong.

Unless religious belief really DOES break the brain's critical faculties.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 2:22 PM  

Toastrider wrote:Where's Giorgio Tsoukalos when you need him? :)

He's busy :-).

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 2:34 PM  

Elder Son wrote:Has proof been found of Goliath’s people? Cemetery discovered in Israeli city with remains of up to 150 people could help solve biblical mystery

Read more: Link

Scroll down and note picture 12.



Note also comment #1:

"The bible is a MYTH. David and Goliath is a MYTH. It's allegorical, along the lines of the Roman and Greek gods. Herculean tales and trials. Stop assigning normal every-day archeology to mythical biblical nonsense. You just keep stirring up the superstitious hornets' nest of believers."

^This is your brain on public education.

Blogger Leo Little Book July 12, 2016 2:36 PM  

Geir Balderson wrote:How could you pass up the only pretty blue world in this neck of the Milky Way?

If ocean-going metal behemoths full of men really existed, why wouldn't they ride the waves to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine? What are they hiding from that is so terrible it is worth the massive inconvenience of being buried in eternal darkness at a pressure of multiple tons per square inch? Are there unblinking watchers in the heavens poised to rain down pinpoint fire? Absurd!

Anonymous JI July 12, 2016 2:50 PM  

Vox responded: <>

You wrote the book on detecting SJW-style BS (SJWAL) so I've gotta' admit you're probably right. I wonder just what drives this woman if indeed she is after a pure discredit of Foerster. There could honestly be something profound about those skulls.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 2:52 PM  

frankluke wrote:@50. Very interesting. I note they just had to throw in: "She said they were 'normal size' with no evidence of any Goliath-sized giants."

Of course not. Goliath and the other giants in the Bible are presented as exceptions. He's the champion because he's not like the others. "We've looked at a relatively small-sized sample and found no outliers to the mean." [headdesk]


Your point stands, but the fact is that Goliath was not an "outlier". If we assume a modern US mean and standard deviation for ancient Philistines (guessing high), then 9'6" would be eleven standard deviations above the mean. That's a different species entirely.

OpenID thetroll July 12, 2016 3:33 PM  

> the Paracas skulls are well within the pictured capabilities of such tribes

In the history museum in Curaçao (of all places) you can get a good up close and personal look at a few melonhead skulls excavated locally from what, going by the progressively declining craftmanship level of artifacts found with them, appears to have been successive waves of refugees that fled the South American mainland and died out long before recorded Caribbean history.

Interestingly, they have none of the telltale flattened planes you get with for instance Mayan skulls that make the deformation clearly unnatural. So the unjaundiced eye test supports the hypothesis of a lost Homo Melonheadus strain with noticeably different DNA, even if "alien" is a bit much of an unsupported leap.

Blogger Avalanche July 12, 2016 3:50 PM  

@25 "Really, I can't think of a more over rated, over hyped scientist than Carl Sagan."

Neil de Grasse Tyson.

Anonymous Gecko July 12, 2016 4:23 PM  

the fact is that Goliath was not an "outlier". If we assume a modern US mean and standard deviation for ancient Philistines (guessing high), then 9'6" would be eleven standard deviations above the mean. That's a different species entirely.

Throw a Philistine feathered helmet on Robert Wadlow and there you have it.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 12, 2016 4:33 PM  

Or an elongated skull, at that.

Blogger Ingot9455 July 12, 2016 4:49 PM  

@68 Have you looked at some of the pictures of living tribespeople engaged in the practice of melonheading? The human skull is very flexible as a child and throughout the growing years. All it takes to get most any plane you want is the ability to knit a sock, and a few years of the kid wearing it.

Blogger Ingot9455 July 12, 2016 4:52 PM  

@29 Oh, and a piece of rope and a square of cardboard constitute a compass and straightedge, which allow you to perform incredible feats of Euclidean geometry. Since the pixel count of the crop is broader than the error of the compass and straightedge, it looks fabulously precise.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 7:11 PM  

73 - just do one at night without tyre treads in or out, without foot prints, without lighting, do it in a few hours or even minutes flat, bring in some ball lightning, etc etc. In other words you haven't thought about it at all. It must be drunk uni students. It must be a prank. It simply must be. It must be you tell me. It must. No really I insist it must. Because, and here's my salient point, don't you see it must. That's because it must.

Blogger Atomic Agent 13 July 12, 2016 7:16 PM  

Perhaps the offspring of the Nephilim, the Geber? Maybe not all were destroyed in the flood.

Sounds silly at first does it not, but logically we already know that the Nephilim could mate with humans, and the food (Mana) that they partook of could also keep a human alive.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 7:21 PM  

I think Vox is trolling for laughs here. Nobody could be so naïve .........

That's quite funny given what the post is actually designed to do.

The fool says in his heart..... I read that as well. Having read two statements I confine one only to fact.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 7:26 PM  

Atomic Agent 13 - alternatively was there more than one wave of rebellion/ fall. Or was one group of fallen, not on earth at the flood. Had they escaped to somewhere else for a time.

the idea of shoot onsight anyone with 6 fingers and funny looking heads might mean they were actively hunted by various humans at times? a lot of speculation, yes.

Blogger Ingot9455 July 12, 2016 7:43 PM  

Gee, I bet the art director for the movie 'Signs' paid the aliens out the ass for all the crop circles in that film.

But really, on topic with the practice of science:

You and I come across something that we both agree looks pretty fantastic.

You say, "Could be aliens."

I do some research and demonstrate how it can be done with primitive tools.

Now, I wasn't there for the original event so I can't prove it wasn't done by aliens. But it does make it unlikely, and make my solution far more likely.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 8:37 PM  

I do some research and demonstrate

you really mean that! Whoa, show me the aerial photography. Just cheap drone cam will do. What page of crop circle connector did you get published on? Who was first non pranskter on site. Any anomalies with recording gear?

how did you go generating nodal anomalies in plant shafts>
all ears.

therealityveneer.blogspot.com.au/2009/08/elongated-nodes-in-crop-circles.html

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 8:43 PM  

with simple equipment or even complex equipment just do it in the dark, no generators, no lighting, one one night only, without anyone seeing or hearing you, and do it over and over again, for no better reason than attention free pranking, no credit to you ever, no funding,

http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2016/stonehenge/stonehenge2016a.html

with a group of dedicated pranksters, drunk and for the sheer fun of it, doing field art in the dark, quickly, and undetected, and over and over and over again.

As a man of science you just declared your non bias brilliantly.

It MUST. I tell you it MUST

Blogger Ingot9455 July 12, 2016 9:14 PM  

@80 Childishly easy. Look up what you can do with straightedge and compass. Pre-cut-to-length ropes makes it even easier.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 9:32 PM  

just do it. In the dark, to same or similar dimensions, and don't get caught, seen, heard. Get your art work published and rated against the best of the best.

DO It. then brag about how you hoaxed everyone. Show us your designs. Show them your art. Even without growth nodal anomalies in the plant stem.

You're bragging without having set foot in a field or having one photo published. Go and hoax you're way into the history books.

You are right about childish. I spotted that already.

Blogger Phillip George July 12, 2016 9:43 PM  

http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/articles/25042016/25042016.html

look at what all these pranksters such as yourself achieved perfectly anonymously.

Go and set your art into the blog permanent records. You and your mates could easily knock something like these up in a night without anyone seeing you.

Blogger Were-Puppy July 12, 2016 10:13 PM  

Maybe it's these tinies grown up

https://youtu.be/0XjietgsBDY

Blogger plishman July 12, 2016 11:40 PM  

Single-event phenomena and coincidences are impervious to scientific proof.

Blogger Phillip George July 13, 2016 1:35 AM  

thanks Were-Puppy,

the man says "follow the science where it goes"

It's unusual for a clinical scientist to do that; or even say that.
Might I suggest the crack in the back of the skull was a human dispatching the little bastard when they found it.

Alien, and the above lawyers, will appreciate this simply means, "with no lawful claims and entitlements" ie. aliens have no rights to life on earth. Noah appreciated the gesture to get rid of them.

Blogger Elder Son July 13, 2016 2:09 AM  

@77 There are many ancient America Indian stories of just that. Hunting down the Nephilim because they were a nasty lot and prone to cannibalism.

Again, anyone interested in this topic would do well to find Tom Horn and/or Steve Quayle + Nephilim on Youtube (Note: May also lead into Xenogenesis/End-Times)

May also want to look into The Apocrypha. You can get it in this 5 volume book set: http://www.skywatchtvstore.com/RL1-5-p/rl5volset.htm

Blogger Elder Son July 13, 2016 2:22 AM  

@64 And some biblical scholars will say that those ancient myths/gods were actually fallen angels.

But then, that would be to far out there for a non-believer. And even to far out there for some believers.

Anonymous Dyskord July 14, 2016 3:09 AM  

@88/89 I wonder if accounts of Nephilim aren't actually accounts of another branch of humanity like neanderthal man or the various Asian strains. Evidence shows early humans cross bred with their other human cousins and many such differing humans still existed as early as 5000 years ago. So its not beyond the realm of possibility.

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