Friday, October 23, 2009

Cline on the Distortion of Archaeology

The Bible and Interpretation has published a number of provocative essays since its return earlier this year.  A recent one that relates to a matter occasionally noted on this blog is Eric Cline’s “The Distortion of Archaeology and What We Can Do About It: A Brief Note on Progress Made and Yet To Be Made.”  The essay is adapted from a forthcoming book and thus may feel a bit long for internet reading, but you can profitably skim it, slowing down for the sections of greater interest.  After an opening illustration, the article begins:

We find similar situations every year in archaeology, for the junk science which is practiced by many pseudo-archaeologists and amateur enthusiasts (against which I have railed elsewhere) not only cannot withstand serious scrutiny, but in many cases the “results” themselves are not really results in the first place. However, when gratuitous claims of amazing finds, especially concerning Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, and Sodom and Gomorrah, are first made, they are featured prominently in the media, but subsequent rebuttals are given little or no attention.

We have to face the reality of the situation, which is that the media are going to keep reporting such stories because they sell newspapers and get people to watch TV or click on Internet links. While they are not nearly as interested in later negative responses, reporters almost always seek immediate reactions which can be used in the original story. So, we have to decide what we are going to do about this and how to turn it to our advantage. (emphasis mine)

You can read it all here.



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