Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What is a Scientist (or an Inventor)? and How are Discoveries and Inventions Made? Göbekli Tepe and Archaeology Raise Some Important Questions About the Scientific Method in Archaeological and other Inventive "Sciences"

Men on the Threshold is the title of the most recent op-ed at the New York Times by David Brooks. He applies lessons of John Ford's cinematic movie "The Searchers" to economics and unemployment in the USA.

We would also suggest to apply those lessons to the "sciences" of Archaeology, Egyptology, Assyriology, Biblical Studies, Classical Studies, Linguistics and related disciplines, where many are standing at the door to the modern technological age but have failed to step in.

NOTE: 
We have a coming posting on the "three" Gobeklis near Sanliurfa.

But read this below first.

Do you know the names of Joe Hin Tjio and Albert Levan?
Scientists. The odds are you never heard of them, right?
Their names are relevant to an anecdote which follows.

Look them up at those links and then take a look at the Scientific American Blog Network and a Grace Lindsay posting at their Guest Blog titled:

"I Don’t Know If I’m a Scientist": The Problem with Archetypes.

As a "whiz kid" in my earlier days in education, I was selected to attend a science fair and report to my school on the findings. The real sensation was a new electron microscope by which they had just discovered that humans had only 46 chromosomes (23 chromosome pairs) and not 48 chromosome (24 pairs) as then written in our school textbooks. The discoverers of that were Joe Hin Tjio and Albert Levan in 1956 via the technology of the electron microscope, which changed the name of the game in the biological sciences.

Excited by this new, fantastic knowledge, I gave a school speech and reported on the new findings, only to have the school authorities stand up in my presence, to my embarrassment, and inform the student audience that until this new finding was "officially" written into school textbooks, 24 pairs viz. 48 chromosomes would remain the correct answer on (the impending) examinations. This event was one of the events that initiated my skeptical view of mainstream science. Not what was true was important, but only that which was entered into the textbooks by the mainstream counted.

That indeed is the "state of the art" in much of science, even today. There is so-called "mainstream" textbook knowledge, and most "scientists" stick to that, thinking they are "practicing" science by doing so. In fact, they are often doing nothing other than parroting the majority opinion in their field -- a relatively safe and easy task, even though mainstream opinion is displaced down the road nevertheless by new discoveries, inventions and insights by a small minority of researchers who ignore the mainstream dictates.
 
In any case, prior to conducting any of my own research or writings, which came years later, and to get a better understanding of mainstream science, past, present and future, I ultimately read Henri Poincaré's Science and Hypothesis (La Science et l'hypothèse) and Science and Method (Science et méthode, as translated by Francis Maitland) from cover to cover.

I know of no other "scientist" in the field of archaeology or related disciplines (Egyptology, Assyriology, Biblical Studies, Anthropology, Classical Studies, Linguistics, etc.) who has read those books, though there may, or, should be some out there somewhere,
"in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic roll[ed] on under the night"
(F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby).

You may be out there, but I do not know you.
The people I run into in "science" know nothing of Poincaré.

This does not necessarily minimize my respect for sciences such as Archaeology, as long as the archaeologists are doing what they are good at, which is finding ancient sites, excavating them, and recording their findings.

Where our differences begin is in the interpretation of those findings, where the old paradigms are usually slavishly followed by mainstream academics and researchers, often ignoring evidence which points to new, untried paths.

The result is that persons blessed with analytical skills can find themselves wedged between the erring mainstream scholars on the one side and the equally erring esoterics on the other side.

Both of these camps are often so busy following their one-sided, and generally blindered, peer-tyrannical dogmas, that they have no time to examine things in their own field from a neutral, factual perspective, in part because they are all so busy telling the rest of the world how they think "it was".

In any case, many in science think to "practice" science, but do not.

For me, a study of Poincaré's Science and Method had a great impact.
As written at Google Books:
"Henri Poincare's Science and Method is an examination of the process scientists go through when determining which of the countless facts before them will be most useful in advancing scientific knowledge."
Those who have little idea about this creative process are often the critics of new ideas. Poincaré wrote in Science and Method as noted at Wikiquote:
  • C'est par la logique qu'on démontre, c'est par l'intuition qu'on invente.
Poincaré had little patience with critics. He focused on predictive results.

Many people in "science" still do not appreciate the wisdom of Poincaré's writings. As written about Poincaré by Mauro Murzi at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"There is an objective criterion, independent of the scientist’s will, according to which it is possible to judge the soundness of the scientific theory, namely the accuracy of its predictions."
Prediction is the standard.

For years, for example, I argued, based on my analysis of the probative evidence, that Tutankhamun had to be the son of Akhenaten, and DNA evidence has proven exactly that, whereas, by contrast, the then President of the International Association of Egyptologists argued prior to the release of the DNA findings that Tutankhamun was more likely to be a son of the short-lived [alleged] king Smenkhkare. His prediction was wrong and his model was apparently not predictive. Time to retool and reassess the evidence?

Especially in studying man's ancient history and languages, one should always ask: what does the actual probative evidence tell us, and does the prevailing interpretation of that evidence (or even failing evidence) truly provide the predictive value that we are seeking, or are we following false idols?

It is precisely according to this standard that much of the dogma prevailing in Archaeology and related disciplines must be viewed with a very jaundiced eye, because the predictive value of Archaeology's dogmas has proven to be spectacularly unreliable. As I wrote previously at LexiLine:
"Göbekli Tepe is featured at Newsweek online in an article from the March 1, 2010 issue of Newsweek magazine. At History in the Remaking: A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution, Patrick Symmes writes: "
    "The new discoveries are finally beginning to reshape the slow-moving consensus of archeology. Göbekli Tepe is 'unbelievably big and amazing, at a ridiculously early date,' according to Ian Hodder, director of Stanford's archeology program. Enthusing over the 'huge great stones and fantastic, highly refined art' at Göbekli, Hodder -- "who has spent decades on rival Neolithic sites" -- says: 'Many people think that it changes everything…It overturns the whole apple cart. All our theories were wrong."
 "All our theories were wrong" is the quotation from mainstream science.
 
Question: What kind of "science" is that?
Answer: It is a science in great need of renovation and improvement, especially as to method. "Evidence-based archaeology and not "authority-based" archaeology is required. Obscure peer-review journals as the primary method of archaeological publication show that nothing has been learned.

That so many theories can be wrong is not surprising given the disturbing fact that archaeological "science" bases most of its ruling schoolbook dogmas on the "weight" of the "authority" of past researchers in the field, rather than on the probative evidence itself, which may tell a different story.

Errors are not corrected, e.g. the false chronology of Flinders Petrie. Rather, they are carried along as part of the baggage of academic travel in the discipline.

Another prime example: NO probative evidence of any kind supports the mainstream dating of Moses and Exodus. NONE. Not a single pot shard (potsherd).

But that has not kept the scholarly industry from sticking to the wrong era as lemmings to the sea. What explains that kind of stubborn attachment to theories that are not only wrong, but can never be right? What is it?

Is it the territorial imperative? -- such that the territorial stake in history is more important to than historical truth? As we have written previously:
"Similarly, not only established ways of doing things but also expressed opinions will be defended as a type of territory - as a vested interest, a territorial imperative, true to the motto that "new ideas do not prevail on their merits, rather, they prevail when their "old guard" opponents die out or fall into the minority. There is a lot of truth to that territorial wisdom: see e.g. Michael D. Coe's Breaking the Maya Code for a spectacular and also sad example of the territorial imperative in academia."
Gobekli Tepe reveals this critical "authority-based" methodological flaw. It should long ago have led the scholars who are making a living researching man's ancient past to review their prevailing and in part appalling methods from the bottom up. But that has not happened. Things go on as before.

It can hardly be claimed, as is being done -- for an archaeological site which no one yet fully understands, that Gobekli Tepe was the "world's first temple".

The size of the site and sophistication of the stone workmanship itself clearly indicate that the technology visible at Göbekli Tepe must have had precursors.

All things start small, they do not start big. Such sophisticated stone technology does not arise out of nothing suddenly. You have to have tools and methods, and these are a long time in the making. A "big temple" will never be the world's first, by any means, at best only a "small temple" can be.

One has not learned Poincare's message in Science and Hypothesis, as repeated by Mauro Murzi at the at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"For Poincaré, the aim of the science is to prediction. To accomplish this task, science makes use of generalizations that go beyond the experience. In fact, scientific theories are hypotheses. But every hypothesis has to be continually tested. And when it fails in an empirical test, it must be given up. "
Göbekli Tepe and the flaws of mainstream archaeological science and method that it reveals also manifests a tangential connection to the whole field of discovery and invention per se.

Take a look at the 1946 review in Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. Volume 52, Number 3 (1946), 222-224, by Jacques Barzun of Jacques Hadamard, An essay on the psychology of invention in the mathematical field, Princeton University Press, 1945 (found online at Project Euclid), where Barzun writes:
"[A) question of extraordinary interest in the history of ideas:
How do great discoveries and inventions come about?

Hadmard's answer—limited, of course, to the mathematical field—is based on a variety of evidence: the testimony of contemporary mathematicians, the writings of previous psychologists, philosophers and scientists, the interpretation of certain characteristics (logical or intuitive) in the work of famous discoverers and, finally, the authors own minute introspection.


From a careful analysis and comparison of these diverse materials,

Professor Hadamard concludes that the general pattern of invention,
or, as it might also be put, of original work, is three-fold: conscious study, followed by unconscious maturing, which leads in turn to the moment of insight or illumination.
Thereupon another period of conscious work ensues, the purpose of which is to achieve a synthesis of several elements: the novel idea, its logically deduced consequences including proof, and the traditional knowledge to which the new item is added.

Hadamard's investigation, modest and tentative as are its results,

seems to me of capital importance in the realm of criticism and cultural history.
For what he has done is to show that the human mind tends to behave much the same way whenever it invents, whether in mathematical or in poetic form— a conclusion which does not deny differences of temperament."
Jacques Barzun passed away -- as the 20th century's preeminent historian of ideas -- in San Antonio, Texas, on October 25, 2012, at the age of 104.

The idea of some "scientific" disciplines that "science" in their discipline is their singular, protected territorial plot is simply greatly in error.

In closing, let us take a look at the "folk etymology" ascribed to the name Göbekli Tepe.

One can read everywhere that the name Göbekli Tepe comes from a folk etymology for the site calling it a "belly" or "navel", or "hill of the navel". For most people, and, in fact, for most "scientists", that is enough. They accept that explanation without blinking an eye, because some "authority" has passed it on to them. It saves them the trouble of thinking.

The first Western academic description of the site, however, reads as follows, mentioning multiple "knolls", a text cited in 2000 by Klaus Schmidt in Göbekli Tepe, Southeastern Turkey: A Preliminary Report on the 1995-1999 Excavations, Paléorient, Volume 26, Issue 26-1, pp. 45-54:
"The mound of Göbekli Tepe, northeast of the town of Sanliurfa in Upper Mesopotamia, was first mentioned by Peter Benedict in his article "Survey Work in Southeastern Anatolia", which was included in the monograph resulting from the 1963-1972 work of the Joint Istanbul-Chicago Universities' Prehistoric Research in Southeastern Anatolia. Benedict reported about the site numbered as V 52/1:
"A complex of round-topped knolls of red earth with slight depressions between, located on a high limestone ridge trending SE. The ridge is otherwise barren of soil. The overall diameter of knolls is 150 m and the rocky red soil rises to 20 m above the limestone top. The two highest knolls have small cemeteries covering the top. The ridge lies at the end of a steep- sided grassy gully 2.5 km NE of village of Karaharabe [= Örencik]. The ridge-top site and grassy W slopes are littered with flint artifacts. No water in vicinity." [emphasis added]
There is no indication that the name Göbekli Tepe applied to only "one" mound and its folks-etymological alleged meaning of "belly", as we shall see below, may be wrong.

The nearest larger village to Göbekli Tepe is Örencik (ören apparently means "ruins" in Turkish), whose name does not help us much in the naming game, but the most significant challenge to the current interpretation of the meaning of the name Göbekli Tepe, comes from the fact that there are THREE Gobeklis in the Sanliurfa area, two of which are, as we shall see, equidistant villages from each other and also to Göbekli Tepe in a virtual equilateral triangle.

The 3 GOBEKLIS are:
  1. Göbekli Tepe, ca 35 kilometers distant from each of the other two
  2. Göbekli Köyü to the west of Şanliurfa (ancient Urfa), whereas Göbekli Tepe is to the northeast of Şanliurfa, ca. 35 kilometers distant from Göbekli Tepe and Aşağı Göbekli.
  3. Aşağı Göbekli which "Google Translate" renders as "down roundabout" but which seems to mean "lower Göbekli" and which is to the south of Şanliurfa, ca. 35 kilometers distant from Göbekli Tepe and Göbekli Köyü.


The name Göbekli now appears to be not only more complicated than "belly" in meaning, but also appears to be part of a larger land survey, which we allege in ancient days could only have been done by astronomy. Indeed, in our next posting we show that Göbekli Köyü and Aşağı Göbekli may be worth a closer archaeological look as marking stars of Cancer on the ground.

In fact, if anyone takes the time to plug the Turkish terms "Göbek" and "Göbekli" into the Google translator, there are various other possibilities among the meanings listed and we have highlighted those that interest us: i.e. not "belly, navel, belly button, paunch" but more so "core, heart, center, center-piece, omphalos, midpoint, branch". 

Although Turkish is an Altaic language, there were Indo-European tribes in this region in ancient days and Göbekli is a term that is very similar to Indo-European e.g. Latvian grābekli(s) meaning "rake" (German Harke), a shape that the stars of Cancer well represent, and which we think to be the stars portrayed at Göbekli Tepe. The "r" is weak and could have been easily lost with time (note that goba means "heap", "cluster" in Latvian), or, as in the case of Cancer, this figure later being seen as the "crab", which is also rooted in the idea of "scratch" as a rake does: The etymology of crab at Wiktionary:
"From Middle English crabbe, from Old English crabba, from Proto-Germanic *krabbô (cf. Dutch krab, Low German Krabb, Swedish krabba), from *krabbōnan 'to creep, crawl' (cf. East Frisian kraabje, Low German/Dutch krabben, German (Bavarian) krepsen), from Proto-Indo-European *grobʰ- 'to scratch, claw at', variant of *gerebʰ-."
At first, we thought our speculative etymology for Göbekli was very tenuous, until we saw these words of other languages for the stars of Cancer in which RAK was prominent, reminding of the "RAKE" meaning  of Latvian grābekli:
The explanation is perhaps found in the derived Hungarian term rákos meaning "reed", which shares the "branch(ed)" idea.

Göbekli thus may not originally have meant "belly", as the folk etymology today has been interpreted, but rather could have stood for the shape of the stars of Cancer, that have a "rake-like" form. Indeed, since all earth topography consists of flat area, valleys, or hilly area, naming a hill a "pot belly" is unlikely, unless over thousands of years time, an original term with a different more specific meaning was similar in phonetic sound.

Take a look at the photographs: by Solluh of Göbekli Tepe and at Michael Cope's blog a photograph of an approach to Göbekli Tepe. The name does not really match the topography.

We mention also, just for the record, but not because we think it to be necessarily relevant: in view of our placement of Göbekli Tepe at Cancer, the center of these stars is formed by the so-called "Beehive Cluster", visible to the naked eye, whose name origin as a concept is unknown in terms of time though traced back perhaps only to the 17th century, but who knows. The "Bumblebee" in Indo-European Latvian is gobene and goba means "cluster".

The next posting shows how the other two "Gobeklis" arguably mark stars of Cancer, though we have not been personally to these geographic locations and can thus not verify whether the "mounds" or other structures that appear to mark stars at those sites are anciently made or whether they are merely structures of modern civilization. It could be a stretch. It could be totally wrong. Only time will tell. We suggest they may be worth an examination.


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