The _Red Earth, White Lies_ thread

Karl Kluge (
30 Jul 1996 23:27:36 -0400

In article <4tiks3$> (Eric Brunner) writes:

> I intimated in my post of yesterday that I'm rather busy. I thank you for
> providing the page number for the cite which Firl made reference to by way
> of Holden. When I can find my copy of RE/WL, I'll read it. Pages 242-3 as
> you mention.... I don't doubt that there are many who have a vastly greater
> familiarity with European catastrophy theories than I, who notice such items
> (one I missed) as the "vapor canopy") (pp. 234-5, _REWL_), or have a greater
> familarity with European religions and their texts.

The list of problematic items is already 15-20 long, and that's based on a
quick scan. Just picking a few (more detail and precise cites later):

The rejection of radioisotope dating methods in geology (ignoring
isochrone methods, and bringing up the old Creationist cannard
about K/Ar dating and a 19th century Hawaiian lava flow) [somewhat
central to his attempts to interpret oral traditions as eyewitness
accounts, as in one case the eruption in question is dated to 25
million years ago, and even he doesn't think oral traditions can
be passed intact that long];

The hatchet job on radiocarbon dating (ignoring dendrochonological
calibration, and using two cases where absorption of "old carbon"
causes anomolous old dates as though that discredited the technique);

The mention of a 19th century Indian chief who gave a gift to someone
which wound up in the West Point Museum, and which alledgedly turned
out to be Mesopotamian tablet (shades of the Sea Peoples);

The claim that we have no idea how the people of Easter Island or
the Near East moved large stones (I'm sure you're aware of the current
thread on this in sci.arch);

Citing the Calvaras skull and using Cremo and Thompson as a source
for evidence of (very) ancient habitation of the continent (you may
recall some discussion of the Calvaras skull and C&T's _Forbidden
Archaeology_ in the wake of NBC's "Mysterious Origins of Man");

Arguing that increases in average human stature over the last
several centuries is due to increased levels of carbon dioxide.

> I do have a problem with finding, a priori, explinations for texts
> external to those texts, when the text itself may suffice, but given your
> interest in the text from some Catastrophist shindig, and the possibility
> that if I work hard enough at seperating the personal from the text I may
> learn something of use, to myself, and potentially to others, Vine
> included, I'll read that any your comments as well.

The Portland Symposium talk doesn't cover the Bering Straits and overhunting
theories of megafauna extinction material since he's already talking to an
audience that largely believes that all of contemporary science is garbage. It
does, however, cover (based on a cursory examination of _REWL_) some of the
same oral material and his take on the implications of that for the earth

> I do retain a few control concerns however. I don't want to confuse
> myself or any readers (if any), so please come up with some other thread
> title, as this isn't even remotely about the human ecology of contact of
> isolates and their pathogenic exchange.

There's also the issue of whether sci.anthro is the best venue. We could take
it to alt.catastrophism or, or less topically alt.archaeology.
Of course, if we do so you'll have the awkward problem of dealing with Ted
Holden trying to take your side. Please pick an appropriate thread title if
you don't like the one above, and set the follow-up to what you think an
appropriate newsgroup would be if you want to move to another newsgroup.

> I also haven't the slightest interest in the rambling mediocracy of
> Gerold Firl's, or Ted Holden's minds, so I'd like you to take on the task
> of re-writing any "Bash Deloria" post you'd like me to read and respond
> to. I will ignore them in the interest of keeping my time spent as
> usefully as my capabilities permit.

I don't think you'll get any "Bash (Vine) Deloria (,Jr.)" posts from Ted. Ted
is an enthusiastic fan, and is one of the three people (the other two are
Renee Sansom Flood and Roger Dunsmore) whose opinions are quoted on the web
page advertising _REWL_ [,
"Designed by Knowledge Computing on behalf of Vine Deloria, Jr." The summary
of the book chapters uses first person, so I assume he had some control over
the text.]

> One other control concern. There is another Deloria who is an
> anthropologist. She happens to be related to Vine. To prevent confusion,
> please use "Vine" or "Vine Deloria, jr."

No problem.

>: Are you asserting here that _REWL_ should be seen as having a marginal
>: position in Deloria's larger body or work (which is not what I understand
>: your position to be, but which I have no quarrel with), or are you asserting
>: that his rather fundamentalist adherence to Velikovskian ideas played only
>: a margin role in his discourse in _REWL_?
> It is his latest work, and the first part of a three-part work which has
> as some part of its still-evolving theme religiousity in the context of
> the Conquest, where, from an Indigenous perspective, all Native
> intellectualisms are systematically depricated by the intellectual
> hegemony of the Conquest. At least, that is my understanding of Vine's
> intent at this time.

That does appear to be the intent of vols 2 and 3. Wrt _REWL_, the crucial
question is whether (some of) the views he is advocating in Vol I. are
deprecated because of their Native origin or because of their Velikovskian
origin (or for that matter, to what extent some of the items in question are
widely shared Native beliefs at all...)

> I also have the opinion that it is poor method to approach the work
> through its conclusions, though I take your point that you believe that
> Vine has a systematic Catastrophist bias toward his primary texts,
> without careful examination of those texts.

Reading the Portland Symposium text should (particularly noting the overlap
in content) illuminate why I think this. His casual dismissal of geological
straitiography, radiometric dating methods, continental drift, not to mention
his rather sneering description of punctuated equilibrium, etc., etc., all
raise some red flags. He has an unambiguous Catastrophist bias in his
selection of secondary sources (which in some of the "hot spots" are cited
instead of primary sources).

>: > Why is Vine different?
>: Perhaps because, unlike Einstein who was (as you so kindly phase it) "in his
>: dottage" when dealing with Velikovsky and Hapgood, Deloria appears to have
>: been a committed Velikovskian ever since he visited V. in Princeton in 1964,
>: shortly after flunking out of the Colorado School of Mines (largely,
>: according to his Velikovsky symposium talk, because his casual observations
>: during his "days as a boy on the Pine Ridge reservation, hunting rabbits
>: and prairie dogs" convinced Deloria that he knew more about the process of
>: fossil formation than the profs there did).
> Note that Vine Deloria, jr is not a European. It is quite possible that
> there is a subtext of legitimacy. Indeed, it is exactly the subtext of
> legitimacy which the author of RE/WL specifically attempts to address.

It is *possible* that the last century and a half of geology is wrong. It is
*possible* that the mirror-image magnetic reversals around the mid-Atlantic
ridge aren't due to slow, gradual seafloor spreading, and it is *possible*
that the linear correlation between radiometric dates for the Hawaiian Islands
and the distance of the islands from the mantle hot spot (we think) generates
the island is coincidence, and it is *possible* that the geological column is
a gigantic fraud, and it is *possible* that isochron methods are somehow
magically wrong, and some other set of assumptions would generate linear
isochrons without the rocks being millions or billions of years old, and it is
*possible* that the massive convergent evidence for descent with modification
from common ancestry provided by fossils and molecular clocks and morphology
is just some sort of cosmic joke.

It is also *possible* that all the air molecules in my office will, through a
quirk of statistics, gather in one corner and asphyxiate me. I would be
joining the aluminumly chapeaued if I planned any significant part of my
intellectual life around either of those possibilities or treated as
intellectually respectable those who do.

> You touch on an issue that was discussed in ARCH-L a few months ago, the
> non-negocible requirement expressed by Marti Latta for all anthro students
> at her institution to accept palentology concepts as a precondition to
> institutional sucess (usually a diploma). Professor Latta wrote:
> The First Peoples in question utterly reject the concept of human
> origins in Africa and the Bering Land Bridge route, and someone
> raised charges of racism when the archaeologists tried to offer
> their own perspective on human origins
> As the overwhelming bulk of all US and Canadian (Prof. Latta is at the
> University of Toronto) anthropology departments produce cultural anthros,
> the logical necessity of the requirement of a belief in Beringia appears
> absent, and absent a logical necessity, the imposition suspect. Please
> see the thread "undergrad curriculum?" in the ARCH-L archives of April of
> this year. I trust you see the problem of doing cultural anthro work that
> is cognizent of whether Paleo's walked, swam, or took the bus to get "here",
> hence the dubious utility of making this, palentology, part of the general
> cultural anthro's tool kit. Personally, I can't understand making literacy
> take second place to palentology, except in a Colonial context of control.

To the extent that one could get away with doing cultural anthropology without
understanding paleontology or evolution, that's fine. (Beringia per se is in a
way a separate issue -- evolution constrains the set of possible explanations
for the faunal distribution of hominids and other mammals, but it doesn't
logically require *that* *particular* *one*, except perhaps as the best
available possibility by reference to some specific set of evidence.)

If it is the considered belief of some departments that one can't get away
with that, then I would indeed consider buying into the broad outlines of the
last century of geology and evolutionary biology a non-negotiable requirement
in much the same way that I would consider rejecting the phlogiston theory of
combustion a non-negotiable requirement for institutional success in chemistry
and rejecting the four humor theory of disease a non-negotiable requirement for
institutional success in medicine.

> : Not to mention his continued belief in the basic theory V. outlined in
> : _Worlds in Collision_ and his other books in total disregard of the mass
> : of evidence against it, which makes him a bit of a fringe figure even
> : within that community, and raises some questions regarding his competence
> : to make valid judgements or criticisms in scientific areas.
> I take it "his other books" refers to other works by Vine. For clarity
> could you list any you were referring to? I certainly don't know what
> titles you've in mind.

Sorry for the unclear pronoun reference. I meant Velikovsky's, in particular
_Earth in Upheaval_, where you will find the Arctic muck of the _REWL_ chapter
"Corpus Delecti".

> I understand, I think, your interest in the relationship between the text
> of his talk, and possibly the rest of the Velikovsky/Hapgood/... corpus,
> and the RE/WL text. My interest is in the primary Native texts which Vine
> uses. Are his uses good ones (from a common academic critical frame of
> reference)? Are his uses good ones (from a Native perspective)? Have
> other texts (European, but others are possible as well) a significant
> role in the construction of primary texts which Vine has put forth?

Agreed. Is, for instance, the sample of texts in the chapter "Geomythology"
representative of the degree of correlation between the surviving preContact
oral texts and the geological evidence (ignoring issues of dating the
geological events)?

>: "The doctrine of evolution thus leads directly to the Bering Strait theory and
>: now, in a bizarre twist, has led to the Big Game Hunters megafauna-cide. It
>: seems quite obvious to us that immense tidal waves of catastrophic nature
>: deposited all kinds of animal skeletons all over the world. Orthodoxy,
>: however, insists that the animals "migrated" across dozens of mythical land
>: bridges in order to leave their fossils on different continents."
> Please try and understand that there are some well-known ideas floating
> about in the Conquest aculturated. One of them is wastage -- the megafaunal
> extinction due to bad (paleo)Indians... It is possible to both hold that
> Beringia is most consistant with the record, and that wastage is just more
> Conquest kookery, at the same time. Most modern archy's doing paleo work
> hold this view rather than the previous dominant view of Beringia+wastage.

That was my impression from the prior _REWL_ threads. It's more the "it seems
obvious..." clause in the quote causing problems for me (and which
intellectually comes straight from _Earth In Upheaval_).

>: "Now we are seeing a few younger Indians become interested in connecting
>: tribal traditions to outside bodies of knowledge. I fear that for the most
>: part they will follow orthodox thinking and become apologists for mainstream
>: thought, supporting evolution, the Bering Strait and other fictional
>: enterprises in order to gain favor with establishment science."
> Isn't facile accomodation a general precondition for sucess? Isn't it the
> duty of every Traditional, mistaken or not, to attempt to provide the best
> cultural alternative to suicide? That is, BTW, why I work on syllabic support
> in POSIX operating systems.

Again, the context was using "supporting evolution...and other fictional
enterprises" to explicate his views on the theory of evolution.

>: would appear to support the claim the he rejects evolution (based in part on
>: the questionable logic in the claim that "the doctrine of evolution thus
>: leads directly to the Bering Strait theory and now, in a bizarre twist, has
>: led to the Big Game Hunters megafauna-cide.")
> Agreed that there are logical problems in such a chain of inference, and I
> trust that you will make these so plain that even I can see each and every
> broken or weak link.

Here we get into issues of burden of proof. If it is his claim that descent
with modification from common ancestry logically leads inexorably to the
Bering Strait theory (rather than the Bering Strait theory being contingent on
some specific set of data interpreted in light of DWMFCA), then it is his
burden (or yours if you choose to defend the point) to explicate that chain of
logic. All I have to do is point out that there are alternative ways the
faunal distribution of big-brained hairless apes could have happened consonant
with DWMFCA separate from which of those contingently came to pass.

> Oh well, I suppose the sci.arch.mod fight was not something either of us
> will get over, or look forward to the repeat of any time soon.

Unfortunately, true. Being honest, neither of us is going to make the "Top 10
Most Genial USENET Posters" any time soon. You appear to have tried to keep
the heat-to-light ratio low in the post I'm responding to, and I'll attempt to
do the same.