Re: Psychometry, et al

Leo Thomas Walsh (ai653@KSU.KSU.EDU)
Tue, 6 Dec 1994 23:08:24 -0600

On Tue, 6 Dec 1994, Jerry W. Forstadt wrote:

> > However, the general response among "professional"
> > archeologists prompts the question, "Are we justified in dismissing
> > outright investigative procedures that seem unlikely or even absurd?"
> > I remember fondly the Psychic arecheology session at AAA in Mexico
> > City in the 70s. Many professionals dismissed it with a laugh, but
> > how many of us examined the evidence and have done follow-up
> > studies to see if there really is any empirical reality to the
> > claims?
> > Blood residue, dendroclimatological reconstruction, even
> > AMS dating seem pretty magical at times. What does it take
> > for a procedure to be accpepted as valid. Have we applied the
> > same criteria to those "procedures" we dismiss as absurd?
> > Just a thought...
> > Mike Lewis
> > University of Alaska Fairbanks
> I think it is fairly ridiculous to equate blood residue analysis with
> psychic techniques in archaeology. Most of us operate within a paradigm
> of scientific knowledge which doesn't recognize psychic ability at all
> much less its application in archaeology. This is also why we tend to
> dismiss out of hand such other amateur anaylses such as
> Egypt/MesoAmerica contact by spacemen.
> The NPR story mentioned that "Canada's most eminent archaeologist"
> (Emerson?) frequently used the analysis of the psychic. Any Canadian's
> out there want to comment on this guy?
> J. W. Forstadt
> Department of Anthropology Arizona State University

One thing that I have been taught that was supposed to be an inherent
trait in anthropologists was an open mindedness that allowed such
practices as psychometry to be given a chance to see if they work. When
a shaman performs a "rain dance" most people will immediately assume that
it is just a bunch of whooey while an anthropologist is supposed to see
if it actually works. Does the rain come when the ritual is performed?
In the case of psychometry, I think it might be pretty hard to prove
whether someone is right or wrong. An anthropologist should give it a fair
chance. I'm not saying that anyone should base their work off of it yet.
Just like some archaeologists were skeptical of early carbon dating or
AMS dating we are a bit cautious now. Mike is right, our current dating
methods _do_ "_seem_ pretty magical at times" (emphasis my own).