"Whenever you find yourself
on the side of the majority,
it's time to pause and reflect."
The Hall of Ma'at
The Hall of Ma'at (Egyptian goddess of Justice, law and -esoterically-
Cosmic Equilibrium) is the name rather inappropriately bestowed
upon a website set up about a year ago, intended as a counter
to the various websites (including this one) devoted to 'alternative'
interpretations of history. On the positive side, though championing
orthodoxy effectively across the scientific/scholarly spectrum
(not just Egypt) Ma'at is happy to post unedited any and all
opinions on the subject, so in principle it provides a useful
forum for an (often acrimonious) exchange of opinions.
the negative side, since anyone and everyone has an opinion,
anyone and everyone chimes in -- which results in an unmanageable
volume of material both pro and con the various issues raised.
A quick search through the Ma'at messageboard reveals that there
are a dozen or so stalwarts on either side of the overriding
'Lost Civilization' theory, some of them knowledgeable. But
since not many of them represent heavy hitters on either side,
up to now, after occasional visits to the site, I'd not taken
time out to respond.
however, for a variety of reasons, I decided to put in my two
cents. What follows are those responses, collated into two long
posts, which I hope will be largely self-explanatory to readers
new to Ma'at. If you find what follows of interest, but confusing,
you might find it worth your while (if you have lots of while
to spare) to pull up the Ma'at url, do a search under my name,
and wade through the controversy in detail.
jump into the Hall of Ma'at arena several days back seems to
have provoked considerable attention; and a a proliferation
of threads, sub-threads and sub-sub-threads all intertwined
and entangled. For me, trying to locate any given post, including
my own, in this chaos is like trying to find my way through
a tapestry woven by Jackson Pollack on a binge.
(since the subject, or subjects touched upon have aroused such
heated response) in the interests of both clarity and sanity,
I have gathered together here under a single head what seem
to me the salient issues, not necessarily in the order posted,
and have edited my own posts a bit here and there; again, for
emphasis and/or clarity. And I have added a number of comments
not previously posted to avoid their instant submergence into
the Pollack archives.
Symbolist vs. Orthodox Egyptology
asked me to describe the distinction I made between 'the Egypt
of the Ancient Egyptians and the Egypt of the Egyptologists';
that is to say the difference between the 'symbolist' interpretation
developed by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz and the orthodox (i.e.,
academically accepted) interpretation.
than even attempt this daunting task in a few paragraphs, I
referred Anthony back to my book SERPENT IN THE SKY: the High
Wisdom of Ancient Egypt and to Schwaller de Lubicz's TEMPLE
OF MAN. This was not exactly fudging my out, but it demands
A) that Ma'at readers have these books and B) that they've read
them. This is admittedly asking a lot. There is however a newer
and much more accessible way to plug into these radical opposed
Pull up: www.magicalegypt.com.
This is the new website designed as the trailer to a series
of interactive, virtual reality DVD/CD-ROMs that we have been
working on for over a year. 'We' is myself and Chance Gardner.
He's an award-winning animator and interactive author. For the
past 15 years Chance has produced animations and broadcast graphics
for entertainment giants such as 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting,
Paramount Studios, UPN, Real Networks, music industry clients
include The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Green Day and many others.
But his actual interests lie in metaphysical/esoteric/hermetic
realms and he came to me a couple of years ago, proposing a
Virtual Reality tour of 'symbolist' Egypt. This is what that
URL introduces. The website itself provides only a taste of
the many hours of material on the DVD/CD-ROMs but that should
be more than enough for anyone even peripherally aware of the
symbolist/orthodox conflict to see the difference between these
two interpretations. So, Anthony (and whoever else may be so
inclined) over to you.
GARRETT FAGAN takes issue:
I had maintained in the post to ANTHONY that in no other scientific/scholarly
discipline did the same set of data (pyramids/temples/tombs/texts/art)
produce two such diametrically opposed interpretations.
Fagan demurred:'I would reply "science." Many, many
areas of science interpret the same evidence in widely variant,
even mutually exclusive ways: quantum as opposed to Einsteinian
physics would be glaring example; the dispute between Darwinian
and"punctuated equilibrium" scenarios in evolutionary
theory(which you reject as a whole, right?); the dispute over
what killed the dinosaurs (at least three main contentions based
on the same evidence); the dispute over what happened to the
Maya; the dispute over why the Roman Empire fell, or even if
it fell; shall I go on? There are hundreds of examples. In fact,
genuine research invariably leads to dispute and divergent interpretations.
is because unlike the fantasyland you foist on your fans, genuine
science and scholarship is not some sort of monolithic authority
that dispenses the Truth. It's a shifting body of interpretation,
ever changing with newevidence and modes of investigation. So
there will,naturally, constantly be disputes and debates.
some people don't like living with such a degree of uncertainty
That's why they look to Truthspeakers like yourself, who sell
daydreams as if they were fact.
responded (some of this new):
coming from you Garrett, is amazing: You talk about 'genuine
science and scholarship' and 'genuine research' But your invariable
modus operandi (proven above) is to brand anyone and everyone
a charlatan, quack or 'pseudoscientist' who dares suggest there
might be flaws to orthodoxy; you, who blew out a planned debate
at your university with your intemperate, incendiary and deeply
unprofessional language --not just in private and in passing,
but published in a brochure and website designed to attract
the public to the event. (You may remember that even your own
University authorities --Vice President in Charge of Public
Events or some such title-- acknowledged in writing the inappropriateness
of your language. And here you are again championing 'genuine
science and scholarship' and the nobility of science yet hurling
verbal insults at me and those of my colleagues with the temerity
to challenge your authority. You act -and write- in exact defiance
of your own words -- as though science were indeed a 'monolithic
Le style est l'homme meme! Have you any idea how you come across?
In your state of permanently exacerbated high dudgeon? Don't
you get it? Our evidence has been presented at prestigious geological
conferences. (of course the attending and overwhelmingly supportive
geologists knew nothing about your own specialty, public bathing
in Rome, and were therefore unqualified to pass judgement on
the matter. But you are.) We have successfully exposed the fatal
flaws in all opposing arguments to date. This does not necessarily
mean we're right. It does mean we've not been proved wrong.
And if ever we should be, it would only mean our science was
wrong, not 'pseudo'. This is not a 'fantasyland.'
shall let that evidence speak for itself. OK? (BTW: our evidence
doesn't come in 'shreds' as you suggested elsewhere, maybe that's
why you can't see any of it?: It tends to come in 200 ton blocks.)
But your responses follow normal debunker protocol: when challenged,
ignore unwelcome evidence if possible; if unavoidable, then
get out the red herring barrel, top with fudge and set it alight.
The ensuing smokescreen produced may well take in the gullible
and the uninformed.
THE FLAKING THEORY (exfoliation)
JIM LEWANDOWSKI asked about this theory, initially put forward
by geologist K. Lal Gauri. He claimed that ground water, leaching
up into the bedrock limestone, produced flakes on its surfaces,
very visible today inside the Sphinx enclosure and elsewhere,
which, he suggested, was responsible for the extreme weathering
found on the Sphinx itself and on its enclosure walls.
'Mark Lehner supports the 'flaking theory' as well. He is an
Egyptologist and can be excused. There is no excuse for Dr.
Gauri.The argument is geologically untenable. The flaking follows
the contours of the walls, it does not and cannot of itself
create the kind of weathering profile we find on the Sphinx
and its enclosure wall. Though this has always been self-evident
to us, it wasn't until I was there with Schoch in the summer
of 2000 that we were actually able to prove our case categorically.
High up on the western wall of the enclosure, there are a three
Late Kingdom (ca 600BC) tombs cut into that wall. The entrances
to these are fully exposed to the elements, and there we can
see the actual results of some 2600 years of 'Lehner flakes'.
Effectively there is no weathering at all. Yet the tell-tale
flakes are there, and presumably have been forming all along.
All they've done since 2600 BC is to slightly blur the still-clearly
visible marks made by the masons' chisels when they first cut
these tombs out. (This is very clearly photographically documented,
you can see the flakes going in and out of the chisel marks).
Double that negligible amount of flaking (to give you roughly
the putative date for the carving of the Sphinx) and you get
2 x nothing. Mathematically astute readers will be able to solve
this equation. The flaking theory has been laid to rest and
in honor of that occasion, the most representative of the Late
Kingdom tombs has been renamed "Lehner's Tomb" for
there the flaking theory lies. We presented this (and other)
evidence before the Geological Society of America's Annual Meeting
in Nov. 2001.
The western third of the southern enclosure wall has sustained
some ten feet or more of water weathering since it was first
exposed to the elements. The Sphinx itself has had some three
feet of limestone evenly eroded away from its original contour.
Only rain water, vast amounts of rainwater falling over long
periods of time, can possibly account for this phenomenon. Two
English geologists, David Coxill and Colin Reader, independent
of each other and of ourselves, have traveled to Egypt specifically
to examine our theory; both corroborate the rainwater weathering
hypothesis without reservation. The dating is still up for grabs
of course, though Reader tries rather desperately to preserve
a dynastic dating (rather like Tycho Brahe accepting the Copernican
heliocentric theory, but still insisting upon excluding the
earth from the equation ... couldn't be done!) Neither can Reader's
attempt to place the Sphinx in the 1st or 2nd Dynasty.
same applies to all other objections put before us to date.
All, in one way or another, have been answered. Interested parties
should pull up the (admittedly) long winded 'Egypt the (Half)
Truth' posts archived on my website particularly
the last few posts, you'll find Schoch or me systematically
demolishing these opposition arguments.
overwhelming positive reaction of geologists at our two GSA
presentations speaks for itself. The uninformed arguments being
posted on this site usually merit no response. The only straw
left (barely) floating for opponents to grasp is that the assenting
geologists at the two GSA meetings had not examined the evidence
in situ for themselves. This, at best, is a reservation, hardly
a rebuttal. It is, however, a valid reservation. And that is
precisely why we are now putting together our panel of geologists
to get over there and see for themselves and report back. Again,
refer to the latest update on my website for more on this'.
In the Hall of the Double (Standard) Ma'at. Joanne Conman asked
why proponents of alternative theories were held to different
standards than orthodox academics.
Garrett Fagan responded: ' I would agree with most of what Joanne
writes here, save that alternative writers are not held to different
standards as real archaeologists. They are held to the precisely
same standards. What archaeologists ask of alternative writers
is exactly what they ask of themselves all the time: "What's
the evidence for your proposition?"'
JAW responded in turn:
the very homepage
of Halls of Ma'at (proud champion of orthodoxy) provides
apodictic proof to the contrary. Alternative writers are held
to VERY different standards. For the home page quotes with evident
relish Carl's Sagan's fatuous and manifestly fraudulent observation:
'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'
is the website Ma'ato and it represents an obvious and incontrovertible
who is to judge 'Extraordinary claims'? Members of CSICOP, our
self-appointed Paradigm Police? Katherine Reece? Garrett Fagan,
after 20 years as an academic, an Assistant Professor of Classics
at Penn State University (the equivalent of 20 years in the
army and the rank of Private First Class) with a single published
work to his credit, a book on public bathing in Rome? Are these
fit to be the judges?
Proving ESP might be an 'extraordinary claim' to a High Priest
of the the Church of Progress; it would be an utter waste of
time for a Bushman of the Kalahari, who uses this faculty on
a day to day basis. Yet if Randy Johnson throws a 100 mph fastball
to a Kalahiri Bushman and insists it can (on but rare occasions,
admittedly) be hit, that Bushman will likely regard it as an
'extraordinary claim'. He can't hit it. He probably can't even
see the ball go past his bat. But it is not an 'extraordinary
claim'. It is just not part of his living context.
Sorry. Evidence is evidence, as long as it is gathered according
to ground rules (which do shift for you whenever that evidence
verges on the uncomfortable). The evidence for alien abductions
needs to be no better than the evidence for the latest new baby
step in genetics, or, say, natural selection ... actually the
evidence for alien abductions is much better than that for natural
selection, for which there is no evidence at all in the strictly
scientific sense, and the very name is an example of flagrant
if unwitting linguistic chicanery ... but this is quite another
matter...anyway... (I may get back to this in due course).
Unless his response is buried somewhere in the Jackson Pollackian
tapestry and I missed it, it would appear that Fagan has failed
to respond to the demonstration of the academic double standard
prevailing at Ma'at.
On evidence or the lack of it:
Of the entire 'Lost Civilization' hypothesis, John Wall wrote,
or more accurately sneered, How was it then that the Sphinx
was only piece of evidence we cited in defence of this notion.
(Note: I seem unable to clear the background color out of the
following. Sorry - JAW)
JAW pointed out other pieces of supporting evidence: :JAW: Take
lower courses of Khafre and the paving stones surrounding it
are architectural stylistic evidence to that effect. The core
bedrock of the so-called Tomb of Khentkaus is water-weathered
similarly to the Sphinx but subdsequently smoothed off, and
then covered with Old Kingdom casing stones. At the Northwest
corner of Khentkaus, a single vertical row of casing stones
is missing. Behind the missing row, pressed against the backs
of the casing stones the PRE-WEATHERED, unmistakably quarried
bedrock is exposed.It was weathered, deeply weathered, BEFORE
the Old Kingdom casing stones were applied. Comprende? There
are two deeply WATER-WEATHERED shafts at Sakkara, in the midst
of many other shafts whose walls show effectively no weathering
JOHN WALL: And you have demonstrated the strata these are in
and when they date from ? Oh, and what their "history"
is in terms of sand coverage.....
This is utterly irrelevant. All the shafts are approximately
at the same level. The so-called Southern Tomb of Zoser dates
from the 3rd Dynasty. It is effectively unweathered.The history
in 'term of sand coverage' is unknown and unknowable. It does
not matter. Two of these shafts are water weathered from top
to bottom. They are cut into the same bedrock as all the other
shafts. And if they had been kept swept clean from Zoser on
they still would not be evenly water-weathered (apparently)
from top to bottom. ('Apparently', since we'd need ladders placed
to be able to examine the bottom, but that's what it looks like
from the top). ... Oh, and hey! you forgot to rationalize away
the Khafre paving stones and the Khentkaus corner cited above
As the strata are rarely level it is totally relevant ! Unless
you can demonstrate that it is precisely the same rock you're
wasting your time. And sand coverage also matters.
new This is gibberish. 'Approximately' the same level is quite
good enough for now. 'Approximately' the same rock is also good
enough, since it is all limestone within a limited area at approximately
the same level, and we are talking here about drastically, incontrovertibly
water weathered rock in one case, and effectively pristine unweathered
rock in the other. The only argument I can see in opposition
would be that the two weathered shafts served as wells, and
were kept filled to the brim for thousands of years with buckets
of water hauled up from the flood plain This possibility will
probably appeal to you.
JAW The Oseirion does not date from dynastic Egypt either, but
this is not easily proved. It is cut into what appears to be
crumbly bedrock, but is actually impacted Nile silt from tremendous
floods that seem to have occurred prior to 10,000 BC (some dispute
on the dates). The silt could be carbondated, but that would
not actually PROVE the Oseirion was built prior to deposition
of silt by the flooding, but would add considerable credence
to that hypothesis. In other words the Oseirion is not actually
cut into a hole in the ground but originally stood on the flood
plain like a kind of more sophhisticated Stonehenge which was
then subsequently buried beneath the silt, only to be re-discovered
by Seti I while building Abydos.
Nope, it's unambiguously dated to Seti I. We hope to have an
article here that'll address that. Considering the generally"archaising"
characteristics of his reign it's not unexpected.
Ah well, if you have an article coming out, that must settle
the question once and for all. I suspect that your idea of unambiguity
will not correspond to mine.
The article isn't prepared yet but I seem to recall that Seti's
name was found "inside" the structure. The references,
etc need checking.....
The south-west corner of the bedrock supporting the Citadel
(opposite the Mokattam quarries) shows deep water weathering
similar to that of the Sphinx enclosure wall, though without
the marked vertical fissuring.
And which strata are these from ? It still rains in Egypt nowadays
- there are records of very heavy downpours.....
More irrelevance. Then why doesn't the rain produce the same
kind of weathering wherever there is this kind of rock?
Because different strata of the same "kind of rock"
weather differently. The Sphinx is all limestone but the different
strata (members) were laid down at different times and under
different conditions; therefore they have different characteristics
and weather differently.
The recently discovered megalithic stone circle at Nabta (ca
4500BC) is astronomically oriented which demonstrates observational
astronomy going back at least to this date.
WALL You read any Richard Rugeley ? Nabta has, of course, no
evidence for stone working, just stone moving.
In case you didn't notice, I was talking about astronomy, not
If it's some sort of "legacy" why didn't they possess
both "skills" ? In any case alignments aren't that
difficult to do. There are megalithic structures with astronomical
alignments in the British Isles; Stephen Tonkin will tell you
how his children came up with a simple method to achieve this......
The interior so-called 'plundered tomb chamber' of the Red Pyramid
at Dahshur is probably not a tomb chamber at all, nor has it
Oh yes, the not-a-tomb business....Y-a-w-n..... Have you read
Batrawi's report on the remains found in the Red pyramid ?Obviously
not from reading SITS p 13. Similarly, I note no mention of
Lepre's analysis of the sarcophagus in the Great Pyramid.
What is SITS? Nope, haven't read those reports.
WALL: SITS - "Serpent In The Sky" ! It was totally
obvious to me that you weren't aware of those..... If you were
you wouldn't make the erroneous claims you do.
new : Doesn't matter for the argument I was raising. As usual,
you stray from the issue. WALL: No, I demonstrate your lack
of knowledge about the discipline you are attempting to overturn.
new: Hardly. What I wrote was:That issue is: The stones comprising
that chamber have been exposed to the elements for an undetermined
but long period of time BEFORE the pyramid was built around
them ... unless of course the builders just happened to find
a handy stock of quarried but weathered blocks lying around
on the ground and decided to construct this particular chamber
from these, while using finely polished limestone blocks for
the other two chambers.
Were they ? I see a hacked about chamber....
The roughly dressed, megalithic-looking blocks that comprise
it are incontrovertibly weathered and they cannot have weathered
inside the pyramid. In other words, this curious chamber/construction
was there FIRST and the pyramid was built around it. Got it?
I've seen it and looking at the pictures (from Guardians):
It also doesn't matter what you've seen since you don't know
what you're looking at. You're not a geologist. And you weren't
looking at the blocks with weathering in mind.
And your geological credentials?
(new): Informal of course, but not bad. I single-handedly developed
Schwaller's observation of water weathering to the point that
it intrigued the initially skeptical and highly credentialed
Robert Schoch who subsequently endorsed it without reservation.
It subsequently passed muster at two GSA conferences, and was
reported upon (generally with astonishing fairness, given the
profound implications of the heresy) by the scientific and mainstream
press. In fact your Ma'at website exists largely due to my geological
credentials -- for Hancock drew heavily upon them for his FINGERPRINTS
OF THE GODS. (Bauval's Orion Theory was developed independently,
but that in itself would never have provoked the ongoing controversy
or this website.) .So you should thank me for providing this
forum. Without it, no one would pay any attention to you and
you would be relegated to a life in total obscurity, perhaps
devoted to breeding your totem animal, the Toothless Junkyard
WALL(re: the chamber in the Red Pyramid) I see a hacked about
floor, looking for extra chambers.
Somewhere in these posts recently someone cited the delicious
joke about Holmes and Watson camping out and looking at the
stars. Watson sees only stars, but Holmes sees that someone
has stolen their tent.
The floor is assuredly ravaged. But plundered? This is an interesting
question. Much of the broken rock is missing. Did these wonderfully
neat tomb plunderers haul big chunks of broken rock up the 80
meters or so of constricted passageway to leave it all nice
and cozy? It might have been the neater Egyptologists, of course,
but it's an interesting question. Not to you, needless to say,
since there are no questions that need asking unless the answers
correspond to your preconceptions. That's why we have James
O'Kon, the forensic engineer on our geology panel; to see if
he can address this question of putative plunder, among other
Considering that a piece of one of the granite portcullises
from outside the King's Chamber in the GP ended up down the
well shaft, nothing surprises me; that's also in Lepre btw.......
I see you're still peddling the pi, etc in the Great Pyramid
business in SITS - there's an article coming to this site on
that soon !
Goody! I'm sure it will prove definitive, especially if you
agree with it. I'll see how it matches up with, say, Alexander
Badawi's HARMONIC DESIGN AND PROPORTION IN EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE
and John Neal's ALL DONE WITH MIRRORS.
I presume you're aware of how the AEs found the area of a circle
? It's in the Rhind Mathematical papyrus.....Re: the weathering.
WALL had asserted that many geologists disagreed with Schoch
- implying that therefore the water weathering theory was invalid.
JAW then asserted the numbers meant nothing and that all published
opposing theories purporting to explain the weathering to the
Sphinx had been decisively rebutted.
Strange, I haven't seen any of them accepting defeat.....
Ah yes, so that is the criterion for the validity or otherwise
of their views, is it? They have not acknowledged defeat, therefore
they are right even though they all disagree with each other.
WALL: They agree on one thing.... You and Schoch are wrong;
although to differing extents....
You have, here, Wall, displayed to one and all the level of
your scholarship and your ability to reason. No, of course they
have not acknowledged defeat, nor will they ever, no matter
what the evidence,. Nor will you. This is a foregone conclusion.
The Fundamentalists of the Church of Progress are no different
from the Fundamentalists of other religions;the only difference
between you is that the other religions are degenerate and vitiated
while yours is just bogus.
Au contraire. I have demonstrated how I as a mere amateur -
and I have no Egyptological qualifications - can find the holes
in "alternative history". I have quoted references
that directly refute your assertions. Reference after reference
that you, as somebody seeking to "rewrite history"
- isn't that the subtitle of your forthcoming book; "The
quest to rewrite history" ? - are unaware of. You quote
antiquated, cobwebbed and long-superseded references (SITS is
full of that) in order to try and prove your "case"
and your answers to those such as myself who are - easily -
able to contradict these is abuse.
set and Ma'atch !
new: Sorry, you emphatically have not 'demonstrated how' you
'as a mere amateur ... can find the holes in "alternative
references you cite are without exception irrelevant; your arguments
are infantile. There is not one worth considering. Above, marked
'(new)' I've responded to some of the sillier ones. But all
are blatant evasions or distortions of what I wrote to you.
You simply refuse to examine the evidence. E.g., The bedding
planes of Khafre have nothing to do with the anomalous style
of the cyclopean masonry of the lower courses. It does not matter
a damn what burial remains Batrawi found in the Red Pyramid.
I was talking about megalithic-looking blocks that were already
weathered when the pyramid was built. A single Seti inscription
inside the Oseirion hardly establishes him as its builder. If
it did, then Rameses II would be acknowledged as the builder
of everything in New Kingdom Egypt. Etc., etc. etc.
You have found 'holes' all right, Wall, but they are bullet
holes; and they are in your foot, not in the Sphinx theory..
And there is also one great big hole in your front yard, it's
about 6 feet long x 4 feet wide, I reckon. You dug this deep
with your comments about the dissenting geologists over the
course of several posts. Remember? No? Let me recapitulate for
First you stated that there were many geologists who disagreed
with Schoch. I pointed out that whatever their numbers, there
were in reality but five competing published arguments. They
all disagreed with each other; their arguments were mutually
exclusive: thus if one was right the others were wrong. Still
more important, I told you that Schoch and I had systematically
and incontrovertibly demonstrated the inability of each of those
theories in turn to explain away the unarguable weathering on
than try to defend any of those opposing theories or provide
a better one of your own, your response was: ' They agree on
one thing.... You and Schoch are wrong; although to differing
With this (quite incredible!) assertion you have finished that
deep hole in your front yard. In it lies buried forever any
claim you might make to serious consideration, by me or anyone
I will now extricate myself for good from this utterly futile
exchange with you. There is some joy, but little profit in it.
since I know in advance (debunkers are approximately 100% predictable)
that this will be taken by you (and doubtless by your like-minded
colleagues on the Ma'at site) as a cop-out on my part, I'll
tell you what I will do.
When we get our planned panel of geologists over to Egypt to
examine all the pieces of our weathering evidence in situ, I
will present them with copies of this correspondence so that
they can examine your arguments first hand, rather than through
any interpretation of mine. I suspect that once they stop laughing,
they will decline to pursue the matter any further, but I will
nevertheless provide them with that opportunity. Surely you
can ask no more than that. It is your one chance for vindication.
* This reminds me of another good and appropriate joke.
During the Cold War an American journalist is visiting Russia
and his guide takes him to see the brand new Moscow metro. The
American is duly impressed, but after a long wait, he turns
to his Russian guide, 'It's great.' he says. 'But where are
the trains?''Oh yeah!' snaps the Russian. 'And what about the
blacks in the south!'
Conclusion ... and a promise
our geo-panel, after examining our evidence, reports back negatively
on the water-weathering I will, with no little regret, admit
defeat, drop the Lost Civilization hypothesis for good and go
back to writing the novels, plays, screenplays and the like
that started me off on this journey all those years ago.
On the other hand, if they report back positively, then I will
see to it that you and all those who play the game the way you
do (one standard for you, another for us, and the playing field
never, ever level) are obliged to eat so much crow that by the
time you've finished, crow will be an endangered species.
6. Bon appetit!John Anthony West
'Recapitulation' provoked well over a hundred responses on the
Ma'at messageboard, many of them hostile-- which was of course
in part the objective of the exercise. It's good to know the
enemy intimately and there's no better way to learn than to
goad them into dropping their guard. I've selected the response
from Duncan Edlin (profile unknown), a consistent Ma'at contributor
and defender of Egyptological and other academic/scientific
orthodoxies as 'typical'. What applies to Edlin, applies with
greater or lesser pertinence and accuracy to all others in his
camp. I've copied and pasted Edlin's response in its entirety,
addressing his various points. Readers should have no trouble
following the argument. And anyone wanting to do a reliability
check on the many responses to my Recapitulation (highly recommended
but it's long, tough slogging) through the incredible tangled
mass of threads and subthreads should do a search under my name
on the Ma'at website, and take it from there. So this response
Sphinx - a Re-recapitulation
Language Considered or: Considered Language?
thank you for the compliment., Duncan.
however I think it could have been improved by the removal of
the inflammatory language.
I appreciate the constructive suggestion. Several other respondents
voiced the same. Well, these things are judgement calls. You
could be right.
take on the matter is: some fires must be fought with fire;
with others, smothering with a wet blanket works; still others
are best left to themselves to eventually burn themselves out.
It seemed to me the first option was appropriate, especially
given the level of abuse, invective, sarcasm, sneers and the
like posted on this site both prior to and after my first posts
to it a week or so back.
Fagan (especially), Martin Stower, John Wall, Mikey Brass, to
name the principals,. seem particularly given to one, another,
several, or all of these scholarly methodologies. (I sometimes
wonder if Fagan is capable of writing a dispassionate laundry
list.) Anyway, I'm grateful for the suggestion, but judging
from many of the 102 responses so far posted on Ma'at, am disinclined
to change my own ways. However, I do wonder if in the past you've
voiced the same objection to those who share your views on the
controversy but who routinely indulge in no less 'inflammatory
Pseudoscience at PSU
The aborted debate at Penn state University.
those unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding this event
Garrett had organised a conference at PSU involving Graham Hancock,
Robert Bauval, John Anthony West, Robert Schoch, Garrett Fagan,
Ed Krupp, Clair Ossian and Donald Redford. The website used
to promote the event referred to the event as a debate between
"science and pseudoscience". Offence was taken within
the alternative camp at the suggestion (Note: that was not a
'suggestion' Duncan, it was a statement. JAW) that they had
been labelled "pseudoscience" before the event had
taken place, however it was up to the audience to judge whom
the labels science and pseudoscience referred to. The event
was later cancelled by PSU due to poor ticket sales.<
I should like to add a bit of inside information that might
be of interest to Ma'at readers. I (alone of the four of us)
did not take offence
that brochure/website first went up, Schoch was furious, and
was ready to cancel out unless he had an apology in writing
from Fagan. I talked him out of it, counseling him to bide his
time and wait till we had our audience in front of us. As you
note Duncan, 'it was up to the audience to judge whom the labels
science and pseudoscience referred to.' I am in rare agreement
with you on that -- though the language Fagan employed was hardly
conducive to the reasoned debate Ma'at promotes. For example,
if the website/brochure had been left to me, imagine the ruckus
from our opponents if I had 'suggested' in print to our potential
audience that they attend a debate to 'Witness proponents of
an alternative view of history with an arsenal of evidence at
their command challenge a panel of smug, obdurate pedants bent
upon upholding a demonstrably shattered paradigm.' No, I would
not have said such a thing. Certainly not!
I had noticed that the Penn State University website url and
email address contained >psu.edu@ (whatever)< within it.
This seemed remarkably appropriate. And so I planned to design
and unfurl behind the podium at the opening of the debate, a
huge banner telling our audience they would be witnessing Pseudoscience
vs Psueduscience. And, as you suggest, Duncan, it would then
be up to the audience to distinguish between us.
see, I reckoned that would tend to level the playing field,
and perhaps provoke a bit of a giggle. Schoch, once he simmered
down, agreed to this strategy, but I neglected to get in touch
with GH and RB in time. They demanded an apology, and hinted
darkly at unspecified legal action for the slur, and the damage
was done. (For the record, GH and RB afterwards told me they
wouldn't have gone along with my strategy anyway. Ma'alesh!
- 'Too bad' in Arabic.)
the time I regretted my counsel had not prevailed. I was looking
forward to debating Donald Redford, whose work I respect, on
Symbolist vs. Academic Egypt. Ed Krupp is on the masthead of
the Skeptical Inquirer, which speaks ill of his principles,
but does not necessarily impugn his science. He would prove
a worthy opponent. While having Fagan and Clair Ossian (who
shares Fagan's penchant for gratuitous invective and abuse --
you should see his emails!) in the same room had me feeling
in advance rather the way I imagine a cannibal chieftain must
feel, watching a boatload of missionaries approach. (Missionaries
of the Church of Progress, but no less edible for that.). However,
since the debate would have taken place two weeks after 9/11
it is obvious in hindsight that it would not have been giggle
time and the entire event would have gone largely unattended
and would have been anticlimactic at best. So just as well.
so, canceling out six weeks in advance of the scheduled debate
(long before 9/11) certainly did not strike me as a valid reason
to cancel. One of my friends (I cannot remember who) did a bit
of sleuthing and found out, I'm not sure how, that the PSU authorities
did not take kindly to the veiled threat of legal action and
that was the actual reason for the cancellation. I pass this
on for what it may be worth. I don't actually know. And it doesn't
My account of the PSU debacle drew a characteristically furious
counter from Garrett Fagan. Apparently, the University laid
the blame for the incendiary language, not on Fagan, but on
the marketing people responsible for putting the brochure together
in the first place. There was an interesting, if heated exchange
of Ma'at posts between myself and Fagan, and a search will reveal
those as well. Incorporating still more of this into the website
update just takes me too far from the central issues, which
are of course the Sphinx and Egypt, though I must say that I
do personally enjoy the spectacle of observing academics in
these objective modes, and actually consider it important. It's
good to know what goes on behind the scenes. ____________________________________________________________________
I had written previously re: the Ma'at Double Standard:
'For who is to judge 'Extraordinary claims'? Members of CSICOP,
our self-appointed Paradigm Police, etc.... '
'In a similar vein should an amateur Egyptologist who runs coach
tours be considered an appropriate judge of extraordinary claims?
Christopher Ash has responded to that question admirably (thanks
Chris!) and I have little to add. My language was lucid enough.
I was pointing out the unarguable double standard trumpeted
on the Ma'at masthead itself via Carl Sagan's unfortunate contention,
not setting myself up as an 'alternative' judge for initiating
so profoundly unscientific an approach.
do I mind your labelling, though think it meet to point out
that 'amateur' carries a number of connotations. My Shorter
Oxford Dictionary gives two meanings:"1. One who loves,
is fond of, or has a taste for, anything. 2. One who cultivates
anything as a pastime; hence occas. = a dabbler." In an
earlier post, John Wall had added a new wrinkle, when he spoke
of how he, a 'mere amateur' had found holes in our water-weathering
theory. 'Amateur' here represents a covert glorification of
the dabbler as an authority on his pastime.
well, definition 1. certainly applies. I like to think definition
2. is remiss, but am confident you had definition 1. in mind
when you assigned that description. Even so, judging from your
method, Winston Churchill would have been 'an alcoholic who
is also a Sunday painter' and Mozart 'a womanizer who is also
a piano teacher.' You can't please all of the people all of
the time, can you? 'Amateur Egyptologist who runs coach tours'
will have to do
Re: The Darwinian Delusion
In conclusion I wrote:
>...actually the evidence for alien abductions is
> much better than that for natural selection, for which
> is no evidence at all in the strictly scientific sense,
> the very name is an example of flagrant if unwitting
> linguistic chicanery ...
Well, Duncan, I do this sometimes ... chum the waters with a
bit of anti-Darwin bait, just to see who bites. And sure enough,
'Nice to know that creationism is in safe hands.'
is like that; any slur on the sanctity of St. Darwin invariably
draws the same knee jerk response. Anyone suggesting the great
man had it wrong is immediately a Creationist. Following the
same logic you might say that any woman who is not a virgin
is a whore. Or: Erich von Daniken is a pseudoscientist. He opposes
the academically accepted view of history. Therefore anyone
who opposes the academic view of history must be a pseudoscientist.
literature contesting the Darwinian Delusion is extensive and
hardly confined to goofy Fundamentalists insisting the world
began in 4004 BC when God went 'Zap' and everything was created
exactly as it is. The anti-Darwin literature is replete with
books by eminent biologists, chemists, physicists, geologists,
scientists of all stripes, lawyers, writers, eminent in their
fields, and as thoroughly conversant with the controversy as
the Darwinians. Presumably you are acquainted with this literature?
Or would you like a selected bibliography?
is most assuredly a Fact. That it is sped along its merry way
by blind chance is by no means a fact. That is the central issue.
The conclusion that accident is the Primal Cause is the result
of inductive and inferential reasoning, not of scientific evidence.
old William Paley is consigned to the rubbish heap (by St. Darwin
of course) for his famous 'watchmaker' analogy. But had he only
to extend it to a vertically integrated 'watch manufacturer'
and he would have been much closer to the mark (not his fault,
there were no watch manufacturers in the modern sense in his
time.) The watch manufacturer is forever improving his product.
His business is affected by competition and by advances in technology.
Old watches and still older time-keeping devices still have
their uses and therefore have technological 'survival value'.
The primitive hour glass still times eggs. The cuckoo clock
has it place among kitsch lovers. The atomic clock serves other
purposes. If the factory burns down, or the whole country is
destroyed in a war, our watch manufacturer may have to start
from scratch all over again (Christopher Ash raised a similar
cogent argument on a Ma'at post recently talking about the 'evolution'
of the automobile). But no watch manufacturer, no watches. Period.
Or, in England, full stop.
is the rule in our human world. But in the Darwinian never-never
land, ours is a special case; intention and design only operate
here, not in the greater universe that accidentally produced
us. There, accident reigns supreme.
Natural Selection explains it.
I am not sure if I have anything original to add to the extensive
and commanding anti-Darwin literature, but at least I don't
remember reading what follows anywhere else. As I said above,
' the very name (Natural Selection) is an example of flagrant
if unwitting linguistic chicanery.'
is used as a synonym for 'accidental'. But everything 'natural'
from the atom to biological forms to ecosystems to galaxies
exhibits the most fabulously ordered design; hierarchies of
organization within more complex hierarchies of organization.
We know this scientifically; we feel it emotionally and intuitively.
Thus 'Natural', in the Darwinian sense, seems at best an inappropriate
word to use for an accidental process.
Ditto for 'selection', which presupposed choice or intention.
The roulette wheel does not 'select' a number; the lottery winner
is not 'selected'. Players are 'selected' for the NBA draft;
candidates are 'selected' for scholarships or officer training.
So 'Natural Selection' as the words selected to describe/explain
that process of organization-by-accident is by definition doubly
inappropriate. It is, in fact, a con job. But, as Lincoln observed:
'You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of
the people some of the time, etc...'
Darwinians should be upholding 'Accidental Agglomeration' perhaps,
or 'Haphazard Accretion' or some such rather less misleading
terminology to describe the manner in which the dead, accidental,
purposeless and materialistic universe was created ... that
for some perverse reason gives them solace. But this would somehow,
at least intuitively, be rather less convincing.
changes, 'evolves' if you insist. Change is observable, but
Natural Selection is not. Accident is by definition impossible
to prove. It cannot be measured, replicated or predicted. It
is, in plain terms, unscientific.
Selection is to Science precisely what Santa Claus is to Christmas:
an indispensable marketing gimmick with no basis in observable
intention in the world outside ourselves also cannot be proved
(actually, scientifically, it cannot be proved even in our sphere),
it also cannot be measured, replicated or predicted, though
some think it legitimate to extend what prevails in our human
world to the world outside us.
'You may wish to reconsider your views on natural selection
by acquainting yourself with the evidence of natural selection
in viral diseases (eg flu and AIDS). I'm sure that anybody that
disputes evolution is already familiar with the abundance of
evidence that supports evolutionary theory. One wouldn't like
to think that that someone as well educated as you would pass
comment on something that you know very little about.'
You might be surprised how much -in my amateur way, of course-
I know about it. Yes, I am acquainted with the evidence for
change in viral diseases.
doubt you've read Lamarck's Signature : How Retrogenes Are Changing
Darwin's Natural Selection Paradigm by Robyn A. Lindley, Robert
V. Blanden, Edward J. Steele?
for the benefit of Ma'at readers who lack your erudition and
might not have read it, let me quote the book review posted
From Book News, Inc.
Steele (biology, U. of Wollongong, Australia) and company show
molecular genetic evidence of acquired immunities developed
by parents in their lifetime, then passed on to offspring. Such
evidence, the authors claim, breathes new life into the Lamarckian
heresy--the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Topics
include clonal selection, somatic mutation and soma-to-germline
feedback. The book is geared toward an educated-to-professional
readership. Includes a glossary.Book News, Inc.®, Portland,
This explosive book challenges the very foundations of accepted
thinking on the genetic mechanism of evolution.
book] will represent, indeed, one of the landmarks in the history
of biology. I have no idea what the outcome will be but I hope
Steele is right."-Sir Peter Medawar
if Lamarck, whose theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics
was blown apart by Charles Darwin over a century ago, was partly
right after all? In this daring book, Steele and company reveal
their ground-breaking research that has uncovered strong molecular
genetic evidence that aspects of acquired immunities developed
by parents in their own lifetime can be passed on to their offspring.
The book gives new life and scientific credibility to the Lamarckian
heresy-the notion of the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
Edward J. Steele is Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales.
A. Lindley is Director of the Technology Innovation Research
Centre at the University of Wollongong, Australia.
V. Blanden is in the Division of Immunization and Cell Biology
at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra, Australia.
should emphasize here that the authors are staunch Darwinians,
and themselves shy away from the notion that anything resembling
intention or design is at work here. But there you have it:
confronted by a threat, at least these organisms find ways to
not only negate that threat but pass that power to their own
genes for future generations.
Is it 'accident' that provokes these favorable 'mutations'?
Ah yes, it's 'Selection Pressure', in operation. Eeek! More
linguistic chicanery. The struggle for survival! Why should
there be a struggle? What in the structure of the hydrogen atom
leads to the desire (unmeasurable, unobservable, unpredictable)
to survive? It's accident of course? Most scientists agree!
(Good John Wall logic!) OK, if so, prove it. It sounds suspiciously
like intelligence/intention/will at work to me. But then I can't
prove it either.
Signature of course relates only to changes and variations within
species. Trying to account for the actual origin of those species
via accident is an even more monumental task. And so we have
'Punctuated Equilibrium' 'Neo-Darwinism' and the like; all biological
equivalents of Ptolemy's epicyles.
the Argument from Accidental Agglomeration and the Argument
from Design must be regarded as articles of faith; the former
representing the foundation, or Credo of the Church of Progress,
the latter, the Credo underpinning all the other religions and
philosophies that ever were. -- no matter how ludicrous these
appear in their current forms. What can you expect from doctrines
formulated to weather out the Kali Yuga?
Dawkins declared: ''Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually
is one way to look at it. But since the intellectual argument
is a sham, I would be more inclined to say: 'Darwin provided
a refuge for the emotionally defective and the spiritually dyslexic
-- a security blanket to keep them cozy, at least until that
blanket is pulled away.'
(for the moment).
Re-recapitulation provoken another spate of responses, many
of them predictably negative, and also predictably devoid of
academic substance. The Darwin button proves to be the easiest
to press, and for good reason. As Dawkins noted above, Darwin
'makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.'
In other words, expose Darwinian Evolution as the delusion it
is and atheists become intellectually unfulfilled. But this
raises a number of interesting questions in its own right. In
a Darwinian world it is hard to see why atheists or anyone else
should require intellectual fulfilment. After all, in this materialistic,
accidental universe there are, by definition, no values -- except
of course 'survival value' (which is just another example of
linguistic chicanery, that I won't go into just now). But disputing
Darwin certainly does not threaten the biological existence
of Darwinians, and since, in the Darwinian universe, nothing
else is of consequence, why should they get so contentious?
It's not rational. Nor is it scientific. (But more on this anon
you have time to spare, and sufficient interest in these matters
to explore the various exchanges in detail, you should pull
up the Ma'at url and work your way through the tangle of threads
response to the posts provoked by the Re-recapitulation I've
again selected one I consider 'typical' and am preparing a detailed
response to it, and have also excerpted a few others I think
of interest to respond to. I'll be posting this in the near