University of Minnesota Morris zooarchaeologist Rebecca Dean was surprised by a recent profile of Scott Wolter, host of the America Unearthed television program, that appeared in her local newspaper. The profile portrayed Wolter as a courageous and unconventional solver of mysteries. The title of the article was “A real-life Da Vinci Code.” A photograph on the paper’s website shows Wolter sitting at his desk on which there is a cast of the Newark Decalogue Stone and a human skull. The skull might be a cast replica, but it is identified in the caption simply as “a skull that keeps Scott Wolter company.” Dean took exception to the uncritical profile of Wolter in a letter to the editor, which may or may not appear in the paper. Fortunately she has posted excerpts in a recent post on her blog Old Bones. Good for Dean! I think one responsibility of scientists and scholars is to speak out when they see nonsense masquerading as science in the popular media. It’s a mostly thankless job, but how else is the general public going to know the difference between actual science and snake oil imitation science? As Dean writes in her blog post: “The real past is fascinating. Dont demean it by pretending that fantastic pseudo-science is equal to archaeology.” I hope the Star Tribune publishes her letter, so her message can reach an even wider audience. A couple of other terrific blogs to follow if you’re interested in this sort of thing are Jason Colavito’s Blog and Jennifer Raff’s Violent Metaphors. Brad Lepper

Posted March 22, 2014
Topics: Archaeology

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