Scientists would have you believe there is no room for bias in science and that all of them adhere strictly to the Scientific Method. It’s a beautiful thought, it’s also bullshit. Scientists are no different than anyone else, they have biases and they expect things to happen a certain way. When that doesn’t happen, they tend to ignore it until it gets to be soooo big it can’t be ignored.
It is the self-proclaimed lack of bias that made me decide against studying archaeology and made me study history instead. Historians don’t proclaim to be unbiased, as a matter of fact, Historians are fond of telling people that history is written by those with the best publicists or the most money.
However, it was my encounter with bias in science that turned me off to archaeology, well that and dirt, I do not like to be dirty and I don’t like to lead the charge into places that haven’t been explored… I’ve seen that movie and the person in front dies first. The bias involved is about the Great Sphinx at the Pyramid Complex of Giza. Sometime in the 1990s, I read a great article about how the Great Sphinx wasn’t built around 2,500BCE but much, much earlier based on geological evidence…
I tend to agree with it, because the Sphinx does have all the markings of a monument that was once mostly underwater from the photographs I have seen. I haven’t been to Egypt, but it’s on my bucket list. I don’t have a clue when it was built or by who or how and I don’t care. What I do know is that there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that it was built at the same time as the Great Pyramid (which is also unlikely to be attributed correctly). I know this because if you read enough shit about Egypt and I have read tons upon tons of it, the Pharaoh Khufu actually talked about doing repairs to it. Except the accepted wisdom is that it was built by Khufu’s son. How the hell did Khufu repair a giant statue made by his son after he died?!
There is another document attributed to a priest of Ra that says the plateau at Giza was chosen for the Pyramid complex because the Sphinx, which was already an ancient monument by then, was there. As a matter of fact several texts written by Egyptian priests refer to the Sphinx as an ancient monument. Are we translating all of them wrong? It seems possible, but unlikely, and why are Egyptians referring to the Sphinx as old? Also, no text ever actually says who built it. Egyptologists attributed it to Khufu’s son, not Egyptians.
However, the accepted school of thought is that it was built by Khufu’s son at a date after 2,500BCE. Okie dokie. So what about the geological evidence that says it wasn’t built in 2,500BCE but at some point earlier? It’s been dismissed as a crack pot theory and the geologist who advanced the theory the first time, has been largely censured by the academic community. Move forward more than 20 years and the theory is still considered a fringe theory, but more geologists have come forward to support the theory and the evidence has gotten stronger for it. It is still largely dismissed by academics. Academics are supposed to be people that are persuaded by facts, not bias, yet there are several documented instances, that bias clouds the revelation and understanding of new facts.
Because of this bias, other things get lost, for instance we are still telling school children that Columbus sailed West in an attempt to prove the world was round. Everyone knew the world was round and those that didn’t, didn’t care if it was round, flat, square, triangular, or a freaking sponge at the bottom of an ocean on another planet in another solar system.
Just like we continue to teach that Columbus found the new world. No, Columbus found a place that everyone but him seemed to know existed. North and South America actually exists on maps that predate Columbus. The Vikings were mucking about in Canada and the Northern US about the time that crucifixion was going out of vogue in Roman empire. And Europeans knew it. It seems like a handful of Europeans were shocked to find Native Americans with blond hair and blue eyes when they showed up in Connecticut, but nobody else was, because everyone pretty much knew that the place existed and yes, there is a Native American tribe in Canada, Maine, New York, and a few other very northern US States where blond hair and blue eyes did happen fairly regularly.
Which is why the mystery of what is buried on Oak Island keeps my attention. The show keeps trying to prove that Templar Knights like Henry Sinclair knew Oak Island existed, but the truth is if they go grab a few old Irish fishing maps, they’ll freaking find Oak Island, Canada, Nova Scotia, Maine, and what would later become some of the other northern US states are on the maps. The Irish knew these places existed because they fished there long before Columbus journeyed across the ocean. Also, there are some Scottish fishing maps that also show Canada, Oak Island, and a slew of other places so the Scots knew it existed. It seems to me then, that we we can stop telling everyone that Columbus discovered it. Mostly Columbus realized it was really rather impossible to sail to the Indies by heading West from Spain.
However, the real clincher for this is that the Irish and Scots had pipes before Columbus. Tobacco is decidedly a new world product, meaning it doesn’t grow wild in the highlands. If the Irish and Scots were puffing on pipes, then they obviously had a clue where they could get tobacco. It was probably a rare and expensive habit to have before massive trade routes were opened in North America, but they still had it. Of course, this wasn’t the accepted order of things for a very long time and it’s a hard thing to change what we have always been taught.
Which is why science bias can be very dangerous. It still exists around a ton of things we know to be true, but aren’t universally accepted yet. Flores Man is one of them. We know they existed. We know that they are referred to in papers as The Real Hobbit People and we know that we have more than a skeleton or two floating around. As a matter of fact we have several skeleton of homo floresiensis. He is widely accepted as real. However, while most scholars have accepted the existence of homofloresiensis, not everyone has and there are still paleontologists who are still hoping that someone will jump out and yell April Fool’s at the world.