ANT210H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Pseudoscience, Psychopathy
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January 12, 2015
Canadian Archaeological Association says:
Archaeology is the study of humans and their past ways of life by examining the remains, artifacts and
evidence of those lifeways, often recovered from the ground or from underwater.
Archaeology is concerned with people in the past and information about them. The things people made - their
artifacts are not what is important in archaeology. The information we can learn about people from studying
their artifacts is what is important.
A professional archaeologist, in Canada is a person who has studied archaeology and who receives a licence or
permit from the government to do archaeological research. The archaeologist agrees to do the work by
professional methods and to catalogue and care for any artifacts and to write about and share her or his work.
A Simplified Definition
•Scientific excavation and study of ancient human material remains
•To understand our past; to discover who we were, and who we are
•nationalism, political agendas
•understanding how society functions and how it will survive in the future
How do you know what you know?
Epistemology: the creation and dissemination of knowledge in particular areas of inquiry or the study of
knowledge and justified belief (Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy)
study of how we know what we know
Outline (from Feder text Ch. 2)
•seeing is believing
•relying on others (the issue of experts and authority)
ohow was the info obtained?
owhat are their motives?
odo they have a religious, political, monetary (etc.) motive?
owhat are their credentials?
•science: playing by the rules
•the workings of science
•the difference between science and non-science (pages 33-44): testability
Dubious and Weird Claims (about the ancient past as well as everything else):
•why might people be susceptible to believing them?
•why do people push these claims?
omaybe its true?
two sides: pushers and acceptors
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Why the fascination with dubious claims?
•nationalism, political agendas
oillegal antiquities trade
opublishing best sellers
okeeping the History Channel on the air
•religion (Martin Luther’s comment about “useful lie”
•the past was more romantic than the present. Ancient people had knowledge of magic and other powers
that we have lost. We can reclaim these powers if only we could access the ancient knowledge
But why do we believe these things?
its all about da brain, bout da brain
A few definitions
•credulous – gullible, believes whatever someone tells you
•apophenia – seeing things that aren’t there
ofinding patterns in random or meaningless data
A related issue
•psychopathy: a psychiatric pathology
othat is masked (individuals appear confident, well adjusted) but that is revealed over time)
oegocentric/narcissistic, callous disregard for others’ feelings (cant experience empathy), lack
ofar less present among women
The Doc Zone (CBC)
“pathological liars who love to con and manipulate”
another tool to think about the people promoting dubious claims – may not be all psychopaths but there is one
Is there a “mind” distinct from the brain
•the concept of mind involves the assumption that there is something more than just the brain
•something beyond nature, beyond the biological
•but the brain is a collection of neurons
•important part of our culture
•highly evolved pattern seeking device
Psychology of Belief: Correlations?
•intelligence? (often domain specific) no correlation
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