Gault site: Clovis Man in Texas, 2008 dig

February 18, 2008

We owe a great debt to newspapers, especially those shunned by bloggers as MSM (“mainstream media”). This article in the Austin American-Statesman is a key exhibit.

While the minions and poobahs at the Texas Education Agency work to frustrate the teaching of evolution in science classes, real Texas scientists practicing real Texas science dig away at the Gault Site, an archaeological dig that recently has yielded 1.5 million artifacts from ancient Texans, Clovis Man, living 13,500 years ago.

So far nothing indicates any of these ancient people were Baptist or creationist. Surprisingly, perhaps, they didn’t play football, either.

Pamela LeBlanc, a digger at the site wrote the article in first person.

The pasture, named for the Gault family who once farmed the land, made its debut into professional archaeology in 1929 when J.E. Pearce, founder of the UT archaeology department, excavated here. Over the years, visitors could pay a fee to dig at the farm, hauling off what they found and leaving behind shallow craters.

Today, it’s considered the most prolific site of its kind. Gault has generated more than half of the excavated artifacts from the Clovis people, long considered the first human culture in America. Until recently, most archaeologists believed the Clovis came from Asia across the Bering Strait land bridge at the end of the last ice age about 13,500 years ago, walked down the ice-free corridor of Western Canada and slowly spread across the Americas.

Collins and others believe people arrived in the Americas much earlier, probably by boat along the North Atlantic and North Pacific shores. And they believe this site will help prove it. “What we’re trying to do here is expand on our knowledge of the peopling of the Americas,” Collins says.

Even better, you can volunteer to help out at the site, to dig for prehistoric information.

To volunteer at the Gault site, contact Cinda Timperley at ctimperley@austin.rr.com. Membership in the Gault School of Archaeological Research is not required to volunteer, but members have priority. Membership is $10 for students; $45 for adults; and $65 for families. The school also needs non-monetary donations of everything from equipment to electrical work. For more information, call 471-5982.

Not only does the Austin paper print news that sticks in the craw of Don McLeroy, they give details on how you can participate in making such news.

Newspapers. Gotta love ’em.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Remote Central.

Also see Pamela LeBlanc’s earlier story about Lucy in Houson.

Texas A&M undergrads at Gault site, Texas Archaeological Society photo

Texas A&M undergraduate diggers at Gault site, earlier; Texas Archaeological Society photo.


More carnivalia, stoned version

February 18, 2008

Oh, remember to check out the latest 4 Stone Hearth.  This carnival of archaeology was posted at Our Cultural World last week, its 34th outing.

John Hawks has a post featured about Neandertal’s roaming habits, all determined from a tooth.  Interesting archaeology, interesting anthropology, and just how can they tell all that from one tooth? Hawks’ blog has articles I’ll use in U.S. history, world history, psychology, and maybe economics.  One of the best things about 4 Stone Hearth is the way it points to outstanding sources.

Got a tagger in your classroom?  He (rarely a she) may be interested in ancient taggers — if we may call them that.

If you live on the Pacific coast, or in the Caribbean, should you worry about your local volcano?  A Very Remote Period Indeed pointed to a paper that suggests the hominids found at Dmanisi were a family killed by a volcanic eruption — perhaps your local volcano can help you become immortal, after a fashion?

Also featured is an article about language development at a blog I only recently discovered, Not Exactly Rocket Science.  It’s another blog worth watching.


Gresham’s Law: DDT disinformation crowds out facts

February 18, 2008

I love irony.

Henry VIII devised a novel way to save money. He ordered coins be minted containing silver, as during the reign of Henry VII, but he ordered that the purity of the silver be reduced. Edward VI continued the policy so that, by the time of the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, royal advisor and financier Sir Thomas Gresham observed that most of the old, high-silver content coins were out of circulation, hoarded by people against future inflation, allowing the lesser-valued money to circulate. Gresham told Elizabeth the bad money drove out the good money.

Sir Thomas Gresham (c. 1519 – 21 November 1579), British financier and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and earlier regents. Portrait c. 1554 by Anthonis Mor

Sir Thomas Gresham (c. 1519 – 21 November 1579), British financier and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and earlier regents. Portrait c. 1554 by Anthonis Mor.

The principle had been observed earlier by Aristophanes and others. It is known in modern economics as Gresham’s Law, since 1858 when British economist Henry Dunning McLeod decided to honor Gresham by naming the rule after him.

The bad drives out the good, the cheap drives out the more expensive, gossip drives out good information — the principle is widely observed in areas beyond economics.

And so it is that with regard to DDT, the good information about the dangers of DDT and the benefits of restricting use of the chemical has been driven out of the marketplace by bad information claiming DDT is safe, and ignoring the significant benefits reaped when massive use of DDT was stopped.

And here’s the irony: DDT-happy critics of good environmental policy now claim to be the good information driven out by the “bad” information of DDT’s harms. No kidding. A columnist named Natalie Sirkin, in a column delivering almost nothing but bad, vile information, says bad information drives out the good, never once noting the irony.

The defense of DDT was, from the beginning, a lost cause. A few of us vainly hoped that science would prevail. We soon found that Gresham ’s Law, which states that bad currency drives out good currency, applies to science as well as to economics.

No kidding it applies. Do a Google search for “DDT” today and you’ll find all over the internet the disinformation of Gordon Edwards’ ghost and junk science purveyor Steven Milloy. You will have a difficult time finding any solid study showing how DDT nearly killed off the American bald eagle, however, and you’ll have to do a targeted search to learn of any dangers of DDT — information on human toxicity is almost impossible to find, though it’s easy to find many recountings of Gordon Edwards’ bold drinking of a teaspoon of DDT before lectures.

(Natalie and Gerald Sirkin write for the American Spectator; at this writing, Google features warnings on all of their material at the time of this writing, saying the site host may try to insert “malicious software” on your computer — so I have not linked there. This problem should sort itself out, I hope.)

(The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works to get a history of the agency up on the ‘net; a lot from the DDT ban era is now available at the EPA site for scholars; Milloy will not be happy to have factual rebuttal officially and easily available.)

Below the fold, I’ll offer a point-by-point rebuttal of the bizarre claims in favor of DDT and against the noble public officials who worked to restrict its use.

Read the rest of this entry »


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