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Friday, 2 December 2011

The Burden of Proof

 Another in my series of philosophical (sort of!) musings, to go with the posts on Occam's Razor, Pseudoscience, the Hutton Principle of Uniformity and the Popper arguments about falsification.  You can look those up on the Search facility.

My thanks to Geo for kicking off a rather interesting line of debate on one of the other posts.  (here)  This is all to do with the burden of proof applicable to the two sides of the bluestone transport debate.  I have argued for years that the "human transport hypothesis" has been given the status of a rebuttable presumption -- ie the media, the great British public and the archaeological establishment have conspired to presume that the hypothesis is correct, and have placed the burden of proof on people like me to provide evidence to show that it is not.  Now according to law that is plain daft, because a rebuttable presumption is supposed to be underpinned by prima facie evidence -- and this hypothesis has no such evidence associated with it.  Quite the reverse -- we can say that the hypothesis is counter-intuitive, since nothing like it can be demonstrated either earlier or later than the assumed "bluestone expeditions" and since no indisputable evidence has ever been adduced in support of it.  On the contrary, the evidence that we DO have about British megalithic structures shows that people did not carry stones over great distances, but used whatever was closely at hand.

What should the "default hypothesis" be here?  Without any doubt at all, it should be the glacial transport hypothesis.  We do not have any "killer facts" relating to bluestone transport by ice onto Salisbury Plain, but we do have evidence of ice flow from Preseli at least as far east as Somerset, of the transport of far-travelled erratics by the Irish Sea Glacier, and of glacial and related deposits in many "convenient" locations in the published literature.  The overall story is strong, and consistent -- the evidence stacks up.  Therefore, in my humble opinion, M'Lud, the rebuttable presumption has to be that glacier ice carried the stones from Preseli to Stonehenge.  THAT should be the working hypothesis,  to be tested according to normal scientific principles:

A linearized, pragmatic scheme for the scientific process:

    • Define a question :  How did spotted dolerite from the Carn Meini area get from Preseli to Stonehenge?
    • Gather information and resources (observe).  Abundant and consistent scientific literature.
    • Conjecture -- Form an explanatory hypothesis.  Glacier ice was responsible.
    • Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner
    • Analyze the data.  It confirms and strengthens the hypothesis.
    • Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new or modified hypothesis
    • Publish results for peer review.  that's what this Blog is all about....
    • Retest (frequently done by other scientists).  Yes please.

The default position has to be that natural processes, rather than human ones, were responsible for the transport of the stones.  We are not talking about "beyond reasonable doubt" here, but a high probability in accordance with the evidence already to hand.  If somebody wants to come along and assert something different, then the burden of proof is placed upon him.  He carries the evidential burden.  His evidence must be even stronger that that underpinning the default position.  To quote one of the pieces below "He who asserts must prove...."

So that is why I will not accept for a moment the proposition that the human transport thesis does not need to be underpinned by evidence, on the grounds that our ancient ancestors trod so lightly on the land that they did not leave any traces of their enterprises behind.

Get real, you guys!  We are talking science here, not fairy tales..... so go forth and dig, and come back to us with anything you find.

I rest my case.

-----------------------------------------

Some info from the web

Burden of Proof

In civil litigation the standard of proof is either proof by a preponderance of the evidence or proof by clear and convincing evidence. Both are lower burdens of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt (used in criminal cases). A preponderance of the evidence simply means that one side has more evidence in its favor than the other, even by the smallest degree. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence that establishes the truth of a disputed fact by a high probability. Criminal trials employ a higher standard of proof because criminal defendants often face the deprivation of life or liberty if convicted while civil defendants generally only face an order to pay money damages if the plaintiff prevails.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/burden+of+proof

Burden and Standard of Proof -- Presumptions
Introduction
The allocation of the burden of proof in both civil and criminal trials turns on the
decision as to who should bear the risk of losing the case. That allocation is decided
by common law and by statute. In criminal trials the ‘presumption of innocence’
means that the burden of proof will be on the prosecution, unless this is reversed by
some express or implied statutory provision. Here the law of evidence safeguards
what in some other jurisdictions is a matter of individual civil rights backed up by a
tenet of the constitution.
In answering questions in this area, you must understand the difference between the
legal and the evidential burden and the occasions where they are separately allocated. It
is helpful to see the evidential burden primarily as an aspect of the sensible proposition
that there must be a degree of evidence on asserted issues before they can be a matter
for the trial. It is for the judge then to decide whether the assertion can go before the
jury. Thus the prosecution has to adduce enough evidence of the guilt of the accused
for the judge to be satisfi ed that there is a case to answer. In other words, it has the
evidential burden. Here, the prosecution also has the legal burden on the same matter
and this is the normal state of affairs directed at convincing the jury of the defendant’s
guilt beyond reasonable doubt (the criminal standard). The tricky areas are those
where there is a divorce of the legal and evidential burden. These arise primarily in
situations where the prosecution cannot be expected to put up evidence to anticipate
every specifi c defence the accused may present. Thus in order to plead self-defence the
accused will have to provide some evidence to enable the court to consider the matter.
The legal burden stays with the prosecution.
It is somewhat misleading to refer to a single burden of proof in a trial. The
burden may relate to several different specifi c facts in issue. Burdens may be allocated
between the parties in relation to these different facts in issue. This is particularly
so in civil cases but may also occur in criminal cases. In civil cases the principle ‘He
who asserts must prove’ means that the burden may shift according to who is trying
to establish a relevant fact in issue. In criminal cases the presumption of innocence
means that as a general principle the burden of proving actus reus and mens rea lies on
the prosecution.


-----------------------

In many situations, one side has the burden of proof resting on it. This side is obligated to provide evidence for its position. The claim of the other side, the one that does not bear the burden of proof, is assumed to be true unless proven otherwise. The difficulty in such cases is determining which side, if any, the burden of proof rests on. In many cases, settling this issue can be a matter of significant debate. In some cases the burden of proof is set by the situation. For example, in American law a person is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty (hence the burden of proof is on the prosecution). As another example, in debate the burden of proof is placed on the affirmative team. As a final example, in most cases the burden of proof rests on those who claim something exists (such as Bigfoot, psychic powers, universals, and sense data).
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/burden-of-proof.html

Reverse burden of proof.....

Rebuttable presumption
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Both in common law and in civil law, a rebuttable presumption (in Latin, praesumptio iuris tantum) is an assumption made by a court, one that is taken to be true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise. For example, a defendant in a criminal case is presumed innocent until proved guilty. A rebuttable presumption is often associated with prima facie evidence. 

90 comments:

Brad Snowder said...

A hard-boiled and concise argument. Science is not obligated to fulfill our 'druthers.'

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

The Case of 'Selective' glacier movement v Human transportation

The human transport theory has credibility as we see it many times in history in Britain and throughout the World.

The pyramids were constructed by moving stones down the Nile - the proof is in the pictures of them doing so on temple walls in Karnac - Salisbury Cathedral was constructed by taking stone blocks of stone down the River Nadder - a nice model in the Cathedral, taking from written accounts at the time, shows evidence of the boats unloading the blocks.

These are all proofs that humans have moved stone to construct monuments in the past - irrefutable proof.

To support 'Selective glaciation' you can prove that stones are moved by glaciers - no one will argue with that fact. BUT you are suggesting that a certain glacier took a single group of approximately 60 bluestones over a 200 mile trip and drop them off at a SINGLE location.

The two points of proof missing are evidence for that glacier moving in that direct and no evidence of excess stones or sufficient fragments between the two points, which you would expect if this was a 'natural' occurrence.

To gain creditability for your 'theory' you need to prove not one but BOTH points beyond 'reasonable doubt' - sadly you cannot - therefore case dismissed.

RJL

BRIAN JOHN said...

Robert -- you fail to understand what I am saying. This is not about what might or could have happened, or about probability theory. This is about EVIDENCE ON THE GROUND. To say that people moved stones in location A gives us no information at all as to what happened at location B.

heavenshenge said...

"The default position has to be that natural processes, rather than human ones, were responsible for the transport of the stones."

Surely the default position must be that the stones were transported to Stonehenge?

The argument is about how far they were transported?

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth? (Doyle)

Even if you could absolutely show that whatever you have, no matter how improbable, correlates absolutely to all the evidence, how much of a difference would that make to the perception of the community?

Anonymous said...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/1202/breaking45.html

has anyone considered the rogue mad builder option?
:)
PeteG

BRIAN JOHN said...

Heavenshenge -- not sure what point you are trying to make here. The default position has to be that if a load of stones from point A is found at point B, then natural processes are responsible. There are many natural processes that might be considered. What we have to do is look at the nature of the material shifted, and decide which process is the leading candidate -- marine, fluvial, aeolian, glacial, periglacial? Glacial processes have to be in the frame here, since from what we know about the laws of physics the other candidates are much less likely to have done the job.

The argument about HOW FAR is really a secondary question. What we are talking about here is PROCESS and FIELD EVIDENCE.

Are you suggesting (as James Scourse has done) that the glacial transport of the bluestones is impossible? James hasn't demonstrated that, and neither has anybody else. The burden of proof is on you to show, on the basis of better evidence, that human beings, rather than natural processes, moved the stones.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, Pete -- saw that. Nice one!

Well, there might have been a Neolithic equivalent -- a mad Irish megalomaniac intent upon building a gigantic folly in the middle of nowhere, just to satisfy a lust for power or to leave his mark on history...

Anonymous said...

WHY do we Irish ALWAYS get ALL de blame??!? ###!### ##### you!

BOB F Z GELDED

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, the guy building Stonehenge on the Aran Islands, or wherever it is, seems to agree that he is a mad Irishman. But I agree we must not get racist here. Revision -- mad ENGLISHMAN. The English are, after all, masters of the folly, having built them all over the UK. In County Durham, when we lived there, there was a Greek temple in the field behind the house -- built by a Geordie coal baron with too much money.

Anonymous said...

Don't talk to me about Geordies with too much money building follies! - they're all football crazy up there, they even built Newcastle United's ground on the site of a gallows - I ask you, can you credit it!!#! Makes you want to ####!

BOB FZ GELDED

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd LOVE to have a Greek Temple in the field beyond our ha-ha, but my husband says it would be too avant garde. And he says we have to go steady during this current....erm.. recession! Oh, well...

PENELOPE GO-LIGHTLY, C.B.E.

Anonymous said...

It is self-evident what is true without evidence is belief!

heavenshenge said...

Hi Brian

"Heavenshenge -- not sure what point you are trying to make here. The default position has to be that if a load of stones from point A is found at point B, then natural processes are responsible."

I'm not sure we can say that unless the stones at point B appeared to be assembled without intelligent action. Stonehenge is likely to be a structure built as a result if intelligence: Almost certainly constructed by man.

Its stones, from where-ever they come from, are found at point B but we cannot deduce a default position that the stones came from point B because we know for certain that intelligtent action had a hand in their placement at point B.

So the default position would be that we do not know if their being at point B is the result of two processes (natural + man) or just one process (man)

Just an opinion!

Jon

heavenshenge said...

PS: Did anyone notice that the rogue Irish developer is planning to build “a place of reflection” and to include an inner structure.

I hope he's not using my ideas before the patents get published!

Jon

Alex Gee said...

Hi All
I'd be interested to know what people think would be conclusive evidence for either theory?

Perhaps you could do a post on this Brian?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon -- reasonable point, but my question was not whether Stonehenge was built by man, but how the stones were moved from their source areas to the place where they were used in the building project. Different question altogether.

What would be conclusive evidence for the human transport theory? I can think of all sorts of things -- as mentioned in earlier posts. A sledge with a bluestone monolith on it, buried in the mud. Carn Meini bluestones on the bed of Milford Haven, where (from what we know of ice movement directions) they should not be. A raft or boat suitable for bluestone transport, buried somewhere around the Bristol Channel coasts. Ropes or rollers found on one of the proposed routes. Traces of ephemeral encampments which might have been used by the expeditions. etc etc

What would be conclusive evidence for the glacial transport theory? I agree with everybody else on this -- glacial deposits or moraine on Salisbury Plain. Other erratic boulders from the same source areas, in other monuments (as in Boles barrow). Clear signs of glaciation on the Mendips and the other hill masses of SW England. Independent evidence of ice movement directions and erratic transport. Cosmogenic dating of the Stonehenge bluestones and the Preseli outcrops -- very promising, but this would have to be a very spohisticated programme of research. Clear indications of striations on the surfaces of Stonehenge bluestones. etc etc

As I have argued often on this blog, we have no killer facts, but such evidence as we do have points firmly towards the glacial transport option.

heavenshenge said...

What would be conclusive evidence?

Interesting point and one that I've thought about in very great detail: To look at it from a completely different (almost diametrically opposing) point of view, one of my newly invented systems detail a methodology that has an absolute correlation to Stonehenge's structure in every aspect, dimension and detail: Even though it could be argued that motivation existed, and that all the materials to do this were available, an absolute correlation between systems does not provide proof: It is just an astounding set of coincidences that might, possibly, provide a degree of circumstantial evidence.

Following on from this argument, patent applications that issued from the invention of such a new system could not be effectively challenged, for example on the basis that the invention had already been done: The argument of proof would be based too heavily on inferred circumstantial evidence.

So, given the lack of significant circumstantial evidence for the bluestone transport theory either way, the most we can say is that we do not really know?

Jon

Lucinda Prior-Permission said...

Brian,
Conclusive evidence for the Human Transport theory would be provided by locating an orphaned Preseli bluestone to the north of a line drawn between say Cardigan and Chepstow.
Additionally, discovering a single Blue Pennant Sandstone erratic on Salisbury Plain could be classed as decisive evidence for the Glacial Transport theory.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Lucinda -- I don't follow your reasoning. Kindly explain.

Tony H said...

LUCINDA

Let us hope that, instead of "orphaned" bluestones north of your Mason-Dixon line, we do not in the future encounter a frenzy of "rogue" aformentioned bluestones, appearing as it were 'overnight', in the manner of man-made crop circles in Wessex.That would really muddy the water of scientific proof!

Lucinda said...

Hello Brian,
The reasoning is as follows:
Part 1.
One of the maps which you show in your book is titled 'Flowlines for Irish Sea Ice and Welsh glacier ice at the time of greatest ice extent (after Geoffrey Kellaway)'. The sketch map shows the Irish Sea Ice flowing in a gentle arc from the Preseli/Milford Haven area along the south Wales coastline to Salisbury Plain. The map also shows the Welsh Ice Cap ice travelling in a generally south/south-easterly direction until it joins the Irish Sea ice on its journey to Salisbury Plain.
For this exercise, (Part 1), let us set aside the idea that the bluestones were transported by boats and assume that they were moved completely overland. To avoid the problems of crossing wide river estuaries where the water flow is at its greatest, they would possibly have taken an inland route via present day Llandovery, Brecon, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Ledbury and on into England via Gloucester. The map shows that glaciers would not have been capable of carrying the Preseli bluestones to the north of the Cardigan/Chepstow line therefore any Preseli bluestones found to the north of this line would have had to have been transported by human agency.

Part 2.
For this part of the exercise let us assume that ice transported the Preseli bluestones.
The above mentioned map shows that the valleys of south-east Wales underwent glaciation at the same time as the Preseli stones were being carried to the vicinity of Stonehenge. These valleys are predominantly in the massive Blue Pennant Sandstone formations, laid down some 300-350 million years ago. Vast amounts of this sandstone have been removed by glaciers with some assistance from fluvial activity. If, as your map shows, the Irish Sea Ice and the Welsh Glacier Ice joined and flowed, side-by-side, towards Salisbury Plain, then finding Pennant Sandstone erratics, which logically should far outnumber bluestone erratics, in the vicinity of Stonehenge would prove that glaciers succesfuly travelled to within reasonable human dragging range of the area.

Finding the bluestone orphans would be a most difficult task, don't you think?

Lucinda said...

Hello Tony,
Now that you've suggested it some wicked human transport supporters are bound to do it.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Lucinda -- i think that what you say is essentially very sound and logical.

re Part 1 -- I think I'm right in saying that MPP currently thinks that the "bluestone transport expeditions" travelled oveland rather than using sea routes. he says that, I suppose, in order to explain the presence of the Altar Stone at Stonehenge, which now seems to have come from Carmarthenshire / Brecon Beacons. So a route along the A40 would explain everything, from his point of view. But sure -- he does need some evidence to support the idea. An abandoned piece of Carn Meini spotted dolerite somewhere near Llandovery would do nicely!

Part 2 -- that sounds reasonable too, but we are still not sure how much synchroneity there was between the maximim flow phase of the Irish sea Glacier and the glaciers coming south from the South Wales Coalfield and the Brecon Beacons. Maybe Henry Patton's modelling work will sort that out a bit. As I suggested in an earlier post, I think these South wales Glaciers may well have done a lot of "flushing out' of Irish Sea Glacier erratics because they do seem to have flowed into the Bristol Channel somewhat later. There's a lot of work still to be done.

Should Pennant Sandstone erratics logically greatly outnumber spotted dolerite? "Yes" sounds like the obvious answer, but things are not that simple -- see my posts on erratic entrainment and transport.

Tony H said...

LUCINDA PRE-DISPOSED (at least, I hope so!!)

In answer to you, Lucinda, I fear you may be correct! But we will have to send out our crack team of 'Hoax- Busters', capable of identifying recently-"planted" bluestones north of that Cardigan-Chepstow line Brian suggests. Not quite sure how we would identify the 'Falstaffs', so to speak (that was quite good, do you see what I did there, monolith-fans?). But we could certainly keep a look-out for earnest elderly gents wearing Day-Glo jackets with glints in their eyes......are we agreed on that?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree Tony -- there is already a likelihood of confusion. For example, OT Jones reported many years ago that there were spotted dolerite gateposts etc in the area around Cardigan (where they should not be), and went so far as to write a geologocal note about it. I think at one time he thought that Preseli carried a nice little ice cap and spread its erratics radially from the centre. Later on, I think he revised his views and came to accept that the gateposts had been gathered up by good old Welsh farmers with horses and carts, fetching them from the slopes around Carn Alw.......

But it goes to show that we have to be careful. (We have to be similarly careful with separating out ship's ballast from genuine glacial erratic material on Pembrokeshire beaches.)

Tony H said...

And PeteG from down here in Wiltshire has shown us here quite a few photos of potentially 'rogue 'stones within our villages to the north of Salisbury Plain. Proven provenance is everything! i.e. provenance in terms of the past thousands of years.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Too many rogues about. I have to admit to importing a nice piece of Burren limestone from western Ireland, to enhance our garden, a few years ago. Very pretty it was too -- but the cost was a smashed exhaust pipe on the car. Did you know how HEAVY Carboniferous Limestone is? Surely to goodness, only a glacier could shift that stuff.....

Alex Gee said...

Brian
Your theory is apparently a crackpot one?

http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=12862.0

BRIAN JOHN said...

Never heard of Andy Farrant -- any idiot can use that sort of language. I might respect him more if he provided some evidence and showed a little more awareness of the literature.

Geo Cur said...

Alex , I'll repost here as you seem to have missed the other one .

" what did I say that appeared to agree with flaky archaeologists ?"

Alex Gee said...

Dr Farrant is the geologist in charge of the Bath Bristol District for the BGS.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- a geologist! Well, there we are then...... enough said.

Alex Gee said...

Hi Geo
A hypothesis, based on a premise for which there is no evidence, is "flaky" in my view.
You appeared to be saying, that there will never be any evidence for human transport, and therefore the point I was making isn't applicable.
Apologies if I mis-understood, but I took this to mean that you disagree with me? and you think that presenting unsubstantiated theories as fact or near fact is acceptable?

Geo Cur said...

Alex ,appearances can be deceptive . I said there is no evidence for human transport just as there is no evidence for glaciation on Salisbury Plain .
That is the sitution today.That may change in the future I never suggested it wouldn't . Please quote me on anything that suggests that I believe "presenting unsubstantiated theories as fact or near fact is acceptable " ?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Can we stop being quite so prickly, guys? All this cross-examination, and stuff about "I never said what you claim I said" and so forth gets us nowhere -- we are just going round in circles. It's almost getting like a court of law in here!! Have I touched a few raw nerves, or something?

Geo Cur said...

Brian , I'm sure it's only me who is being "prickly " and am only interested in not being misquoted and finding an explanation for what I said that "appears" to agree with "Flaky " archaeologists . I don't misquote you or others and if I disagree and use a cheap jibe "that's nonsense " etc I'll also point out what I disagree with .

Anonymous said...

The point was often made on “proving a hypothesis”. This post being about “The Burden of Proof”, the question can be asked: “How do you prove a hypothesis?”. And if a hypothesis is indeed proven, is it still a hypothesis? Do all hypotheses bear the same 'burden of proof' ?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Speaking for myself, I like Popper's idea that all science should be about falsification. He said that you can never PROVE a hypothesis, but you can falsify it, or show it to be inadequate and in need of modification. In such a way, science moves forward.

A corollary of this is that we should never get too attached to our theories or hypotheses, and should be deliriously happy when they are disproved or improved....

Anonymous said...

If you believe (as Popper believes) “you can never PROVE a hypothesis”, what kind of proof you require of Kostas for his 'working hypothesis'? Isn't a hypothesis 'proven' by the explanations it provides for the evidence on the ground?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, actually, the evidence should come before the hypothesis -- and the hypothesis should arise from a consideration of what is on the ground, as the most rational explanation available at the time. As far as Kostas's hypothesis is concerned, just a teeeny weeny bit of evidence would be a help......

Geo Cur said...

Anon wrote "If you believe (as Popper believes) “you can never PROVE a hypothesis”, what kind of proof you require of Kostas for his 'working hypothesis'? Isn't a hypothesis 'proven' by the explanations it provides for the evidence on the ground? "

Not only is there no evidence but from a Poperrian perspective the suggestions are not falsifiable i.e. they would be impossible to disprove and are thus pseudoscientific .
As with Occam's razor here are problems with falsificationism but it is a useful tool .Should I have included some extraneous capitals ?

Anonymous said...

Drawing from my understanding from past posts, here is a brief list of evidence on the ground that I think support Kostas working hypothesis:

1) The concentric design of Stonehenge and all other prehistoric sites in the UK and all over the world.
2) The stone alignments in rows, especially in Brittany
3) The segmented outer ditch at Stonehenge and at various other henges
4) The alignments of the 'avenues' and entrances at various sites in the UK and many other places
5) The SW location of the 'empty quarter' at Stonehenge
6) The many empty pits in the Stonehenge bedrock
7) The 'periglacial stripes' at the Avenue
8) The vast stone chips on the western side of the Avenue
9) The 'empty pits' on the beach at Medmerry
10) The many chips found at Stonehenge that do not trace to any of the orthostats

All these landscape features (and more) can be explained by Kostas 'working hypothesis' that the land was covered by an ice sheet which in the later stages of melting became a 'template/mold' for the very peculiar earthworks found at Salisbury Plain and elsewhere. These many consistent explanations can be said to BE the evidence that prove this working hypothesis.

BRIAN JOHN said...

No comment, Kostas. Been over all of this before, many times.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Anon, or Kostas, or whoever you are, I have deleted another comment from you. This is all so bizarre, relating to "supporting evidence" that is nothing of the sort, and "falsifiable evidence" comprising a list of things you happen to think might be relevant (and which might suit you), that we end up with something which is quite incapable of rational analysis. Pseudoscience of the worst sort. Enough.

Anonymous said...

Brian,

Quoting from your post, “As far as Kostas's hypothesis is concerned, just a teeeny weeny bit of evidence would be a help......”

Quoting from Geo Cur post, “ the suggestions are not falsifiable i.e. they would be impossible to disprove and are thus pseudoscientific”

Your comment provoked the response! Your deletion of my response to Geo Cur proves my comment.

I am Anon!

BRIAN JOHN said...

To illustrate my point, if I was to say "My glacial transport hypothesis would be proved if there were four stones in a row at Avebury" -- or that "It would be falsified if two empty holes were to be found between sarsens 12 and 16" -- people would just roll their eyes and wonder what the hell I was on about. That is because there are no logical connections between the pieces of "evidence" and the hypothesis.

I fear, my dear Kostas, and your multitude of anonymous followers, that that is the situation we find ourselves in with your posts and your theory.

By all means carry on bombarding other blogs, but will you PLEASE now leave me in peace?

Anonymous said...

Brian,

I like nothing better than to leave you in peace! But you keep making such outrageous misrepresentations of my ideas and of me personally that provoke necessary corrections. I only respond to your (and others) comments. No personal attacks.

Personally, I respect you and appreciate all you stand for. We have many attributes in common. I am seeking a compromise. You don't misrepresent my views and I wont seek to promote my theory in your blog. But I still would like to ask probing questions of others regarding their views and respond to their comments. Deal?

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Anon /Kostas
Rather than go over old ground (groan , pun ) again taking just your first point .
“1) The concentric design of Stonehenge and all other prehistoric sites in the UK and all over the world. “

Not all prehistoric monuments in the UK have concentric designs although it has to be said that on excavation many enclosed monuments like passage tombs are shown to have a spatial organisation that involves a previously unrecognised concentricity, something I am sure you were unaware of . A rough circularity might have been more appropriate but this ignores the linear monuments like Cursus , Long barrows , Long cairns , pit alignments etc .To then extend the point to worldwide increases the problem .
As glaciation /ice seems to be an important part of the explanation there are obvious problems with areas with similar monuments that have never been glaciated , even ignoring the lack of evidence for glaciation on Salisbury Plain and Armorica there is no doubt about the Iberian and African monuments which were certainly free from the influence of glaciation .An explanation for these might be interesting .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

I'll try to answer you the best I can within the 'comment constraints' Brian has imposed on my comments. By the way, I did respond to your earlier post regarding the 'falsifiability' of my theory. And I even made a follow up comment limiting my response to you further and only discussed just one of some five 'falsification evidence' I listed to make the point that my hypothesis is totally falsifiable – contrary to your belief! That post was also blocked. Hard to engage you in an 'honest discussion' over questions and misunderstandings of my theory you have! Clearly, if there were prehistoric sites where we had BOTH stone circles AND linear stone alignments (the type in Brittany) then this will falsify my theory. Or if we had linear stone alignments which were not parallel but intersected, then this would also falsify my theory.

Addressing your 'concentric design' point. I agree not all prehistoric sites show this. Nor do the circles need to be perfectly circular or even complete! But under my hypothesis it is not necessary that all such sites show these. I was not aware that such concentric design features are unexpectedly showing up now at enclosed tombs and other sites. Thanks! It fits perfectly with my views.

As for 'glaciation'. We may be looking for the wrong evidence to prove glaciation. Or evidence of much earlier glaciations may be buried or flushed into the sea, as Brian has suggested. The usual evidence used to prove 'glaciation' of an area are produced by recent vast movements of masses of ice into an area and from a particular direction. I am not an expert on any of this, but it seems to me that lacking such recent movement of ice, the evidence may also be lacking.

What I am envisioning are areas covered by a solid but relatively thin ice sheet (perhaps no more than 8-10 or more meters thick) at the time when many of these prehistoric sites were made. Such 'local ice cover' could be perhaps what remained of an earlier glaciation caught in the 'big freeze' period some 10K years ago. Or perhaps these are the frozen waterways of RJL. I believe the 'facts on the ground' (ditches, avenues, holes, round barrows, etc.) may be the evidence left behind of such 'local ice cover' I am hypothesizing. It would certainly explain a lot of what currently is unexplainable. And since such 'local ice cover' may have perhaps originated from a much earlier glaciation, it could also have existed in geographical areas where Deventian glaciation is believed not to have occurred, including Africa.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- you asked for it! Pandora's Box.........

I am not responding any further to any of Kostas's comments and explanations. Life is too short and time is too precious. I happen to feel benign today, or I would have spammed that latest Kostas post too -- as I will spam future ones without warning.

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , I believe ,but may be mistaken, that when you use the term " falsify my theory " you mean show it to be false .If so then there are examples of stone circles accompanied by linear arrangements of stones /avenues . These can be found on Dartmoor , Down Tor is a good example .Others found in other parts of the UK include Avebury one long avenue and a possible second ,Broomend of Crichie (not much left of the stones in the avenue ) ,Stanton Drew has two avenues ,Callanish has a stone circle in the middle of two intersecting avenues , I assume the latter is an ideal problematical candidate .There is of course the architecture of a passage tomb which also has similarities to the above a covered megalithc passage leading to a circular chamber(s) .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

This may not get through the 'gatekeeper' but I'll try to answer you.

Certainly there are 'circular features' along with 'linear features' at many of the same prehistoric sites. Stonehenge is a good example of this, with the sarsen circle, the outer ditch, and the Avenue with the parallel straight ditches running along its sides. This is not what I meant, however. This does not 'falsify my theory' as there are reasonable explanations for this.

But if we had within the sarsen circle at Stonehenge a linear alignment of equally huge stones, then I concede this would prove me wrong as my theory could not explain such occurrence!

Geo Cur said...

Kostas ,clearly there is no such alignment at Stonehnege but you said"if there were prehistoric sites where we had BOTH stone circles AND linear stone alignments (the type in Brittany) then this will falsify my theory."
I have pointed out such sites .Look at Callanish .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,
I am always open to consider any relevant fact on the ground. Can you provide me with a link to where I can look at this evidence you suggest?

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,
The Wikipedia article on Callanish Stones does not give a very clear description of the site. While the two photos in it are even less helpful. An aerial view would have been more helpful.Below is a quote from the Wikipedia article:
“The 13 primary stones form a circle about 13 m in diameter, with a long approach avenue of stones to the north, and shorter stone rows to the east, south, and west.”
This is inconclusive. We have a stone circle with “approach avenues” of stone alignments. This would be no different than the Avenue at Stonehenge being lined up on both sides with stones. Such configuration is possible under my hypothesis.
Any other examples that perhaps are more clear and convincing? Perhaps examples of linear stone alignments in Brittany that intersect?

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , you said “if there were prehistoric sites where we had BOTH stone circles AND linear stone alignments (the type in Brittany) then this will falsify my theory. “ If you do a Google search on Callanish then click on images you will see that the site has stone circle in the centre of two avenues at right angles to each other .An ideal candidate .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

I have found an aerial photo of the Callanish stones. Though some details are not clear, it is clear we have here a stone circle and stone alignments that are on the outside of the circle.

We also have one very large stone in the middle and three much smaller and more rounded stones also inside the circle. These do not seem to align either with the large stone in the middle nor with the stone alignments outside the circle.

The three small stones clearly inside the circle appear to be different in shape and size from all the other stones. This might suggest that the mechanism for their placement may also be different.

It may be that these three small and rounded stones may have been in the mass of the glacier ice and placed there when the ice melted. While the other stones in the circle and the alignments may have been 'dropped from above'.

Parenthetically, the stone in the middle is consistent with what I have been claiming about the formation of ice holes in some past posts.

Such configurations can be explained consistent with my hypothesis. Overall, the evidence shown in this aerial photo does not falsify my hypothesis. Try finding intersecting stone alignments!

Can you tell me more about the concentric features found in enclosed tombs? Some references and links with pictures would be most appreciated. Also, some description of this. Were there markings on the floor, sides, ceiling? Were these structural or decorative? I am most intrigued!

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , Callanish fits exactly what you said in your first comment ,you did not say anything about the avenues being outside the circle or anything to do with “alignments “ of stones . If you are looking for a stone row inside a stone circle look at the inner southern stone circle of Avebury which has one . I have already mentioned stone rows in Brittany that are at right angles , heres one on Dartmoor http://www.streetmap.co.uk/idld.srf?X=265350&Y=61050&A=Y&Z=115&tl=SX+653+610 . It is clear you will continue to move the goalposts whatever is suggested so this is the last I will bother mentioning .
George Eogan ,the excavator of Knowth wrote a short paper “Internal features of Irish passage tomb mounds “ in The archaeology of Carrowmore (1984 b ) ed. G.Burrenhult his “Knowth and the passage tombs of Ireland “ might be interest , I can’t imagine the distortions you might come up with to explain the construction , rock art and artefacts . Similarly Newgrange by Micahel O’ Kelly whilst mainly concerned with the architecture ,artefacts and engravings does touch on the spatial organisation coupled with different use of materials in an organised concentric manner .Mainly due to the lack of excavation of similar monuments at their earlier scale not much was heard of the other supporting examples . It is only recently the that the Gullaume Robert’s “ Spatial Structures and symbolic systems in Irish and British Passage tombs “from last years Cambridge Archaeological Journal along with papers by Serge Cassen , mostly in French that further research ahs been done on this . Eogan had commented on how specific markings are found at certain points in the buildings e.g. opposed triangles on lintels but this has been extended by Robert .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Thanks for the references on passage tombs. I will seek them out in time.

My intent is not to move the goal posts! Lets just say that words are often inadequate to express an idea completely. Leaving much room for the interpretation of the words according to our own views and intellectual biases. It is true here. It is even true with science! This points to a real need for a sustained and honest discussion. It helps such discussion if we approach it with a positive spirit of seeking to first make sense of a comment before we find fault with it.

The 'falsification' I was suggesting involves the tracing in time of a receding ice edge – whether circular or linear. It is impossible for such traces to intersect. If you interpret my statements in light of this understanding, you will understand why the examples you have brought up are inconclusive. No moving the goal posts! Just the ice edges!

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , You asked for intersecting rows ,what was wrong with the Dartmoor example ?
What is wrong with the simple explanation , even accepted by proponents of bluestone glacial transport , that Callanish like thousands of similar monuments ,was built by humans transporting and errecting the stones .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

I did check the Dartmoor link in your post. Couldn't make any sense of it since this was nothing more than an old hand-drawn map. No raw evidence here!

You ask, “What is wrong with the simple explanation , even accepted by proponents of bluestone glacial transport , that Callanish like thousands of similar monuments ,was built by humans transporting and errecting the stones . “

It just does not make sense to me. Nothing personal. Lets just say (lacking any historical records) there is just no evidence for such human agency. And reason argues that without clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization, such vast public works are not possible. Furthermore, there may be other more sensible explanations for all the earthworks and prehistoric sites. We should at least be open to such other possibilities.

Geo Cur said...

Kostas ,it wasn't an old hand drawn map but a 1:25000 OS map from 2009 , depicting stone rows intersecting at right angles . You could have checked it on GE . No offence taken . The " it just does not make sense to me " Goes some way to explaining why you should have such a singular belief .
Have a good Xmas holiday .
Geo .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Thank you for your good wishes. I too hope you have a Joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have enjoyed our exchanges in Brian's blog and have learned much from you. I recognize in them an honest inquiry on my ideas about Stonehenge. What must be for you a strange and 'singular' position.

I feel I owe you a fuller explanation regarding my assertion that it is impossible for 'retreating ice edges' to intersect. Especially in light of Brian's misleading posts, seeming to address this point by raising irrelevances to it.

I am considering here an ice sheet cover which year by year is retreating but not advancing. This would be the case, for example, during a sharp rise and sustained period of warm temperatures. No new ice flow into already retreated areas, as Brian assumes. If one was to 'mark' on the ground year by year the ice edge, these contour lines of the ice sheet edge cannot possibly intersect. Why?

Because the 'ice edge' is where the ice ends. On one side you have ice while on the other side you have no ice. For the same ice sheet and for contemporaneous ice melting, having the ice edge cross itself is like having ice and not having ice at the same time at the same place. A logical contradiction! But certainly glacier moraines could go wherever the ice spirit moves them! That's not what I am saying! But that's what Brian is saying.

Now what all this have to do with my hypothesis? Because I hypothesize that the linear (as well as the circular) megalithic stone alignments mark the ice edge of a retreating ice sheet locally. Such stone alignments (like in Brittany) would be near parallel but not intersecting for the reason I argue above. Two stone alignments joining (as opposed to intersecting) at right angles does not count. But for megalithic alignments (which I argue were 'dropped from above' over the ice edge and not erected by prehistoric people) such alignments should clearly not intersect according to my hypothesis. Thus my hypothesis is 'falsifiable'.

Of course seeming exceptions may exist. These need close and special examination. For example, if the stones were smaller in size and could easily be moved by people. But it should be puzzling to any honest thinker why there are no common examples of intersecting stone alignments? This would be the case if the alignments were made by people.

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , I recoil vampire like from the bright lights of “honest inquiry “ , ”honest debate “ and seeking “ truth “ but would be interested in how your ideas extend to the subterranean . Just a couple of obvious links to the sites, it might be an idea to search further for more images if you don’t already know the sites . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypogeum_of_%C4%A6al-Saflieni
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauvet_Cave
Christopher Wren

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Never fear light! It can only enlighten us with what is. Truth does not go away, but patiently awaits recognition.

As for my thoughts on the 'hypogeum' of prehistory? Very interesting! Facinating cave paintings and subground structures. Clearly these were made by people! Just as clearly, even the 'experts' have disputes about how, when and why. But we do not need to know 'everything' to know the truth of what we know! I'll stay out of their way.

I would classify such 'hypogeusm' along with the building of the Great Pyramids. These remain a mystery. Its a logical fallacy, however, to use one unsolved mystery to solve another. What makes all these other prehistoric sites different is that there is ample and irrifutable evidence of human agency.

The buttom line, can't see the relevance to any of these of how, why and when Stonehenge was built.

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas ,I leave the light and truth to politicians and theologians . If you accept these sites as having "ample and irrefutable evidence of human agency" can you also see the "clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization " ? which you had previously considered a prerequisite .

Jenny wren .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

We get into serious trouble whenever we leave the “light and truth” to politicians and theologicians! How do you think we got into the mess we got?

I am looking and looking for that “clear and convincing evidence” ... but still don't see it! If you see it, what do you see?

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , that's partly the reason I avoid it .
I never expected to find "clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization " it was you who said that it was necessary for any "vast and public works "
BTW . You didn't comment on the stone row inside the southern inner circle at Avebury ,scroll down to see them .http://www.avebury-web.co.uk/the_obelisk.html

You said "But if we had within the sarsen circle at Stonehenge a linear alignment of equally huge stones, then I concede this would prove me wrong as my theory could not explain such occurrence!"
Obviously there is no such monument at Stonehenge but the inner circle is the much the same size as SH .

Sawney Bean .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

I assume you mean the Z-feature. I see no contradiction here with my hypothesis. What makes Avery special, in my view, is the immense size of the circle. In my humble opinion this makes human agency highly unlikely. While at the same time natural actions not possible for other smaller circles are more possible. A melting ice sheet could I believe account for these features. As we can often observe with fields of snow cover in spring when these melt. Putting it differently, if we extend our 'circle of observation' we can enclose within it many features. Find me alignments that clearly intersect!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , the Z feature is a stone row within a stone circle (the inner souther circle ) which is also within a stone circle in waht way does that fail to fit the criteria of "if we had within the sarsen circle at Stonehenge a linear alignment of equally huge stones, then I concede this would prove me wrong as my theory could not explain such occurrence!"

You still havn't explained why you can't find any "clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization " connected with either the Hypogeum or Chauvet which you accept as being due to human agency and which you said would be necessary for "such vast public works "

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Try to follow my reasoning in what I saying. Not just my words. This should not be a game of 'gotcha'. What we are together looking for as a refutation of my hypothesis are 'clearly intersecting alignments'. X marks the point!

Regarding the case of the Hypogeum and Chauvet. The clear and convincing evidence is for human agency. Nature, I concede, does not draw horses in cave walls! Such drawings can be the result of even one person. Try to move sarsens even 1 meter by yourself! Or try convincing your townsmen to join you in such a venture lacking the economic resources to pay them off.

I concede I do not know enough about Prehistory to make sensible judgments on these specific places. But I do have an inquiring mind and am intellectually free to raise questions and doubts.

One doubt I have is the dating of the Chauvet cave paintings. From my Wikipedia reading, these were carbon dated by using the charcoal used to draw them. The charcoal in the drawing dated to the same period as the charcoal found in the cave. But why the drawings date to the same period?

If I were to go to the Chauvet cave and draw a horse using charcoal I find in the cave, will my drawing of the horse also be prehistoric? We have 20,000 years of passage of time between the date of the charcoal and the present. Much could have occurred during this vast passage of time. Many occupants of such caves. This DNA evidence I am afraid is very contaminated!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , It is about words , these are the tools used to convince yourself and others that vast public works are not possible without an advanced civilisation and social organisation . If you use that reasoning to explain away major monuments yet cannot find evidence for these advanced civilisations whilst accepting a particular monument as being due to human agency e.g. the hypogeum , then you should reconsider your reasoning , or your understanding of the terms .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohenjo-daro
You said “I concede I do not know enough about Prehistory to make sensible judgments on these specific places. “ yet you do make judgements about these places .
There are problems with some of the dating from Chauvet but it is not on the scale you are suggesting , and it does not involve DNA . These days the chemical and physical analysis of pigments includes the use scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and proton-induced X-ray emission ,of course we are free to question technology and mistakes are made ,bridges collapse , tachyons might be miscalculated , results obtained from LA-ICP-MS may be flawed etc .if you decide to question the technology and results hopefully you have the expertise to do so .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

DNA was a metaphor!

Words are important, yes! But ideas are even more important. And truth above all is all important.

Where we have irrefutable evidence of human agency, we can agree we have human agency. But when we have no such evidence we should not invent it. Unless you wish to claim evidence anywhere is evidence everywhere!

As for my 'expertise' questioning the experts, I do not need to know to fly the plane to know the pilot is going to crash it!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

KOSTAS ,where was the evidence for human agency in Chauvet and the Hypogeum ?

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Just look at the drawings of horses! Still have doubts? Then look at the drawings of lions and tigers and bears, oh boy! The multilevel dwelling construction of the Hypogeum speaks for itself! Try to make the argument these were made by Nature!

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Perhaps I can be more clear. Let me try to respond to your argument re: human agency this way.

To argue human agency for prehistoric findings, we need evidence of human agency. In the case of Chauvet cave paintings and the Hypogeum human agency is indisputable. In the case of Stonehenge human agency can be disputed, in my humble opinion.

You write, “where was the evidence for human agency in Chauvet and the Hypogeum ?”

Are you asking for 'evidence of the evidence'? But the evidence is the evidence for human agency!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , I don't have any doubts about the provenance of either site or Stonehenge for that matter .I was asking you for to provide evidence and all you said was human agency was indisputable and "look at the horses " .That is not evidence .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

I am sincerely trying to respond to your questions. Perhaps if you formulate a clear argument my response will be more to the point you wish to make. Let me try.

Are you asking for evidence the Chauvet cave paintings are made by men? My response is the evidence ARE the paintings themselves.

Are you arguing we have no other evidence of advanced civilizations that could have produced the Chauvet cave paintings? My response is such cave paintings could be the work of a single cave dweller. We do not need evidence of 'great civilizations' to know these were made by humans.

Are you arguing the Hypogeum also lacks other evidence of advanced civilizations? My response is that the Hypogeum is not a 'massive public works project' and could be built by just a handful of men using simple tools and construction methods. It does not require the social organization and economic development which would of necessity leave behind indisputable evidence of its existence. But I am not knowledgeable on the Hypogeum to comment on who, how and when it was built. I do have my usual skepticism, however. I need to know more about it, since it could have been modified in later times.

But were we to have the Great Pyramids (also indisputably built by people) without any other evidence of the Egyptian Civilization that built them, then this would be the closest parallel to Stonehenge.

Why? Because for people to have built Stonehenge, they would need to have social organization and economic affluence. They would need to have the ability to move massive stones and to know many principles of physics and mathematics. Such as wheels and leverage, center of gravity, the geometry of circles, alignments, astronomy, construction methods, foundations, drainage, ditch digging, tools, stone working, etc. Such knowledge would be used in so many other ways in their lives, including dwellings with walls and foundations.

Furthermore, they would need a strong belief system to give them the purpose to built such public works that lack any utility. And the means to pass on such knowledge from generation to generation through written records. In other words, they would need a well developed advanced civilization which would leave its mark in History in so many other ways, including written records by others of its existence.

Merry Christmas!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , you commented in relation to the Hypogeum which accept as having been built by human agency .
“The multilevel dwelling construction of the Hypogeum speaks for itself! “ &
“And reason argues that without clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization, such vast public works are not possible. “
This suggests that you noted some evidence for the advanced civilisation I would like to know what that evidence was otherwise it is circular argument .You are quite happy to suggest certain sites were built by human agency without providing any evidence other than it looks indisputable to you .

You have listed various criteria that you believe would have been necessary for Stonehenge to have been built by human agency why not apply some of your scepticism to that belief ? Have you ever considered the possibilities that the criteria were in place or weren’t necessary . You seem to be incapable of accepting the construction of prehistoric monuments unless the builders fit your preconceived ideas of their capabilities and rather than think you might have the preconceptions wrong you opt for a tortuous reductionist explanation that is almost creationism . If we look atit from the perspective of the builders not meeting your criteria Andrew Johnson has shown that simple geometric pricinples could have been used to build Stonehenge , no math , physics or astronomy beyond the basics required . e.g. The important solar alignment would have taken little time to work out the more complex understanding of the lunar cycles would have taken longer but it is arguable whether there are any intentional lunar alignments involved in the architecture . On the other hand why shouldn’t the builders have understood the lunar cycles ,it seems pretty clear they did in the case of the recumbent stone circles .
BTW You haven’t commented on why the stone row in the middle of the southern circle at Avebury in relation to your comment . “But if we had within the sarsen circle at Stonehenge a linear alignment of equally huge stones, then I concede this would prove me wrong as my theory could not explain such occurrence! “

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Our exchanges would be more effective if you were to clearly and simply formulate a 'point of argument'. In your ramblings, you raise many 'points of departure' to any argument that make any reasoned discussion difficult. So I will take one point at a time and in time get to others.

Re: the Hypogeum at Malta. I do not know enough about this to have firm opinions on who, how, when and why it was built. But since you have brought it up, and having read a little more about it and looked at some (two) photos. Here is what I think at this time. I reserve the right to change my mind with new information and new insights, however.

1) The Hypogeum is a natural cave which was modified by people over time, from prehistoric to possibly the distant past. It was used by people at various times and for various purposes with various enhancements. And so the 'evidence' it embodies will be from various historical periods.

2) The stone carvings of the entrances to some chambers give the appearance of a built structure but are actually cosmetic. If you look carefully at the photos in the Wikipedia article, none of these columns and lintels are load bearing. They are carved right into the cave walls as decoration.

3) Such carvings of the entrances depicting very advanced building methods were obviously made to mimic such building architecture. This suggests that the carvings were done at a much latter period when such architecture was popular.

4) Excepting for the Hypogeum being used possibly as a dwelling by prehistoric people, I do not find anything in it to suggest the design and architecture is also prehistoric.

5) Bottom line, I don't see any relevance of the Hypogeum to Stonehenge! What exactly is your point?

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , look back over the recent posts and note simple two sentence questions that you avoid ,if anyone is rambling I think you will come out on top. Here are a couple of your comments they are not rambling but contradictory
“Clearly, if there were prehistoric sites where we had BOTH stone circles AND linear stone alignments (the type in Brittany) then this will falsify my theory.”
“Certainly there are 'circular features' along with 'linear features' at many of the same prehistoric sites.” Like the stone row in the southern inner circle at Avebury which continually gets ignored .
This is what I am trying to point out ,the logical inconsistencies . e.g. you said “Lets just say (lacking any historical records) there is just no evidence for such human agency. And reason argues that without clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization, such vast public works are not possible. “ You then accept that the Hypogeum was built by human agency but then fail to provide any of the evidence of advanced civilisation etc. which you claimed would be necessary for work in the first place .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

To end your sophistry let me just publicly admit I have misspoken on those occasions. But the ideas remain true. So what is important to you Geo, truth or sophistry?

1) My hypothesis: Stone alignments and circles mark the edge of ice sheets locally as these contemporaneously retreated and melted away.

2) Logical necessity: Ice edges (as marked on the ground) of a retreating ice cover do not intersect. (intersecting glacier moraines have nothing to do with any of this – see my comments under that post)

These ( points 1 & 2 above) provide a basis of 'falsifiability' of my hypothesis.

3) Evidence to 'falsify' my hypothesis: Clearly intersecting (X) stone alignments of massive megaliths.

Therefore, my hypothesis is 'falsifiable' and so not pseudoscience!

The Avebury stone alignments are inconclusive as there is no clear intersection (X) of alignments here.

As for my position on the Hypogeum, my last post made that abundantly clear. Do read it again and see if you can help yourself with the answers I provide there.

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

It pains me to see you belaboring the point. With a little more labor a truth may be produced, perhaps. So be it.

By 'massive public works' I mean projects that would require the mobilization of manpower and resources of an entire civilization. The Apollo Moon Mission is a modern example. The Great Pyramids is another example from antiquity.

It is evident such 'massive public works' can only be achieved by civilizations advanced for their times. They cannot happen in isolation and without any evidence left behind of the civilization that produced them. Great civilizations leave an impact on their natural environment and on History.

Imagine, for example, the Great Pyramids without any evidence of the Great Egyptian Civilization. This is analogous to claiming Stonehenge was built by a Neolithic civilization but left no evidence behind.

The Chauvet cave paintings do not qualify as 'massive public works'. These could be the work of single individuals. The Hypogeum of Malta also do not qualify, as the architectural designs are only cosmetic and likely carved into the cave walls at a much latter time when such architecture was known. It is no evidence of a prehistoric civilization. (read my previous post on this!)

The Hypogeum and Chauvet paintings are not pertinent examples of a civilization that has produced 'massive public works' yet has left no evidence behind. Thus these do not falsify my original position: “...without clear and convincing evidence of an advanced civilization and social organization, such vast public works are not possible.”

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , pointing out contradictions is not sophistry . But your claim that “Clearly intersecting (X) stone alignments of massive megaliths. ” shows your idea to be falsifiable and therefore not pseudoscience is a good example of sophistry . Your idea “ Stone alignments and circles mark the edge of ice sheets locally as these contemporaneously retreated and melted away. “ is what would have to be falsified to show it is not pseudoscience , not what you decide as “evidence “ to falsify your idea ,you might as well have said “An arrangement of massive monoliths spelling Kostas in the middle of the Skopje “

The only time I have any interest in your evidence free ice ideas is when you suggest a particular type of monument that would show them to be wrong ,but as soon as a monument is suggested that fitted your original requests you change the criteria .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

“ pointing out contradictions is not sophistry” .
But when the same points are raised and answered over and over again, then this becomes either sophistry or stubbornness to a reasoned argument.

My hypothesis “ Stone alignments and circles mark the edge of ice sheets locally as these contemporaneously retreated and melted away. “ will be falsified by the evidence of “clearly intersecting stone alignments”. Know of any to show me?

You don't see that because you just don't understand the logical impossibility of intersecting ice edges of the same and contemporaneous melting local ice sheet.

Your statement “you might as well have said “An arrangement of massive monoliths spelling Kostas in the middle of the Skopje “ betrays more sophistry or more stubbornness.

Please don't confuse the recent Slavic 'Macedonia' with Skopje as its capital from the Greek Macedonia where I come from!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Kostas ,I was talking of Popperian falsifiability where it the hypothesis that gets falsified not some type where you make up the rules.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite agree with Geo on this -- if you want a hypothesis to be tested and (if necessary) improved or falsified, you do not specify which criteria you want people to examine. That is especially important where the criteria are clearly ridiculous, and have no real bearing on the reliability of the hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

How is a hypothesis refuted other than by evidence that refutes the hypothesis?

Here, such evidence would be “clearly intersecting megalithic alignments”. Under my hypothesis this would be logically impossible to occur and should not happen. Thus, if it occurs, my hypothesis is refuted.

Why I am not surprised Brian would agree with Geo over the falsifiability of my hypothesis?

What ever!!!

But can you please show me some megalithic alignments that clearly intersect?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- I won't labour the point, but when I wrote my doctorate thesis on the glaciation of West Wales I would have thought it arrogant in the extreme (and so would my examiner) if I had tried to specify the grounds on which people were permitted to challenge my ideas.

I had to accept -- and so should you -- that a hypothesis should be tested to destruction through the use of whatever evidence comes to hand -- including evidence (for example involving the use of cosmogenic dating) that had never been dreamed of back in 1965.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I agree with that!

Certainly any evidence that refutes a hypothesis is good enough. And anyone is free to introduce such evidence. The point and only point I am making is that the evidence of “clearly intersecting megalithic alignments”, if these were to be found, would refute my hypothesis. Such evidence is directly and logically connected to my hypothesis. And not something totally arbitrary and irrelevant to it, as Geo seems to think.

The whole discussion came about over the 'falsifiability' of my hypothesis. The point I am making is such evidence I am suggesting is enough to disprove my hypothesis. We are not embarking on pseudoscience here where we have no way of disproving a theory.

For the record. Are there “clearly intersecting megalithic stone alignments” ?

Kostas