Ferris Link’s Day Off

See, this is what happens. I take a day off to write some serious stuff, and I accrue dozens of links…

Top of the news is that the secrets of Çatalhöyük are about to be unveiled. Why this matters is because it is the oldest known permanent site of religious construction, before the establishment of permanent cities. We have been waiting for the details, those of us who care, for a while now.

The Hobbit was not a malformed human. Well, duh. Sorry Maciej Henneberg, you are misled by analogical thinking.

All adolescent males are philosophers.

Michael Yarmolinsky has an absolutely stunning article up at Small Things Considered on phages and flagellae.

Andrew Gelman and Cosma Shalizi object to Bayesianism being treated as induction.

John Horgan has a review of Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini’s What Darwin Got Wrong. I promise I will finish mine someday.

Tom Rees at Epiphenom discusses the role of religion in cases where one is ostracised.

Quinn O’Neill at 3QuarksDaily has an excellent piece on the need for, and fate of, whistleblowers and why governments cannot be trusted. This is important to me because the Australian Internet Filter is going ahead. Hypocrits! [Incidentally, this is one of the better analyses of why Conroy’s PM was replaced by his Deputy PM, and why nothing much has changed; it also shows why we should be worried that we are losing our freedoms.]

Dave Gorski reports on the costs to his professional life of opposing the antivaxxers.

And finally, Jennifer Rohm rediscovers Kuhn’s Normal Science…

19 thoughts on “Ferris Link’s Day Off

  1. Ian Hodders already published a volume on Çatalhöyük and religion I think.

    I must confess he was a major influence in my decision to stop studying archeology. Post-processual approach to excavation struck me as somewhat controlling despite it’s claims.


  2. “it is the oldest known permanent site of religious construction”

    We don’t know that there was any religion at Çatalhöyük.


  3. Religion in the Emergence of Civilization: Çatalhöyük as a Case Study (ed) Ian Hodder

    How do we identify religion as distinct cultural entity is one of the questions raised on this one

    ianam, as I am sure you are aware.


  4. “Why this matters is because [Çatalhöyük] is the oldest known permanent site of religious construction, before the establishment of permanent cities.”

    Are you possibly confusing Çatalhöyük (which was a town) with Göbekli Tepe (an apparent religious sanctuary that wasn’t)?


      1. I need links!

        Here are a couple, one Tempelton funded. One that discusses the debate.



        “It was fascinating to watch a small collective of eminent scholars, from various intellectual disciplines, engage and duke it out, so to speak. Nothing beats a good ol’ battle of the wits (or of egos, as the case may be).”


  5. Re Conroy and his talk of an “election commitment to deliver”, here’s a little fantasy of mine.

    Show a picture of a large crowd of people. Lots and lots of people. Say that this represents the people who voted for Labor because of … some policy that Labor has abandoned (a bit complex right now because of the leadership takeover, but take environmental commitment for example.)

    Next, show a picture of a vast expanse of land with no people in it whatsover. Maybe a cow or two. Say that this represents the people who voted for Labor because of Conroy’s internet filtering policy.

    Challenge the audience to guess which of the two consitutes an election commitment.


    1. All I can say is that I will not vote so that Labor gets my vote if they continue with this piece of Orwellian fantasy. Even if that does mean Abbott gets elected. I urge everyone to vote Green – Ludlam has been the most sensible and consistent critic of this and other stupid Labor policies (like the ETS). If Labor lose 25% of their primary vote to the Greens, it may affect Labor policy in future, simply because the present Labor party is all about gaining power.


  6. Thanks for the collection of links. I especially dug the one of adolescent philosophers. Great stuff!

    Nice try: manual spam! However…. – JSW


  7. “Any links that show that Gobekli Tepe is not a shrine?”

    Temple is the label the excavator attached.
    I think the frustratingly vague archeological term ritual or ceremonial site is more helpfull given the evidence base so far.

    Particularly given the state of the contemporary debate on such issues were high noise carries far more value than evidence.

    But thats due to the restrictions our hearing and sight pose for long distance communication.

    Making loud whistling noises and sticking two fingers up in the air is certainly a very effective means of communication when parties stand at a great distance from each other.

    But it does not lead to much movement.


  8. Any links that show that Gobekli Tepe is not a shrine?

    Being the son of an archaeologist and having worked as a field archaeologist for many years I have serious problems with all claims by archaeologists that something is a shrine, temple, place of ritual, religion, ceremony or whatever.

    All such claims in non-text aided archaeology are speculations founded basically on the premiss that we can’t explain the function of this building, structure and so we assign it a cult, religious, ceremonial one.

    I take all such claims with a shovel full of salt.


  9. Ritual covers a range of ills which is why it’s used, sitting and having a cup of coffee in a cafe with friends can go down as a social ritual. Give everyone a football scarf you enter ceremonial territory.

    I always took it as read that it it is a code for we have not a clue other than some form of cultural activity is involved, but being archeologists we are going to speculate madly and deploy our particular pet theories to the full.

    Text aided archeology can be just as pants as you will be aware as it’s provoked heated debates. It makes a number of somewhat conservative historians and archeologists go red in the face and start spitting for diffrent reasons.

    Leslie Alcock undertook a text aided survey of hillforts associated with historicaly attestable 6th century kings. in the U.K

    He found no evidence of 6th cen. occupation and was forced to end with the thought that as ritual centers they were kept very clean and have left no archeological evidence.

    I like Alcock but its not the best sentence Ive seen him write.

    Text aided archeology often requires that shovel as well.

    Ritual in this case means we know the forts are not defensive structures or in full time habitatation but suspect they were used part of the year by the king as a meeting place to gather tribute in the form of cattle.

    In this case their is no full explaination but archoeligists are not totaly and utterly clueless with regard to the function of these sites.

    Ritual and ceremonial are fair enough I think but do need to come with big disclamers.

    I can’t understand why temple was used though it’s somewhat John Aubrey and not very credible.


    1. Leslie Alcock’s colleague Michael Jarrett, who was one of my teachers and also a very good friend, used to refer to text aided archaeology as text hindered.


  10. p.s I would seriously recomend Stuart Piggots “The Druids”, London, 1985, for a very early example of text aided archeology and the discovery of ancient ‘temples’ and arcane rites.

    Particularly nice with regard to 18th century deists use of a romatic notions of Natural religion, archeology and history that spread like wildfire among the free thinkers of the period.

    A very nice introduction to the subject.


  11. “Leslie Alcock’s colleague Michael Jarrett, who was one of my teachers ”

    Alcock was a major influence on me deciding to go to uni. and study archeology,history and ethnology (although I droped archeology).

    My early med. tutor was snared in the same way.

    I was also lucky enough to be taught by one of Stuart Piggots students.

    His advice to stray from the subject bookshelf in libraries and graze widely. Advice Ive always followed.

    Alcock and Piggot formed my introduction and shaped my interest and aproach to learning along with a few others.


    1. If I hadn’t dropped out I would have studied under Leslie. I studied under Richard Atkinson who excavated Stonehenge together with Stuart Piggott and my father amongst others. Piggott and Atkinson were known as the Piggottson Twins. I heard Piggott lecture on the Druids, it was very good.


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