Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Junk Science on TV

Why do I do this to myself? 
At the beginning of the month I started watching a "documentary" miniseries on Hulu called "The Pyramid Code". IMMEDIATELY my B.S. meter started pegging and I became so frustrated at the depth of balderdash that I stopped watching, and posted something close to the following on Google+:
I'm not talking about the usual "aliens did it" retardation...alien visitation crackpots are easily dismissed... those are more entertaining than frustrating.

My major beef lies with totally false claims that advanced technology is required to build the things and that advanced mathematics (beyond algebra) are required to arrive at the dimensions... that their construction necessitated the use of exotic 'power sources' that we don't understand today. It's not remotely true. You can construct a pyramid of those exact dimensions (pi and all) using integer math and bronze age tools. And it appears that "elbow grease" and "puttin' your back into it" have suddenly become exotic power sources (I can't say I'm surprised on that one).

The "it's not possible" claims are maddening. All this does is allow the author to advertise two things: 1. "Even though I have a Ph.D, I'm too frakkin' stupid to think of simple solutions to practical math problems", and
2. "I'm so bloody spoiled that I cannot conceive of an age where people were willing to labor."
BTW, here's something I wrote on the subject a few years back: http://blog.cratchit.org/2007/06/how-to-build-pyramid.html
Well, having rested for a good 20 days, I decided to try another stab at watching it today. I should have known better. Now, having endured the entirety of the show, I get to tell you my opinion.

Dr. Carmen Boulter has the kind of Ph.D. that renders all scholarship suspect and the most outlandish of folk tales credible... in other words, the practically worthless kind. Whether it be giant quartz "crystals" (Dr. Boulter hasn't bothered to pay attention to anyone who can tell her the difference between a crystal and a rock) that act as giant vibrational warm-fuzzy transmitters, or nuggets of esoteric physics like, "sunlight on water... that is energy," Dr. Boulter hasn't met a scientific theory she wouldn't like to replace with a hearty helping of woo.

One thing that's particularly distracting is her love affair with the phrase "Band of Peace", which she apparently uses to refer to the fertile Nile river valley. Do a little experiment for yourself. Using Google, try searching for the phrase "Band of Peace", excluding the name of her program. Here's the search term, and a link for you. I'm excluding only the verbatim phrase "The Pyramid Code"
See anything about Egypt or the Nile in what's left? Right. What these results tell me is that she promoting the hell out of a phrase she dug out of her butt. In fairness, she might have dug it out of somebody else's butt... maybe Hakim's. Either way, the constant repetitions give the viewer the distinct impression that if this program does nothing whatsoever but make this moniker stick, then Boulter will have won her own little private Nobel Prize. It's totally in keeping with her trend of replacing any hard science she may find with shit she made up.

The series makes copious use of Abd'El Hakim Awyan, though it didn't do him many favors. Hakim was a doctor in his own right, yet was credited "Indigenous Wisdom Keeper". Not so great for his credibility, but a damn cool title, nonetheless. I'm so going to have that put on a business card. Hakim brings just the right amount of down-home folklore, but is clearly out of his depth when discussing anything to do with physics. The "sunlight on water" quote above is his.

Hakim makes much of the fact that the Khemetic language had no word for "death" and thus the ancient Egyptians could not have been obsessed with death, despite all the pyramids, mummies, tombs, temples, mustabas, etc. Of course, he says that just before he relates the word for death ("they called it 'Westing', as in 'going to the West'). To be sure, the same "no word for death" claim can and has been said of the Teutonic languages; and English-speaking Christians have a score of words for death, and still believe in resurrection. Also, the origins of words often have only a vague connection to contemporary usage; for instance, a person may collect a "salary", though it's been 2,000 years since Roman soldiers were actually paid in salt. So it was unclear to me what this is supposed to prove. Then came my answer.
"The Egyptians obviously had a very different world view from ours today. They believed in the afterlife and the soul's immortality."
Suddenly I understood why Boulter and co. were having so much difficulty with the subject, and it made me very sad. I then sat through the rest of the episode watching their "scientists" treat with utmost credibility the notion that the ancient Egyptians had a physical means of attaining what the archaeologists themselves reject in their everyday lives. These beliefs are common in today's culture. I thoroughly understand being an atheist. I don't understand in the slightest being so blind to the world around you that you don't see the parallels in what you're studying and the millions of people for whom a central portion of this worldview has persisted to the present day. How was it possible for them to be so perplexed? 

That question carries forward just in general. I watched the section on reading hieroglyphs with a sincere desire to shout at the screen, "would you stop acting stupid and just present the information?!" Look, if you've got 4,000 hieroglyphs and only 26 letters, it's not a news flash to say that there's not a 1 to 1 correspondence between glyphs and letters. With that number of glyphs, it's pretty safe to assume that we're not talking about a syllabary either. Rather, you're going to have a concept per glyph, as in Chinese. None of this was news even before the Rosetta Stone was discovered. So why does Boulter pretend that this is a revolutionary new understanding of hieroglyphs?

Perhaps she's led astray by Laird Scranton, a computer programmer and amateur anthropologist who, starting from an observation by others that the Dogon people of Africa believed the star Sirius had a companion star, leaped to the conclusion that all of Dogon cosmology is scientifically brilliant, and that their rock paintings of water and eggs and grain should be interpreted as describing quantum mechanics as opposed to, say, a recipe for cake. He estimates the science of their ancients to be at least 50 years in advance of our own... which has enabled them to build mud huts and paint rocks. I weep for our children of 50 years hence. The forward of Scranton's book, Sacred Symbols of the Dogon, lays out his qualifications... hey, he's a software designer! Computers have symbols! Hieroglyphics are symbols! Therefore he's an expert. You can't argue with that kind of logic.

Don't get the idea that there's absolutely nothing of value in this series. There are bits of real scientific information embedded in the video, particularly when Dr. Boulter is not on-screen. I actually feel sorry for the legitimate scientists who share the screen here and there. And I suppose there's some entertainment value in cataloging the myriad forms of woo that appear here. Sadly, the signal-to-noise ratio is so poor that I can't recommend the show to anyone as an introduction to the subject of Egyptology. Get familiar with the subject first, then come back and see what you can pick out.



As a reference, here's how you present this sort of information:


And here's part 2:


Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, Thomas Brophy does things strictly according to the scientific method. He has a hypothesis, calls it a hypothesis (knowing the difference between that and a theory), and does the math. Most importantly, he knows that science ain't horseshoes... close isn't good enough. So when his hypothesis is close, but not exact, he discards it and looks for a better one. Nice.

121 comments:

  1. Wow, you are a complete fool!!! How sad of a person you are, and how lonely it must feel. You article is ridiculous and shameful....what a load of crap you write. Get some brains and really look at the evidence, which obviously you have not.

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    1. No, YOU have not looked at the evidence. Carmen Boulter knows nothing about academic ancient Egypt and why and how Egyptologists and Egyptian archaeologists come to their conclusions. "Band of Peace." Have you seen this term in hieroglyphs? I sure haven't. "Crystal Altar" = alabaster, which is a prevalent stone in the area where her 'crystal alter' was built. Ancient Egyptians didn't believe in death? That is downright silly as attested to by the following funerary literature: Book of the Dead, Book of Coming Forth by Day, Amduat, Book of Caverns, Book of Gates, and of course the mummification process, the "Opening of the Mouth" ritual, the presence of the Ka, Ba, etc, the countless tombs and pyramids, etc, etc.

      "How sad a person you are." But the good news is, you still time to change this, get some brains for yourself, and really look at the evidence. And Carmen Boulter ain't it.

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    2. Thanks, Mom. And happy Mother's Day.

      (For the record, I should point out that my response of Feb 9 (below) is obviously addressed to "Anonymous" of Feb 8, 2013. Apparently it's a popular name. ;) )

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    3. No Anon, Mr. Leigh is not a complete fool. Maybe a partial one, but I think that describes all of us. And, though Dave stakes out a position wherein he does not seem to be seeking friendship here, he has a good number of admirers in his defense of rigorous scientific principles when investigating dubious claims, myself included.

      BTW, Dave, I just got around to the Brophy vids, and they are quite refreshing. Thanks for posting an example of doing it right.

      -- just another fool

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  2. This blog is moderated... so why would I choose to publish a comment from a brain-dead anti-intellectual without the cognitive ability to include even the most vague and inept reasoning as wo WHY this post is "ridiculous and shameful"? Why post something from someone who can't even figure out how to sign his own name?

    I published it because it's instructive to know that as vapid and useless as "The Pyramid Code" is... as completely bereft of the merest whisp of scientific reasoning there... there does exist in this world an audience composed of people even more stupid than the authors of this tripe. There exist empty skulls who, lacking any semblance of intimacy with actual science, take sloppy thinking, and invented pseudoscience as fact.

    Thank you so very much, Anonymous, for illustrating that point for me. May you live a very long life. Just remember... breathe in... breathe out...

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    1. What is "junk science"? Please explain

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    2. Dave - I have not watched (nor have any plans to) The Pyramid Code. Obviously much of the speculation out there is garbage and I find it very maddening. I enjoyed Howard Carter's book and would prefer to read just legitimate works, even if I can only get to a fraction of it.

      Your assessment of Carmen Boulter may be 100% spot on...I have no idea at all. I saw her in one video and she clearly veered happily off into unknown territory and speculation...

      ...However...having said that...what is your take on her May 2015 presentation of the scans of what may be the Hawara Labyrinth? Her connection to the creators of the scanning software may be exaggerated, but if the evidence is accurate, this is a big discovery. Honestly trying to get your take on the matter, as you seem to have way more background than I. Please advise.

      Thanks,
      Tim

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    3. I haven't seen her presentation, but I'll take a look... and I'll make a point of finding legit source material.

      It may seem otherwise from this one post, but I really don't make a habit of shadowing Carmen Boulter. But any excavation or scans of Hawara would be welcome news. The "labyrinth" is historically known, having been personally visited and written about by Herodotus... so that fact that it WAS there has always been known. If it's STILL there, well... that's very cool indeed, archaeologically. If I write about it, it will be in a new post, but I'll put a link here at that time.

      Thanks for the heads-up, Tim.

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  3. I am in the middle of watching this documentary and, as someone for whom Egyptology has been a great interest since childhood, have been raging for the past 45 minutes, I just needed to see that someone had actually called Carmen Boulter (Healing Crystals PhD, DeVry Institute) out on her pseudo-spirituality bullshit, "'quirky' postmodern"/"ancient aliens"-style take on Egyptology. So I was very pleased when I happened to come upon your blog.

    She is a bad person and she should feel bad.

    I just lament over how much money must have been wasted on all those helicopter tours of the Pyramids. In fact, I refuse to believe that this is a serious documentary at all, this 'documentary' was created solely for the purpose of enraging all those with fully-functioning brains and those in (or interested in) the field of Egyptology. It just seems like a complete troll.

    Yeah, I cannot watch any more of this, I've gotten to the "helicopters" and "lightbulbs" part. I fold.

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  4. Carmen Boulter is a doctor of Linguistics -- not Egyptology, ancient Egyptian archaeology,-- or any history of any kind. Nor of Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, etc, etc. She was asked once why she did not get a university degree in Egyptology, and she replied that what the universities teach is not correct, that she (and only she?) knows the REAL truth.

    What a cop out, I say!

    I believe that it was just easier for her to 'make up' her own brand of ancient Egyptian history, than to even try to learn what the specialists think. Much, much easier of course! The only original thought Boulter appears to have is this 'Band of Peace' thing which I still cannot figure out what that means. Sure haven't seen it, read it, or heard it in connection with anything else.

    The rest of Boulter's 'theory' appears to have been borrowed from other new age thinkers -- at least THEY had some original thought (whereas Boulter doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word). Boulter doesn't back up any of her "theories," just expects people to take her word as gospel. Pretty scary -- that people buy into her 'theories' (and yes, you are right, a 'theory' and an 'hypothesis' are two very different things: 'theory' is done and accepted, 'hypothesis' is a suggestion, not yet accepted, and certainly not a 'theory').

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  5. Actually, Anonymous 3:43pm, a "theory" is NOT done and accepted. What's "done and accepted" is called a FACT.

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    1. No hun, A theory is to describe a set of related facts.

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    2. Well, that's no better... Assuming you express facts in sentences, this could merely stand in for a definition of "paragraph". A theory attempts to EXPLAIN a set of related facts; not merely describe them.

      But I think the important thought that "Anonymous of May 18" was trying to express is that - while a theory is based on accepted facts - theories themselves are always subject to re-examination and revision in light of new facts.

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    3. Yes, that's correct.

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  6. you obviously have no connection to your own spirit at all and are so stuck inside your mechanical little brain box that you dont know what is real. you are the type of person i pity everyday what a boring life you must lead. have you ever even had a dream before? its sad there are people like you what did they even teach you at school? a load of bs about how we are just meat? have you ever realised the most simple thing about humanity- the fact we are all conscious? there is energy flowing inside us and if you dont agree your basically saying we are
    rocks. did you even watch that show? if you wanted to see physical proof why didnt you look further and read a book? you would have found that everything you are thinking is bs. have fun livin life as a piece of rock hahahaha

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  7. Actually, Pepep, I do dream. I also do something astonishingly rare in this day and age... I THINK. This isn't a passive endeavor... it takes much practice to do it well. For instance, if you practiced it more often you wouldn't succumb to obvious logical fallacies such as the false dichotomy you offer here, which you manage to twist into a strawman, getting two fallacies into one paragraph.

    For instance, nowhere do I say that humans have no energy. But having read a very great many books -- and better yet, COMPREHENDED them -- I know the difference between physics and horseshit. I know the difference between a crystal and a rock. I know the difference between Carmen Boulter and a scientist.

    Now, Pepep... because you obviously missed it, I'll spell this out for you so you can follow along. When I criticize this program for the quote, "The Egyptians obviously had a very different world view from ours today. They believed in the afterlife and the soul's immortality", I do so for the very plain reason that BILLIONS of people in the world today DO believe in the soul's immortality. You would have to be blind, deaf, and intellectually dumb to miss the fact that spirituality is alive and well in the world today, just as it was in ancient times. Pepep, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, more than 9 in 10 Americans profess a belief in God. In the context Boulter's provided, that's the opposite of a "very different world view". Since Boulter is a linguist, it is astounding that she acts as though she is unaware that these concepts exist in modern, living languages, as well as in modern, living brains like yours and mine. If she were at least a competent sociologist she wouldn't have made such a blunder.

    It's equally astonishing that you missed this entire line of thought in the above critique. Either you started writing your response in anger before you got there (in which case, shame on you for the hypocrisy of suggesting I do further reading), or you didn't understand it (in which case I'm happy to enlighten you): Boulter pretended that you don't exist, and you didn't even NOTICE.

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    1. Now, Pepep for the record, here's the difference between Science and what you and Boulter are doing:

      In science, you observe, then offer a hypothesis, then use that hypothesis to make testable predictions of future observations. Then you experiment and observe some more... very carefully... to see whether those predictions are valid. And as you do so, you try your very best to DISPROVE the hypothesis you just made. You make sure your tests carefully screen out alternative explanations. Because others will think of things you didn't, you welcome others to try what you did and you listen when they shoot your hypothesis full of holes... because that means it's wrong (or at the very least incomplete). Then you re-think it and try again. Through this scientific method, only the hypotheses that withstand INTENSE scrutiny over many years get to be called "theories", and even those are subject to revision if compelling new evidence is discovered. You recognize that a "theory" is as close to "proven" as anything gets in science, which is saying quite a lot, given the trials through which a REAL theory has gone.

      What you DON'T do is get all pissed off when somebody shoots planet-sized holes in a shaky hypothesis, thus proving that you didn't carefully think it through. You DON'T make untestable claims, because they mean exactly nothing. For every untestable claim you make, others can make a dozen mathematically equivalent untestable claims of their own, ALL of which contradict yours. That kind of useless exercise never gets you closer to the truth. You DON'T base your hypothesis on ideas that have previously been proven wrong. That's like trying to build on a foundation of air. And you DON'T make up the "facts" that you're trying to "explain"... that's not "science", it's "fantasy".

      I tell you this here because it's very evident that you don't have any idea what science is, though it takes very little explanation. Take some time and think about WHY scientists try to disprove their work, and you'll come to the realization that it's only through repeated, highly critical testing that an idea is strong enough to be called a "theory". This is vastly different from unscientific New Age fantasy, where an idea is dreamed up, shared, and uncritically accepted by people who have never once really tested it; who would have no idea how to do so; and who reject healthy criticism out-of-hand. That's not open-mindedness, that's folly.

      Pepep, shooting down a bad idea is the very BEST thing you can do to it, as it leaves only those ideas that are good and strong and viable, unlike the gibberish that permeates New Age thought.

      BTW... a lot of folks just like to snipe from the shadows, but at least you signed your name. Good on you for that.

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    2. I'm not familiar with Carmen Boulter but I did come across some interesting information from her regarding satellite scans of a labyrinth found deep within the Earth, about 30 kms from the Giza Plateau. What is interesting is that the scans reveal the existence of giant chambers or rooms buried at different depths.. one level around 60 feet below and another 120 feet below. 63 chambers totaling around 9 acres... roughly half at each level.. These are recent scans done by a company that also scans the Earth for diamonds, water (e.g. in Calfornia, where I believe they have found 2 underground rivers).. This information is really intriguing to say the least

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    3. Thanks, karransk. "Liberty Torch" informed me of the Hawara information a few weeks ago, and I've been looking into it. From what I've seen so far, this research has been done by other parties. As they did it, I'm looking at their research, not her reporting of it. I may comment on it in a future post.

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    4. Kip... that's it? That's all you've got? No matter, your erudite elocution has cut me to the quick! Wounded me to the core! Such incisive analysis! I'll have to revisit my entire cosmology!

      Or maybe not.

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  8. All I can say is Thanx Dave! I got to your blog after hearing the idiotic blather of Carmen Boulter on Coast to Coast A.M. (I just listen because I like to yell at my electronics!) I could only take about 10 minutes of her hogsnot before I went online and typed in "Carmen Boulter- scam". Anyhoo, Keep 'em coming and just remember... "Don't let the bastards wear ya down!" My daughter greaduates from Gonzaga soon and has her Masters in Math and Sciences. She'll be working on her Doctorate soon. I'm very proud of her and as far as I'm concerned, the Carmen Boulter-dashers are an insult to her hard work and efforts to the sciences. Once again, keep up the good work exposing these "Horsefeather Hippies"!.......Respectfully, Pat Davison

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  9. When selling cars, the experts use emotion. It's ego and image - not facts.

    We all need to stop selling cars when we discuss Ancient Egypt.

    If we focus on emotion, name-calling, undermining the credentials of our opponents and hanging on to "unquestionable" assumptions - we're selling cars.

    In Egypt, the data is rock-hard, but the subjective interpretation of things - the tool marks, the precision, the implications of size and weight, etc. - can't be discussed scientifically if emotions dominate. As long as we shout past each other the way we do in politics, both sides are going to "know" that there's something seriously wrong with the minds on the other side.

    Science encourages us to question everything - from "proven" dogma to the outlandish new theories of a 26-year-old patent clerk.

    Personally, in my current state of ignorance, lack of objectivity, and less than genius IQ, I think there are quite a few rock structures around the world that would be enthusiastically re-visited by the current set of established experts if the discussion didn't revolve around anger, suspicion, pride, embarrassment, journal expectations, and the emotions of "winning an argument" at all costs.

    I'm not an Egyptologist, an archaeologist, an anthropologist or a true believer in string theory, but I respect those who are... as long as they don't call me an idiot for doubting them once in a while.

    After all, nobody over 18 is infallible.

    Scientists throughout history have despised those who question the "knowns." It's human nature.

    And there's a feedback loop that drives them...

    Modern scientists are forced to focus only on the "unknowns" in order to get grant money and produce published work. They can't go back over things that are already "known." They'd starve.

    So it can't seem at all fair or logical to them that someone from outside their field should be allowed to focus on basic things that are "known," like the tools involved in the carvings, for instance.

    The lay people never had to sit through endless hours of lectures, take horribly stressful tests, or stay up all night finishing their dissertations. They're uneducated. They don't have to write grant proposals or publish in peer-reviewed journals to keep food on their tables. Instead, they're allowed to write speculative books and sell to the uneducated public.

    It all must seem so wrong, unfair and hurtful to the established experts. It must seem as if Science is under attack by uneducated emotion-driven fools and huxsters who are getting rich.

    Who could blame the professional insiders for digging in their heels and lashing out?

    But Science has never written a grant proposal, never felt betrayed by a huxter, and never been corralled by a journal's narrow guidelines.

    Perhaps that's why outsiders often make scientific breakthroughs.

    At any rate, most of us morons would be happy to see the "insiders" take a new look at the precision work and apparent tool marks in Ancient Egyptian rock work. We would like them to resolve the incongruity between the astonishing carvings and the primitive tools. Perhaps there is no incongruity, but would someone in the establishment at least take us ignorant lay people seriously enough to study the subject objectively and publish the findings?

    Broadly sweeping emotional declarations don't help the advancement of knowledge.

    And remember, even nuclear physicists are allowed to say, "I don't know."

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    1. And as we all bask in the Nirvana of scientific enlightenment, we must recognize the immense gulf between the unproven and the disproven.

      Remember, morons and physicists alike are allowed to say, "I know better."

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    2. Outsiders have made scientific breakthroughs regarding the construction of the pyramids. If you read the Great Pyramid-The Inside Story by Robert Carson you will discover that Egyptologists have missed all of the significant clues as regards the construction of the Giza Pyramids. This guy really cracked the code!!!

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    3. I haven't read it, but I'll take a look, Anonymous.

      I do have this to say about that, though... Egyptologists are primarily historians and archaeologists; they are not engineers. One of the best ways to solve such a problem is to start from first principles. Ask an engineer, "Given these materials and tools, how would YOU do it?"

      And... immediately after having written the above paragraph, I visited an essay by Robert Carson (http://www.grahamhancock.com/forum/CarsonR1.php) in which he states the very same thing. This is encouraging, to say the least.

      I'll buy the book.

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  10. I know better than to close my mind and think today's science has all the answers. I know better than to think nothing of the strong restrictions on unorthodox research. I know better than to piss o things I don't fully understand. I know better than to believe I own the truth...You don't Dave...Oh, and BTW, Im scientifically trained in chemistry and biology and also have some education on electricity. Wasn't it in 1959 the British Royal astronomer proclaimed that spaceflight was an impossiblity? And you undress yourself with personal attacks on every comment written here, which proves your rational arguments are clearly not very rational after all...Try to take the high road and show some humility next time, huh? I don't pretend to know anything, but I keep an open mind, and these alternative theories make a hell of a lot more sense to me than the orthodox view from a logial standpoint. But maybe you never studied logical thinking? Oh, and before you call me a moron - last time I checked my IQ with Mensa I scored 161, so I think I have sufficient intelligence to be able to think pretty clearly :) Have a good night, and try shaking off that hubris. It's a very unsympathetic personal trait ;)

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    1. This reply is do delightfully thought-provoking it does deserve its own blog post. I'll get to work on that shortly, so feel free to visit again or subscribe to the RSS feed.

      As short aside to meat of that impending post... the more serious concepts to be addressed... I must say that I'm thoroughly amused by your use of hubris to combat my hubris ("I know... you don't, Dave", "I'm scientifically trained"), and your own ad-hominem attacks in criticism of mine. Hypocrisy is so entertaining, don't you think? And you're so GOOD at it. One would think from your facility with it that you'd been a hypocrite all of your life. At your tender age that's quite an achievement.

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    2. Done.
      http://blog.cratchit.org/2013/09/in-which-im-evil.html

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  11. This is biased and "unscientific" review and one that spews of jealousy and contempt for women of power and intelligence. Carmen Boulter's The Pyramid Code is one of the most interesting documentaries about Egypt I've ever seen and the most controversial because it includes the matriarchal importance of this culture which has been blatantly buried. It is also very beautifully produced and narrated and also brings up much to the imagination. And the imagination was everything to the ancient Egyptians. The mind is how one travels beyond the physical. Do you honestly believe all the garbage that has been forced down people's throats about ancient Egypt? And that Christopher Columbus discovered America? Sometimes what's real is what you believe, especially if you believe your are more than a physical body. Even science has now proved that mind is over matter and that our thoughts actually create our reality. You are one of the few who still believe the pyramids are tombs and that their technology can be duplicated in today's society, which they cannot. Also you could not be more wrong that the other scientists working along side Carmen Boulter think of her the way you do. They love and admire her work. Your words are hateful and personal and not at all scientific or intelligent. I feel your misogynist comments and purely negative review shows who your really are and anyone with eyes to see and ears to listen can decide for themselves if something is good or bad. Your review is biased and unfinished. You could have made a "scientific" evaluation without the personal insults and attacks which made your review seem to have motive of sabotage. Where is your heart and soul for I sense none. When researching I feel you need both scientific inquiry combined with intuitive feeling and heart. There needs to be both the masculine and the feminine view points, and both are important to create the balance or Maat the ancients were seeking and the point Ms Boulter is trying to make. A good researcher and critic looks at both sides of the coin. Your review actually insults your readers and the more intelligent scientists and researchers who are more balanced in their approach to inquiry. Carmen Boulter has traveled to Egypt more than 50 times in her life and has more than enough credentials to be considered an expert by all means. How many times have you been to Egypt Dave Leigh? Your article reeks of jealousy and contempt. Is it because Carmen is a woman with the courage to step out of the mold and cast a different light on the ancients? You might consider doing some inner work to bring out some more feminine qualities you seem to be lacking. A real man is a a man who is in touch with both his masculine and feminine essence. Also you seem to project onto Carmen the typical bully archetype who has to put others down to make themselves look good. Insulting others good work does not bring esteem or notoriety. I seen no substance here only an unknown with no real knowledge of his own and is jealous of others who can think outside the box and a writer with the intent to insult his reader and those with a broader world view than his own. I also question your motives for going through so much trouble to write such a sour review of one of the most interesting topics in the world today. We all watch programs we don't enjoy or like but to go through the trouble to write this rubbish shows me that there is more than what meets the eye here.

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    1. I see, "Anonymous", that you're one of those who prefers to invent a fictional, easy argument to refute rather than take on the larger challenge of addressing what's actually written. Hence the bullshit about about Christopher Columbus and misogyny. You might take a bit of your own advice and examine your motives for spending so much time on such a long response to something your could simply have ignored.

      Does it take "courage" to be wrong? No. "Donna the Deer Lady" managed to do it through sheer ignorance, but gained kudos for having the good sense to learn from the resulting feedback (Google it). Had you read the piece above with a discerning eye, you would surely have noticed that I do not take exception to Boulter's gender. It's her theories. You'll notice that I give Laird Scranton's opinions of Dogon petroglyphs no more slack than I give Boulter's theories, despite his masculinity. And I'm perfectly willing to give you a hard time despite not knowing your gender at all. I am a thoroughly equal-opportunity critic. For instance, these comments are moderated, yet I published yours. Let that sink in.

      Regarding a "motive of sabotage"... ABSOLUTELY, YES. Contrary to the faulty education many have had on the matter, one opinion is NOT as valid as another. Scientific thought is bolstered by the scientific method. Wild speculation is not. When I see wild speculation dressed up as science in an attempt (whether well-meaning or not) to delude the public into credulous belief in that which is not supported by the science, then yes, I will point out strenuously and vigorously the failings of that attempt. If you want to offer your speculations as religion, then go for it, and I'll cut you some slack. But if you want to offer it as science you'd better meet the standard. Carmen Boulter, PhD. did nothing in this program to do that. The level of knowledge of actual physics displayed here was reminiscent of what you'd expect from a cargo cult. (I'm noting particularly her confusion between rocks and crystals. A review is a review, not a textbook. So its "incompleteness" is a matter to which I'm entirely indifferent. Do your own homework.)

      The thing about wild speculation is that it does sell books and cultivate notoriety (sometimes mistaken for "fame"). The immediate benefits of ignoring science for sensationalism are so numerous that I'd prefer not to speculate on which one she's choosing. Of course I recognize that she may be wrong without nefarious motive. That doesn't eliminate the notoriety and sales.

      Science... REAL science... is so fucking amazing that one does not have to resort to primitive fantasy to walk away with a sense of marvel and excitement. As you seem to have made a hobby of cheap pop-culture psychoanalysis, go sit in front of a mirror for a while and practice it there. Ask yourself why it is you prefer wishful thinking to real wonder. While you're at it, ask yourself why you accuse other people of bigotry when if you had a healthy sense of self-esteem you'd realize that equality of treatment means you don't get a pass on well-earned criticism on account of ANY personal attribute, gender included.

      Delete
    2. Here's one more thought...

      There are MANY occasions where a new hypothesis is met with pleasant disagreement. I mention Thomas Brophy above. Robert Schock is another example. These are reasonable people with reasonable ideas based on reasonable observations. I think that they're wrong in some details. When I or any other skeptic simply criticizes your science, it doesn't mean that there's no way in hell that you could possibly be right. It means that there's a standard of proof that needs to be met, and you haven't done it. If you're close to that standard without actually having met it, then the reaction is likely to be, "yeah, well you missed a spot." The farther away you are, and the more you set yourself up as an expert, the less likely you are to be seriously regarded. If you're met with ridicule, that's a pretty good sign that you didn't do your job.

      There's an old saying: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". This isn't a double standard... it's just a standard. When someone offers an incremental, quite conventional theory, he has the advantage of basing it on a foundation of experimentation and experience that's quite old and well-tested. But a completely revolutionary hypothesis doesn't have that foundation. It's not that skeptics are requiring more of the Revolutionary, it's that they WON'T ACCEPT LESS. You STILL have to provide the foundation for your hypothesis. And science is quite unforgiving about that. It's true even if you're just a patent clerk (like Einstein) or a cripple (like Hawking). It's true even if you're a stellar scientist with scores of successes who suddenly has an epiphany. It true whether your hypothesis is inside or outside of your field of expertise. If that means more work, then that's the price of having a revolutionary thought. You stop complaining about it and roll up your sleeves.

      Delete
    3. Hi Dave,

      I also stumbled upon your blog after watching part of Carmen Boulters nonsense. I watch a lot of documentaries on YouTube and find it possible to glean interesting facts even from the "Ancient Aliens" genre. And this genres entertainment value is sometimes high, especially in the comedic sense. It just boggles my mind when I think of the amount of financial resources that go into some of these productions. Someday I might research the economics of it just out of curiosity.

      "You are one of the few who still believe the pyramid...technology can be duplicated in today's society, which ....cannot." (From one of the replies.) This statement in one form or another can often be found in these pseudo-scientific polemics It's one that always gets my bs meter ticking. I spent most of my life building multi-million dollar projects using limited knowledge of simple math and geometry.. Math is one of my many intellectual short-comings. And we put men on the moon (and brought them back) over forty years ago for God's sake. To say that we couldn't duplicate the ancient megalithic structures if we had a mind to is simply disingenuous nonsense and/or demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of modern construction techniques.

      Well I must move on. I have to go find out if deVry actually granted Ms. Boulter a PHD in anything. I lived in Calgary for ten years and deVry had a pretty good reputation in the construction industry. Hard to believe they're in the Doctor of Philosophy in Fantasy business.

      Keep up the good work,
      Byron

      P.S Oh yeah, I forgot that the Moon landings were done on a Walt Disney set in Hollywood!

      .

      Delete
    4. "You are one of the few who still believe the pyramid...technology can be duplicated in today's society, which ....cannot."

      Well, I certainly should have replied to that specific statement before now. But the plain fact is that "Anonymous of Nov 3, 2013, 9:34:00 AM" is well off the mark. First of all, "today's society" is a very different thing from "today's science".

      Duplicating pyramid technology in today's SOCIETY would indeed be difficult, and a practical impossibility... but ONLY because in today's society we're not going to find twenty thousand people who are willing to devote twenty years of their lives to hard labor, pulling on ropes and levers.

      Duplicating it using today's SCIENCE makes it far too easy a task, as it is a certainty that it can be done once the societal problem of paying for it is taken into account. However, my contention is that it could be done with the Bronze Age science of six thousand years past. Furthermore, I contend that it WAS done with Bronze Age science, as the science is far less remarkable than the collective resolve of the people who achieved the feat.

      My further contention is that our inability to grapple with the problem of how the ancient Egyptians built these things is a result of the fact that we approach it with the biases of our technology, and thus over-think the solution. But when start thinking on THEIR terms... when Bronze Age solutions are brought to bear on a Bronze Age problem, and we start thinking of what we can do with sand and water, stones, ropes and counter-weights, multiple possible solutions become obvious.

      Delete
  12. Do you know anything about the credibility of Abd'el. As far as I understand it, Musilms did not keep any information about a culture that believes in idols let alone the Egyptian language, only the Coptic Christians did. The placenta/pineal gland, double crown of the Pharaoh's was the giveaway for me. What is this "meri" word being the Egyptian word for "love" and the real name of Isis? Isis's real name was Ist or Aest the Egyptian word for "throne" because she was the Goddess of the Pharaohs and mummification. Also, does anybody else confirm that this documentary is B.S. because I can't find any others complaining about Abd'el, Carmen or the documentary. The pineal gland meant NOTHING to the ancient Egyptians because the brain had no purpose that is why they tossed it out instead of saving it in a jar. The heart was the seat of the mind and the soul. I have been studying Ancient Egypt since I was 11. I find that the internet has a lot of disinformation on it. You have to know what the truth is because anybody can post anything (like the Egyptians knowing that the pineal gland was connected with the third eye it was really the Vedas of India that we get this from). I appreciate your response!

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    1. I wouldn't dismiss Abd'El Hakim Awyan (known as "Hakim") as a source purely because he was a Muslim. It's stereotypical and inaccurate to say that Muslims don't study the ancient Egyptian culture or language. As an example, Zahi Hawass, the former Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs and world renowned Egyptologist, is a Muslim.

      As for Hakim, he earned degrees in Egyptology and Archaeology, and was qualified in those areas. This is why it both amused and puzzled me that those qualifications were set aside to identify him as an "indigenous wisdom-keeper". IMHO, this was plainly pandering to a New Age audience, as was the entire production in general. Historical degrees notwithstanding, Hakim was clearly out of his depth when discussing topics outside his area of expertise. Physics is best explained by physicists.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your response.

      I am sorry, I meant that I didn't believe that he was a wisdom keeper and that there were people who kept all this information for thousands of years. He is claiming he knows what he knows "not" from "study" but from indigenous wisdom keeping for over thousands of years. Zahi Hawass knows what he knows from study and his extensive work in the field. Islam is against idol worship and Abdl'El gives us the impression that he believes in the Ancient Egyptian religion.

      I began to question his authority when he began talking about the 1) the crown being the pineal gland and placenta (which doesn't appear to be true) and 2) the "Westing" idea that Ancient Egyptians did not have a word for death, which is true but he is putting it forth as knowledge from being a Wisdom Keeper. I know he got that from his study of Egypt. It's old knowledge. It seems he his claiming it is something Egyptologists won't tell you.

      I am sorry if I am not clear today. I hope you understand where I am coming from. Thank you in advance for your reply.

      Delete
  13. Carmen Boultier and the Wisdom Keeper are connected to Egyptian tourism. Her website is for sale also. She no longer teaches at the University of Calgary but used to teach multi-media over the net. I cannot find anywhere if she has been found out to be a fraud, but it looks like she has been. She sells books on her site about Egypt without any claim to actually know anything about Egypt. There is something much deeper and suspicious about both these people. I can't find anything official by discrediting either of them.

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    1. Hakim has been dead since August of 2008.

      It's not necessary to discredit Boulter. Her claims do that.

      Delete
  14. Hi,

    I'm a student in Archæology, and actually her claims discredit no one. As the Archæologists I know say: All the evidence they've found are only justified with theories and those theories are always open for debate. If one wasn't alive in the time that history was made, history just becomes guess work. There is new evidence being found every year and funding for archaeological digs have dropped in many countries, so there are many places and things that archæologists want to go back to but can't. Lately, especially Egypt has been denying access of the sites to most/all foreign Archæologists and only allow research space for their local Archæologists, so there is the possibility that there may be things we have not found out about as yet.

    Don't criticize something until it is completely utterly proven false because history books are always being updated and rewritten.

    Give it some time :)

    As a student in the field, I would not be justified in saying she is right or wrong at this time. We need to be open to any and all possibilities and remember that we're not the only civilization that ever existed. When we've died, 4000 years from now, our civilization may be completely misinterpreted.

    It starts with trying to interpret your technology and life style with the mind of a person who's dug you up 4000 years from now and see what you can come up with. It gets rather interesting.

    :)


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    1. Anonymous, having read your comment, I can only surmise that you're not clear on what I'm criticizing Boulter for. Without endlessly re-hashing what I've said in this and other posts, I'll draw your attention to sensationalism and a "cargo-cult" understanding of science outside of her field.

      As to our own culture being misinterpreted in the future... I have no doubt of that. As we continue to digitize and electronicize our world, committing more and more of our knowledge to the ephemeral "cloud", one of my favorite thought experiments involves the archaeologist of the future who concludes that our civilization, at the pinnacle of its grandeur, completely abandoned literacy, leaving behind only stylized carvings on public buildings and gravestones out of tradition. With the invention of solar-powered digital headstones (no joke) even that last is falling out of favor.

      But you see, I'm a consulting technologist, having begun my career at the component level in hardware and now focusing on applications. When I say that the conclusions presented in this show are garbage because the author doesn't know what she's talking about ("garbage in, garbage out"), it's because it's blatantly obvious to the most casual observer in my field... the field she's butchering... that she doesn't know what she's talking about.

      Have you ever seen code on a screen in some high-tech thriller? Have you ever tried pausing the movie and trying to see exactly what the code says? I do that sometimes... and I'm not alone. There's a website devoted to it (http://http://moviecode.tumblr.com/). I WOULD get the same feeling from watching "The Pyramid Code" try to expound on "ancient technology" as I do when I hear the geek-chic on "Arrow" talk about NSA-level encryption while she's looking at an astronomical calculation... were it not for the fact that "Arrow" is fictional entertainment, and "The Pyramid Code" would like to be taken seriously.

      Delete
    2. Boulter claims to be the re-incarnation of Hatshepsut.
      Truth (heard it from her lips).

      She believes (and tells her tour guests) that the sun temple of Niuserre (5th Dynasty) is actually a remnant of Atlantis.
      Truth (heard it from her lips).

      There is no reference to the "Band of Peace" in ancient Egyptian literature. Ancient Egyptians DID like music, parties and dancing so maybe she just got confused with "Band" (= musical group), and "Band" (as in Wedding ring).

      Delete
    3. I'm happy to hear from a tour guest of the infamous Dr. Boulter. I wish you had left contact info. ;)

      One question: when did you take this tour? I'm just wanting to put it in historical context. Hakim died in 2008, so the info in the program is getting dated. I'd be interested to know if the tour was more recent, and she's still pushing nonsense.

      Delete
  15. I had my doubts with in 10 minuets of the first episode on Netflix, so I took to the Internet to vett the show.

    The open-ended speculation about the carbon on the rock surface was a screaming alarm of ignorance. Sending me on a search to see what her background was, it's a mystery no
    Information except her esl multimedia courses.

    I have some experience in masonry, specifically stone building and what I have seen the masons do with a hammer, chisel and focus is amazing.

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  16. This show is like Ancient Aliens and relies heavily on no empirical evidence, the same dreary rubbish and "theories" that have been floating around for years, anecdotal, and frankly unbelievable nonsense... let me put it simply...crap! Sorry if I have to use Anonymous. I don't have any profiles with the others listed.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't berate people merely for posting anonymously. However, if someone posts nonsense anonymously, I feel no obligation to mince words. I'm likely to be nicer when you sign your name.

      In case someone should Google a person by name and this conversation be displayed, I'd rather keep the negativity aimed at that name to a minimum. This is not for MY benefit. It's for the benefit of those who had the chutzpah to sign their name on a bucket of manure. My response to Euqid was an exception based on merit.

      Delete
  17. I thought Newtonian physics, as well as Einstein's Theory of Relativity, to mention just two of science's Holy Grail of "confirmed scientific theories," have been scientifically disproven. Huh?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. (a long response in several parts)

      Holy smoke, Anonymous... why would you think either of those things?

      It is true that gravity superceded by Relativity, but you have to look at what that means, and what it DOESN'T mean.

      Newton's theory of gravitation makes no claims as to the NATURE of gravity. That is, it doesn't postulate a cause. It merely attempts to quantify the phenomenon, and to that end it imagines gravity to be a force. It's actually a rather good theory for the time and according to the measurements available to Newton. You have to remember that he lived in the 16- and 1700s. In fact, his theory of gravity works quite well enough for us to put people on the Moon, or to send robot emissaries to other planets.

      It's only when we look at extreme gravity at close range or very high velocities that it shows inaccuracies. But for the special case of... well... almost EVERY everyday situation... it works just fine. The first indication of those inaccuracies came with VERY precise measurements of the orbit of Mercury, which is traveling very fast and very deep within the Sun's gravity well. Einstein's theory of Relativity made far more accurate calculations. The first confirmation of Relativity came because Einstein's theory -- which includes the idea that gravity is the result of "curved" spacetime -- would predict that light would be bent by suffiently strong gravity. And during an eclipse, the measurement of the positions of stars very close to the edge of the sun showed that the light was indeed deflected by the sun's gravity as they passed very close by.

      Delete
    2. That was a revolutionary prediction, and confirmation of it was shocking and immediately convincing. Now, this doesn't mean that Relativity is the be-all and end-all of all theories. It simply works very well to explain what it was intended to explain. And you have to push it VERY, VERY hard to get it to show any cracks at all. This happens in the realm of the infinitessimal, where quantum physics is at play. But you have to remember that quantum physics only explains the infinitessimal, and doesn't replace Relativity in the realm of the very large. And if you want to synchronize clocks on Earth with, say, those on GPS satellites, you'd better be using Relativity to do it, because at the moment we don't have better math for the purpose. It works well enough that your phone can tell you where you're standing on the Earth's surface to within a few feet.

      Also note that Relativity replaced Newton's theory of Gravity... not "Newtonian physics". The laws of motion are still in play... objects in motion remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside source; objects at rest remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside source; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Again, Newton doesn't give causes. He observes and quantifies the effect. Modern quantum physics, string theory, etc. try to explain the effect, but they don't say, "it doesn't happen". So Newtonian physics are quite alive and well in the present day, and again, they work well enough for us to build rockets to take our robotic presence to other worlds.

      Delete
    3. Finally, you seem to be somewhat confused as to what being "disproven" means. It doesn't necessarily mean "OMG IT'S WRONG, THROW IT OUT!!". Often it means that it's incomplete, or limited to specific circumstances. Again, you can do rocket science quite nicely with nothing but Newton. For that matter, you can do Agriculture quite nicely thinking that the Earth is flat and the Sun actually rises and sets. That's a "theory" we haven't fully discarded either.

      But modern science is SO good at explaining things that it is ASTOUNDINGLY, ASTONISHINGLY, MIND-BLOWINGLY NITPICKY about results. It's trying to explain the properties, behavior, and interactions of particles smaller than a single electron and larger than a million suns; both inside us and billions of light-years distant from us. And they're trying to find ONE "unified" theory that does all of that. It takes a lot of ignorance to chide science for not explaining EVERYTHING when it explains so damned much.

      So the next time somebody crows about this or that theory is "disproven", remember what that ACTUALLY means, and then ask THEM what THEY'VE got that does a better job of making the supremely precise predictions possible with even an incomplete scientific theory.

      Delete
    4. Witness this breaking news:
      http://news.discovery.com/space/electron-mass-measured-to-record-breaking-precision-140219.htm#mkcpgn%3Dfbci1

      "The electron has 0.000548579909067 of an atomic mass unit, the measurement unit for particles, according to the calculation, which factors in variables for statistical and experimental uncertainties."

      Delete
  18. I just watched the first two episodes. The flow of the show is odd - both episodes start with a touch of paranoia and new agey mumbo jumbo but then actually put forth a few plausible points. If those plausible points were presented separately from the mumbo jumbo it would be very different. I have no issues with the astrological alignment theories, or the different uses for the structures or artifacts(some of them) or even naturally occurring energy. I take issue with the contradiction when she says we can't think like moderns then precedes to frame everything in a modern context i.e. the statement that the largest stone structures modern man makes are hydro dams for a concrete return when in fact until just recently the largest stone structures were religious - cathedrals, temples, etc. One does not need a laser to cut a perfect circle of stone - just a string, patience and skill. I have yet to see empirical evidence challenging the prevailing notions - no scientific evidence of different dating, just theories based on observations filtered though an individuals own perception and beliefs. She claims the Nile moved and asks how long would it take to move 8 miles, then never tells us. She seems to sidestep answering any questions she poses when she knows the hard science will blow that answer away.
    The armed guards and fence part? I guess she didn't read the news about attacks on tourists. No taking pictures in the museum? I can't remember the last time I walked into a museum that didn't have a "No Pictures" sign. How else is the gift shop to make money?
    The show mentions "traditional Egyptologists" numerous times and denigrates their inflexible theories...the problem is some of those theories have already changed in the past decades. It is as if she hasn't read a book on Egypt since the 1950s.
    Within the first five minutes one can tell what the show will be just from her guest experts - independent Egyptologist? Their way of speaking did not do well for credibility (although I didn't mind the star guy).
    It would be great if much of it was true, and I think that's the problem - wishful thinking creating a bias. I have no doubt that ancient peoples were far more in tune with the Earth and universe than we are, and doubtless wisdom has been lost,and that we moderns are arrogant in our belief in human supremacy, but that is no excuse for poor research and bad science.
    Sadly there are valid questions raised (questions I have seen raised elsewhere, and sometimes answered) but when mixed with her own agenda they end up being cast into the fruitcake category to the detriment of valid researchers.

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  19. While I found the PYRAMID CODE to be bereft of any sort of reasonable scientific process, I DID find your answers to the other bloggers HILARIOUS! IT was worth watching that steaming pile of "I know better because I romanticized an ancient culture and hold it superior to my own" love fest.

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    1. Thanks, Bo. The unwashed masses are an endless source of entertainment for me as well. And their responses allow me to touch on subjects from physics to logic to religion to psychology. If only "The Pyramid Code" had this much science in it.

      Delete
    2. Bo-the-wolf, our friend Dave deserves a number of beers for his steadfast defense of proper use of the human brain on this blog. I'll buy the first and you buy the second?

      Delete
  20. Why did I end up at this blog? Because of The Pyramid Code. There is so much pseudo-science about these days and I began very early in the series to think "well, here we go again." I think it was the statement that there was no evidence The Pyramids were ever meant as tombs that set me off. "Really?"

    It's sad, but TV is, above everything else, a business. Students of Egyptology will not be taken in by this scam. Many others will be. The best thing about the series so far is the photography. I can never see The Pyramids myself. HD TV is as close as I'll ever get. I find myself asking if anyone connected with this series believes any of it, including Boulter.

    I recall seeing "Chariots of The Gods" too many years ago. One of the early scenes shows a Saturn V rocket lifting off . . . and exploding. No Saturn V ever exploded! It's just an example of how these shows are put together.

    Terence Danks

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  21. Dave, thanks for the excellent blog.
    I did not see anyone else mention what I found to be great about this series. I played it (on Netflix) before going to bed and it worked like a charm! I can't wait to play it again tonight, I'll be ouf in about 5!
    ATB
    Al

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    1. Glad it works as a sleep aid for you. As for me, it just raises my blood pressure. ;)

      Delete
  22. Warning: to those that would leave comments defending the HYPOTHESIS proposed in The Pyramid Code, be forewarned, Mr. Leigh is not interested in debate. He is well entrenched in his beliefs. The comments section is very simply a forum for him to espouse his own style of vitriol. Mr. Leigh is unwilling or perhaps, more accurately unable to inhabit a space beyond his limited (albeit educated) existence. I am left wondering why he feels the need to so vehemently deny this idea it's due?

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    1. Ms. Roldan is quite correct in noticing that this is not a debate forum. Mr. Leigh has stated so quite plainly on the "Ground Rules" page accessible from the top of this blog.

      To the extent that Ms. Roldan's confusion of vitriol with opinions aligns with actual vitriol, that is also correct. Occasionally, however, this blog sometimes contains praises. What Mr. Leigh offers to those looking beyond their own agenda is his unadulterated opinion. The reader is free to disagree, just as Mr. Leigh is free to ignore amateur psycho-analysis.

      While Mr. Leigh is censorious, he by no means advocates censure. Indeed, his last paragraph begins, "Don't get the idea that there's absolutely nothing of value in this series. There are bits of real scientific information embedded in the video, particularly when Dr. Boulter is not on-screen," and closes with "Get familiar with the subject first, then come back and see what you can pick out."

      Mr. Leigh takes exception to the propositions that a) The Pyramid Code contains a genuine hypothesis, and that b) Mr. Leigh denies the idea its due. This is in no small part due to having, in his educated existence, determined the difference between a hypothesis and what is offered here. He therefore quite pointedly expresses EXACTLY what he feels this idea is due.

      Delete
    2. For those who need things explained in great detail (and I'm not specifically thinking of Ms. Roldan here, as she seems to have sufficient grasp of it), Mr. Leigh has thoughtfully provided a post that explains unequivocably and without mincing of words, the nature and purpose of posts like this: http://blog.cratchit.org/2013/09/in-which-im-evil.html

      Delete
    3. Actually, I think you were too generous, Dave, in suggesting that there were bits of real scientific value in the series. If there were any, they had to be in the last four episodes which I couldn't stomach watching. I've greatly enjoyed hearing your opinions because I was having many of the same reactions myself. I practically leapt up screaming at the TV when they implied that the "traditional Egyptologists" an apparently monolithic block of doddering fools, believed the builders of the bent pyramid were "infantile" for "changing their minds" about the angle. No, they were figuring out how to build pyramids! I could immediately see the agenda of Dr. Boulter and company. The real Egyptians were phenomenal beings of perfection and grace and we have no appreciation for the astonishing level of brilliance of their civilization if we think they ever acted like real human beings in any way. It's just incredibly insulting really, to the entire human adventure over many millennia.

      Delete
    4. Indeed, Joel. Primarily, I've been generous on account of those legitimate scientists who may have discovered to their horror that their statements have been quoted out of context in a program such as this.

      Our ancestors were intelligent and ingenious; in many cases, much more so than those of their descendents who cannot comprehend the difference between science and engineering.

      Delete
  23. Most excellent blog; I completely agree with the sentiments expressed by the author.

    Movies like "The Pyramid Code" (and "The Secret", for that matter) give people who are too lazy to think for themselves an excuse not too. I'm not sure how relevant this fact is, but I'm currently pursuing a master's degree in biology, and I've long found people who mix-in just enough real science to lend their batshit crazy 'theories' a sheen of credibility to be exceedingly annoying. (Mind you, even more annoying is the bandwagon of pseudo-intellectuals they attract).

    But on the subject of nutbars who claim aliens did it being less annoying than this film... well, it turns out that the illustrious Dr. Boutler falls into both categories. Here is a book she published about aliens communing with ancient Egyptians. http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/980501.Carmen_Boulter

    Good Grief.

    By the way, Dr. Boulter's PhD is in fact in education, and she takes great pride in the fact that she taught ESL overseas and online... of course, you would never know that these are her real 'qualifications' from "The Pyramid Code", where she leads the audience to believe that she is an archeologist who has worked in Egypt for 20 years.
    ...
    I will never take the University of Calgary seriously for employing this woman.

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    1. Alexander BarbarosaJun 4, 2014, 7:56:00 PM

      Ok, the only thing I want to say is that I am also a teacher. I taught ESL, and other subjects, for many years in Asia. I would never try to claim to be an expert in something that I'm not... especially in such a ham-fisted fashion. But even I know a lot more about Egyptology, and just about everything in this "doc" than she does.

      As for U of Calgary, I'm happy to say she's no longer here, and seems to not have been since 2011. It may be that producing this piece of shit caused that to happen. I can't say for sure, but I can hope, and it would certainly make U Cal look a lot better.

      I just hope she's not still living here in Calgary. God, if I saw her in the street, especially after a beer or two, the gloves would come down, and the battle would be on.

      Delete
  24. Alexander BarbarosaJun 4, 2014, 7:52:00 PM

    I'm just starting this... awful dreck. Oh, I can't believe I am doing this to myself.

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    1. Let us know if it lived up to your expectations.

      Delete
  25. Another one of Dave's Unwashed MassesJul 8, 2014, 8:09:00 PM

    Dave,

    I am struggling here. My whole life I have been considered intelligent by others, but I am constantly fooled by what you refer to as shams and pseudo science such as this. I watched the series and it seems true to my intuition and soul, yet I read your review and comments to the posters and it makes me feel that I am a fool and less intelligent than you for believing pop culture quackery. I cannot understand why these concepts interest me so much if I am considered intelligent. It's a dilemma I am asking your assistance with - why do I naturally seek out this information and believe it? Do I want to believe in a world that doesn't exist, and if so why am I so interested in understanding vibration, frequency, and energy, and am not seeking to understand the stock market?

    The part that troubles me is the implicit messages found in your blog. It seems you are rather aggressive, for lack of a better term. Do you really think you know better than most people out there?

    I just wanted to let you know that reading your blog makes me feel uncomfortable because of the condescending, aggressive tone interwoven in the words you choose. I just wanted to let you know this from an honest place.

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    1. I appreciate your honesty for what it is, and you make interesting points. I'll take them in no particular order:

      As I don't know who you are, I obviously have no intent to cause you to be uncomfortable. However, as I don't know you are, I equally can do nothing to predict what will or will not make you uncomfortable. And since the blog's content is governed by the "Ground Rules" linked at the top of every page, which have nothing to do with you, I'll continue to post as I have without attempting to second-guess your feelings. After all, you have control over what you read, whereas it would be remiss of me to fail to follow my own guidelines for the sake of one transient anonymous guest.

      This is not to say that your feelings have no value. You value them greatly, as well you should. It is, however, to say that my knowledge of them would not change the tone of this blog. If I interpret your honesty as exactly that and not the passive-aggressive response it would appear to some to be, then I would say that the more purely aggressive tone that I have taken has done its job in your case. My tone is intended primarily to communicate my ire at the airing of poorly constructed pseudo-science, and secondarily to cause others to second-guess their acceptance of the same. And even if your response were a deviously clever attempt to put one past me, it would still present me with the opportunity to acknowledge the attempt.

      I make no representation as to knowing more than "most" people out there. I DO, however, think I know better than SOME people out there, specifically those I criticize. That is the nature of criticism, even when dispensed from an "honest place".

      As to why smart people believe weird things, Michael Shermer has written at length on the subject. While his work isn't perfect, he's devoted far more time to it than I'm prepared to at the present, in a comment response.

      References:
      1. http://www.michaelshermer.com/2002/09/smart-people-believe-weird-things/

      2. http://www.amazon.com/People-Believe-Weird-Things-Pseudoscience/dp/0805070893

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    2. Hey, that was actually a pretty nice answer, I appreciate it. You're a smart guy Dave and you write well. I know this is your thing and I posted a subjective feeling and you even responded, which also was kind to do. I understand where you are coming from with writing this original post and although I do have my opinions on the pyramids, I can just make a blog and post about it just like yourself.. and maybe you will someday comment on my blog! haha.

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    3. I tend to reply in kind. The better and more interesting the comment, the more respect it gets in the response. Agreement has nothing to do with it.

      And yes, absolutely, post whatever you like on your blog, it's what free speech is for.

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  26. My wife and I just started watching the "Pyramid Code" on Netflix. After laughing out loud for the entire first episode we turned to the internet and realized that this was not a mockumentary and that people actually believe this crap. The, thankfully, found your blog. Thank you soooo much! This "documentary" is so full of pseudoscience and unsubstantiated claims it hurts. How can people actually believe this is real! I hold a MS in biological engineering and an MD PhD in neurology and my wife is a doctor of veterinary medicine. For us, this is a slap in the face to the entire scientific community. For that woman to call herself a PhD infuriates me and degrades anyone who has spent sleepless years in pursuit of true, substantiated, scientific discovery. She, and her associated colleagues, are attempting to peddle their inane and fraudulent theories off on the public as legitimate while representing themselves as figures of academic authority. This is why the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

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    1. Oh, man... I wish it were a mockumentary. My reaction to it would be completely different.

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    2. Dave Leigh, thanks for writing this blog post. I am someone who has been journeying from a rigid, atheistic worldview toward opening my mind to other possibilities that might make sense if I consider them alongside my observations and experiences of life. There's a lot of material out there that is considered woo, and much of what I have found interesting has historical elements, such as Boulter's program. But what I am finding is that wisdom is a complex of understandings, science being one part. If I am open to other forms in combination with science, I might be able to make sense of the woo at a deeper level.

      I think Boulter's The Pyramid Code would have been more accessible to scientific types if there had been a humble disclaimer at the beginning encouraging the viewer to consider the evidence as details about a myth, but nonetheless I respected her program because she revealed some incredible mysteries to me. It encouraged me to check out other related theories involving megaliths, and I have found them thought provoking as well. For me, it is awe-inspiring to think that, as much as the current patriarchal societal paradigm frustrates me, there may be hard (and carved) evidence that there is more to be learned on this planet than we think we know already.

      I enjoy keeping an open mind about possibilities I've never before considered which may or may not manifest in my life experience. Life is complex, and sometimes a complex story is the most satisfying teaching. For me.

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    3. Daniel, there's not a thing wrong with what you just said. I've mentioned above the difference between the "unproven" and the "disproven". I ended my own review noting that there is value amid the dross. There's nothing wrong with looking for it.

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  27. Hi Dave,

    I was very happy to see that the comments have continued through the present day! I just watched the first couple of episodes of this documentary and I wanted to check some of the references out for myself.

    I am a relatively new Mensan (Mensa is the high IQ society) and since I was new to their club I was pleasantly surprised to start receiving their club periodicals. I have been even more surprised to see many articles on topics that I'd previously considered to be pseudoscience - telepathy and telekinetics, for example. I have a background in nuclear technology and I currently work in high tech - applied cryptography to be exact. I have enough understanding of physics; the mathematics of electricity, magnetism, energy and time; and of both religious and scientific institutions to be suspicious dismissal of any theory like the ones presented in this program. The word 'science' itself is defined as a systematic intellectual and practical study of some concept or phenomenon - there has been no such concerted effort by the scientific community into studying the ideas communicated in the program.

    In any case thanks so much for the work you are doing in administering this discussion! It is a great thing to have this venue for discussion.

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    1. You're welcome.

      There is a trap of thinking that "intelligent" equals "logical". This is no more true than "educated" equals "intelligent". Both are non sequiturs. Nor does intelligence prevent someone from being supremely gullible. For example, despite being both intelligent and highly educated, doctors are disproportionately victimized by Nigerian 419 scammers. Their hubris works against them; allowing them to be fleeced by less intelligent, less educated con artists. Meanwhile, their income tends to make them prime targets, as they are apt to have a higher tolerance for those "incidental expenses" that are part of the scam. Doctors tend to be pretty poor investors for similar reasons. Needless to say, the principle of "domain" always applies. Outside one's area of expertise, one's expertise is irrelevant.

      Regarding those things that you "previously considered to be pseudoscience", you must remember that pseudoscience doesn't cease to be pseudoscience merely because some Mensan got an article published. It ceases to be psudoscience ONLY when it properly employs the Scientific Method. Never otherwise.

      Mensans are no more immune to pseudoscience than anyone else. As in computer science, "GIGO" is the operating principle ("garbage in, garbage out"). Rather than drag out an explanation I'll refer you to this article by Michael Shermer that appeared in Scientific American: "Smart People Believe Weird Things":

      http://www.michaelshermer.com/2002/09/smart-people-believe-weird-things/

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  28. I am a little concerned that people like this were training teachers. How can teachers instruct our children how to think critically when their professors can not do it themselves?

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    1. This story which I saw yesterday is particularly timely:
      http://www.artandeducation.net/school_watch/entire-usc-mfa-1st-year-class-is-dropping-out/

      The entire freshman class of the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design has dropped out, citing "misguided structural overhaul that valorizes neo-liberal corporate clichés of “disruption” over critical discourse, intellection, and deep studio practice."

      If students of fine arts can do it, there's hope for the next generation.

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  29. That's a good question; Why do you do this to yourself?
    Is it because you get brain-dead morons to agree with your insanity?

    Very likely.
    A good ego stroke is hard for some to turn away from.

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    1. Nah, the really entertaining stuff usually comes from those who disagree with me the most. Like right now...? I'm wishing that there was something of substance here to which I could respond.

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  30. I just started watching the Pyramid code having listened to an interview with Dr. Boulter on Earth Ancients podcast. The interview started out fair enough, but then descended into the realm of the mystical. Nonetheless, the assumptions science has made about ancient Egypt and what is now taken as science 'fact' is appalling. Perhaps the problem is that what has been given as hypothesis over the years has been taken as scientific fact. The most important thing is to keep an open mind. Unfortunately, the scientific method is flawed in that it does not take into account anomalous findings - it can't, has no mechanism for it. To assume that ancient intricate work was done by 'good 'ol hard labor with stones and chisels' is extremely short-sighted. Just for example, consider an Egyptian obelisk, intricately carved by inset groove along the entire length on four sides. One mistake and it's all over. But really, you have to look at the type of cuts to appreciate it. Science has not explained it. Science has not yet explained how the pyramids of Giza were even built. How is that even an option for something built in ancient times? Science should be able to provide a definitive answer. In fact, any 10th grader should be able to provide a definitive answer. The fact that we cannot says that there is more to the story than meets the eye. I'm not saying we should jump on the 'aliens helped 'em' bandwagon, but we need the flexibility of our imaginations along with our ability to logically deduce to find answers. The scientific method is the best we have, but it is a confining box that the world does not fit into.
    //Dan Nobles

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    1. Dan, the most astonishing part of what you just wrote is this:

      "Unfortunately, the scientific method is flawed in that it does not take into account anomalous findings - it can't, has no mechanism for it."

      It's astonishing because it is so utterly, completely, and demonstrably wrong. Accounting for anomalous findings is part and parcel of what in science is called "falsifiability". Testing a hypothesis entails a DELIBERATE search for anomalous findings. It is an integral part of the Scientific Method. I have no idea who taught you differently, but they have exposed a severe lack of understanding on their part.

      Moving on...

      Yes, when you screw up stonework, then it's ruined, as evidenced by the occasional ruined or unfinished obelisk left in situ. Here's an example, well documented, with photos, and I leave it to you to find other examples of similar work. You won't find it very difficult:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unfinished_obelisk

      In other words, we don't have to guess or imagine how an obelisk was cut and prepared. We can see it with our eyes. And obviously, being a somewhat delicate task, the final stages were overseen by the most skilled stonemasons to prevent disastrous mistakes from being common.

      But keep in mind from a pure economic standpoint that a crack in an obelisk does NOT mean that it's "all over". The stone itself, minus the cracked portions, is perfectly good and can be cut into numerous building blocks while a replacement obelisk is being prepared. That we don't see more broken ones is not surprising if you're willing to think outside of the box you've placed around yourself.

      Regarding the pyramids, these days our problem isn't so much that we can't think of ways to do it; it's that we can think of so many ways, and the original builders did not leave a definitive manual of their own process, though they left numerous paintings and bas-relief carvings depicting their techniques. We do know from examples of the Step Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid that these techniques changed over time, so the statement that there is no one technique is evidence-based. That it was done with Bronze Age tools -- including rope, sand, water, counterweights, muscle, and patience -- does not make it less impressive (or less possible) a feat of engineering.

      What our study of the past emphasizes is that there is a vast difference between "primitive" and "unintelligent". I think that the truly short-sighted approach is to undersell how remarkably ingenious our forebears could be in devising simple solutions to engineering problems.


      "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." -- Archimedes

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    2. BTW, I'm not sure this is entirely clear, so I'm going to just spell it out, as the subject of "science" has come up frequently regarding monumental construction.

      In the strictest sense, the building of the pyramids, obelisks, etc. is NOT a scientific problem. It is an engineering problem, and in some aspects a math problem. Though knowledge of Newtonian physics is useful to explain engineering solutions, it is not necessary to have this understanding in order to devise such solutions. For instance, you don't have to be able to quantify the friction of a block in order to employ a workforce large enough to move it or to know that lubricating the path helps.

      There is nothing about cutting and moving blocks of stone that requires any scientific knowledge that we have not had since ancient times. Though we informally call the acquisition of any sort of knowledge "science", History is properly one of the Humanities.

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  31. Mr. Leigh: I do not respect you, nor do I mean you disrespect. I believe that Ms. Boulter does make some stretches in her claims, and makes assumptions not entirely based on empirical data. Her methods flawed , and conclusions placed before evidence has bean found. But to me the title " More junk science on TV" is a clear indicator of ego before reason. I don't agree with many of her claims, but I don't agree with many of the claims of conventional theories on the matter. I'm not a genius, out an expert, or highly educated, but I know the truth is usually further away than the experts of the time like to admit. I believe the truth is sort of scattered everywhere; in claims of the fantastical as well as in the conventional. If you look beyond her answers and look at her questions, I believe there are some scraps there that have genuine substance. Don't discredit anyone because they sound crazy, or stupid, or illegitimate, or egotistical. One must always be sceptical, so I understand where you are coming from, but don't let ego ever interfere with questions. You sound smart, and I think you are, but just as you alluded to, intelligence doesn't equal infallible. Just look at the questions and say, "well maybe..." See where that takes you. I am pretty sure many of the breakthrough scientific discoveries have started with "well maybe...."

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    1. Anonymous, I've also mentioned many times "the immense gulf between the unproven and the disproven." When faced with the latter, it is not a matter of 'ego' to point out that difference. Nor is it a matter of 'ego' to properly assign a burden of proof and demand that it be met.

      The argument that you're using, btw, is the fallacy called "Argument From Ignorance" (look it up). It's dressed up a little in the ironic trappings of emotional appeal to "reasonableness" (not "reason"), to blur the difference between...
      1. keeping an open mind about those things that are reasonable and unproven; and
      2. being blindly accepting of those things that are disproven horse shit.

      As for the former, I am always ready to say "I don't know yet" about those things I don't know, and leave it at that. But I have no onus to maintain an open mind about the latter. When you present a hypothesis that includes disproven horse shit, the entire hypothesis is tainted. Remove the shit and try again. It's not my job to sift through it Christmas morning looking for the pony you imagine is there. But if you bring me something devoid of horse shit, and it either agrees with established observations, or adequately explains them in every way; no matter how off the wall it may be, it's worth consideration. This is exactly what Einstein did. He didn't eliminate Newtonian physics... he re-stated them "in his own words", and did so more precisely than the original theories.

      You state that no one should be discredited for -- well, for basically ANY REASON. That's just silly. If such advice were followed there would be no such thing as science. To be sure, that's part of my complaint against "junk science"... it's not science at all because nothing can be discredited, nothing can be disproved, nothing can be discarded. When you don't throw out the garbage, you soon find yourself buried in it.

      As for discoveries that start out "well maybe..." Anonymous... come ON... they ALL started that way. 100% of every one of them. Such a pedestrian and uninspired observation is shared by every pseudoscience, snake oil salesman, and peddler of the imagination. That's not the defining part of science. The Scientific Method is based on our ability to TEST those "maybes" and to DISCARD those that aren't supported by clear and compelling evidence.

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  32. I'm not sure you really know what you're saying when you are saying it. Very silly stuff indeed. If you could make it any more obvious that you are really, really trying to sound smart, that would be awesome. People like you are just as bad as those snake oil salesman, just on the opposite side of the spectrum. It's obvious that you probably won't ever be able to see around your own intellect. But I wish you the best sir, I hope the dictionary you are currently reading is a real page turner

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    1. I think if you look inward, Anonymous, you'll find that your lack of comprehension is easily explained. Perhaps a session or two of your own with a dictionary would be of help.

      I will add this, though: people who wear their ignorance as a badge of honor intrigue me. They really don't know the depth of their own incompetence. That's just fascinating. Here's a clue. You can't successfully pull off claiming ignorance and being condescending at the same time. Nor can you gain wisdom by discarding your intellect. Nevertheless, it's really cute watching you try. It's like watching a kitten trying to be fierce.

      As for me, on those occasions when I don't know something, I admit it, and take steps to learn about it. Regarding the things I know, I have no need to feign ignorance when there are so many selfless volunteers willing to deliver the real thing.

      Thanks for providing this teaching opportunity.

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  33. "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Arthur Schopenhauer

    Well, Dr Boulter sure nailed the first two in Schopenhauer's quote, but IMO has no hope of the third. I managed to wade through the whole series on Netflix, and at the risk of being laughed at by those more knowledgeable here, I thought Hakim was purely adorable. Rather like a grandfather who tells the same outrageous stories every Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they get better every year.

    Alas, I must go and look for something a little more satisfying to watch and/or read about the pyramids...

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  34. I was just watching the series on Netflix. As a student of Ancient Civilisations, after about a half an hour I had to stop and look up this Dr. Carmen Boulter to verify if she has any real credentials. This was the first link I found, and the post thoroughly resounds with how I felt watching the, admittedly small, part of the series. Of course, one would be a fool to not listen to the many theories concerning Ancient Civilisations like Ancient Egypt. However, this series crosses a point with its frankly incorrect facts and arguments without scientific evidence. The lack of scientific reasoning is what allows this series, and Dr. Boulter, to step over the line from academics to conspirator theorists. If at any point any of the hypotheses of this series can proven scientifically, then the community of Egyptology, including myself, should have no problem taking them into consideration. For now, though, these fake documentaries made for money at the expense of knowledge are simply infuriating. (I'll also add that as far as I can see, all of the comments that are in support of Dr. Boulter and her series are not only rather malicious, but equally as lacking in solid argument and evidence as the series they must have so enjoyed.)

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  35. Mr. Leigh what did you think about the 4th episode that looked at the Egyptians accessing a higher state of being or consciousness?

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  36. I just heard the "doctor's" interview on Coast to Coast without George Noory, it being the weekend and the only time I listen to the show is weekends because George is absent. She is crass and devoid of facts. In my search for de-bunkers, I am relieved to find I am not alone. You've taken some hits for it and responded well. George Noory is another subject on similar ground.

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  37. I stumbled on the "Pyramid Code" during a Netflix binge. I found it interesting enough while I was watching it. I like to listen to other peoples ideas and "fantasies" when it comes to the things we all struggle to explain well enough. so, if you watch it as fiction it can be fun (the problem in our society is that most can not tell the difference. That is why Discovery can so easily cause frenzies with fake Megalodon accounts and Mermaid conspiracies and the like)
    I enjoyed reading your take on the series and I can tell you are very passionate about how you feel when you view it. :)
    I agree with you that 99% of it is rubbish and I hope it didn't put to large of a dent in the reputations of the legitimate scientists.
    The series took constant shots at traditional Egyptology, calling it childish and misguided and leading you to believe that they had over simplified so many things. this is a cheap trick to make yourself seem smarter than you actually are, or more believable and credible. it is a sales tactic from long ago, "ill get them to buy my garbage by telling them how crappy the stuff they already have is first". and then someone has the nerve to come here and say this:" Wow, you are a complete fool!!! How sad of a person you are, and how lonely it must feel. You article is ridiculous and shameful....what a load of crap you write. Get some brains and really look at the evidence, which obviously you have not. ". I think it is obvious why this one remained Anon. and I have half a brain that they may have an emotional connection to the program that insulted so many people, and then they couldn't hang when someone else was just as passionate in debunking it.

    Thank you for your input on the subject, I enjoyed your conviction and logic. Good Day.


    John

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  38. A curious thing that I have not seen explained yet, here or in your other thread on the method of construction, is why the materials that were used for the building itself were chosen. I understand that they might have been the most easily accessible rocks in the region, but then again if it was intended to be a tomb why would they have made the inner portion out of conductive limestone and the outer shell out of an insulating limestone? Also, why would the builders have chosen to center their master piece on the cross sections of Telluric lines? Maybe my information is bad, if that is so then sorry for the waste of time. If not however, it is an interesting way to blow a desert load of resources and man power on something so vain.

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    1. You mean to tell me that you can think of NO reason why they might have chosen cheap, readily available limestone quarried on-site for the interior, and more expensive, more visually impressive white limestone for the facade?

      Yes, that IS most curious.

      As for "Telluric lines", you seem confused. Telluric lines are distortions of the spectra of celestial objects due to the absorption of light by gasses in Earth's atmosphere. Earth-based celestial spectroscopy has to compensate for this to restore the actual spectral signature of the remote object. IOW, passing through our atmosphere distorts the color of celestial objects.

      You seem to be confusing them with either Telluric currents or ley lines. Actual Telluric currents are electromagnetic currents, both naturally and artificially created. "Centered... on the cross sections" doesn't make a lot of sense in this context. On the other hand, ley lines are imaginary, drawn across landscapes between pre-existing interesting geographic features and structures.

      As for these constructions being "vain", you seem to assume that the people were forced into building them to sate the whims of a despot. That's terribly culturally insensitive. A historical culture must be understood on its own terms, not yours. The divinity of the Pharaoh was part of the Egyptian religion. In terms of sheer effort, the cathedrals of Europe were as labor intensive. The pyramids were larger, but the cathedrals were more ornate and intricate. And yet, cathedrals exist, unquestionably built using mundane techniques by willing craftsmen, and no one questions the expenditure of the resources and manpower required to build them.

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  39. Marvelous thread. I ran across the pyramid crapumentary in a Netflix binge. Signs of trouble appeared in very first minute with her offhanded claim that the pyramids were located at the "geodesic center of the world." A quick search for that notion brought up sites related to, inter alia, Creation Science, so I knew we were in treacherous waters. I lasted a total of 20 minutes before I gave up and my search for something on Boulter led me here. Blogs like yours are invaluable. As a professor in the social sciences with an interest in the philosophy of science and as an amateur astronomer, I too am astonished by how poorly understood modern methods of scientific inquiry seem to be. Your discussion above concerning the relationship between Newton's and Einstein's conceptions of gravity was particularly well stated. I would offer one critical comment if I may, however, and it is this: it might be said that you offer here a strictly Popperian conception of science. That is, your depiction of modern science is consistent with the way philosopher of science Karl Popper famously described it in Conjectures and Refutations -- a heroic narrative in which scientists are fundamentally concerned with refuting or disproving their conjectures or hypotheses and that scientific progress results cumulatively as a result. I'm sure you know where I'm headed here, but Thomas Kuhn's landmark work, The Structure of Scientifc Revolutions, grounded in his experience as a physicist, cast serious doubt on the Popperian world of science. Kuhn demonstrated that under conditions of "normal science" - science as it is practiced most of the time by most scientists - paradigm affirmation, rather than refutation, is the order of the day. I'm reminded of the story of how long Einstein seemed to ignore or downplay the significance of Edwin Hubble's discovery of an increasingly expanding universe, presumably because such a universe was inconsistent with Einstein's cosmological constant. Indeed, the fact that we now suspect that his famous "blunder" or fudge factor, constructed to square general relativity with the received static model of the universe, is actually correct only adds weight to a Kuhnian model of science in which irrationality co-exists along side the empiricism of scientific methods. I've said far too much in support of a small point, but perhaps what Kuhn teaches us is the need for some humility in our defense of science. For defend it we should -- especially from the assaults launched by the likes of Boulter, creationists, ideologues and politicians, all who find science to be a frustrating obstacle in the pursuit of their respective agendas.
    Bravo for such an excellent blog!

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    1. Thanks. I appreciate your thoughtful feedback. In regards to Popper, I plead guilty as charged, and deliberately so. I tend to be of the opinion that paradigms SHOULD be somewhat difficult to overturn, mainly because they tend to be supported by the most evidence >at the time when "revolutionary" claims are made.< I prefer to state this as I've put it elsewhere: we don't require more evidence for a revolutionary claim; rather, we require NO LESS. That puts the revolutionary at a disadvantage in that he cannot stand on the work of others, but that is the price of revolution. I think its a fair one. When one considers that by "more" or "less" I'm speaking of the quality of the evidence rather than its mere quantity, that price may seem quite reasonable.

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    2. As a postscript, I should probably address the matter of humility in defense of science. I explain this every so often, but it doesn't hurt to reiterate what it is I'm doing here. Certainly the knowing of it hasn't affected my commenters, as you can read above.

      I'm not a scientist. I'm a consulting technologist and I have a lot of hobbies. One of them is opining on this blog. In no way is my bloviating and pontificating to be taken as a formal defense of >anything<. It is my personal entertainment, to be blunt. And part of my goal as a writer is not just to communicate the facts of the matter as I would if I were a scientist, but also to communicate my emotions regarding those matters. The language and attitude I choose take advantage of the fact that I have no professional standing.

      Nonetheless, I prefer to answer correspondence in kind. I thoroughly enjoy corresponding with people like you, who are lettered and well-mannered. But I'm thoroughly entertained by responses that are completely hostile to me, and even those that are barely literate. I think you'll notice that my attitude is tailored to the correspondent.

      For what it's worth, I agree with you. Science itself requires the utmost humility. Opinions mean nothing in the face of evidence. But where I'm most critical is where evidence is nowhere to be found; instead replaced with mere assertions.

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    3. Brett, as I re-read your comment and my response, it occurs to me that although I tell you I'm "guilty as charged, and deliberately so," I don't actually tell you the *reason*. So here it is:

      I write design and write software for a living. Now, the writing of software isn't scientific; but the QA testing of it IS, and very strictly so. You begin with a set of hypotheses, which are the original design specs. The prediction is that the software will conform to these specs AND ONLY THESE SPECS. And I know from direct experience that you don't really learn anything if the only testing you do is confirmational (or "positive testing"). Basically, positive testing checks to see if your application works as expected with the expected inputs. By definition, it tests with the kind of inputs that the led to the creation of the specification in the first place. Thus, seeing that the software works under these conditions cannot reveal anything new.

      "Negative testing" is therefore *required* by any rigorous test plan. In my industry, if you don't do negative testing, you simply don't know how to test. Negative testing finds defects by subjecting the software to non-expected input or user behavior. For instance, if a prompt asks for a Yes or No response, what happens if you type "Quit"?

      As I crudely describe it, affirmation testing is basically ego-stroking, whereas negative testing is the true indication of whether your specification was complete and robust. If it fails a negative test, you MUST re-write.

      So if you may pardon my hubris, I don't agree that Thomas Kuhn's observation cast serious doubt on much of anything. To the degree that he demonstrates that paradigm affirmation, rather than refutation, is the order of the day he is simply observing that most scientists are doing it wrong. And frankly, this affirms my own opinion and experience. So I reject Kuhn and stick with Popper, since Popper has the more useful and practical paradigm.

      I realize that this is deucedly inconvenient for those natural philosophers engaged in theoretical physics (for example) who would prefer to be called "scientists", but that again is a matter for correction of their egos, not my dictionary. ;)

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    4. A related link that just came to my attention:
      http://cosmos.nautil.us/short/90/we-have-pushed-physics-too-far

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  40. The monstrosity of pseudoscience that launched this thread has at least one thing going for it in that it sparked some great follow-up commentary in the entertainingly vitriolic rejoinders by our host and others. Somehow it seems a modest corrective.

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  41. Well thank you for your thoughtful reply. You say you're not a scientist; that only makes your level of scientific knowledge all the more remarkable. On the issue of humility, your point about the importance to you of communicating emotion is well received. Frankly, the issues raised in this thread, and throughout the blog, are of such importance that I'd be worried if emotional responses weren't elicited by such contributions as Mr. Dongler's insightful "stuffy fuck"! Finally, by way of full disclosure, the degree to which I find your style so entertaining belies the fact that apparently we come from diametrically opposed political perspectives (I'm something of a European-style social democrat)! This, too, speaks to your eloquence. I'm delighted to have discovered your blog, sir. Bonne continuation!

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  42. Dear Mr Leigh,

    I would like to congratulate you on the conversation that you have created with your application of common sense. (Or unfortunately, not so common) Your application of scientific rigor to the psuedo-scientific claims of Dr Boulter is very welcome. I have enjoyed reading both sides of this debate.

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  43. Thank you for your thoughtful post regarding this dreadful "documentary". One fact you missed, having just wasted a few hours of my own life, is the new phrase they created of something called "subtle energy". I watched intently trying to understand what this form was, but no clue. Any thoughts?

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    1. I didn't so much "miss" it as "not waste a lot of time on it". I nodded to their unique conception of physics when I acknowledged the "sunlight on water" quip. As for what "subtle energy" means, your guess is probably better than theirs.

      BTW, here's the best way to harness sunlight on water: build a hydroelectric dam.

      Hydroelectric power *is* solar power. The sun evaporates water at sea level, raising it into the atmosphere and increasing its potential energy. Condensation, rain, and runoff release that kinetic energy, which is captured and stored by the dam and harnessed by the hydroelectric turbines. It's a beautiful thing of awesome power when you do it right.

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  44. The problem with that is that you could say the same for fossil fuels. The sun provides energy for plants and animals to grow and reproduce. They decompose and over millions of years become buried beneath strata and heat and pressure transform them into fuels we can use. Fossil fuels are a product of solar power. They're even renewable if you have a few million years to spare.

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    1. You don't have to wait that long, Joel. A wood-burning stove is ultimately solar powered, too, and far more directly. So are you. The "solar panels" (leaves) of plants photosynthetically convert light energy + raw materials into sugars and starches, and you use them to produce work. But your perceived "problem" is anything but... You don't wait millions of years for the Water Cycle to run its course. It's a constant process... or constant enough, anyway, since reservoirs act as capacitors that smooth out seasonal variations.

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  45. I sense the author here is immature...and still worships his Science.
    A belief called...Scientism. Yawn. No need to say more...as nothing will get through to you...

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    1. Your powers of observation are weak. The author here is quite religious. However, science is based on observation and hard evidence. Discount it, and you don't have a worldview... merely a mindview, and one that's limited to your own mind, at that. Looks cramped in there.

      I recommend less yawning and more thinking.

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  46. Excellent arcticle and highly entertaining. I haven't watched The Pyramid Code and can't promise I ever will, for one can absorb only so much woo nonsense before the brain hurts. It amazes me that (presumably) educated adults can even entertain such fringe material as credible. And now I see the term "scientism" being thrown around—which, in my experience, is used mostly by people who don;t really understand and are afraid of science.

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    1. @kmt_sesh, it may sound counter-intuitive, but I find it's much easier for fundamentalist Christians to accept actual science than it is for New Agers. The general argument is this: "If God spoke the world into existence, then the scientific laws which govern it are the literal expression of God's word. It's therefore our duty to study those laws and accept them as we find them." It usually doesn't take much beyond that. In fact, that statement accurately describes the genesis of the modern Scientific Method. A little history goes a long way.

      The ones who are troublesome are New Agers, for two reasons: because often they think what they're doing IS Science and that "establishment" scientists are conspiring against them; and because they don't have a philosophical "wedge" such as I just described for Christians. For them, science is at worst the enemy, and at best indistinguishable from magic.

      Less troublesome, but still frustrating, are those who "fucking love science", but have no idea what it actually is. To them, science is as much a cargo cult thing as it is for New Agers. But at least they can be educated.

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  47. You simply can't be as stupid as you appear. There's a reason there is nothing on the planet that has been built in the industrial age that even closely compares to what the ancients built. And by ancient I mean a time that nobody knows about except those who built them and as there is not one piece of evidence who built the truly megalithic structures when everything else was noted. The Egyptians were more obsessed with taking credit and tagging there work they make the Zeta cartel taggers look like amateurs.

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    1. You're right: I can't be that stupid. But you certainly seem to have managed that which has evaded me. Congratulations.

      The pyramid builders left quite substantial record of the evolution of their attempts, from mustaba building to stacked mustabas to step pyramids to several failed attempts at true pyramids, first as modifications of step pyramids, then as the first true pyramid. In the archaeological record we see a linear progression of the refinement of construction techniques that argues forcefully against woo.

      There's no question who did it. There's not even a question of where the blocks were quarried or when or how they were moved. What is a puzzle is the specific method they used for raising them... as in the configuration of the ramps employed. But that lack of knowledge of that specific technique does not require us to denigrate the people who designed and performed the work.

      As a modern-day example I refer you to Coral Castle, near Miami. Google it. Go there. It consists of multiple megalithic structures, composed of limestone blocks ranging from a few tons to up to 60 tons. There's a stone gate that's about nine tons in weight, and it can be moved with a hand. There was only one person who knew for a fact how these blocks were cut and moved, and that was Edward Leedskalnin, the architect and sole builder. He never let anyone else see him do it. And when asked how it was done he simply said he knew the laws of weight and leverage well. There's no reason to doubt this. There's nothing magical about the construction... that stone gate moved easily because it rested on a truck bearing, which had to be replaced after his death. It took six men and a crane to repair it, but Edward built it by himself. There's very little that cannot be accomplished with simple tools if those tools are properly leveraged. The problem with most analyses of megalithic structures is that the people analyzing them are not putting themselves in the role of very intelligent people with very limited resources.

      Don't sell the Egyptians short. That's just stupid and short-sighted.

      I'm not even going to ask you to watch this linked video. I'm putting it here for the smart folks. You can go about your harmless and somewhat amusing business:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMZIKE_jCWY

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  48. Secondly, if we had you come out to sea treasure hunting after an hour of you throwing up all over deck and whining like a little girl you'd promptly be hooked and tossed for chum drag. What a whiny little know nothing you are.

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    1. I see you saved the very best argument you had until after you finished the bottle. Perhaps "drunk you" has convinced himself that you're so much more persuasive when you've had a few too many. Obviously, "drunk you" holds the surprisingly popular opinion that the booze enables you to skip past logic, reason, rational debate, or empirical evidence of any form and jump right into the embarrassing moment where you've vomited weak and senseless epithets on someone else's doorstep where it will remain as a permanent testament to your bad choices. And, incidentally, a textbook example of projection.

      At least you can have an unfortunate tattoo lasered off, whereas you don't get a choice on this one. I'm going to leave it right here. Again, congrats.

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  49. For the record, ancient Egyptian has a word for death. It's "mwt." They buried their dead on the west bank of the Nile (the sun sets, or "dies" in the west and is reborn each morning in the east) and did refer to the dead as "westerners," but they also had a perfectly good and common word for death.

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  50. If you are seeking more reliable sources on this alternate stance on Egyptology, I found the work of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz and his contemporary, John Anthony West, to be incendiary. Hope this helps :)

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