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Topics - Ashvin

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And when Sean Hannity is the one propagandizing the headline, you know we have gone off the deep end...

DEPT OF JUSTICE: Capitol Rioters Intended to ‘Capture and Assassinate’ US Officials During Assault -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday ordered a far-right conspiracy theorist who left an ominous note for Vice President Mike Pence inside the U.S. Capitol to be detained pending trial, saying he participated in a “violent insurrection.”

In U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona, Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine ruled that Jacob Chansley, who was famously photographed inside the U.S. Senate Chamber wearing horns during the Capitol riots, should not be released from custody.

Chansley, a Navy veteran and follower of QAnon, allegedly left a note for Pence warning: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” QAnon is a conspiracy theory that casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals,

Fine on Friday called Chansley “an active participant in a violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States government” and said she fears he is a danger to the community and a flight risk.

As she made her ruling, Chansley interjected and tried to speak, but the judge cut him off, saying he should avoid making statements.

Her ruling came shortly after prosecutors in Arizona walked back sweeping statements they made just a day earlier in their memo seeking detention, claiming the government had “strong evidence” that the “intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.”

Earlier in the day, the top federal prosecutor overseeing the sweeping probe of the riots at the Capitol told reporters that at this stage, they had no “direct evidence” that rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol had formed “kill capture teams.”


At the same time as 20,000 armed troops occupy DC, the Mayor requested there be ZERO first amendment permits this weekend.

- Armed troops.
- No free speech.
- No free movement.
- No 2A rights.

Sources at DC MPD tell me they are baffled by the armed troops in the city. Usually the National Guard is equipped with a gas mask, a flash light, and not much else. But right now they're in full kit and there's a massive vehicular presence as well.

Check points everywhere.

Medicine & Health / China's Clampdown On COVID-19 Origins Exposed
« on: December 31, 2020, 02:45:06 PM »
I guess the AP is now in on the conspiracy theories too...
China's Clampdown On COVID-19 Origins Exposed As AP Journalists Tailed, Samples Seized

As the World Health Organization and other China puppets struggle to assemble a 'natural origin' theory for COVID-19, the CCP has been going to great lengths to quash non-sanctioned investigations that may instead point to a lab escape from research facilities which made international headlines in 2015 for dangerous 'gain-of-function' research - by which they were manipulating coronaviruses to better infect humans.

And while mainstream news outlets spent the better part of 2019 flatly rejecting lab-origin evidence as 'debunked conspiracy theories' - which earned ZeroHedge a temporary Twitter ban and a plethora of social media warning labels and 'fact checks' (including one from a former Wuhan Lab worker) the same mainstream outlets are now finding China's suppression of COVID-19 origin theories suspicious.

As part of their investigation, AP interviewed dozens of Chinese and foreign scientists and officials, while also reviewing leaked emails, internal data, as well as documents from China's CDC and cabinet. And what did they find? "A pattern of government secrecy and top-down control that has been evident throughout the pandemic."


We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. In our first three studies, we show that the virtuous victim signal can facilitate nonreciprocal resource transfer from others to the signaler. Next, we develop and validate a victim signaling scale that we combine with an established measure of virtue signaling to operationalize the virtuous victim construct. We show that individuals with Dark Triad traits-Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy-more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies. In Study 5, we show that a specific dimension of Machiavellianism-amoral manipulation-and a form of narcissism that reflects a person's belief in their superior prosociality predict more frequent virtuous victim signaling. Studies 3, 4, and 6 test our hypothesis that the frequency of emitting virtuous victim signal predicts a person's willingness to engage in and endorse ethically questionable behaviors, such as lying to earn a bonus, intention to purchase counterfeit products and moral judgments of counterfeiters, and making exaggerated claims about being harmed in an organizational context. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Psychopathy (r = .58), Machiavellianism (r = .43) and narcissism (r = .30)

Doom Psychology & Philosophy / The Philosophy of Jordan Peterson
« on: November 19, 2020, 07:54:02 AM »
Quote from: Phil
They don't hate that, look at Russia all orthodox and patriarchal after perestroika and glasnost. Look at Confucian china where single mothers are  still outlaws.
Cultural Marxism is only to demoralize the west and make it ripe for military defeat. Tell me what policies the Republicans are proposing other than having a white male president AND vice president, to overturn any of the policies that destroyed the family and created the huge herd of stigmatized losers looking for a father figure in Alex jones, Joe Rogan and even Jordan Peterson, with trump as their saviour. None. At. All. Controlled. Opposition. On. Social. Conservatism.

Since you keep bringing up Peterson and clearly have no idea what he thinks or what his underlying philosophy is about, I thought you could use some pointers in the right direction (reposted from another forum):

I was re-visiting some of Peterson's biblical lectures recently, and I decided to listen to "The Phenomenology of the Divine". This lecture encompasses almost every idea and thinker that is key to his philosophical outlook. Some of the key people, ideas and stories discussed, in no particular order (because I can't remember it), are as follows:

- The Disappearance of God by Richard Friedman
"In his bold and illuminating new work, The Disappearance Of God: A Divine Mystery, Richard Friedman probes a chain of mysteries that concern the presence or absence of God. Why does the God who is known through miracles and direct interaction at the beginning of the Bible gradually become hidden, leaving humans on their own by the Bible's end/ Written over so many centuries, how is it possible that the Bible depicts this diminishing visible presence of God (and the growing-up of humankind) so consistently? Friedman brilliantly explores the place of this phenomenon in the formation of Judaism and of Christianity. In the Bible, the hiding of the face of God is a literary and theological development, yet in the twentieth century it is a spiritual crisis, and Friedman aims to supply solutions to this quandary. Moving through rich and provocative examinations of world literature, history, theology, mysticism, and physics, The Disappearance Of God is as readable and exciting as a good detective story, with a conclusion that offers real hope in a time of spiritual longing"

- The Oedipal myth and the reasons why Jung's conception of it was superior to Freud's - for Jung, it was a central myth pointing to the archetype of the Hero's Journey.
"The play Oedipus the King by Sophocles has multiple examples of collective unconscious archetypes from the theories of Carl G. Jung. In general Jung's theories say that there are archetypes that define the world, its people, and why people participate or commit certain activities. Jung explains that these archetypes are harbored in the collective unconscious of every person's mind. The archetype of the hero is one of them. The middle of Oedipus the King shows the character Oedipus as the Jungian archetypal hero and sacrificial scapegoat."

- Crumb (documentary about underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, which Peterson calls "the best documentary ever made")

- John Milton and Paradise Lost - Satan is conceptualized as a hyper-rational, hyper-intellectual totalizing spirit.
"The mind is its own place, and in itself, Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."

-Aldous Huxley, the "Doors of Perception" and his experiences on mescaline.

-Modern research on psychedelics, specifically experiments with psilocybin and its effects on terminal cancer patients with concomitant anxiety and depression.

"A third round of studies initiated more than 40 years after the Good Friday Experiment was conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine under the direction of psychopharmacologist Roland R. Griffiths. In two papers, published in 2006 and 2008, Griffiths empirically demonstrated that psilocybin could regularly result in mystical experiences with lasting benefits for participants. These double-blind studies found that: psilocybin was safe in structured, clinical settings; generated one of the five most meaningful experiences for most participants; and produced improvements in mood and quality of life that lasted more than one year (up to 14 months) after the sessions"

-Dostoevsky and his mystical experiences which resulted in epileptic seizures, but also produced some of the best literature ever written.

-Nietzsche, his mystical experiences and his overall genius and prophetic ability.

-More on Jung, highly influenced by Nietzsche (Peterson claims equally as much as Freud). Discusses several of his key works and ideas - exposure therapy as the key to overcoming fears.
"Beware of unearned wisdom" (Jung on psychedelic use)

-Erich Neumann, Jung's "greatest student", who wrote the The Origins and History of Consciousness.
"As though in confirmation of this, the present work opens at the very place where I unwittingly made landfall on the new continent long ago, namely the realm of matriarchal symbolism and, as a conceptual frame work for his discoveries, the author uses a symbol whose significance first dawned on me in my recent writings on the psychology of alchemy: the uroboros. Upon this foundation he has succeeded in constructing a unique history of the evolution of consciousness, and at the same time in representing the body of myths as the phenomenology of this same evolution. In this way he arrives at conclusions and insights which are among the most important ever to be reached in this field" (Jung's foreword)

-Q&A is also really good - one person brings up an amazing quote by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), which I cannot remember or locate right now. Peterson talks some about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The Kitchen Sink / California Repeal Proposition 209
« on: June 21, 2020, 01:09:43 PM »
Now this is almost too unreal to believe, even in our crazy times, but here it is courtesy of the Democrats in California...

The California Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment may appear on the ballot in California as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

The ballot measure would repeal Proposition 209, which prohibited the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, and public contracting

What a bunch of fucking scumbag weasels calling it the "Affirmative Action Amendment".

Spirituality & Mysticism / An Ode to Ka!
« on: July 29, 2019, 07:03:02 PM »
Re-posted from a subreddit:

A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling and the Evolution of Consciousness

I just started reading a new book by Mark Vernon ( The title of this post is the title of the book. The central thesis is the need for a re-imagining of ancient mythology, namely Christianity, as a dynamic interplay between the individual conscious being and the transcendent, and the fundamental and instantaneously recognizable meaning which attends such an adventure. Vernon explores this mostly through the underappreciated ideas of Owen Barfield, "the last Inkling".

I am going to quote a part of the introduction so others can get a sense of what the book goes into:

"Barfield made his discovery about the evolution of consciousness through the study of words. Philology showed him how words change meaning over time and can be treated, therefore, as fossils of consciousness... an example is illuminating: consider the words "wind" and "spirit". It turns out in Ancient Greek, as in many other old languages, there is a single word that means both... it's pneuma in Greek and it's a relic from previous times. It's a linguistic fossil from the undifferentiated consciousness of original participation because back then, the material world mingled with the immaterial; outer with inner; mortal with immortal; wind with spirit...

He wasn't the first to notice it. Thinkers as diverse as the British utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham, and the American transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, had done so before. Where he differed is in arguing that Christianity played a pivotal role in the development of human awareness... Jesus can be said to have understood that the evolution of consciousness had reached a decisive moment. He embodied this moment in his life and worked it out to the full...the heart of what he showed is the mystical truth, the secret: individuals are free to know in themselves that their life and God's life is one life.

The unfolding did not stop there. The prophets and sages began to feel that the full implications of these subtle shifts had to be incarnated. To be wholly realized, the inside of the cosmos needed to be manifested not just in the ideas of perceptive teachers but in the life of an individual... this individual would demonstrate that what comes into a person from outside cannot fundamentally affect them anymore, but instead what matters is what dwells in their hearts, and so comes out in their lives... such an individual would need not to teach others, but show them by embodying it...

Jesus became such a central figure in the West... because his life was this revelation. He crystallized such a perception of what it means to be human, the perception with potential for a consciousness of individuality as made in the image of God... it's not an exclusive account - his life will always exceed any one telling - but it is different from what is commonly heard in churches, at least in my experience. It's not about how 'Jesus saves', to cite the trite formulation of our times that I believe puts so many people off, but rather is about how Jesus initiates a way that can become our own. It's about how Jesus invited his followers to take up their cross and work out their own salvation so that they, too, might know the mystery of life in all its fullness."

The events described in this video are disturbing on many levels - it is maybe the best example of the type of lawless tyranny and reactionary violence in the "free" world prophesied by collapse blogs like this one, but probably will be the least talked about. I couldn't even find an article about it on ZeroHedge, which leans heavily libertarian conservative, and has covered the Antifa antics there before. Why is this? I have my suspicions, but I am also genuinely curious.

The scumbag "journalists" at Vox who support/defend Antifa attacks like this one should be ashamed and anyone going to them for political analysis should stop immediately. Here is the article I am referring to:
"But according to a second narrative, offered primarily by less well-known left-liberal writers and social media accounts, the mainstream media is getting it all wrong. Ngo is not an innocent victim but a far-right sympathizer who has doxxed antifa members in the past, potentially facilitating their harassment, and provokes them so that he can broadcast the result. The outpouring of sympathy for Ngo, in this account, is actually evidence that the mainstream media is falling for Ngo’s grift — funneling money to his Patreon and legitimizing a right-wing smear campaign against a group that’s working to protect people from the threat of violence from groups like the Proud Boys."

Notice how the author, in complete scumbag fashion, tries to undermine the fact that Ngo IS a VICTIM of criminal violence here by filtering the event through his left ideological bias. The video interview below shows how this type of manipulative ideological thinking pervades every institution of the city of Portland as well, to the point where the Mayor and the police department are too scared to go after clear CRIMINAL actions taking place right in front of them.

I'm optimistic that cities like Portland remain an outlier in this country, and the reasonable and intelligent commentary about these events by YouTubers and podcasters like Dave Rubin will work to quell the popularity of far left groups like Antifa and their media supporters. And perhaps it will also help the moderate liberal voices in this country grow a pair when confronting these radical leftist actions. On the other hand, some portions of the population have become too ideologically boxed in to "give up any ground" to the other political side, and big tech platforms with A LOT of power seem to play a critical role in making the lack of reasonable, moderate dialogue even more scarce.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Geopolitics / High schoolers debate immigration
« on: April 08, 2019, 07:23:11 PM »
I volunteered as a high school debate judge over the weekend. The topic was - "The federal government should have less restrictions on immigration into the U.S." This was with the Washington Urban Debate League.

Each team is assigned either to the affirmative or negative position. I judged four rounds of debate. It' generally a good cause IMO, because it helps these kids learn to think critically and logically through various arguments and they are exposed to both sides. However... here are some troublesome observations:

1) The negative side never presented a conservative argument against immigration in any of the rounds. This is partly because the debate is structures so that the negative's primary goal is to show why the affirmative's plan for more immigration is not feasible or has some other flaws. However there was certainly room for kids to question whether more immigration into the U.S. could cause problems, i.e. more chance of terrorism, more economic hardship for American citizens, etc. None of these arguments were ever made.

2) In the first round I judged, the negative's main rebuttal was what they called the "capitalism critique". Basically, the argument was that capitalist institutions are so corrupt and irredeemable, that any policies to improve economic conditions through increased immigration (or anything else) are doomed to fail.

3) The most common rebuttal of the negative position, and one that I heard in every round, was global warming. The argument was as follows - if we allow more immigration, the immigrants will have a bigger carbon footprint than they would have otherwise had and that is a fatal flaw to the affirmative position, because the threat of GW trumps anything and everything.

4) The only other substantive argument I heard from the negative side was that, since Trump is president, there was no chance the affirmative's plan would ever be approved, and therefore it fails.

Keep in mind that the kids are coached by their teachers on what arguments to use. I had to suspend my disbelief at how ridiculous the negative arguments were in order to be fair and give them a chance at winning the round. I did give it to the negative twice, just because they were more prepared and did a better job articulating their arguments and other such things. If I were talking to the debate coaches though, I would tell them to stop trying to indoctrinate their students with Marxist liberal bullshit that won't get them anywhere in life.

The Kitchen Sink / The Intellectual Dark Web (IDW)
« on: August 14, 2018, 02:55:07 PM »
Quote from: Surly
Quillette in Lehmann's hands purportedly "makes arguments or presents data not in keeping with the contemporary intellectual consensus." The NYT's latest darling Bari Weiss, "regards Lehmann as one of the leaders of the Intellectual Dark Web, a group of intellectuals who are "determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient."

Since you brought it up, I would say that the above is a decent snapshot of the IDW, but a snapshot is all it is. Jordan Peterson more aptly describes it as a loose grouping of public intellectuals who have been early adopters of internet technology allowing long-form talks and discussions (I would say 60   min. makes it "long-form"). The people who currently are grouped into the IDW run the gamut of political leanings, with Ben Shapiro probably being the most conservative. So people who want to paint it as some manifestation of the "drooling right" don't have a factual leg to stand on.

The one thing they all seem to have in common, though, is an extremely high respect for academic freedom and free thought/speech in general. Whether they lean left or right, they all pay enough attention to see that certain ideological factions of our society, on BOTH sides, are trying to drown out such freedoms and homogenize intellectual discourse. The casualties of the identity politics ideologues are stacking up more and more. If you teach, do research or publish articles/books/videos, you are especially susceptible to being the next victim. You will be called a bigot, homophobe, Islamophobe, racist, sexist, etc. for merely stating FACTS about gender, race or religion.

Fortunately, the various constituents of the IDW have garnered enough support that there is a significant counter-balance to these worrying trends. The loudest and most shrill voices are no longer the only ones being heard. Now if you are new to the IDW and want to read the most biased, politically-motivated and intellectually lazy analysis of it, I would recommend you visit none other than Vox -

The reason I even post that link is because I have enough faith in the intellect and discernment of readers here to think that they can easily see through the thin and superficial ideological veneer of the above hit piece. If, instead, you want real exposure to the IDW, so you can decide the intellectual integrity of its "members" and the merits of their arguments for yourself, you have to do the HARD WORK of reading what they write or listening to what they say. It takes time and effort. And that is something the ideologues of the Vox ilk do not want anyone to do, because it immediately destroys their brand of selling cheap and easy aphorisms to its readers. They want their captive audience to remain addicted to a steady diet of convenient ideologically-driven "anaylsis".

Here's a place to start, but most certainly not the place to end if you want to get real exposure to the IDW and their sensible discourse:

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The Kitchen Sink / Men in Blue
« on: June 21, 2016, 08:44:25 PM »
For anyone interested in a rational and informed discussion of the ethical and legal issues involved with police corruption and abuse of power in this country, I highly recommend this interview with former Baltimore detective Michael Wood.

History / Is the Exodus Historical Fact or Fiction?
« on: October 10, 2015, 04:14:16 PM »
One of the biggest mysteries of the ancient world is the question of whether the historical events recorded in the Bible actually happened. The stakes of this question are extremely high because today’s world is so connected to the Bible. In fact, the Bible may have been the greatest single influence to shape Western civilization. For more than 1500 years, the West accepted the truth of the biblical accounts. Presently, these accounts form the foundations of faith for hundreds of millions of Christians and Jews worldwide. If these events never happened, are those religions based on a gigantic lie?

Many of today’s tensions in the Middle East are connected to the Bible. The opposing camps in the culture wars can be defined, in large measure, by their views of what the Bible is - and what it means. When issues relating to biblical history come up, they automatically qualify as controversial - and the unveiling of new archaeological finds related to the Bible are met with an atmosphere of explosive apprehension.

The story of the Exodus has become particularly controversial. For more than 50 years, the vast majority of the world’s most prominent archaeologists and historians have maintained that there is no hard evidence to support the Exodus story. In October of 1999, the prominent Israeli archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog wrote in Ha’aretz Magazine, “This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel.”

The case against the Exodus appears to be so strong that even some religious leaders are labeling it as historical fiction. According to Rabbi David Wolpe, named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine, “The Exodus certainly didn’t happen the way the Bible depicted it, assuming that it was a historical event in any description.”

This is a dramatic shift from attitudes of just a century ago. In the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, European pioneers of archaeology came to the Near East with a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other. At first, their discoveries seemed to be very supportive of the Bible. However, over the years, new findings and more exacting practices determined that the dates for many of the finds were actually from periods outside the biblical timeframe. In their zeal to prove their faith, it appeared that the previous generation had jumped to their conclusions prematurely.

Is the Exodus just a myth, or is it possible that the archaeologists got it wrong?

(actual documentary is on Netflix for anyone who has it)



Three Paracas Necropolis Culture skulls, showing different shapes produced by head binding

Sources of dubious (and not-so-dubious) news on the internet have been getting very excited for the past week or so about some skulls from Paracas in south-western Perú. According to these sites, the skulls have been shown to have DNA that proves them not to be modern Homo sapiens but something else. Depending on the slant of the site, they are the remains of either an unknown but earthly species or aliens. Some sites make comparisons with the Starchild Skull, which has been touted as a human/alien hybrid. So just how reliable is the news?


The skulls were discovered by the respected Perúvian archaeologist Julio César Tello (1880-1947) during excavations in 1927-8 on the northern side of the Cerro Colorado area of the Paracas Peninsula. In all, some 429 mummy bundles were recovered from two clusters at a site known as Wari Kayan, a large subterranean structure. The mummies were wrapped in cotton cloths, some of which were embroidered with wool to create elaborate patterns, which are among the best South American textiles ever found. The mummies were then placed in baskets in a sitting position, facing north; as with all South American mummies, their preservation is due to natural desiccation. Almost four hundred embroidered cloths were recovered. All the burials were of males and the quality of their grave gifts suggests that they were of high status; some have suggested that many of the men buried there had been brought for some distance to a special location, although this is not accepted by all.

Tello had previously excavated at Chavín de Huantar and recognised that there were cultural affinities between its products and those found at Wari Karan and suggested that the Paracas Necropolis Culture, as he called it, was related to the largely contemporary Chavín Culture. Comparisons have also been made between the later Paracas textiles and those of the Nasca Culture, suggesting another relationship. The pottery was largely plain and thin walled; it is very similar to ceramics found in the Cañete and Chincha Valleys, to the north of Paracas and is generally known today as Topará style. Similar pottery is also found in the earliest Nasca culture. It is generally accepted that the Nasca culture derives from the Paracas Necropolis Culture.

An example of Paracas Necropolis Culture embroidery

A Paracas Necropolis settlement has been found at Arena Blanca, in the coastal plain below the Cerro Coloarado. It covers an area of some 5- hectares, divided into twenty separate ditstricts, with buildings made from cobbles in dried mud. It inhabitants had cultivated plants, while cotton nets may be evidence for fishing. It appears to be contemporary with the earliest phase of burial at Wari Kayan and after its abandonment, was used as a cemetery by people of the Topará Culture. Further settlements are known in the Ica Valley to the south, where they span the entire period of the Paracas Necropolis Culture (conventionally reckoned to span 1-200 CE, although some prefer to place it earlier).

So far, so good. We have burials from a culture whose cultural affinities are well established and whose chronology is reasonably clear. Now for the part that has led to the recent controversial claims. Many of the high status burials of the Paracas Necropolis Culture have deformed skulls, which are usually believed to be deliberately induced using boards and weights. These result, in extreme cases, in skulls that are elongated into tall conical shapes. No two are alike and all are believed to have denoted high status in Paracas Necropolis Culture society.

The beginning of the controversy

A foetal mummy, illustrated by Rivero and Tschudi

For many years after their discovery, the Paracas Necropolis Culture burials were regarded as ordinary Andean mummies, whose high status males exhibit the cultural deformation of the skull practised by a number of pre-Columbian New World societies. Enter David Hatcher Childress, a well known promoter of some very Bad Archaeology indeed. In a 2012 book, The Enigma of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls of the Ancients, co-written with Brien Foerster (described as a “Canadian-Peruvian anthropologist” by Amazon, although it would be more accurate to describe him as a tour operator), Childress suggests that the phenomenon is not one of cranial deformation. Quoting a nineteenth-century doctor, John James von Tschudi who claimed to have seen a seven-month term foetus with a head as elongated as its mother, Childress claims that this is evidence for a separate race or species.

What is not made clear is that they are quoting from the book Antigüedades Peruanas (1851) by Mariano Eduardo de Rivero y Ustáriz (1798-1857) and Johann Jakob von Tschudi (1818-1889) or, rather, its 1855 English translation by Francis Lister Hawks (1798-1866), who also managed to “translate” the authors’ names (as, indeed, does the original Spanish edition, where Dr von Tschudi is given the forenames Juan Diego!). Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Until one reads Antigüedades Peruanas and discovers that this is in a chapter dealing with racial typology and phrenology and that Tschudi is reinforcing a typology of three Amerindian races he first proposed in Archiv für Pysiologie in 1845. The type to which they attribute the elongated crania are described as Aymaran, and the presence of a large wormian bone at the parietal/occipital interface is said to demonstrate the primitive nature of this people: se halle en una seccion del género humano, un fenómeno anómalo constante que falta en las demas, pero que es característico en los animales rumiantes y carnívoros (“there is thus found in one section of the human race a perpetual anomalous phenomenon, which is wanting in all others, but which is characteristic of the ruminant and carnivorous animals” in Hawks’s translation). Because of the high incidence of such bones among the indigenous peoples of the Andes, they are sometimes known as Inca bones.

The engraving that shows the foetal mummy (curiously found in the English translation but not in the Spanish original) does not depict the extreme of cranial deformation that Childress claims is genetic in origin: while the skull appears dolichocephalic, it appears to be entirely in the range of normal human foetuses. Moreover, although Rivero and Tschudi claim that it was found within the womb of a pregnant mother, the engraving does not show a foetus in a natural position, but in the position of a typical Andean mummy. It also appears to be wearing a kilt. In other words, there is a degree of deception in their account. It appears that Childress and Foerster cannot adduce any recent discoveries of neonatal of foetal mummies displaying supposedly congenital or hereditary skull deformation of this type.

Enter Lloyd Pye

Brien Foerster managed to persuade Juan Navarro Hierro, director (and owner) of the Paracas History Museum (sic: the name is given first in English, then, smaller, in Spanish) to part with some tissue samples. He claims that he did this because “[t]he only way to establish the actual age, and possible genetic origins of the Paracas people is through DNA analysis of the skulls themselves”. Dating human tissue by means of DNA analysis is such a new technique that I can find no other use of this remarkable development in any other archaeological investigation. Of course, there is no such dating technique: this is Brien Foerster displaying his ignorance of archaeological dating techniques!

Where did he choose to send the samples? To some prestigious university department, well known for its work on ancient DNA? No. Instead, he chose to send them to Lloyd Pye (1946-2013), a crank who believed in ancient astronauts, the extraterrestrial origins of humanity and, worst of all, the “Starchild Skull” as an alien/human hybrid. Why? This suggests that, far from being a dispassionate researcher, Brien Foerster has a preconceived agenda and it’s one that involves aliens. Although his lists his affiliation as “University of Victoria, Biological Sciences, Department Member”, his association with the university is as a graduate, not a member of faculty.

A Paracas skull: note the dimple toward the top of the head, which is a product of head-binding, depressing the suture between the parietal plates that Brien Foerster claims does not exist

On his website, Brien Foerster makes a number of claims about the skulls from Paracas, citing Lloyd Pye as an authority. He refers to “5 physical factors, pointed out by Lloyd Pye and myself, which are not at all common to Homo sapiens”, of which he lists two: “the presence of 2 small holes in the back of the skull” and “only one parietal plate, where there should be 2”. This is backed up by a photograph, although it appears to depict a skull with no cranial deformation.

The “small holes” are the parietal foramina, perfectly normal features of the human skull (he does say that Lloyd Pye believed that they might be “natural”, so why are they flagged up as a factor “not at all common to Homo sapiens”?). There are few photographs that show the top of the Paracas skulls, but it is obvious that the frontal bone (the bone behind our foreheads) is stretched enormously; it is also evident that the sagittal suture (between the two parietal bones) begins very high up on the skull on those few photographs that show this element. Either Brien Foerster is entirely ignorant of the normal features of the human skull, or he is deliberately deceiving a readership he expects of be ignorant of these features.

It gets worse

Just when you thought that this story couldn’t possibly take off, Brien Foerster managed to put out a release on his Facebook page on 12 February 2014 hinting about initial results from his DNA tests. This is what has set the internet of dubious news stories talking excitedly. This is what Brien Foerster quotes:

Whatever the sample labeled 3A has came from – it had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far. The data are very sketchy though and a LOT of sequencing still needs to be done to recover the complete mtDNA sequence. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample 3A indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.. I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree. The question is if they were so different, they could not interbreed with humans. Breeding within their small population, they may have degenerated due to inbreeding. That would explain buried children – they were either low or not viable.

I am surprised that a geneticist would make this statement, but it is presented as verbatim, so we must assume that she/he genuinely wrote it. Let’s analyse what they are saying. Firstly, that Sample 3A “had mtDNA with mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal known so far”. That’s a very far reaching statement. It means that the source of the sample is unrelated to any animal on the planet. Any animal. Think about that for a few moments. The clear implication is that this is a non-terrestrial life form. The only one not to be related to all other animals, be they Bryozoa, Porifera, Acanthocephala, Acoelomorpha, Brachiopoda, Chaetognatha, Ctenophora, Cycliophora, Entoprocta, Gastrotricha, Gnathostomulida, Hemichordata, Kinorhyncha, Loricifera, Micrognathozoa, Nematomorpha, Nemertea, Onychophora, Orthonectida, Phoronida, Placozoa, Priapulida, Rhombozoa, Rotifera, Sipuncula, Tardigrada, Xenoturbellida, Echinodermata, Cnidaria, Annelida, Nematoda, Platyhelminthes, Chordata, Mollusca or Arthropoda. Incidentally, we belong to the phylum Chordata.

A Paracas Necropolis Culture skull with hair

Now, this statement troubles me. For a start, there is the skeletal morphology. This morphology shows that the owners of the Paracas skulls were Chordates; more than that, they belonged to the sub-phylum Vertebrata (or Craniata), as they possess a bony vertebral column; more than that, they were members of the superclass Tetrapoda, as they possess four independent limbs; more than that, they belong to the class Mammalia, as they possess hair (which can be seen on some of the skulls); more than that, the skeletal morphology demonstrates that they belong to the Primates, as do all apes, including humans, monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises. In other words, far from possessing “mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal”, they appear to be human. So what does the mtDNA sequenced from Sample 3A mean?

Well, our anonymous geneticist goes on to classify Sample 3A as “a new human-like creature”. So it’s not actually unrelated to the rest of the animal kingdom. That’s a relief. However, it’s “very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and Denisovans (exact species not yet determined, although members of the genus Homo) are extinct hominins whose distribution was restricted to Europe and western Asia: one would not expect to find them in South America. If the mtDNA of Sample 3A really is “very distant from Homo sapiens”, the only hominin so far known from the New World, does this mean that the geneticist considers it to be another species within the genus Homo or a member of an entirely separate genus. This is something I would expect them to give an opinion on and I find it curious that they apparently have not.

What is even more curious is the statement that “I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree”. This is worryingly ambiguous and can be taken in two ways. It might mean that Sample 3A derives from a species whose position in the hominin lineage cannot yet be determined, but which might one day. I suspect that this is not the intended meaning though. Given the thrust of the rest of the statement, I suspect that it is meant to imply that the mtDNA belongs to a species entirely outside the hominin lineage. In other words, it’s leaving open the possibility that we should regard the sample as deriving from an alien. There does not appear to be any consideration given to the likelihood that the odd features of the mtDNA recovered are not “mutations unknown in any human, primate or animal” but a result of contamination (after all, the skulls were excavated in the 1920s and we do not know the conditions under which they have been stored, how much they have been handled, whether any procedures have been used to stabilise them and so on) or errors in the laboratory.

The statement ends with a very worrying pair of sentences: “Breeding within their small population, they may have degenerated due to inbreeding. That would explain buried children – they were either low or not viable.” “[D]egenerated” is a very loaded term: it smacks of racialist theories and I am surprised that a scientist would use it. Be that as it may, it is true that inbreeding within small isolated populations will increase the likelihood of genetic disorders that will led to the eventual extinction of that population. However, it is quite ludicrous to claim that it “would explain buried children”. Has this geneticist no knowledge of pre-twentieth century population mortality patterns? Before the development of modern medicine, infant mortality rates were high; in some societies, fewer than half of all live births would survive more than five years. The burial of children in the Paracas Necropolis Culture is a perfectly normal phenomenon in many human societies. To claim otherwise is deliberately misleading.

I find the entire statement released by Brien Foerster to be quite unprofessional. It makes unsubstantiated claims; it deals with preliminary results; it contains at least one outright untruth. This is not standard scientific procedure. Let us assume that the mtDNA sequencing has been done properly. The geneticist states that “[t]he data are very sketchy”: so why release them, particularly when “a LOT of sequencing still needs to be done”? It is very unusual for a scientist to “leak” preliminary results in this way, unless they are very certain of their reliability. Doing it with “sketchy” data is inexcusable. Unless there is a hidden agenda…

Assessing the claim

There are so many problems with the statement posted by Brien Foerster, that it is difficult to see why anyone would take it seriously. For a start, it sits in glorious isolation from any archaeological data. The Paracas Necropolis Culture is not the product of some mysteriously isolated group of non-human creatures: its position within the broader cultural development of prehistoric Perú is well understood. The cranial deformation seen in mummies from the Wari Kayan cemetery fit into a known pattern, termed the Aymara deformity, which is produced by wrapping the skulls of infants tightly in circular bands. This exerts pressure along a transverse axis, through the mastoid region and the region just above the insertion of the nuchal ligament on the occiput. This can cause the skull to appear tri-lobed (as seen in the “Starchild Skull”), although the Paracas skulls exhibit a more conical deformity. The compression may disrupt the normal growth pattern of the skull, particularly along the sutures, and can produce a depression in the sagittal region, exactly as seen in a number of the Paracas skulls. Altering the shape of the skull also alters its volume, despite Foerster’s claim that it does not [edited 19.2.2014 by KJF-M]. Although small variations away from normal volume can be produced, they are not significant; however, while Foerster claims that the capacity of the skulls is too great for Homo sapiens, this is not the case: the Paracas skulls have an average capacity of 1600 cm3 and the human range is up to 1800 cm3 and they therefore fall well within the normal distribution range.

Secondly, the interpretation of the genetic information so far released is said by the scientist carrying out the sequencing to rest on “sketchy” data. Does this mean that further work may modify the interpretation? Is the geneticist allowing themselves a way of retracting the interpretation of further work shows the mtDNA to belong to a perfectly ordinary Amerindian type?

I was initially reminded of another DNA related story, the announced discovery of Bigfoot DNA in 2013 by Melba Ketchum. Although some early analyses of Brien Foerster’s statements regarding the Paracas DNA implicated Melba Ketchum, this is not the case, although Foerster has said that he is working with her, while she has hinted that she has been working with elongated skulls. It thus appears that the anonymous geneticist who wrote the bizarre statement posted on Foerster’s Facebook page. As happens so often with this sort of work, Brien Foerster is asking for donations to carry on the work (the site shows as of today (15 February 2014) that one donor has given $1000, twenty have given $100, twelve have given $50, while there are 38 donations of smaller sums).

In summary, this is a non-story. There is nothing at all unusual about the population of the Paracas Necropolis Culture, apart from the extreme nature of the head-binding they practised. DNA or no DNA, they are fully human: every aspect of their skulls can be explained in terms of genetics (such as the large wormian bone) and culture (such as the cranial deformation). Any statements to the contrary contain a mixture of deliberate deception, ignorance of anthropology, lack of archaeological knowledge and jumping to wild conclusions using “sketchy” data. They are not evidence for aliens or an otherwise unknown hominin species.

Update 20 February 2014

Sagittal synostosis, from The International Journal of Morphology 27 (2) (June 2009)

There is a condition known as craniosynostosis, in which one or more sutures fuses early. The most common form is sagittal sysnostosis, which is found in about half all cases and suppresses growth in the lateral plane of the skull, compensated by a disproportionate growth in length, resulting in a long, narrow skull. In The Enigma of Cranial Deformation, Childress and Foerster publish a colour photograph of a skull from Camacho (Perú) showing exactly this form of sagittal synostosis, which they wrongly claim shows that the individual had a single parietal plate. As with all their other discussions of palaeopathology, all they show is their ignorance of the subject: they are completely unqualified to write an entire book on the subject if they can make such basic mistakes. It’s a shame that the readers of their book are unaware of the depth of their ignorance.

Spirituality & Mysticism / Undesigned Coincidences in the New Testament
« on: September 24, 2014, 11:41:53 PM »
I recently came across a wealth of historical arguments, presented for a modern audience by Tim McGrew, which I have never really heard before and really AMAZED me. I feel compelled to share them here, but, as McGrew was quick to point out, it encompasses A LOT of information and makes a cumulative case for the NT's reliability. For me, the FULL WEIGHT of the argument did not settle in until after reading most of the articles. So I will gradually post them here and hope that at least some Diners will find the interest and patience to wade through them.

Let's start with a summary of "the argument from undesigned coincidences":

"The argument from undesigned coincidences (UC) counters the skeptic’s notion that “the Bible is only the claim” and offers no evidence within Itself for Its own truthfulness. Far from the fallacious argument of ad populum (which would claim that because every source states a detail, that detail must be true), the UC argument uses probability to show that significant evidence favors the reality that multiples sources commented on a historical fact.

The Form of the Argument:

1. Sources A and B give coherent, interlocking accounts of putative event E (or, of facts F1, …, Fn).

2. If E were an actual event, such interlocking accounts would be much more probable than if E were not an actual event.


3. The interlocking of the accounts in A and B is significant evidence that E actually occurred. (Mutatis mutandis for F1, …, Fn)

Now let's move to Part 1, which is an introduction. Anyone who wants to skip ahead to Part 2, 3, etc. before I post them, FEEL FREE -

Undesigned Coincidences: Part 1
September 1, 2013 by Tim McGrew 16 Comments

Nearly everyone has a concept of what it means for historical claims to be confirmed by a new discovery. Tablets unearthed at Kültepe in the late 19th century reveal that there was, as the Old Testament had said, a vast Hittite empire in the time of Abraham. An Arabic manuscript turns out to contain the Diatessaron of Tatian, settling once and for all the question of whether that second century harmony of the Gospels actually existed and whether it included the fourth Gospel. Excavations in Jerusalem reveal the pool of Bethesda and its five porches, by the Sheep Gate, just as described in John 5. A clay seal bears the name of Baruch, the disciple and friend of Jeremiah. An ornate first century ossuary bears witness to the prestige of Joseph Caiaphas.

This kind of confirmation, exciting as it is, suffers from several limitations. For one thing, we are largely at the mercy of time and chance for discoveries of this type. Archaeology and paleography are not experimental sciences; at best, one might begin digging in a promising location, but there are no guarantees as to what (if anything) one will find. Tempus edax rerum is one of Ovid’s memorable phrases—Time, devourer of all things. Many priceless treasures are forever lost: papyrus documents that rotted in the rain, scrolls that were burnt by the Bedouins to warm themselves at night, monuments and inscriptions that were gradually eroded away by the sands of time or crushed to powder under the boots of an invading army. And many others are as good as lost, buried in a garbage dump somewhere that we will never think to dig.

For the non-specialist, there is the additional problem of being dependent on those with specialized knowledge for the proper translation of a cuneiform inscription or the recognition of the faint text on a Greek palimpsest. For this sort of evidence, most of us must depend on the specialists. And the specialists themselves must depend in significant measure on good luck.

A second kind of evidence comes from non-Christian texts and monuments that we already have. The Jewish historian Josephus, for example, covers in the later books of his Antiquities some of the same historical ground covered by the Gospels, and we meet in his pages many of the same characters: Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, his second wife Herodias, Pontius Pilate, Antonius Felix, Porcius Festus, John the Baptist, and even Jesus himself and his brother James. Here is a source of evidence that is available in translation to nearly anyone who is interested. The confirmation the Gospels and Acts receive from other documents of antiquity is very significant and extensive.

But this kind of evidence has its practical limitations. A substantial majority of the people who go to church on Sunday morning have in all probability never even heard of Josephus. Most of those who have heard the name do not own a copy of his works, and of those who do, most will not take the time to read hundreds of densely packed pages, sorting out the various Herods, tracking down the allusions, and finding the points of contact with the historical narratives of the New Testament. The pace of modern life closes off the serious exploration of this evidence for more than a dedicated few.

But there is a third kind of evidence that lies within Scripture itself, a kind that requires only attention to one’s own Bible and a willingness to read thoughtfully. This is the evidence of undesigned coincidences.

The term itself, coined over two centuries ago, is perhaps not the best description for modern readers, since we rarely use the word “undesigned” today. But the meaning is not terribly difficult to grasp. Take two texts (for the sake of the argument one need assume nothing about them except that they both purport to recount some historical events) and compare them. Of course, they might have nothing in common; in that case, there is no material for this sort of argument. But they might touch on some of the same characters and events. If so, we may examine them to see whether the manner in which they discuss these things fits together obliquely, in ways not likely to have been deliberately chosen for that effect—undesignedly.

It is an important point to keep in mind that the 66 books of the Bible are, in fact, self-contained works in their own right and exhibit in varying degrees the individuality of their human authors and the independence of their various sources of information. This fact gives us the opportunity to compare them with one another in ways that can provide evidence that they are both telling a true story. The way the two works intersect can show that they are drawing from life.

A single story written by one author would not afford us the same opportunities of cross examination, since someone could always retort that the author had tidied up the parts of the story so that they agreed with one another. And two books that relate the same story in much the same words also would not carry much weight, as it could always be objected (and sometimes very reasonably) that one of them had simply been copied from the other. But in numerous places the various books of the New Testament are manifestly not “tidied up” to square with one another. And that fact allows us to use their interlocking narratives as evidence of truth.

Most importantly, these sorts of coincidences are unlikely to be the work of a forger. Someone who invents a story with the intention of passing it off as historically true will usually take some care that it leaves no puzzling questions in the reader’s mind. On the other hand, someone who knows that he is telling the truth is more apt to state his facts and leave them to their fate. It never occurs to him that he ought to explain certain aspects of his story in order to make it credible or plausible. When, therefore, we find that such questions do arise, and then we find that they can be answered by some fact that crops up incidentally in another historical document, the congruence of the two provides us with evidence that neither is a forgery or a fable.

The sort of case that one can build using these undesigned coincidences does not provide a logical guarantee; such guarantees are not available in historical work. And no single example, taken by itself, may be enough to persuade a reasonable but skeptical person. But the argument is cumulative. If it can be fairly shown that such interlocking exists in case after case, the combined weight of the evidence will, to an unprejudiced mind, be most satisfying and convincing.

Two English authors are principally responsible for developing the argument from undesigned coincidences with respect to the Scriptures. In his Horae Paulinae (1790), William Paley examines the Book of Acts, on the one hand, and the Pauline epistles, on the other, with a view to showing how each might illustrate the other. The correspondences are particularly full with respect to Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians, and it is partly due to the sorts of arguments Paley marshals that these books are conceded by virtually all scholars today to be authentic Pauline works.

In a series of lectures in the early 19th century, John James Blunt picked up Paley’s method of argumentation and extended it first to the Gospels, then to the historical and prophetic books of the Old Testament. Blunt’s lectures were first published in a series of separate monographs, but these were subsequently collected into a single volume called Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings both of the Old and New Testament an Argument of Their Veracity (1847), a work that went through at least eighteen editions.

Both of these works were enormously influential. It is difficult to find an educated Christian of the era who writes on the subject without showing an awareness of one or both of them. Archibald Alexander, Richard Whately, Charles Finney, Thomas Chalmers, Charles Hodge, John Henry Newman, Thomas Cooper, Charles Spurgeon, B. B. Warfield, J. B. Lightfoot, B. F. Westcott—the list of notable writers and scholars who show their indebtedness to the work of Paley and Blunt includes an honor roll of nineteenth century Christian thinkers.

In this series, we will examine some of the undesigned coincidences discovered by Paley, Blunt, and others. Not all of them are of equal weight (as both authors stress), so we will choose some of the more interesting and plausible ones for presentation. Readers should keep in mind the cumulative nature of the argument. The full force of this kind of evidence can be appreciated only as we examine multiple instances. But the effect, for those who have the patience to work through those instances, is well worth the effort.

Spirituality & Mysticism / God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« on: August 07, 2014, 08:28:07 AM »
I just realized that I have the capability of adding polls here. So I am creating two polls to assess the general consensus here about 1) what it means to "sacrifice" and 2) whether we can reasonably claim that the Christian God could sacrifice for humanity. Since I can't add two polls into one thread, I will put the 2nd poll in a comment below this one (edit: I'm holding off on the second poll for now, since it would be too confusing).

Those who have not followed any of the arguments on this topic can find them here -,3085.0.html

It may take some effort to separate the few morsels of wheat from the overgrown chaff, so to speak.

The ORIGINAL issue posed by RE was one concerning ETHICS. Should we sacrifice our lives for our neighbors, friends or even our enemies, and if so, WHY should we? The Christian perspective answers YES to the first part and GOD to the second part. That is why it's important for the Christian (or those interested in the Christian perspective) to consider the question of God's ability to sacrifice for humanity. As He was willing to do for us, we should be willing to do for others.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

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