Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

Tilting at windmills

I just, for the first time in many years, failed to restrain myself from correcting a stranger who was wrong on the internet. I tried to be civil — encouraging, even — in my correction, seeking a tone much like that I use when commenting on students' essays, though hobbled by the fact that I'm addressing a stranger. I suspect that I missed the mark rather widely, and actually ended up coming across like someone with a stick up his ass.

And where did I choose to make what may well be my first attempt this millenium to correct someone for being wrong on the Internet? A youtube comment.

I know. I know. Sigh.

I cannot recommend watching the video in question. So I will save the link for after the comment.

But I must first flagellate myself a bit over my own priorities. There are dozens of excellent youtube videos that I've started posts about, or at least bookmarked to post about later. And the smart and satisfying thing to have done with the last 90 minutes would be to have written a post about one of those videos. Or two. Or three.

Next time.

So:   What I spent the evening writing:

From 0:53 to 1:07, you describe the development of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent in a way that seems a bit strained. You then assert, from 1:08 to 1:16, that the recent discoveries in Iran may prove that agriculture was developed independently by different populations around the world  — as if that were something that needed proving, rather than having been the archaeological consensus for decades if not longer. At least your apparent misunderstanding of what archaeologists have long believed about the development of agriculture explains your strained Fertile Crescent summary. But hyping the Iran discovery like that makes you sound like a fool, and leaves me wondering whether there's anything at all genuinely interesting about the discovery.

From 4:02 to 4:15, you claim that the evidence of pre-Clovis humans killing a mastodon contradicts the consensus theory that the extinction of megafauna in North America at the end of the last ice age was caused by humans. It does? How, exactly, does evidence of humans killing a mastodon 14,000 years ago contradict the theory that humans caused the extinction of the mastodons? I note that your actual phrasing — "contradicts the scientific theory that an extinction of megafauna like mammoths and bison occurred due to the arrival of the Clovis people" is, arguably, a factual statement. But the arrival of the Clovis people is hardly the central feature of the theory: the presence in North America of human hunters  — the very fact that you are claiming contradicts the theory  — is.

The things you present in this video are genuinely interesting. Or would be, if you didn't hype them with misinformation anyone remotely familiar with the topic will notice. Getting facts wrong always damages one's credibility. Basing your claims on incorrect facts destroys it. Because of it I'm not willing to believe anything you assert in the video without independent confirmation.

I assume you had only the best of intentions in producing this video: to share interesting information about the world. That is noble and worthy purpose. But one you cannot further if you are careless with facts.
The youtube video in question: 6 Recent Archaeological Discoveries That Could REWRITE History. (Yes, I should have taken one look at the title and moved on then. No, I don't know what I was thinking.)

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