The Paracas Skulls – An Object Lesson in Critical Thinking

PPP

I’ve gone and got my panties in a twist again (What? They feel nice against my skin…). I’m just really bloody tired of having to do other peoples’ thinking for them. Now before you get all excited and puckered-up about that statement, let me explain myself. Across a gamut of topics on Facebook ranging from radioactive tuna to chemtrails to bad science, I have discovered a disturbing trend; I call it Post First, Ask Questions Later (or possibly not at all). If you’re here often, you might have noticed that I tend to get a little, shall we say, pissy when otherwise intelligent and educated folks just swallow outrageous claims without so much as an ‘Are you sure about that?’. An article doing the rounds on Facebook this week has proven to be the turd to break my otherwise calm demeanour.

The article, posted to pop anthropology website Ancient Origins, details a peculiar case of South American elongated skulls. Traditionally associated with ritual head-binding, Ancient Origins goes on to explain that DNA testing has revealed that the previous occupants (?) of these skulls had some very weird genetic mutations, apparently never-before seen. The implication is, of course, that the skull deformity is genetic and not due to head-binding. It’s an interesting story, convincingly and authoritatively written.

And so begins an object lesson in skeptical inquiry and critical thinking. Although the two terms are all too often used interchangeably, they are in fact two different, if strongly correlated, concepts. The former involves questioning the veracity of claims and is the fundamental duty of anyone with an open mind who cares about the truth (a sadly tiny sub-section of the population, apparently). The latter is the process by which we go about making judgements about said veracity. One can be a skeptic without being a critical thinker (see anti-evolution, climate change denial etc.), but being a critical thinker necessarily implies skepticism. I will leave it to you to have a read of the original article and move on to how we apply these two methods of ascertaining truth. First, skepticism:

Some actual contemporary head binding, in case you just can't believe people do this brand of madness

Some actual contemporary head binding, in case you just can’t believe people do this craziness

There are a number of claims made in the article, almost always with some sense of authority – an authority which clearly fools the majority of readers – so I’ll run up a list of the ones that should get your skeptometer twitching:

It is claimed that the skulls could not be the result of cranial deformation because it is not possible to alter the volume or weight of a skull by that method, while the Paracas skulls have a larger volume and are considerably heavier than ordinary skulls: Is this really true? Are they really larger and heavier, and if so, is it really impossible for head-binding to produce this change?

The cause of the elongation is claimed to have been a ‘mystery for decades’: Has it been a mystery for decades? Why hasn’t anyone heard of this mystery?

The samples were sent to a ‘geneticist’, but they are never named and only ever referred to as ‘the geneticist’ which is kind of odd, as the results are their work. You’d think they would want to be credited for it. Why is this being announced by an ‘expert’ (Brien Foerster) rather than by the actual scientist (who would presumably be more credible). And why doesn’t he provide the actual data, instead of just giving his ‘expert’ interpretation of it?

Foerster claims that the samples had mtDNA “with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far”, and that they indicate “a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans”. Really? Those are some extraordinary claims right there. How come this isn’t all over the news? I mean, this is paradigm-changing stuff!

More claims from the shadowy ‘geneticist’: “I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree”, and further that they were likely unable to inter-breed with humans. Well, that only requires the demolition of evolution in its entirety! This is exactly the kind of evidence Darwinists have been saying is needed to disprove evolution by natural selection. But is it true?

dd958a810849Now, with our brains reeling from the onslaught of unsubstantiated claims, we can take our handful of queries and hammer away at them on the anvil that is critical thinking. Sadly, without access to costly research papers and with Google’s search engine chock-full of reportage on these ‘unbelievable’ (quite) findings, it is pretty hard to determine the veracity or otherwise of the claim regarding the ‘impossibility’ of cranial deformation, but the simple fact that there are hundreds or thousands of documented cases from all over the world where it has been deliberate, and clearly appears to have altered the volume of skulls, should be an indication that the claim may be false.

In any case, it is irrelevant to the process we shall use to work through this muddle. The first question one should ask of this article (and any article, for that matter) is: What are the sources of this information? In this case, we find a solitary source: Brian Foerster, ‘expert’ in Elongated Skulls. No stated qualifications, which is odd because you’d have thought they would add to his credibility if he had any. So, let’s check him out, shall we? A quick Google search reveals that Foerster is an author on the subject, runs a site called ‘Hidden Inca Tours‘, talks a lot about ancient aliens’ favourites like Puma Punku and Tiwanaku and has a regular column on Graham Hancock‘s website. So, in this instance, ‘expert’ appears to mean ‘unqualified author and historical revisionist/fabricator’. Hmm…

But what of his intrepid ‘geneticist’? After a little digging, it turns out that the samples Foerster procured were handed over to one Lloyd Pye. Another quick Google later and it turns out that Pye, amongst other batshit craziness, had (he is now deceased) been the number one proponent of the wholly discredited ‘Starchild Skull’. But not to worry! Pye was not the ‘geneticist’; he handed over the samples to… (a little more digging) Dr. Melba Ketchum (Oooh, she’s a Doctor!). The next question should be obvious – what kind of Doctor is she? Well, not a geneticist, that’s for sure; she is in fact a Veterinarian. She does have a company called DNA Diagnostics Inc. – The Better Business Bureau has granted her business a rating of ‘F’ for various consumer complaints and it should be noted that they deal with cat and dog DNA, not human! She has also made claims regarding supposed Bigfoot DNA, which have been roundly destroyed. There is much more (including the ultimate scientific faux-pas of falsifying peer-review), but you can look that up for yourself.

And so ends our lesson. I think the conclusion ought to be manifestly obvious to anyone with a brain. If it isn’t, then you may be subject to a little confirmation bias – that is, you want to believe in alien-human hybrids because of some pre-conceived notion and, as this fits the bill, it must be true! That, my friends, is expressly not critical thinking or skepticism.

To summarise: Question the central claims, research the claims, find the sources, check the sources (do they say what it is claimed they say? Are they reliable and/or peer-reviewed?) and, finally, come to an objective judgement of the merits of the claims.

So, for humanity’s sake, will you Facebookers out there PLEASE START DOING THIS so we don’t have to waste any more of our time doing it for you!

And for those of you chomping at the bit to claim scientific bias and the destruction of evidence and conspiracies of silence and government secrecy and
the destruction of reputations by the ‘MainStream Media’, well, I’ll deal with you lot another day…

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39 thoughts on “The Paracas Skulls – An Object Lesson in Critical Thinking

  1. Really interesting stuff, I’m off no read all the links.

    Im intrigued by your distinction between critical thinking and skepticism. I can see why you’d make the distinction i.e. climate change deniers question when their isn’t much to question. Ive had many conspiracy theories tell me that they are being critical thinkers !! I actually think those who’ve done most to promote genuine ‘critical thinking’ like Simon Singh or Ben Goldacre might actually best be described as sceptics. It’s why I hate the term ‘critical thinking’, it really doesn’t help

  2. Your explanation does not take into consideration the added mass of the skull or the larger area for a larger brain. The way you misread the piece makes me think that your definition of shape is volume. A different shape does not add mass to a humans skull except in the form of bleeding or water on the brain which is normally a fatal condition. It looks like you took what was said in the piece and twisted it in your own head. They clearly said more tests are due and that this was the first DNA result to come back. There are no other news sites reporting this because they know to wait for further information. I want measurements of the skulls not just talk about them. 3D numbers in centimeters, millimeters, inches if they must be. Weights of normal skulls that have been dug up after many years in dirt, and these skulls. We need the numbers to really make a logical decision about these skulls.

    What about the rest of the skeleton?

    • Yeah, except that I’m not a complete idiot as you suggest. Being a postgraduate-level engineer, I know the difference between volume and shape. You miss the point about whether the claim that volume cannot be altered by cranial deformation is true or not.

      Other skulls of this type clearly show varied braincase volume (not just shape), so it seems an unlikely claim.

      And other sites are reporting this – you can’t google ‘Paracas’ without hundreds of sites coming up – I no because I bothered to check. It’s great that more tests are due, but if they are by the current team, yo’d have to be an idiot to care, as they are clearly a bunch of frauds. Yes, FRAUDS. Not sadly misguided, but FRAUDULENT. If you can’t see that, then you should check yourself before you wreck yourself…

      • It seems to me that the pictures you displayed in this post of humans with intentionally elongated skulls dont clearly show varied braincase volume? Wouldnt we need to analyse (x ray maybe) these peoples skulls to determine exactly what the volume is (has this been done?). Surely we cant determine by a picture? The pictures seem to show that in the case of boarding (or whatever its called) and intentionally elongating the skull, the skull seems to come to a ‘point’. As if the amount of bone for the skull is predetermined and so as the skull is forced to elongate it starts to form into a point. The paracas skulls do not do this? Some of the skulls look like homer simpsons skull. They do not come to a point, they retain their girth all the way up to the top? And what about the cranial plates? They say that they only have one cranial plate compared to humans who have 2.

        I dont think you can compare (correspond) the paracas skulls to the skulls youve included in this post.

    • Exactly. Thank you for correcting the discussion trajectory.
      And i love his last paragraph about the scientific community resisting disturbing facts…conspiracy ect…being a farce.

  3. Excellent post! – You’re probably right about Brien Foerster and his “team” – BUT that does not mean there never was an alien seeding of this planet or any other – it just means in this instance Brien Foerster and his “forensics team” are suspect, and the “evidence” is suspect. It would be great if there was conclusive evidence to show an alien historical connection to human history – but until we get that slam dunk, it’s all just wishful thinking based upon a lot of circumstantial evidence from pyramids and unusual artifacts across the planet.

    I did watch Brien Foerster’s video and he does not claim that the skulls are alien, but he does lead you to believe he wants them to be.

    But kudos to you for putting together a great sanity check for this “discovery”.

    • Thanks Peep 🙂 You are of course completely correct to say that this does not disprove the ‘alien intervention’ hypothesis. That said, the burden of proof is on them to prove it not us to disprove it. Until then, it is indeed wishful thinking.

      I, for one, think it would be awesome if it turned out that aliens had been involved in our history but seeing as it is an extraordinary claim it does, to quote Carl Sagan, require extraordinary evidence.

      Although Foerster does not explicitly state that the skulls are alien in rigin, his other work betray his thoguhts. In the mean time, he’ll try to avert as much criticism as possible by going with the ‘hybrid’ option. In his (or his ‘geneticist’ Ketchum’s) statement that the genome would not fit into any knnown evolutionary tree, he is, however, coming as close as possible, without actually saying it, that it’s origins were from somewhere ‘without’. Ketchum, BTW, is also an evolution denialist and verges at times on Old-Earth creationism.

  4. Pingback: Free People Of The Cosmos » 300 Skulls Discovered in 1928 in Peru are Completely Unknown Species

  5. Yes good point dude. I have cought myself doing this a couple of times.
    Crystal Pyramids are the lastest one doing the rounds..
    I suppose it might be fun to see what ridiculs things you can make people belive.

    • A friend of mine saw them and they dont have the 2 sections as a normal skull does. I might go to have a look at them soon myself, as i am not so far from where they are.

  6. So, doesnt critical thinking also involve actual measurable evidence of whether or not skull size can be increased both in volume and weight, rather than posting multiple pictures of well known and established head bindings that obviously alter shape but doesnt address the facts in question?

    Furthermore, conspicuously absent is any reference to perhaps the single most disturbing difference in skull construction. The Peru skulls have only one growth plate as compared to two in every human on the planet…

    In my mind, critical thinking means one takes the facts in hand and deals with them based upon unbiased reason – not pre-conceived ideas of the answer based upon “consensus thinking”, thus starting with the conclusion and attacking possible answer that dont meet with educationally elite dogma.

    • I.don’t really have time to respond fully but I’m not basing anything on “consensus thinking”, and I’m mildly stunned that you would reach that conclusion after reading the post, unless of course you had already decided you liked the claims and think I’m a ‘sheeple’ and so you trot out these tired aphorisms failing to realise that the other 50%-odd of the world think your a sheeple.

      Only one of us or neither of us has the pathway to truth, not both of us. And to that I say, good luck to you mate, I know I’m safe.

      And then againit’s painful to see someone NEARLY get it but falling at the confirmation bias hurdle…

  7. Well, you did a lot if digging on the sources, but never debunked the volume and weight differences. You said it “appears” possible, but dont actually back this up with evidence – just pictures (just like any good BigFooter) Furthermore absolutely no discussion of totally different skull plate growth as in Peru skulls have only one and all normal human skulls have two.

    It is not outside of reason to believe that no “reputable” scientist will look into this as it would effectively open them to ridicule and (more Importantly) remove them from consideration of grant money from the educated elite endowment funds. Scientists are unknown until they release a finding whereupon they are either categorized as “whackjobs” or “respected”. There seems to be no middle ground.

    Until I see someone definatively disprove that binding cannot significantly change volume and weight (pictures are not facts to prove or disprove either) – as well as explain the fundamentally different skull plate design, this case is still “open” to me.

    • You, Sir, are exactly the sort of person that I worry about. The burden of proof is on the claimant, not on me to disprove your claim! I say Pink Unicorns exist and until you disprove my claim then I guess they must stand a good chance of existing…?

      Do you not understand the nature of mutation, have you checked that the skulls have one parietal plate in all cases? Is it so far beyond your blinkered focus to see that even if that is true, that fact doesn’t get you to ‘non-human’ or not on the known evolutionary tree.

      You make me sad for people 😥

      • Critical thinking looks for answers, not a pissing match which is all you appear to be about. I have not made any statements sbout the answer to what these skulks are, but you have. Furthermore these skulls are not unicorns. They exist. I provided a link which scientifically examjnes skull bindings and finds they alter sh as pe but NOT volume. So far you have not proven anything but that you apparently have an agenda and it is NOT to find truth or think critically, but to mud sling.

  8. Although you sound very skeptic as opposed to critically thought, you hold to the one fact about it all, the theory must be proved, not debunked. So although the article is intriguing, I stand by your claim and await the proof. In fact, I applaud you for doing the research on the claimed “experts”, and exposing them for the shock jocks they are known to be.

      • The skulls themselves are evidence that they are abnormal. Why arent people scrambling to answer the question I and others have posed about unexplained size and weight deviation from all kniwn human skulls? Since I posted a link to a scientific article where actual research was done re: binding does NOT alter volume, the author has not uttered a peep in response. He also tries to dodge the issue of completely different skull structure as if it is equivalent to differing hair color rather than being equivalent to them all being cyclops. Not just one or two of them share these characteristics but all of them. If this is untrue, then it would have been refuted in the 90 years since being discovered.

        Please follow your own advice and use some independant and critical thought in yiur response and we might get somewhere.

      • Listen, dude, I answered your complaint about your paper, and my answer was: So what? It doesn’t make it any more likely they are not human, seeing as that’s the single least likely outcome.

        You fail to understand this, and so, how about you stop with the flaming and bugger off and do your own research. Done..

  9. The single easiest explaination of these skulls is that they are fake. So far no one has made that assertion. If they are not fake, then a critical thinker would look at all data available and go where the data takes them. The larger size (would like to see this quantified in actual measurements) and different skull structure are only pieces of the puzzle. What about the rest of the skeletons? What size are the skulls in relation to the bodies? We really cant take the DNA tests seriously until the data and its method of testing is publicly released, so it would be nice if some rich benefactor would step in and take care of that part.

    My issue with your rant is that it came across as not critial thinking but as sophomoric and hateful – NOT thoughful at all. It is a blog so you can write what you like, however my suggestion is you dont make a hypocrite ouy of yourself by being that which you mock…

      • I’m just wondering your talking about all these sources and weaving out the fake ones but what makes you a reliable source you said you were an engineer but that hardily makes you an expert. Do you have any doctorates in any fields? Or are you just a guy with a website that is starting to take himself a little to seriously due to the fact that people are willing to just soak up and accept anything you tell them which is exactly what your telling them not to do. The only thing that will ever end this debate is cold hard evidence from very carefully examining the skulls and searching for the bodies, as it would be most disturbing if out of all the skulls they didn’t find at least one body. But anyway that was my fun for the night, looking forward to your RR.

  10. These skulls aren’t a lesson in critical thinking they are a lesson in EVIDENCE. The question is: Are these skulls human? Does your blog post provide any evidence to prove these skulls are human or not human. No. It provides no evidence and therefore brings us no answer to the question. Just as these uncredited DNA results provide no answer.

  11. If the skulls are fake, they’re fake. End of story.
    If the skulls are real, the size, volume and variant anatomy are not currently explicable based on our current classification of hominid types.
    If tests show/have shown there is something highly unusual, or even somewhat unusual, about the DNA, it would suggest that these people were…different, perhaps very much so. The question is how different? Are they Homo sapiens or are they so different as to justify a special classification? The recently discovered Homo floresiensis looks rather different from Homo sapiens, but we’ve no DNA yet to tell us anything about the genetic relationship. Neanderthal looked rather similar to us, and was sufficiently genetically alike to interbreed as evidenced in modern Asian and Caucasian DNA. I must say, if these skulls are real, I’m very surprised they haven’t had more attention in anthropological circles. However, in relation to Orange Elvis’s speculation regarding this being a topic scientists may deliberately avoid for fear of being considered disreputable, I remember a quote from an anthropologist on the Laetoli footprints about how no-one wanted to touch the subject. There are plenty of scientifc anomalies. Some that come to mind are the 33-day cycle in radioactive decay rates, C14 in diamonds, and the rebranding of and continued research into ‘cold fusion’, now LENR. I could go on. Yes, some people might jump to conclusions, but it’s up to science to figure out whether those conclusions are tenable. In the meantime, if these skulls and the claimed DNA results are real, wouldn’t that be intriguing news?

  12. Brilliant dissection of this pretty damn questionable “discovery”. It’s a shame that people are too lazy to do what you did, especially these days with credible information at your fingertips.. if you’re willing to look for it.

  13. Pingback: HEADLESS CHICKEN BRIGADE » 300 Skulls Discovered in 1928 in Peru are Completely Unknown Species

  14. The DNA of these skull should be done in the Planck Institute, because, they are use to deal with ancient skulls. In addition to their size and elogation, the skulls, seem to have some other unusual characteristics. However, those characteristics could be a sign of a deformity like hydrocephalus. What is really intriguing is the red hair

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