Last season , TV viewers saw an assortment of SWAT team members, ghost busters, self-styled prophets and parapsychology adepts, none of them archeologists, presented as the discoverers of The Lost Tomb of Jesus, a compact version of His sarcophagus, The Ark of the Covenant and The Garden of Eden. Not a year goes by without zealous amateurs and rapacious con men raising millions for one more go at putting Noah's Ark on prime time.
For all the grandiose claims these programs make, it is vain to go in search of evidence for these 'discoveries' in the dry and dusty literature of archaeology. Belief in them is sustained not by the contents of museum basements, or potsherds in plain sight in the Holy Land, but by vanity presses, PR handouts and self-serving websites on that new arbiter of truth and received wisdom, the Internet.
Yet Biblical archeology is not the foremost locus of media fraud, dubious science, and crackpot theorizing. There is a larger field in play - just look out the window. Climate science has become the foremost plaything of the Broadband Gods.
.......As Televised, Climate Science And Biblical Archaeology
....................Have Entirely Too Much In Common
The reason is simple - the stakes are very high. There is no money in archaeology , but climate policy has trillion dollar potential - taking CO2 out of the air could evolve into a physically and financially bigger business than digging up fossil fuels. Little wonder that just as frankincense scented Biblical discoveries like the Jesus and James ossuary invite accusations of forgery, rising levels of CO2 lead Senators to pitch cries of 'hoax' at scientists bearing less than joyful tidings to the oil patch.
Greens too are blackening science's reputation. They evangelize worthy foundations, raising untold amounts of money from gullible trustees eager to listen to tales of how they can save the world , whether spun by guileful professionals , sincere amateurs or rapacious con men out to make a fast buck waylaying good Samaritans on the soft energy path-- it is not always easy to tell them all apart.
Real biblical archaeologist can use the tools of modern science, from isotopes to precise excavation, to beat off their tendentious opponents , but predicting the fate of the Earth's climate has an odor of metaphysics about it. Projecting the technological future is a lot harder than stratifying the Biblical past, and without knowing the economic future, science cannot rigorously predict what the technical economy will do to climate and weather. So it is cautionary to compare the abuse of archaeology in the media with the claims made there by pundits representing both sides in the Climate Wars.
In a thoughtful piece entitled ' Raiders Of The Faux Ark,' archaeology department chairman Eric H. Cline says something both Liberal foundation executives and Conservatives with a religious bent should heed , for it bears acutely on what their ideological brethren are doing in the climate debate :
" the amateurs are taking in the public's money to support ventures that offer little chance of furthering the cause of knowledge. With their grand claims, and all the ensuing attention, they divert the public's attention from the scientific study of the Holy Land - and bring confusion, and even discredit, to biblical archeology.
Unfortunately, when fantastic claims are made, they largely go unchallenged by academics. There have been some obvious exceptions.... But much more common is a vast and echoing silence reminiscent of the early days of the debate over "intelligent design," when biologists were reluctant to respond to the neocreationist challenge. Archeologists, too, are often reluctant to be seen as challenging deeply held religious beliefs. And so the professionals are allowing a PR disaster to slowly unfold: yielding a field of tremendous importance to pseudoscientists, amateur enthusiasts, and irresponsible documentary filmmakers."
The Great Global Warming Hoax comes from the man who gave the world The Naked Pilgrim, and while Roland Emmerich is famed for The Day After Tomorrow, his first global deep freeze flick was The Noah's Ark Principle.
At a time when the world is increasingly divided by religion, both domestically and internationally, and when many people are biblically illiterate, legitimate inquiries ...have never been more important... We have an obligation to challenge the lies and the hype, to share the real data, so that the public discussion can be an informed one.
It is time we take back our field."
His essay deserves to be read not just by Former Next Presidents and politicians of both parties, but media executives who, the sight of God not being before their eyes, eschew fact checking in times when disinformation and Apocalyptic cant compete with ideology and bald denial in inviting policy disasters of Biblical proportions.