The Cerutti Mastodon at theNAT: a failure of critical thinking

Since the publication of the discovery in Nature back in late April, the Cerutti Mastodon site has continued to be in the news. Predictably, it appears in popular science websites and continues to be a darling of fringe theorists. While the initial coverage in the media and popular web sites highlighted some of the very…

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Archaeology is not about the past

Archaeological research is driven by the questions we ask ourselves in the present, for reasons that are in the present. To answer those questions, we study archaeological remains that exist in the present. The answers we find function in the present. They affect people’s lives, sometimes significantly. Control of the past is a powerful weapon.…

Silos are a feature of university organization, not a bug

Any senior administrative retreat in a university is likely to feature lamentations about siloing of the disciplines, faculties, and administrative services. People will call for de-siloing. The timid will call for multidisciplinarity, the bold for true interdisciplinarity. Everyone will agree that reward structures for faculty, staff and students must be changed to encourage collaborative and…

The secret language of the humanities

A tweet by @saragoldrickrab recently started an extensive discussion on the topic of the accessibility of scholarship. She encourages us to “write a book accessible to more than 100 people”. I was surprised at how controversial her statement turned out to be. In a series of responses, for example, @GrahamScambler defends the value of an “esoteric”…