Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Matthew's mythbusting

Matthew Dentith has taken time out from his busy schedule to answer the twenty-nine questions that Ancient Celtic New Zealand author Martin Doutre posted to the Scoop Review of Books discussion board last week. After patiently working through Doutre's distortions, fallacies, and mischief-making irrelevancies, Matthew concludes that the claim that white people discovered and settled New Zealand millenia ago is not only unsupported by evidence but intellectually incoherent.

Matthew's dissection of Doutre's claim that the famous statues of Easter Island are depictions of white men is impressive for the way it combines anthropological knowledge with the analytic rigour of a philosopher. His rebuke to Doutre's claims about a connection between the Orpheus myth and Maori folklore is also important, because it reveals the Celtic New Zealand's circle's willingness to use doctored translations of old texts. You can read Matthew's reply to Doutre on his blog, as well as on Scoop's discussion board.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is evil in this world.
What's with the painting?

11:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php?t=23711

11:19 am  
OpenID harvestbird said...

One point I find curious in all of this--and one which Matthew mentions in passing--is the assumption that red hair = Celtic origin. As I understand it, while among present-day Scots there is a higher likelihood of being born with red hair than other British and northern European peoples, it's still low, less than fifteen percent. (No sources to hand, for which my apologies.) By the same token, the possibility of anyone of any origin being born with red hair is always greater than zero. Without wishing to engage with Doutre, I remain unconvinced by red hair as a signifier of Scots/Irish descent or as wholly absent from any Polynesian populations. (In a less-than-useful aside, a scramble of correlation and causation, among my father and his six brothers and sisters, all of whom are of exclusively Scots/Irish descent, there is just one of their children with red hair, from a population of twenty-two cousins. It isn't me.)

4:09 pm  
Blogger Blaize said...

When I was in Kenya, I saw Africans with red hair and blue or green eyes. These were not mixed-race children. Rather, this was a not uncommon form of partial albinism. Although I'm sure Doutré would argue that it shows the ancient Celtic influence in Africa.

It's really really difficult to argue with the stupid, isn't it?

4:23 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

The painting I think is Breughal's depiction of Icarus falling into the sea during his and his father's attempt to flee by flight from King Minos of Crete (refer to the Icarus/Dedalus story in Greek mythology.) It is the basis of a poem by W. H. Auden - but perhaps represents (Icarus flew too close to the sun so that the wings he had on melted so he plummetted fatally into the sea (Dedalus, his father, the craftsman (who built the laybrinth on Crete for King Minos - in which eventually a terrible monster roamed called the Minotaur)) - made it);

perhaps it symbolises, apart from courage and flight ("flights of the imagination"?) itself - the dangers of incaution and perhaps "pride" (thus demonstrated) - or sloppy thinking or workmanship by extension - in the case of Doutre I suppose - or perhaps Maps just chose it at random...

10:50 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Red hair can arise in any ethnic group. Mutation is one cause - mutation - rather than being unusual in nature - is constantly happening - thousands of all our cells (a percentage of the cells of any living thing) mutate every hour. Hence such random changes occur the gametes also.

Red hair etc is associated with fair skin so it is probably likely to have "survived" more in people who are in places where there is less U V radiation. Unlikely to be a "Celtic" or Scots characteristic at all (anymore than a Northern Russian, English, or a French characteristic) - there is no significant genetic differentiation between Celts and any other humans - the difference is cultural / historical / language.

Mutation (change) interacting with environment is in fact what drives evolutionary development. Many mutations have no effect and some are good/ some are detrimental...

11:07 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

"Blaize said - It's really really difficult to argue with the stupid, isn't it? "

I like to quote the great World Champion Chess player, Emmanuel Lasker: "In life as in chess, we are all duffers."

People may be ignorant but not "stupid" - but I agree in principle with what you say. It is hard to argue - sometimes a waste of time in fact with people who don't shift their opinions.

I myself have fallen into the trap of trying to convince people who - when I think about it - well it didn't really matter.

On important issues - whatever they are - one states one's opinion...but to argue endlessly is probably counter productive.

People will always cling to various kinds of "crazy" ideas [e.g. Newton with his fascination for alchemy and the occult] - and this is not always a bad thing - this is always a discussion.

People love mysteries and sometimes it isn't always a bad thing to have some mysteries.

I say many things that are probably wrong but - well that is what we are - we are an opinionated lot!

Sometimes I agree with people even when I think they are wrong - either because I start thinking I might be wrong myself (which is probably, a lot of the time, the case!); or I don't wish to hurt their feelings, and/or they are so vehement (and clearly fixed) in their view that I flag it...

11:32 pm  
Blogger Giovanni said...

No, seriously. What's with the painting?

8:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:16 pm  
Blogger maps said...

In Brueghel's painting Icarus soars toward the sun and then tragically falls, while the world goes on as normal far below. What does the ploughman, with his ancient and reliable technology, need from this daring young aviator? Why look upwards at the blinding light of the sun, and risk falling in well like Thales did, when your sustenance comes from the good dark earth?

The painting is a metaphor for the way that the young and the brilliant and the innovative are often ignored. In our own society, Matthew's bold and clever campaigns against irrationality are unlikely ever to counter the weight of tradition and superstition. Hopefully he can acknowledge this without succumbing to the sort of violent hyper-rationalism that is itself a form of irrationalism. It is this latter creed which motivates Lindsay Perigo's nihilist individualism, and leads Christopher Hitchens to hail Bush's wars as struggles for the Enlightenment.

I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but it's what was going through my head when I pasted the image to the top of the post...

11:19 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

From memory that was (more or less) Auden's 'take' on the poem in his poem - that the world goes on regardless - but as with all these things there are many "angles" - many sides - so while Greek mythology has great interest and richness - it doesn't necessarily "enlighten us" often they leads to more questions.

Also there are of many sometimes quite contradictory versions of the same myth.

9:14 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Also there is the TV program "Myth Busters" - it's as if Dedalus and (or at least Icarus who disobeys his father's injunction - or he forgets) Icarus were trying to "prove" they could fly or prove/disprove the myth/or not that the sun would melt the wax holding the wings onto them...

9:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Richard you hot babe, go!!!!!!!

6:24 am  
Blogger Giovanni said...

As a bit of a Bruegel buff, I find any excuse to reproduce one of his paintings is a good excuse. But Michael flying too close to the sun, really? It seems to me if anything it's Doutre` who's going the get burnt here.

Interestingly (or perhaps not, it really depends what you're into) the ploughman's indifference is bound not so much with Icarus as with the dead body in the bush on the left (you can't really make it out in the Jpeg there), forming the proverb "a plough doesn't stop because of a dead man". The sword and money just below the ploughman form another proverb, "sword and money require careful hands". And now if you're all sitting down and comfortable I'll launch into van Leppen's craaazy alchemical interpretation...

9:51 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

"Giovanni" The plowman and the dead body - I didn't know of that. Interesting. William Carlos Williams also has at least one great poem based on Breughal's art.

8:08 pm  
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7:53 am  

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