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Author Topic:   Detecting Design
Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 4 of 59 (540235)
12-22-2009 8:39 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Tanndarr
12-22-2009 6:24 PM


Re: Once more into the breach
Since you are using archaeology as an example:

In graduate school one of my archaeology professors had a whole roomful of "artifacts" collected from creeks and streams so that we could compare items that resemble artifacts but which were known to be natural in origin against the real thing. A lot of effort and study was made to quantify artifacts vs. naturally broken stones.

But this approach presents a problem for "design" science because there is currently no way to determine what has been designed and what has not. Nor is there any scientific research being conducted in that direction. What there is can best be described as pseudo-scientific sounding religious apologetics seeking evidence for their a priori conclusions.

ID is nothing but religion seeking to hide its origins and take on the trappings of science--when in fact it is the exact opposite of science.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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 Message 3 by Tanndarr, posted 12-22-2009 6:24 PM Tanndarr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Tanndarr, posted 12-22-2009 10:19 PM Coyote has replied

  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 8 of 59 (540250)
12-22-2009 11:56 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Tanndarr
12-22-2009 10:19 PM


Re: Artifact Identification
In the case of the problem your professor gave you, I'd expect that unless the object were particularly well formed and exhibited signs of advanced stone shaping (soft hammer or pressure flaking) it would be very difficult to identify them.

Were any formulaic methods used to make the determination or was it a subjective identification based on your experience?


There were no formulas when I studied, and probably none since.

We learned by looking at thousands of examples of natural breaks, and thousands of examples of breaks from known sites.

We learned to look for certain clues; if those clues are present we can infer human manufacture--but of course you can never prove it.

One of the primary clues for North American archaeology is that most artifacts are found in sites, with a clear association to human activity. Those are easy.

It gets tougher with ancient sites where most non-stone clues are long gone. And the paleontologists, dealing with isolated remains perhaps millions of years old, have to be real experts. And most of them are, or consult with those who are.

Edited by Coyote, : Grammar


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 20 of 59 (542412)
01-09-2010 9:38 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Iblis
01-09-2010 8:12 PM


Re: identifying design based on knowledge of the designer
A good example is Stonehenge. Really it's just a bunch of rocks. But those rocks appear to be cut intentionally, and at least some of them turn out to be from other parts of Britain than Salisbury.

Glaciers and other forces can move objects such as rocks.

But with shaped rocks in a cluster, or a pattern, far from their source, a glacier becomes very unlikely. And with none of the other things associated with a terminal moraine present, a glacier is pretty much ruled out.

Even if we didn't know about the pre-Iron Age inhabitants of the area, would we be able to infer design? Even if all the stones had fallen down so that none of them were tabled anymore?

I would think the obvious shaping would be enough by itself. That is bolstered by the distance from the source.

But you have to be careful; some types of rocks break naturally into rectangles. Google "Devil's postpile" for some good images.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 23 of 59 (542417)
01-09-2010 10:37 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by RAZD
01-09-2010 9:59 PM


Re: identifying design based on knowledge of the designer
Is a "possible design" inference more or less likely if there is just one example or if there are numerous examples?

The number is not always a good indicator. The Devil's postpile has a lot of examples of rectangular stones, and not one was man-made.

Whereas a nice projectile point is clearly "designed" even if you find only one, and it is away from any cultural deposit.

But in the absence of any other information, larger numbers of similar specimens do at least point toward a regularity of some kind, and tend to eliminate the accidental. Whether that regularity was due to deliberate manufacture or some natural process would still be a problem.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2010 11:15 PM Coyote has replied
 Message 34 by RAZD, posted 01-10-2010 11:15 AM Coyote has replied

  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 27 of 59 (542423)
01-10-2010 12:28 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by RAZD
01-09-2010 11:15 PM


Re: identifying design based on knowledge of the designer
But in the absence of any other information, larger numbers of similar specimens do at least point toward a regularity of some kind, and tend to eliminate the accidental. Whether that regularity was due to deliberate manufacture or some natural process would still be a problem.

One problem I have is that design may be only a singular event. Things I have designed over 10 years ago are still being made, and I've seen some recent examples even though I've moved hundreds of miles from the point of original design, and the manufacturing has since moved as well. This makes tying the objects to the design difficult, and all you have then is the artifact.


No problem. If the artifact has elements that do not tend to occur in nature you can infer design. The more such elements the better the inference.

Whereas a nice projectile point is clearly "designed" even if you find only one, and it is away from any cultural deposit.

But do you really have evidence of design, or of manufacture that copies a design?


Doesn't matter. A nice projectile point can easily be differentiated from the natural. Regular bifacial flaking is a nice feature of man-made points. Bifacial flaking is rare in nature, and doesn't look the same when it occurs.

But we, as archaeologists, don't care about the "design or copy of a design" issue. It'll poke a hole in the side of a deer or elk just fine either way. And I suspect the deer or elk doesn't care much either.

But why are you bring up all of these irrelevancies? Design vs. copy of a design? Why do you think that matters?


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 35 of 59 (542506)
01-10-2010 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by RAZD
01-10-2010 11:15 AM


Re: identifying design based on knowledge of the designer
The "points" you illustrated are far from what I would classify from human-made.

The first thing I would look for would be bifacial flaking, that is, flaking on both sides of the object. That is rare in nature, and organized bifacial flaking is just not found on rocks in streams or other contexts where rocks bang together naturally. That is a sign of human activity. Your "points" lack this bifacial flaking--in fact, they lack flaking of any kind!

Look at the edges of this point (presumably the flaking is done on both sides).

Now of course there are examples where flaking can't be detected; some points we find in archaeological sites are of poor quality stone and have little to no evidence of shaping. Those, if found away from an archaeological context, would be difficult or impossible to classify as human-made. (Actually by using electron microscopes or other hi-tech tools one might be able to do so, but that is not something we do with routine archaeological projects. That would be more of a graduate student research project or applied to an important find.)


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by RAZD, posted 01-10-2010 11:15 AM RAZD has replied

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 38 of 59 (542533)
01-10-2010 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Tanndarr
01-10-2010 1:30 PM


Re: identifying design based on knowledge of the designer
From Wiki:

The primary innovation associated with Acheulean hand-axes is that the stone was worked symmetrically and on both sides. For the latter reason, handaxes are, along with cleavers, known as biface tools.

(Olduwan tools): A chopper has an edge on one side. It is unifacial if the edge was created by flaking on one face of the core, or bifacial if on two.

The latter is where the use-wear studies with the electron microscope come in. The fine wear patterns can help differentiate natural from man-made tools.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Tanndarr, posted 01-10-2010 1:30 PM Tanndarr has replied

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