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Science via round of beer?

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The feature article of your science section barely scratched the surface regarding junk science. (June 17, p. C1I)

National Geographic (October '97, p. 93) has an article about "The Most Ancient Americans." An archaeological site called Monte Verde was found in Chile. It was claimed to be 1,000 years older than a site at Clovis, N.M., which is believed to date back 11,500 years. How do scientists determine the age of these civilizations?The article revealed that a group of specialists in archaeology went to Chile to reach a consensus as to whether the site in Chile was older than the one in New Mexico. They sat around a table in the back of a bar as they argued and traded insults over several rounds of beer. After drinking enough beer, the most die-hard supporter of the New Mexico site finally relented.

They took a vote and reached a unanimous decision that the Chilean site was the oldest. This ritual ended when the group's coordinator raised his beer bottle and proposed a toast to the passing of a paradigm.

It appears that the scientist with the most skill in rhetoric insults and intimidates anyone who disagrees with him. After consuming enough beer, the so-called scientists finally reach a consensus. Is this an example of the scientific method?

Clark Peterson

Bountiful