Well, I'm getting up my nerve. The last time I reviewed a program in depth like I'm about to do here, it was that Crystal Skulls thing. I hate network decay, and I've been seeing a lot more of it. Might be me paying more attention as a skeptical blogger and occasional geekdom commenter. Having a couple hours of Star Trek: TNG cut out in favor of wrestling on Sci Fi is one thing. But having deep, deep woo on the Discovery and History channels is another. That's what this show is shaping up to, just based on the description. Drop me reminders to complain in their feedback sections.
So, firing up my DVR. Deep breaths...
Okay, weird ending clip of the show before with a black woman talking about washing out some white dress as if it were possessed. Wonder what that was about. Apparently the BBC made that show, whatever it was.
Anyway, onto the show proper. Josh starts introducing himself and showing off where he'll be going on the show. Fair bit of extreme editing I'm a bit sensitive to right now. Probably would let it pass elsewhere, but I just know this is going to be a carnival of lame. Presented by Chevy. Ugh.
Location: Armenia, mountains of Ararat, where the ark supposedly landed. Drama bomb editing as they summarize the tall, tall tail. "But is it all true?" I think us rational people can agree on an answer. Josh starts with dividing up the aspects of the story, possibly to make convenient chunks of show: The ark, the flood, Noah, and the animals. I wonder if he's going to quote some old bogus math that's going to be described as the 'new theory' mentioned in the show description.
Talks about the flood wiping out all civilization, thus "making the ark the only connection between us and the pre-flood world." Uh, shouldn't he have started with pointing out how ridiculous the whole worldwide flood thing is, thus negating the need to look for the ark? Oh, wait, padding. Right.
Talks about how high a rank the ark has with the other magic artifacts Indiana Jones found. Talks about all the claims being made and the lack of evidence. Mentions he's got the exception with some Cathedral with some guy claiming to have an actual piece. Right. We've never heard that one before. And you can carpet Deep Space 9 with all the True Shouds of the Sword of Kahless, from what I hear.
Church is old, yeah. Back has a bunch of relics in back. Fancy gold case for the piece of wood. Allegedly a bishop found it. Tried climbing to the top of the mountain. Fell asleep. Had a dream of Sky Daddy telling him he won't make it to the top, but his efforts will be rewarded with a piece of the ark. He woke up with a piece of wood under his head. Much more likely story: He gave up, grabbed some random piece of wood and made the dream up.
I've got it paused. My guess: Josh will try to sate us skeptics by expressing doubt and then proceed on as if the authenticity was proven. *Play...* Mention of other people finding pieces. Asking how he knows. Priest says faith. Josh claims he respects that in appeaser mode and then claims to be a man of science and mentions carbon dating. Priest refuses, citing faith as the basis.
Moving onto looking for other evidence. Request to carbon date the wood is tied up. Whole thing was as pointless as asking some random yokel about his piece. Of course, he's probably banking on the beliebers accepting the authority of the guy because he wears a fancy dress, works in a fancy building, and has a fancy set of display cases. Of course, even if he did find the right date with carbon dating, that wouldn't exactly be meaningful, since one would think there'd be plenty of other wooden objects around that time.
Drama bomb as they talk about the rain and flood. "Leading archaeologist" is mentioned with a "radical new theory," usually meaning a crank with a recycled chunk of blatant assertions. Sean Kingsley. Doctorate from Oxford, to throw out big credentials from a big name. Some mention of new evidence he's found but doesn't yet describe. Says the flood was earlier than thought, in the stone age. Oldest story, talks about the Epic of Gilgamesh. Says the two stories are based on the same person from Neolithic. Says it's not rain, but geological event. Says the top of a mountain fell into the Mediterranian, causing a tsunami and limited flood. Mount Etna. Active volcano. I'm no geologist, but this sounds like a tall tale, and a little beyond an archaeologist's usual fare.
Commercials. One featuring a guy doing 'offroad unicycling' which looks kind of fun.
Back to the tsunami, going to Mount Etna, which is apparently quite active. Got a volcanologist involved named Sonja. Hope she's sensibile. Buildup of layers of lava until the weight causes a landslide. Apparently a big one 8,000 years ago. Apparently having one really big landslide is good enough for him to think it'd cause a sufficiently big tsunami, since he isn't talking about how it'd get to the water. All the stuff they showed was dry land. I hope I hear qualifiers when I press play again. Moving onto talking about how the flood story talked about a global flood. Somehow, he's now talking about a "Manhattan-sized" landslide. Uh, wouldn't you measure it in tons, rather than area? You can plug tons into physics equations.
Geologist Maria. Room full of monitors. 130 foot high tsunami with their numbers, whatever they are. Mentions Atlit Yam, an old Neolithic settlement that's underwater, now. Assuming they're just being very bad communicators about how the landslide gets dumped into the water to form the tsunami, I suppose this isn't unreasonable. Of course, this hardly proves Noah's flood anymore than finding a tall woodcutter named Paul Bunyan proves the Rockies were formed by a wrestling match between a giant lumberjack and equally large blue ox.
I'm getting cake. Commercials are good for that. Old spice commercials by that pretend doctor. Is that Doogie Howser grown up or something? "Brought to you by TomTom." I think I'll stick with borrowing my dad's GPS.
Back to bludgeoning us with "oldest story." General description of the city, underwater because sea levels rose 30 feet since then. Evidence they're looking for to prove destruction by tsunami: wrecked buildings and broken human bones. The former sounds sufficiently vague. Mentions that a tsunami wouldn't have damaged a well. Found a bone. Not human. Found some stones they claim to be a stone age temple. Drama editing makes it hard for me to see them as anything more than a vaguely circular arrangement of rocks, and I wasn't even able to get a good look at how circular.
More commercials. Seeing some race car driver with an antagonistic relationship with a talking koala eating Little Debbie products.
Past the halfway mark. Recaps after every commercial is getting annoying. Come on, camera guys, give us a good shot of the whole semi-circle, not drifting closeups. Mention of the guy he's with already having two skeletons he dug up. Doing the jigsaw work of putting bones back together. Anthropologists say all the skeletons so far were raised from graves and the ones focused on died of natural causes. No evidence for tsunami deaths. So, naturally, they get them to say that it's still possible a tsunami happened and they haven't found evidence, yet. Technically true, but I just know someone's going to treat that as probable. Says he knew it'd be hard to find evidence and talks about "interpretation." Pre-commercial teaser apparently suggesting the animal bone he found is going to be a big deal.
More commercials. Wish that cake didn't top off my stomach. I could use another piece.
Now talking about the tsunami as if he's established it as fact. No, he found evidence for an already known landslide. Onto the animal bone and talk about the animals allegedly on the ark. Lower leg of an auroch, now extinct ancestor of the cow. Now talking about how his story is so different from Noah's flood, and going towards Gilgamesh, which had a farm animal slant. Now going on whether Noah could have built the ark. Island of Cyprus built animal transport boats. They go there to look at a stone age well with animal bones in it. Food scraps, apparently. Yeah... building boats for animals is just so amazing evidence for the flood story. My mind wandered for a bit, and I don't feel like rewinding. Teaser about some guy claiming to have found Noah and some kind of good evidence.
Commercials. About 7 minutes to go. Thank Ammy.
Saying Noah's stone age, from Alit Yam, and located some distance away from that, now. Our "archaeologist" bashes the Hollywood Noah, describing his version as a shaman who told the story of how he survived the tsunami Josh admits he's found no evidence for. Talk about shaman head sculptures made of skulls with plaster faces. Talk of shaman rituals doing the same thing with plaster human faces put on skulls. Misuse of "theory" to finally reject this guy's crap as "just a theory" and goes on to say he "appreciates that [Sean] believes Noah was a real person..." and other appeaser crap. Just horrible. At least the crank is not stupid enough to believe the Genesis version and say so bluntly.
So, his wrap-up: Yeah, amazing discovery that people could transport animals by boat. Says he found evidence of the tsunami from the landslide, though I missed that. I'll rewind to that part to make sure. And he jumps to a quote that's gotten very easy to abuse. He should read about the Modus Tollens Exception.
Heading back to that landslide-tsunami link... Okay. I missed the volcanologist saying it went into the sea. But given that he didn't find evidence of the tsunami else where, apparently it wasn't as big as the simulation said.
Can't recall ever hearing about this Josh Bernstein guy before. He's got a lot of things in common with woos, but he ultimately ended up rejecting the whole thing, which was surprising. If he claims to be a skeptic, he's the most craptacular one I've ever seen.