Thursday, February 21, 2013

Different goals

Much of the tension between archaeologists and the media stems from our different goals. Archaeologists study the remains of material culture to understand the past. We are not treasure hunters and we are not allowed to keep what we find. In other words, we are not engaged in archaeology for personal profit, nor are most of us involved in it to validate personal faith and beliefs. On the other hand, because for them the bottom line is money, the media (especially television and film) capitalize on the public’s fascination with events mentioned in the Bible and the public’s desire to find tangible proof of these events. Most members of the media are interested not in scholarship for its own sake but rather in topics that will make a profit...the usual program formula consists of interviewing a nonspecialist who claims to have made a sensational find related to some biblical person or event, which a scholar is brought in to refute. Usually the nay-saying scholar comes across as a skeptic who is too narrow-minded to entertain the possibility that someone from outside the ivory tower of academia made a valid new discovery, or even more sinister, who denies the validity of the discovery in order to keep this important information from the public.—Archaeology, Bible, Politics, and the Media, pages 93, 94

<idle musing>
Ain't it the truth! I've had to play the nay-sayer far to many times. I'm glad that most of the times it has been with people who know me and my faith. I'd hate to have to do it in front of a camera, knowing they are going to cut all the qualifying words and go for a sound-bite...
</idle musing>

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