MIDWESTERN EPIGRAPHIC JOURNAL, Volume 16, Number 1, 2002
An Interview with: Virginia Steen - McIntyre, FMES , Idaho Springs, Colorado
This is a revised version of a manuscript first prepared in 1997 for investigative reporter Paul Williams Roberts, part of an article on maverick scientists for Harper's Magazine.
According to Roberts, the article was accepted and, I assume, paid for, but never published.
Nothing with science per se. It is a method used for looking at a small part of reality, mainly the physical universe. The problem arises when people, both scientists and the general public, try to make it something it is not -- a world view, for example.
A contradiction in terms. Science deals with measuring and manipulating concrete facts. A world view looks at those facts from a certain perspective. ALL world views are taken on faith, even supposedly scientific ones.
Such as the one that claims the physical universe we know is all there is, and that it developed by chance over time.
Not if we remember it is only one theory or philosophy, or religion or world view among many equally as valid. The danger arises when it becomes THE ONLY theory. Then it is only a matter of time until it is crammed down our throats as FACT.
When that happens, good-by free enquiry.
Look around you. When was the last time you heard that particular theory seriously questioned by the scientific media?
Do you mean politically correct? It obviously is that, but that would make me question it more than ever!
Look at history.. Since when has any government, even the best, remained faithful to the ideal of the welfare of the common man?
Because it's interwoven with the Theory of Evolution: accept one, you have to accept the other.
Not if you realize it is JUST a theory, and a shaky one
But think for a moment. Every major despot and would-be dictator since Darwin has loved that theory -- Marx, Hitler, Mao. It gives them such freedom to kill off those they don't like and to mess around with genetics to create superman.
After all, when the Theory of Evolution is taken to its logical conclusion, the only moral imperative demanded is "survival of the fittest".
No, I don't like it, for scientific reasons: it goes against the Second Law of Thermodynamics for one thing. I don't like it for philosophical and religions reasons. I especially don't like it because it helped ruin my career.
The archaeologist in charge of the Hueyatlaco dig (where they had found well made stone tools) rejected our geologic dates of a quarter-million years1.' because, according to her belief, modern man, the maker of those tools, had not yet evolved 250,000 years ago.
He evolved only 100,000 years ago and that was in the Old World not the New. A classic case of arguing from theory to data, then tossing out the data that don't fit.
A matter of influence on her part and lack of it on mine. She was an anthropologist, a graduate of Radcliffe and Harvard with powerful friends; I was a geologist with a new PhD from the University of Idaho, looking for a job.
There would be if all the facts were generally known. But the dates were run almost 25-30 years ago. Have you ever heard them mentioned?
There is no controversy. The site and our geologic work are simply ignored.
No, of course not. But there it is.
None to my face: that's the frustrating part. Since the paper on Hueyatlaco was first published in 1981 only five scientists have contacted me on their own for more information.
And only one of those was an archaeologist.
Nothing nice, I imagine. I worked with a group of them in a laboratory setting back in the mid-60's. It was a different world. No matter their specialty, each graduate student left that place with an extra-curricular BS degree -- BS for Back Stabber.
First thing you learned in the coffee room was who was "in the know" and who was "out of it". It became almost a game, verbally cutting to pieces those who didn't count. C.S. Lewis caught the flavor of the game in his novel THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH.
That seems evident. And once you get a bad rep in the scientific community, even if it's the result of rumor and down right lies, it spreads.
In 1973, when we first announced the results of our new excavations and the fission track dates, I was sitting pretty.
I had the beginnings of an international reputation because of my basic research on volcanic ash layers, a wide correspondence with my peers, a part-time job in a government laboratory that I assumed would lead to better things, and later, an adjunct professorship in the anthropology department of a state university.
Today, all that is gone. My last job was as a gardener, caring for flower-beds in a local nursing home a few hours a week.
I fight against bitterness. But that emotion, if it becomes chronic, will ruin your life. I'm certainly not happy with how things turned out. It hurts!
More like one of a bunch of Davids slinging stones at Goliath. Hueyatlaco isn't the only censored early man site in the New World, it's the tip of an iceberg.
There's the late Tom Lee, a Canadian archaeologist. He had the misfortune to find an early site on an island in one of the Great Lakes in the 50's. Not only did he lose his government job, he actually was committed to an insane asylum for a time!
There's Dee Simpson and her Calico site in the Mojave Desert of California. The soil developed on top of the sediment column containing the artifacts is 200,000 years old, which makes the sediment layers and artifacts beneath it much older.
Louis Leakey of African fame recognized the stone tools as tools -- not the result of natural causes -back in the 60's. Then there's George Carter and his sites in the San Diego area. He's been battling the archaeologic establishment for 50 years! And many more.
First of all, there needs to be more research in the Valsequillo area: more radiometric dates, more field work, more archaeologic excavations. Fortunately, through support of a wealthy philanthropist, this is happening. Scientists from the USA and Mexico have been working there since the fall of 1997.
I have not been told the results of their research -- I'm certain that they will want to report on it themselves -- but I have been told that it should make me very happy!
Second, we must somehow reverse an alarming trend that has appeared in the research community today, a trend towards "feel good" science, where facts no longer count if they question a politically correct world view.
It was precisely that type of "science" that reigned in the Soviet Union for decades. And what a headache it caused to all concerned!
Third, the censorship of our work and the work of our colleagues MUST STOP! Scientists cannot afford to be rigid in their theories, at least if they are searching for truth.
We must separate science- as-a-method, which is available for all to use, from our world views. Each one of us has a world view we live by, whether we are aware of it or not.
Each is unique, developing out of our personal life experiences. Each is taken on faith.
Recognize the fact! Work with it! A knotty problem such as the age of the first humans in the New World can only benefit from a multi-pronged attack by scientists with different world views.
My ideal: a search for truth in an atmosphere of free inquiry and mutual respect. After all, isn't that what science should be all about?
1. VC Steen-McIntyre, "A Quarter-Million-Year-Old Habitation site Found in Mexico", Ancient American, NO. 19/20, 72-78 (1997).
2. VC Steen-McIntyre, "Has Man Been in the New World for a Quarter - Million Years? " , Midwestern Epigraphic Journal 12/13, 35-42 (1998-99); Barnes Review, $(I), 31-36 (1998)..