Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Linguistics and Ufology?!?!?

The Google news feed for 'linguistics' continues to astound. This piece is an interview with Mike Heiser, who holds a Wisconsin PhD in Hebrew and Semitic, and it was published under the banner "On The Road To Roswell 2007". The interviewer tells us that Heiser provides …
first time ever, state-of-the-art scientific linguistic testing that has been applied to controversial UFO documentary evidence.
First reaction: gotta stop drinking so heavy in the morning, especially with those pain meds. Call me old-fashioned, but I can only see a train wreck coming immediately after that quote.

This stuff is surreal in different ways from what I expected. As a preface of sorts, Heiser is generally skeptical about UFOs. And it turns out that there is linguistics floating around in this pool … he debunks some accounts of 'ancient astronaut theories' based on faulty readings of Hebrew texts. I didn't really know — but am not terribly surprised to hear — that people have found lots of support for such views in cuneiform texts. Heiser says it's bunk, as you'd expect. Hittite has been used to argue for everything else, why not UFOs? Or whatever language these documents are in.

Then there's apparently a set of materials known as the "Majestic Documents" (sounds like government/military files about UFO claims, and such) and this guy has been trying to determine authorship of these documents (working with these folks). It turns out, the late Roger Wescott, an anthropological linguist who did some historical work, had tried the same thing years ago.

Maybe there are whole sectors full of jobs for linguists out there I never considered ... .

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