theorists of the lost ark

 From today’s Royal Society compendium of science-related headlines comes this newsflash:

Evangelists claim Noah’s Ark discovery on Turkish mountain: Archaeologists have recovered 4,800-year-old pieces of wood from a structure 4,000 metres up Mount Ararat.
Well. Claims like this crop up fairly regularly, & then disappear without trace. And I have to say, I’m rather underwhelmed by this one, as well. Not least by the nature of the evidence.
For example, you can find pictures from the expedition on-line (& thanks to PZ for the link) – it’s news to me that the Ark had stone steps and squared-off stone walls, for example… That & the wooden structures shown suggest to my untutored eye that we’re looking at the remains of a land-based settlement rather than a floating bestiary. It’s also intriguing that carbon-dating data are being claimed as evidence for the veracity of this interpretation, given the way in which many creationists reject any form of radioisotope dating mechanism as inherently flawed. There’s a contradication there somewhere.
And – the supposed ‘Ark’ in the images looks awfully like a mountain ridge with an oval drawn round it. Outlines like that do a lot to help the eye ‘see’ something that isn’t there; something to do with the fact that we are pattern-seeking animals. (This also explains why some people see the ‘man in the moon’, and a giant ‘face’ on Mars.) Nup. Not convinced.
(If it is the Ark, shouldn’t it contain an awful lot of, well, sub-fossil poo? A ship full of animals would generate an awful lot of organic waste over the duration of the voyage…)

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