Local and Global Anomalies

In critical rationalism on 20/08/2011 at 9:38 am

An anomaly, a recalcitrant fact, may bode trouble for either a local part of a theoretical system, easily detached and replaced without significant revision to other parts of the system, or the theoretical system as a whole. If religious practices developed long before settled communities, then the findings at Gobekli Tepe would overturn a local part, and such a correction would be (comparatively) made without much fuss in the sociology of religion. However, if a fossilized rabbit was uncovered in Precambrian strata, this is not merely a problem for the theory of evolution. If it is in fact a fossilized rabbit in Precambrian strata, it knocks over central assumptions in radiometric dating, physics, and geology.

In the sea of anomalies, it is rational not to engage in a scientific revolution when anomalies are seemingly local rather than global; conversely, it is irrational to refuse a scientific revolution when anomalies are seemingly global rather than local. There remains a problem: the seriousness of anomalies is not currently subject to calculation, and may not in principle be calculated. Without a mathematical underpinning, a sociological, political, or methodological underpinning may be of service.


  1. There appear to be exceptions to many rules. Sometimes these “exceptions” are based on assumptions not fully researched. A single exception to any theory or fact undermines it’s credulity. Suggesting the “theory” is flawed.This may be due to unrefined awareness or knowledge not yet supplied to the researchers or a conclusion not yet ascertained. Many assumptions are being made about Gobekli Tepe that have not been fully fleshed out.
    #1.That it was created by a hunter-gatherer society. Such massive and eloaborate centralized facilities require maintenance and utilization. This can only be done by a ruling class of some kind, a church/ state class (royal priestshood), a protectorate class (warriors to protect the church/state class)) and a worker class to build it. These divergent classes can only be supporting by a predictable source of food.
    It is common archeological knowledge that 50 is the maximum number that any hunter-gatherer group may reach before a separation must take place. 50 people and/or an assumed collective of groups of fifty spread out over a large region cannot create such sophisticated structures without a ruling class. Nor can food be maintained for these ruling, warrior and worker classes without an endemic and reliable food source. This implies either predictable water based food resources, agriculture and/or animal husbandry. An one of these diminishes or eliminates the hunter gatherer theory.
    #2.That it was a religious structure. Although these structures do appear to have been created as gathering places, their actual purposes are not yet proven. The carvings may have been for astronomical or astrological purposes. The ones, so far uncovered may have been interior observatories for the marking or tracking of astrological progression concerning constellations or heavenly bodies. Yes, there may have been spiritually related causality. The heavens have universally been the originator of spirituality.The is also the possibility that this may have had a “magical” intent behind these structures. One would have to be able to place themselves inside the mindset of the people there and their times.
    #3.That it did not have a precursor or progenitor. Not enough information or research has been done to even begin to make statements such as this. Only 10% of the site has been excavated. This is similar to describing an “elephant” with only 10% of its’ body uncovered
    #4. Why are the oldest areas uncovered the more advanced? This suggests a declining society not an advancing one. This also suggests some form of social, economic or political decline. It further suggests a progenitor culture. One which yet waits to be found.
    #5. Why purposely bury it? There are only two reasons for this. One: to save it for later excavation. Two: To bury it as if it had died and then begin again to renew their vitality. Much as the Pre-Columbian cultures did with their Katun related destruction of all objects in order to renew their society. Not enough of this site has been revealed to blatantly express what, how, or why it exists.

    • Clarence,

      I agree with you that we know very little about Gobekli Tepe. It was the only example I could think of off the top of my head that, if it were the case that it did undermine theories in the sociology of religion, would undermine a local theory, rather than a global one. The same goes for a rabbit in the Precambrian: if it did exist, then a whole host of theories would be mistaken.

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